Senate eyes passage of revisions to Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act

Published May 17, 2021, 4:53 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The Senate will work on passing soon the bills aimed at reviving the Philippine economy, such as the proposed amendments to the Public Service Act and to the Foreign Investment Act, among others.

(Senate of the Philippines)

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said senators agreed on this during their hour-long caucus Monday, May 17, before they resumed sessions in the afternoon.

The consensus, he said, was to pass the priority legislation pushed by the executive department.

Earlier, President Duterte certified as urgent the bills amending the Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, which economic managers said would raise additional funds for the Philippines’ recovery from the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The three measures are all awaiting approval at second reading.

Aside from these, the senators will also take up the Government Financial Institution Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economy Recovery (GUIDE) bill, which proposes to rediscount loans and other credit accommodations to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as the bill proposing to extend the amnesty on estate taxes.

Zubiri said the Senate’s priorities also include the postponement of the elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from 2022 to 2025.

He said senators will try their “very best” to pass the three fiscal bills pushed by the Department of Finance, as well as the resetting of the BARMM elections.

In a radio interview last Saturday, May 15, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said they also hope to start deliberations on the proposed Bayanihan 3 during the three-week regular sessions.

The proposed third Bayanihan law, which seeks to provide billions of pesos as additional stimulus for COVID-19 recovery, has yet to be approved in the House of Representatives.

An appropriation measure, the Bayanihan 3 has to be passed on third and final reading in the House before the Senate can take it up in plenary. But the executive and legislative department must first determine fund sources for the proposed COVID-19 stimulus before it is signed into law.

“Isa sa pinakamahalaga iyan (That’s one of the most important pieces of legislation),” Sotto now said of the Bayanihan 3 bill.

Senators have agreed to hold sessions on Thursdays to take up and pass priority bills before the 18th Congress’ sine die adjournment on June 5.