MANILA, Philippines—The Senate has passed 87 of its own bills and 234 from the House of Representatives during the 15th Congress’ third regular session that started in July.
A total of 179 “national and local” measures have been signed into law since the start of the Third Regular Session in July 2012, according to Senate records.
They include priority measures of the Aquino administration, such as the P2.006-trillion national budget for 2013, the five-year P249-billion sin tax reform law, and the reproductive health bill that President Aquino is expected to sign into law before 2013.
But the third set of amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act, which seeks to expand the measure’s coverage and increases its predicate crimes, has yet to be approved by the Senate.
The freedom of information bill (the Senate version is called People’s Ownership of Government Information or Pogi Bill), also a priority of the administration, has been approved on third and final reading by the Senate but has yet to pass the House of Representatives.
“Before we adjourn our session, so we can all enjoy the holidays, allow me to thank and commend all of you, my fellow senators, the officers and employees of the Senate secretariat, the staff of the senators, the Senate Press Corp. for lending your hand in making this year a very productive, remarkable and historic one,” Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said in his Christmas message.
Enrile’s message was read by Senate Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada in the plenary on Wednesday night, before Congress took its Christmas recess.
Estrada said Enrile suffered from a sore throat and opted to have the Senate Pro Tempore convey his message.
“Let me end this message by extending to my colleagues in the Senate, and to the Filipino people my wish that this Christmas season brings sacred joy in our lives; renewed hope in the nobility of our work, and may all Filipinos, regardless of where they are, grow closer as a family and as a nation,” the message added.
Congress goes on a month-long Christmas and New Year holiday break and will resume regular sessions on Jan. 21.
Enrile said senators had been working hard “to pass urgent measures designed to address the country’s economic difficulties and respond to the prevailing challenges in health, education, environmental protection, public safety and consumer protection.”
According to the Senate’s Public Relations and Information Bureau, 28 other bills await President Aquino’s signature after being passed by both houses.
These include the absentee voting for media bill, the Kasambahay bill which provides additional protection and benefits for house helpers, the bill amending the act to eliminate trafficking in persons especially women and children, the proposal seeking to require all registered voters to have their photographs, fingerprints and signatures encrypted through biometric data, and the bill defining and penalizing the crime of enforced or involuntary disappearance.
Approved by the Senate and pending in the bicameral conference committee with the House are the measures amending the charter of the People’s Television Network, Inc., and the bill providing for the reparation and recognition of martial law victims.
Also passed on third reading this month was the proposed act authorizing wiretapping and interception and recording of communications and surveillance of drug pushers and manufacturers.