Senate to focus on key measures in January
After passing the 2019 budget, the Senate will focus on a few key measures when Congress resumes session in January, including bills to end short-term labor contracting, change government procurement processes, and adjust campaign spending limits for candidates.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday identified the priority pieces of legislation the Senate wished to pass in the small window of time left for Congress before the start of the campaign season for the 2019 midterm election.
These are “‘endo,’ amendments to the procurement law, Local Government Code, [and] Omnibus Election Code … plus upgrading penalties to illegal gambling activities,” he said in a text message.
Endo refers to the long-awaited security of tenure bill proposing social protections for workers and putting an end to endo, an abbreviation for “end of contract.”
Lawmakers have also proposed amendments to the procurement law following President Duterte’s tirades against government contracts going to the lowest but not necessarily most qualified bidders.
As for the election code amendments, legislators seek to adjust campaign spending limits to more reasonable rates, since candidates would skirt the regulations anyway.
Congress resumes plenary sessions on Jan. 14, but lawmakers will be preoccupied with rushing the passage of the P3.757-trillion budget for 2019.
The government will operate on a reenacted budget in January—or at least until the general appropriations bill is passed, ratified and signed into law. Its passage was hampered in December by accusations about pork insertions .
Congress will go again into recess in the first week of February.
In the meantime, the campaign period for senatorial and party-list candidates begins on Feb. 12.
95 bills approved
For the entire year, the Senate approved 95 bills that were passed into law with 85 others only awaiting Mr. Duterte’s signature, Sotto said.
The major ones include the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the Philippine Identification System Act, the Filipino Sign Language Act, the National Payment Systems Act and the Personal Property Security Act, he said.
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