Senators race to file bills ahead of 18th Congress opening
MANILA, Philippines — Staff members of senators are expected to make a beeline for the Senate on Monday to file proposed legislations ahead of the official opening of the 18th Congress on July 22.
Opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who was among the first batch of senators to submit their proposed measures, said he would again introduce the coco levy fund bill, which sought to put up a P100-billion trust fund for coconut farmers from the levy collected from them during the Marcos dictatorship.
President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed the measure in February after both the Senate and the House of Representatives adopted its final version, to the chagrin of thousands of coconut farmers who had hoped to benefit from the funds that were illegally used by cronies of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
“Our coconut farmers have been waiting for this for over 40 years. The longer they are not able to access the fund, the longer they live in poverty,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
He said he would also file nine other measures, most of which would benefit the agriculture sector such as the bills creating the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and regulating the national land use.
“We will continue the fight we started even before the 17th Congress. We believe that prioritizing the agriculture sector and increasing the incomes of farmers and fisherfolk would help in alleviating poverty and bolstering the economy in rural areas,” he said.
For his part, reelected Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said he would file bills honoring the legacy of his father, the late Senate President Edgardo Angara, among them a measure mandating the salary increase of public school teachers.
Higher pay for teachers
“We have increased the pay of our soldiers and policemen. It is time to do the same to our public teaching corps who are fighting the war against illiteracy,” he said.
Senate Secretary Myra Marie Villarica said the Bills and Index Service of the chamber would start receiving proposed legislations and resolutions of senators “in accordance with the principle of seniority or length of service of each senator.”
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