Zubiri: Senate eyes 3rd reading approval for Maharlika Fund, other priority bills
MANILA, Philippines— The Senate is expected to approve on third and final reading the Maharlika Investment Fund Act before the sine die adjournment of the 19th Congress’ first regular session, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said on Saturday.
This comes after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in a letter to Zubiri on May 22, certified the bill as urgent.
Besides the Maharlika Fund, the higher chamber also intends to approve on final reading three other bills before the session adjourns: Trabaho Para sa Bayan Act, the Regional Specialty Centers Act, and the Estate Tax Amnesty Act.
If these four priority bills are passed and signed into law, the Senate’s first session will have accomplished seven priority measures in total. This tally includes the SIM Registration, the Act Postponing the Barangay Elections, and the AFP Fixed Term Law, all of which have already been enacted.
Once the House of Representatives adopts the mentioned bills, or they are approved in the Bicameral Conference, they will be forwarded to Malacañang for Marcos’ signature. This process will also apply to the measure on the Condonation of Unpaid Amortization and Interests of Loans of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries, Zubiri noted.
“I am proud to say that the Senate has performed very well for the First Regular Session, which typically tends to have a slow start in any Congress because we are essentially starting from scratch and studying all of the bills anew,” he said.
“And now that our Senate committees have really gone into full swing, and been churning out more measures for plenary deliberations, then we can look forward to an even more productive Second Regular Session,” he added.
Several Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) priority bills await the Senate’s second reading approval, including the Ease of Paying Taxes Act; the Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers Act; the Act Institutionalizing the Automatic Income Classification of Provinces, Cities, and Municipalities; the New Philippine Passport Law; amendments to the Public-Private Partnership Act; the Internet Transactions Act; the Mandatory ROTC Act; and the Center for Disease Control Act.
The Senate has enacted six bills into law, four of which apply nationwide. Sixteen additional bills, including amendments to the National Cultural Heritage Act, are pending Marcos’ approval, Zubiri reported.
“The Senate will continue to prioritize the quality of our measures over the speed of our performance or the quantity of our output,” said Zubiri.
“[B]ut we do expect to be able to devote more time to our plenary duties, now that most of our major Commission on Appointments work have already been dealt with,” said the Senate president, noting the scheduling difficulties in the Senate due to thirteen senators’ CA roles.
“But we are nevertheless proud of what we have been able to accomplish without sacrificing the quality of our bills, and we are ready to get right back to work in the Second Regular Session,” Zubiri said.