Senate to prioritize federalism, tax reform in May

Senate to prioritize federalism, tax reform in May

The Senate, which adjourned after ten weeks of legislative work, is set to resume its regular session on May 2, 2017. File photo

MANILA, Philippines— The Senate of the 17th Congress on Wednesday evening adjourned its session to go on a legislative break.

The Senate, which adjourned after ten weeks of legislative work, is set to resume its regular session on May 2, 2017.

During the same week as the Senate’s session adjournment, the institution was able to approve on third reading two bills including the Senate Bill No. 1304 Affordable Higher Education for All Act and the Senate Bill No. 1277 Free Internet Access in Public Places Act.

The Senate also concurred in the accession of the Paris Agreement in the same week.

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said attributed the fast-tracked enactment of laws to their “overtime” works.

“We have been making the most out of our time to fulfill our mandate and push for measures that will lay the basis for the development and progress of our country and people,” Pimentel said.

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As of March 15, the Senate passed nine bills on third reading and managed to adopt 42 resolutions as well as provide concurrence to international agreements such as, the latest, Adopted Resolution No. 42, Paris Agreement, Adopted Resolution No. 33 Articles of Agreement of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and Adopted Resolution No. 38 RP-Japan Agreement on Social Security.

Pimentel said that the bills passed “revolved around reforms that promoted better access to quality education and social justice, produced jobs, and ensured peace and security, among others."

The Senate president cited that for 2017 alone among the bills passed were Senate Bill Nos. 1304 and 1277. They also approved Senate Bill No. 1305 or the Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2017, which would increase the maternity leave available for working mothers from 60 to 120 days, among others.

The institution also approved Senate Bill No. 1239 to help improve the Philippine National Police’s “crime-fighting ability,” among other bills.

Pimentel's priorities: Federalism, tax reform

Pimentel said that the Senate will prioritize federalism, tax reform, contractualization, minimum wage laws, “one-town, one doctor” policy, free irrigation, and others once it resumes session. He added that personal income tax relief is among his “personal advocacy.”

"We will continue to push for the legislative mechanism which will start the process of shifting to a federal government, in order to bring solutions to some of the country's most long-standing ills and problems," the Senate president said.

Pimentel vowed that the Senate will exert its effort to pass the pending priority bills.

"Rest assured, we will do everything in our power to deliver on the promise of positive change to the people. We, in the Senate, are up to the challenge. We will not fail the people," he concluded.

This year, the Senate also reorganized its committee after the majority and minority bloc had a falling out in its opposing views. — Rosette Adel