Senate, House cite achievements in 1st session

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Senate, House cite achievements in 1st session
Senators gather to ratify the Maharlika Investment Fund bill at the Session Hall on May 31, 2023.
STAR / Mong Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — It was a “success” for the Senate and a “strong finish” for the House of Representatives as priority measures – including the one creating the Maharlika Investment Fund – hurdled the 19th Congress before it adjourned on Wednesday.

“It is the people who assigned us that role to be the final checkpoint before bills become laws. They want that guarantee, every bill that passes here there’s a Senate zeal of great lawmaking and I am proud that (all senators) have done their pledge to the people. We show up, we step up, we speak out every session day that the roll is called... We believe the full exchange of ideas, the courage to investigate abuses,” Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said before declaring the sine die adjournment.

Zubiri said six measures approved by the chamber were enacted into law while 22 bills are now awaiting the President’s signature.

“All of the senators across the majority and the minority have toiled very hard, from their committee hearings to the rigorous debates and interpellations in plenary. If the Senate has had an excellent performance thus far, it is all thanks to them,” he said.

Congress reconvenes for the 2nd regular session on July 24.

Speaker Martin Romualdez, for his part, said 8,490 bills, 1,109 resolutions and one petition were filed in the 19th Congress, which also approved 33 of 42 measures prepared by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council or LEDAC.

“It is worthy to note that both Houses have earlier agreed on a version of the Maharlika Fund, the country’s first ever sovereign investment fund,” he said, referring also to the Senate.

Romualdez pointed out that MIF is “designed to promote economic development by making strategic and profitable investments in key sectors, including public road networks.”

Aside from this, the House also ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the establishment of specialty centers in hospitals under the direct supervision and control of the Department of Health.

Days before the adjournment, the House passed LEDAC measures such as House Bill 8203 or the proposed Bureau of Immigration Modernization Act and HB 8278 or the proposed Philippine Salt Industry Development Act.

Measures approved on third and final reading during the past 10 months also include the proposed Magna Carta of Seafarers, E-Governance Act / E Government Act, Negros Island Region, creation of the Virology Institute of the Philippines, Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act, National Disease Prevention Management Authority or Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Medical Reserve Corps, Philippine Passport Act, Internet Transaction Act / E Commerce Law, Waste-to-Energy Bill, Free Legal Assistance for Police and Soldiers and Apprenticeship Act.

Romualdez noted that “a handful of the Marcos priority bills that hurdled the House are now laws of the land.”

Two of these bills are Republic Act 11934, or the Subscriber Identity Module Registration Act; and RA 11939 or an Act Further Strengthening Professionalism and Promoting the Continuity of Policies and Modernization initiatives in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Romualdez pointed out that on the average, the House was able to process 30 legislative measures per session day, 10 percent more than its output in the previous Congress during the same period.

“Let us continuously improve and optimize the conduct of our work for the benefit of the Filipino people,” he added. — Sheila Crisostomo

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