Eight legislative measures crafted and scrutinized by lawmakers have been signed into law under the first regular session of the 18th Congress, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday before he officially declared sine die adjournment in the chamber.
During his closing message, Sotto thanked his colleagues and all the Senate employees for the fruitful legislative proceedings that remained unhampered by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
He also noted that the Congress even held a special session in March to grant President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers for a limited period to effectively address the situation.
A series of Committee of the Whole hearings were also conducted in the upper chamber to look into the needs of the various sectors that were crippled by COVID-19.
"With the people’s interest in mind, your Senate deemed it appropriate to respond to this pandemic within our mandate and in the best and most efficient way possible," Sotto said.
"Before the lockdown, your Senate worked hard on other legislative measures. It is my duty, as it is also my pride, to report on the accomplishments of your Senate in the First Regular Session of the Eighteenth Congress," he added.
The eight measures that have been enacted since the first regular session started on July 22, 2019 are the following:
- Act Postponing the May 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections
- Act Establishing Malasakit Centers in All Department of Health (DOH) Hospitals in the Country
- Act Extending Availability o the 2019 Appropriations to December 31, 2020
- Act Appropriating Funds for the Operation of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines from January 1- December 31, 2020
- Act Modifying the Salary Schedule for Civilian Government Personnel and Authorizing the Grant of Additional Benefits
- Act Increasing Excise Taxes on Alcohol and E-cigarettes
- Act Designating the Third Sunday of November Every Year as the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims, Survivors, and Their Families
- Bayanihan to Heal as One Act
Aside from these bills, Sotto said two other bills are pending the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte, 21 bills have passed the third reading, 10 have been approved on second reading, and 26 are pending discussion on second reading.
A total of 52 resolutions have been adopted by the body, 50 of which are simple resolutions. The Senate also handled one joint resolution and five concurrent resolutions.
Sotto vowed that the Senate will continue to do its mandate of serving the public's interest, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There is no challenge greater than this—to wean away from our old and familiar ways and see the old world wither behind us. With the Filipino nation, I am ready to face the challenge of being reborn in a new world with you—as new men and women invigorated with the mission of working together for a better and safer future," he said.
The Senate adjourned session on Thursday afternoon without being able to pass the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act after Malacanang decided not to certify the measure as urgent.
The senators will be convening again on July 27, the scheduled date for Duterte's fifth State of the Nation Address. -MDM, GMA News