MANILA -- The passage of several priority measures, including the PHP3.8-trillion 2018 national budget and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), marked one of Senate's busiest years as it earned a “very good” public satisfaction in the last Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey (fourth quarter).
Data from the SWS report showed the Senate’s net satisfaction rose to +56 or “very good” in the survey conducted from December 8 to 16.
Before the Senate went on a holiday break last December 13, it ratified the bicameral conference committee report for the proposed bills on the 2018 national budget and TRAIN. Both were signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte last December 19.
The Senate also approved on the third and final reading of a resolution which would raise the base salary of military and uniformed personnel starting January next year, Senate Joint Resolution No. 11. It adopted House Joint Resolution 18 as an amendment to Senate Joint Resolution 11.
On December 13, the Senate and House of Representatives, in a special joint session, voted to extend martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2018.
Recent measures/resolutions passed/adopted include:
* SBN 1456 -- the proposed Philippine Qualifications Framework Act of 2017
* SBN 1299 -- the proposed Service Charges in Hotels and Establishments Distribution Act
* 36 bills that would establish, convert, separate and rename state universities, colleges, high schools and elementary schools nationwide.
* SRN 8 -- which will authorize the National Housing Authority (NHA) to award the unoccupied and unawarded housing units of uniformed personnel to other qualified beneficiaries like the informal settlers
* SRN 569 -- honoring the late former Supreme Court Associate Justice and former Secretary General of the 1987 Constitutional Commission Flerida Ruth Romero
* House Bill 5241 -- declaring December 8 or the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a special non-working holiday
These were all passed and adopted despite postponing the resumption of the Senate from November 13 to November 16 in light of the holding of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.
The move was done in compliance with the security measures enforced during the conduct of the summit.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said the Senate is set to tackle next year the Anti-Terrorism Law -- a law creating the National ID system -- and a law providing Universal Health Care.
It will also push for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), and a measure that would convene Congress as a Constitutional Assembly and pave the way for the shift to federalism.
Despite in adjournment, the Senate subcommittee on the BBL on December 20 conducted its first hearing on the proposed BBL with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
The proposed BBL seeks the creation of a new Bangsamoro government to replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Present during the hearing were Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza, Defense Undersecretary for Defense Operations Cesar Yano, BTC Commissioner Maisara Dandamun-Latiph, among others
The Senate also called for hearings on various issues including the controversial reassignment of Supt. Marvin Marcos and others cops linked to the death of Albuera, Leyte Mayor; the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program; the PHP6.4-billion shabu shipment from China which slipped through the Bureau of Customs.
Other probes conducted were on Commission on Elections chair Andres Bautista’s alleged ill-gotten wealth; the killing of Kian Loyd Delos Santos among other teenagers; the hazing death of law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III; fake news; Dengvaxia dengue vaccine (which was attended by former President Benigno Aquino III); and the alleged PHP8.7-billion “right-of-way scam” in General Santos.
Meanwhile, at least six senators -- Senate Majority leader Vicente Sotto III, senators Leila de Lima, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Panfilo Lacson, and Antonio Trillanes IV are facing ethics complaints from either colleagues or other camps.
To date, the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges has dismissed the complaint against Sotto, dismissed two out of three complaints against De Lima, and put aside complaint against Lacson and Trillanes.
The Senate is set to resume its session on Jan. 15, 2018. (PNA)