Senate President Vicente Sotto III is crediting the experience, cooperation, and camaraderie of senators for the Senate’s highly-efficient performance this year, which saw the institution successfully working on a record number of landmark and highly-sought bills.
“2018 has been a very prolific year for the Senate, in terms of the number of bills that we had passed into law, along with those pending in the advanced stages of legislation, and the quality and importance of these laws. It is all to the credit of the entire Senate as an institution,” Sotto said.
Sotto noted that as of December 13, 2018, the Senate has approved 95 bills which were passed into law since the start of 2018, while 85 other enrolled bills are awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval and signature.
He said that 19 other bills are pending in the bicameral conference committee and 45 other bills were approved on third and final reading.
“Swift action was taken by the Senate without sacrificing the keen and prolonged debates on most of these very important bills,” Sotto added.
Sotto said that the bounty of laws and bills passed is due to the “good cooperation” throughout the year among the members of the Senate, regardless of affiliation.
“The senators, from both the Senate Majority and Minority blocs, have been very cooperative and very active in relation to our legislative work,” he said.
“The result is that if you check the data on the legislative performance of the Senate from 1987 up to now, I can say that our rate of passing bills this year is among, if not, the most prolific in the Senate’s recent history,” he added.
Leading the list of Senate bills that became law this year are the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the Philippine Identification System Act, the Filipino Sign Language Act, the National Payment Systems Act, the Personal Property Security Act, and the ‘Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act.’
Major enrolled bills awaiting the President’s signature into law include the proposed Revised Corporation Code of the Philippines, Universal Healthcare Program Act, the bill on Mandatory Philhealth Coverage for all Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), the Social Security Act of 2018, the HIV/AIDS Prevention Act, the amendments to the charter of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Mobile Number Portability Act, the Expanded Maternity Leave Act, and the bill creating the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.
Other important bills pending in the bicameral conference committee include the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop Act, the National Integrated Cancer Control Program Act, and the bill expanding the supplemental appropriations for fiscal year for patients in relation to the Dengvaxia vaccine controversy.
Experience is key
According to Sotto, the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which prepares for the establishment of the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao, was the most challenging measure the senators worked on this year, as he noted the long debates that transpired before the bill was signed into law.
The same is true, he said, regarding the Philippine Identification System Act, given the many discussions senators had on the issue.
Despite this, Sotto explained that the speedy passage of bills can be credited to the “wealth of experience” of the current Senate leaders, who are all veterans of legislative proceedings.
Sotto has served as Senate Majority Leader (15th and 17th Congresses) twice before his election as Senate President. Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto too has served the position twice (16th and 17th Congresses), same with Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who has served the same post in two Congresses (14th and 17th Congresses). Likewise, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has served as Senate President in four previous Congresses (11th, 12th, 13th, 16th Congresses).
“The people I work in tandem with have spent years in Congress so we really have a good rapport, including the Senate Minority Leader. Experience, cooperation, and camaraderie goes a long way,” he said. (Bagong Senado)