Senate, House end 1st year with 4 laws passed

Camille Elemia
Senate, House end 1st year with 4 laws passed
There are 7 bills awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte's signature, including the Free Internet Access in Public Places, Free Higher Education, and the extension of validity of passports and driver's licenses

MANILA, Philippines – The 17th Congress has adjourned its 1st regular session with 4 laws passed.

The Senate and the House of Representatives approved the following bills, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law:

  • RA 10923 – Postponement of the 2016 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections
  • RA 10924 – General Appropriations Act of 2017 or the 2017 national budget
  • RA 10925 – Franchise renewal of GMA Network
  • RA 10926 – Franchise renewal of Smart Communications

There are also 7 approved bills awaiting Duterte’s signature. These are the following:

Treaties

The Senate, constitutionally mandated to concur in the ratification of treaties entered into by the executive, approved 3 international agreements – the landmark Paris climate deal, the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the Philippines-Japan Agreement on Social Security.

The chamber also approved on 3rd and final reading the following 14 bills, which remain pending in the House of Representatives:

  • Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2017
  • Mental Health Act of 2017
  • Telecommuting Act of 2017 (work from home)
  • Philippine Tech-Voc Day
  • Speech Language Pathology Act of 2016
  • Teachers Supply Allowance Act of 2016
  • PNP Reorganization Act
  • Philippine Food Technology Act of 2016
  • Sagip Saka Act
  • Philippine Innovation Act
  • Tulong-Trabaho Act
  • National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act
  • Agricultural Free Patent Reform Act
  • Shield Law, which the Senate and the House passed on 3rd and final reading but has yet to be finalized in a bicameral conference committee

On the last day of session on Wednesday, May 31, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III delivered a speech thanking his colleagues, saying he looks forward to an “independent, responsible” Senate.

Pimentel described his term as “eventful” and “productive,” as he urged his colleagues to recharge for the discussions on charter change and federalism once sessions resume.

The first year of the Senate under the Duterte administration, however, has been marred by controversies, walkouts, word wars, and even the arrest of one senator – Leila de Lima. Pimentel, however, downplayed the majority-minority divide.

“We may have this minority-majority division but in actuality, we are one big family,” he said.

De Lima, a former election lawyer for Pimentel, remains detained over drug charges. While Pimentel is one of Duterte’s staunchest allies, De Lima is one of the President’s fiercest critics.

Congress will resume session on July 24 during the President’s 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA). – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com