Senate to prioritize tax reform, charter change

MANILA, Philippines – With 20 senators present, the Senate of the 17th Congress opened its second session on Monday, July 24, ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2nd State of the Nation Address.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III led the ceremony, saying chamber is set to address bigger challenges facing the country.

In its first year, the 17th Congress passed 4 laws, with 7 more bills awaiting Duterte's signature.

"We have proven just how much work we can put in when the public welfare is on the line. I'm confident we can do just as well or even better," Pimentel said in a speech.

The Senate returns to its legislative work 2 days after Congress held a joint session extending the duration of Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao until December 31.

Also present were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, cabinet secretaries Rafael Mariano, Paulyn Jean Ubial, Alfonso Cusi, Roy Cimatu, Ernesto Pernia, Vitaliano Aguirre II, Alan Peter Cayetano, foreign dignitaries, and former senators.

Spouses of senators were also there, including the girlfriend of Pimentel.

The Senate's 1st year under Duterte was characterized by word wars, ouster of opposition senators, marathon congressional hearings, and the imprisonment of Senator Leila De Lima, the Chief Executive's fiercest critic. It was also under Pimentel's watch when the body celebrated its centennial year

Legislative work

Pimentel said that the chamber would prioritize tax reform, the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, charter change for federalism, universal healthcare, national ID system, and anti-terrorism measures.

Pernia, chair of the Legislative-Executive Advisory Council, has endorsed to President Duterte 13 “urgent” bills for Congress’ approval. These are the following:

Senators are set to go to the House of Representatives for the President’s 2nd SONA at 4pm. (READ: 11 things to expect at Duterte’s SONA 2017) –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, 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