Senate's priority bills from economic Cha-cha, OFW Dept, to Bayanihan 3
August 03, 2021 11:03 AM
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III enumerates some of the Senate's priority bills after resuming its hybrid session last July 26, Monday.
"The economic bills that are pending now, we might be able to pass by August, September. And with all the measures coming from the Department of Finance that we are tackling, there is a possibility that the economic Cha-cha will not be necessary as soon as these bills become a law."
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said the Senate seeks to tackle priority measures that address the country's current issues brought by the ongoing pandemic.
The important bills include the proposed amendments to the Foreign Investment Acts (FIA), amendments to the Public Service Act (PSA), the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (Guide) Act, the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos, the Package 4 of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program or the Passive Income Tax and Financial Intermediary Tax Act, the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines Act, Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Development Financing System Act (Agri-Agra), and Package 3 of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program or the Valuation Reform Bill.
Key economic bills
The fate of the amendments for the economic provisions of the Constitution still hangs in the Senate, however, Sotto said the chamber will be prioritizing several key economic bills.
"Yung deadline na pinag-uusapan namin [ni House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco] na January or February 2022 is still possible," he said.
(The deadline of January or February 2022 that we talked about is still possible)
Sotto added, "I'm not saying that it doesn't stand a chance in the Senate. February because of the plebiscite. It needs a plebiscite to be able to be approved by the people.”
Other senators, Sotto said, will be focusing instead on primary economic bills like the Retail Trade Liberalization Act (Senate Bill No. 1840), the Public Service Act (Senate Bill No. 2094), and the Foreign Investments Act (Senate Bill No. 1156)—which is meant to raise the number of foreign investments in the Philippines.
The Retail Trade Liberalization Act seeks to lessen the requirements for foreign retailers, the Public Service Act, meanwhile, will allow foreigners to own public services in telecommunications and transportation, and the Foreign Investments Act will allow foreign investors to own “domestic market enterprises.”
According to Sotto, the said economic bills have the potential to address what the economic Cha-cha seeks to amend. At the moment, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act is ready for bicameral deliberation, while the latter two are already in the plenary.
"The economic bills that are pending now, we might be able to pass by August, September. And with all the measures coming from the Department of Finance that we are tackling, there is a possibility that the economic Cha-cha will not be necessary as soon as these bills become a law," Sotto explained.
The Senate, additionally, will also tackle the proposed Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) Act, which aims to help businesses to recover from setbacks caused by the pandemic.
Another Bayanihan bill?
The Senate is already scheduled to review the House-approved version of the proposed Bayanihan to Arise as One Act (Bayanihan 3), the third P401-billion COVID stimulus package.
According to the Senate chief, he expects the chamber to pass the bill, however, they still need to incorporate a Senate version to address some conflicting allocations, such as the billions worth of funds for uniformed personnel.
New laws in the “next two months”
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, meanwhile, stated that the Senate also aims to pass the following bills within “the next two months”:
- Bureau of Fire Protection's modernization
- Rural agricultural and fisheries development
- Increasing age of statutory rape
- Military and uniformed personnel's insurance fund
- Anti-online sexual abuse and exploitation of children
- Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao extension