• Aquino-endorsed bills in doldrums

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    PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd, in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2010, enumerated seven proposed measures that he wanted Congress to treat as priorities.

    In his 2010 SONA, Aquino requested Congress to work on passage of fiscal responsibility bill, amendments to the procurement reform law, anti-trust bill, national land use bill, national defense act and whistleblowers act; and strengthening of the Witness Protection Program.

    Five years later, only the anti-trust law, which aims to enforce a national competition policy prohibiting anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position and anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions, was enacted.

    The proposed bill amending Republic Act 9184 or the government procurement reform act is pending before the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revisions of Law headed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

    Senate Bills 433 filed by Senator Francis Escudero, SB 478 by Antonio Trillanes 4th and SB 782 by Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada remain pending at the committee level.

    The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources is still studying three bills on national land use, authored by Senators Loren Legarda, Gregorio Honasan and Escudero.

    The bill seeks to institutionalize a national land use policy to ensure a rational, holistic and just allocation, utilization, management and development of the country’s land resources.

    Senators Juan Edgardo Angara and Joseph Victor Ejercito filed SB 1932 and SB 1614 respectively or the whistleblowers protection, security and benefit act of 2013 that seeks to provide protection, security and benefits to whistleblowers.

    Congress was not able to pass a national defense act but managed to pass republic Act 10349 or the revised AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) Modernization Act, which extends the modernization program to another 15 years with an initial budget of P75 billion for the first five years in order to continue upgrading all military branches.

    The Senate passed Senate Bill 2269, which aims to relax a provision of the AFP Modernization Act on the purchase of major equipment or weapon systems.

    But Congress was able to pass five proposed general appropriations act from 2010 to 2015, sin tax reform act, Reproductive Health law, enhanced basic education act or the K plus 12, mandatory PhilHealth coverage for senior citizens, increase in tax exemption of the 13th month pay and other bonuses amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act and cybercrime law.

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