MEMBERS of the Senate in the 16th congress have been very active in filing bills since the opening of the first regular session but the chamber was not as eager to pass them.
The Senate legislative bills and index service shows 2,175 proposed bills and 564 reso–lutions filed by the members of the chamber since the start of the 16th congress in July last year.
Of the bills filed, the Senate under the leadership of Sen. Franklin Drilon only managed to act upon 53 measures, while the remaining 2,122 bills are pending in the committees for public hearing.
Of the 53 proposed bills acted upon by the Senate only four were passed including Senate Bill (SB) 1186 Sangguniang Kabataan Election (Postponement), now Republic Act (RA) 10632, and SB 2043 or the Maritime industry Authority (MARINA) law, now RA 10635.
The chamber also managed to pass on third and final reading SB 1733 or the Freedom of Infor–mation (FIO) bill and SB 2046 or the Go Negosyo Act of 2013. The two measures however are pending at the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, eight measures have been placed under special order, namely the Picture-Based Health Warning; Quarters Allowance (Armed Forces of the Philippines); Practice of Chemistry; Chemical Weapons Prohibition Act; Practice of Forestry; Practice of Metal–lurgical Engineering; Sandigan–bayan reform; and the Co–operative Development Authority Charter Act.
The Senate also consolidated 29 bills and withdrew 12 other proposed legislatures in the committee reports.
Compared to the Senate in the previous congress, the current Senate can be viewed as per–forming poorly, although some insiders said the low batting average in the passage of bills was normal during the first regular session because the chamber is starting from scratch.
But aside from the low number of bills passed, the Senate is also facing the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) contro–versy that implicated three of its members, namely Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr.
Moreover,, there were reports that other incumbent senators may be added to the list of lawmakers involved in the PDAF scam in the coming months.
Congress will resume its session on May 5 and it will adjourn sine die on June 13, giving both houses of congress at least a month and a half to work on the passage of pending priority bills.
Drilon had earlier admited that the Senate still had to deal with a long list of legislative agenda on its return “that will further bolster the ongoing fight against corruption in Philippine bureaucracy, and those that will lift the living standards of our countrymen.”
Among the priority bills is SB 2138, which seeks to introduce amendments that will speed up the cases filed at the Sandigan–bayan; the tax exemption ceiling on the 13th month pay, Christmas bonuses and other benefits from P30, 000 to P75, 000; as well as other fiscal and financial legislation such as the Anti-Trust Bill, amendments to the fiscal incentives rationalization Act, reforms to the Cabotage Law and the Land Use Policy.