Senate seeks to finish BBL, economic reforms bills as session resumes Monday

By , on May 3, 2015


Senate of the Philippines (Wikipedia photo)
Senate of the Philippines (Wikipedia photo)

MANILA — While the Bangsamoro Basic Law remains the Senate top agenda as plenary session resumes on Monday, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said the upper chamber would work for the passage of key legislation that would boost the country’s competitiveness amidst the emerging opportunities and challenges brought about by the ASEAN economic integration.

“The passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law continues to be important for the upper chamber. It will receive a special legislative attention in the coming weeks. We will devote extra time and effort to ensure the passage of a BBL that is constitutional, fair and inclusive – one that will help end the decades of strife in Mindanao,” said Drilon in a press statement on Friday.

“Once the committee on local government, chaired by Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., submits its report on the BBL to the body, we will immediately calendar it for discussion. We expect strong debates on the floor over the passage of this bill. We all acknowledge the necessity of this piece of legislation to ensure genuine peace and growth for our brothers and sisters in Mindanao,” he added.

Drilon said the Senate would also devote attention to other bills, including economic reforms to help the country cope with regional developments, such as the ASEAN economic integration this year.

Other bills to be taken up include the proposed Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act (TIMTA) and the creation of a Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Drilon said.

He said the passage of TIMTA, which gained support from business community, would promote transparency and accountability in the grant of tax incentives to business entities.

The creation of the DICT, also supported by the business leaders, would help the country manage and develop its burgeoning information and communications technology sector, according to Drilon.

He said the Senate would also work on a legislation that would strengthen the public-private partnership scheme to address the infrastructure backlog in the country.

He said the Senate would also work for the passage of the proposed Customs and Tariff Modernization Act (CTMA) which would reduce smuggling and make customs procedure and operations more simple and transparent.

“We intend to advance the discussions on the CTMA to address the most pressing problems of the Bureau of Customs,” he said.

Apart from helping end the P200 billion annual dent to state revenues caused by smuggling and illegal transactions, Drilon said “automating the BOC’s systems and lessening human intervention would make customs procedures faster and more credible.”

He said the Senate is also expected to pass on third and final reading three proposed bills when session starts on Monday. These include Senate Bill No. 2280 which seeks to amend the Probation Law of 1976, SBN 2518 which aims to remove the conditions for the condonation of all unpaid taxes due from local water districts, and House Bill No. 945 which seeks to declare the last full week of August as Armed Forces of the Filipino People Week.

Drilon said 33 Senate bills were already on advanced stages of legislation before the upper chamber went on recess last March.

He said the Senate would work on the following legislation: the amendments to the Revised Penal Code, the proposed Unified Student Financial Assistance Act (UNIFAST) bill, the establishment of Public Employment and Services Office bill, the PAGASA Modernization Act, the amendments to the AFP Modernization Act, the amendments to the prescriptive period for graft and corrupt practices, and the enactment of a national identification system

“We will work hard and do all we can to make the remaining time in our 2nd regular session productive and meaningful by finishing the priority measures pending on the floor and advancing other key reform measures that are still at the committee level,” Drilon said.