Press Release
May 9, 2011

Impeachment resolution sent to archives
Enrile: Senate ready to buckle down to work

The Senate sent to the archives Monday morning Senate Resolution 105 that called for the impeachment trial of resigned Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and said it would now buckle down to address pending legislations, especially the priority bills outlined by President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino recently.

Speaking to reporters during the resumption of the Senate session after a month-long break this morning, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said a number of new bills were filed in the Senate and he expected senators to get back to work now that the impeachment of Gutierrez had been set aside.

"We will try to do whatever we can do," Ernile said after reporters noted that Congress had only 12 working days before it goes on a sine die break starting June 10. Saying that Senators enjoy a six-year term each, Enrile added: "We are not going to do everything that we have to do in six years, in a day, or in a month or in a year."

The Senate President said that he received official communication from Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupaz Jr, chairman of the House Justice Committee that initiated the impeachment proceedings against Gutierrez, informing the Senate that the impeachment trial was no longer necessary because Gutierrez resigned last week.

Enrile said he expected the Senate to be more productive in its legislative work with the return of Senator Panfilo Lacson after a long absence. "The bigger number is always a better number," he said, noting that the Senate is now composed of 23 senators.

Enrile said among the priority bills the Senate will tackle are the Anti-Trust Bill, the proposed measure seeking to reform the National Telecommunication Commission, the proposed revision to the Public Land Act, the proposed Cyber Crime Prevention Act of 2010 and the proposed People's Survival Fund bill, amending the Climate Change Act.

Before going on its Holy Week break last March 26, the Senate tackled five bills. Among them were the GOCC Governance Act of 2011 (SBN 2640), sponsored by Sen. Franklin Drilon, which aims to reform the structure and operations of GOCCs to exact from them efficient and effective public service; the Career Executive System Act (SBN 2671), which seeks to strengthen the bureaucracy by professionalizing the ranks of government managers and executives, authored by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV; and a bill Decriminalizing Vagrancy (SBN 2726), sponsored by Sen. Francis Escudero, which aims to remove vagrancy as a criminal offense in the Revised Penal Code. Approved on third reading, these bills are now pending in the House of Representatives.

Also awaiting second reading at the Senate are the proposed Foster Care Act of 2010 (SBN 2486), the proposed Expanded Anti-trafficking in Persons Act of 2010 (SBN 2625), the Nightwork Prohibition of Women Employees Bill (SBN 2701), the proposed Meat Labeling Act of 2011 (SBN 2746) and the proposed Corporate Social Responsibility Act (SBN 2747).

The Senate President also disclosed that the Senate will attempt to tackle the proposal of Malacanang to postpone the scheduled elections in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao "if we have the time."

"We have notified informally the Commission on Elections to be prepared just in case we cannot really enact the law, although that has been certified by the President as an urgent bill," Enrile explained.

Enrile also disclosed that he did not believe the proposed Reproductive Health Bill will be given a priority status in the Senate.

"As far as we are concerned here, I don't think it is a priority. I'll be very frank with you. As far as I am concerned, I am not ready to tinker with anything that is an act of God," Enrile said,

Asked to comment on the position of pro-RH bill advocates that Congress should immediately approve the measure in the name of national interest, Enrile said: "There are many ways in which we can improve the lives of our people instead of trying to constrict the normal growth of our population."

"Instead of reducing the number of people that will participate in the pie, we should enlarge the pie. That, in a nutshell, is the policy position that I am taking," the Senate President added.

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