Press Release
July 24, 2011

Enrile: Recent events show need to pass important legislation

As the Senate prepares to buckle down to work tomorrow, Monday, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile today cited the need for Congress to pass bills that would help government in building the nation's fiscal and economic capabilities, as well as strengthen the country's environmental and defense mechanisms.

Enrile called on his colleagues to promptly act on the proposed national budget for 2012, saying its early approval would allow the chamber to assess the various programs of the Aquino administration under what is called a 'reform budget'.

He said the Senate will start deliberations on the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2012 as soon as it reaches the chamber to avoid a re-enacted budget next year. He added that the ideal scenario was for Congress to pass the budget earlier than the date it passed last year's budget.

"Our people expect us to make tough decisions. They elected us to see to it that they have a voice in helping reform our society, and we owe it to them to see to it that their needs are met. It is time that we crank the gears of the engine of sustainable development and use these available resources for the common good," Enrile explained.

Recent events in the country, Enrile pointed, has shown that Congress needed to pass important legislative measures that will show the Filipino people that their government meant business.

The Senate President cited events such as the heavy flooding in various parts of the Visayas and Mindanao, the recent findings of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on alleged fund misappropriations in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and the allegations of electoral fraud committed in the 2004 and 2007 elections which have brought to light the need for Congress to enact legislation that would address these problems.

With the opening of the 2nd Regular Session of the 15th Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives are set to focus on bills discussed during the first Legislative-Executive Advisory Council (LEDAC), Senate sources said.

Four priority measures included in the LEDAC priority list were signed into law by the president before end of the 1st Regular Session, namely R.A. 10151, rationalizing the night work prohibition on women workers; R.A. 10149, promoting financial viability and fiscal discipline in government-owned and controlled corporations; RA 10153, synchronizing the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the national and local elections; and RA 10154, which mandates all government agencies to ensure the early release of a retiring state worker's retirement benefits within 30 days of his or her actual date of retirement.

Also enacted into law are two pro-poor bills: the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011 (R.A. 10152), and the Act Extending the Implementation of the Lifeline Rate (R.A. 10150).

The Senate also passed on second reading three bills discussed in the first LEDAC meeting: the Kindergarten Education Act (SBN 2700) which called for the institutionalization of kindergarten education into the basic education system and prescribing a mother tongue-based multi-lingual education; the National Health Insurance Act (SBN 2849) which sought to amend and improve the country's current national health insurance policy; and the Whistleblower's Protection Act of 2011 (SBN 2860), which sought to provide better protection, security and benefits for whistleblowers.

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