Press Release
December 17, 2015

Pro-consumer, pro-worker bills top Senate achievements for 2015 - Drilon

Ordinary Filipinos will gain the most from the Senate's strong legislative performance this year, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said, thanks to pro-consumer and pro-worker measures which are among the more than hundred proposed legislation the Senate passed in 2015.

The Senate capped off the year 2015 with 148 bills of local and national application passed on third and final reading - of which 66 are now signed by President Benigno Aquino III as new laws of the land.

"This year has proven to be a bountiful harvest for the Senate, in terms of new legislation that will improve the life of Juan Dela Cruz through expanding the economy, advancing social welfare, and strengthening the judicial system," the Senate chief said.

In total, the 16th Congress, which opened in July 22, 2013, has been able to pass 89 new laws so far.

Bigger pay, more jobs

Drilon said that among the 66 new laws are a package of new legislation aimed at increasing the take-home pay of Filipinos, such as the P82,000 tax exemption cap for 13th Month Pay (RA 10653) and other benefits and Joint Resolution No. 5 that increases the daily subsistence allowance of all enlisted and uniformed personnel.

He also noted that the Senate has passed HB 5842, or the P2,000 across the board increase to the monthly pension received by retirees under the Social Security System (SSS) has already been passed and which now awaits the President's approval and signing into law.

He also added that the Salary Standardization Law IV, which will increase the salaries of about 1.6 million government employees, will be approved on third reading upon the resumption of the session on January 18 of next year.

Drilon also pointed out that the Senate passed on third reading the measure that will grant education assistance and benefits to dependents of all members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Philippine Coast Guard, and Bureau of Corrections.

It likewise passed the bill that will provide retirement benefits to barangay officials, including barangay tanods, members of the Lupon ng Tagapamayapa, barangay health workers, and barangay day care workers.

Towards economic growth

To further bolster the country's economic development, Drilon pointed out that the Senate was also successful in securing the passage into law of landmark and long-sought economic reform measures - the Philippine Competition Act (RA 10667), which enforces a national competition policy and prohibits unfair and anti-competitive business practices; and the amended Cabotage Law (RA 10668), which allows foreign-flagged ships to call at multiple ports within the country.

"The passage of the Philippine Competition Act and the amendments to the Cabotage Law, which had languished in the legislative mill for decades, is the defining point of this year's session. It is a victory for the average Filipino who will benefit the most from improved market policies," Drilon said.

The Senate also secured the passage of the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act (RA 10708) to make transparent the fiscal incentives being issued by the government to the private sector, while the Customs and Tariff Modernization Act will be approved on third reading next January.

The Congress also enacted RA 10564 to strengthen the campaign against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the country and to ensure its compliance with its gations under international conventions and standards.

Also, two more pro-economic laws await the approval of the President, including the creation of the Department of Information and Technology and the acquisition of road right of way for government infrastructure projects.

In addition, the bill that amends the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation Charter is pending in the bicameral conference committee. The bill will protect depositors from financial ruin and maintain confidence in the banking system.

The Senate has also concurred in nine treaties aimed at enhancing the country's trade and investment relations with other countries.

Strengthening the justice system

Drilon said that the Senate also passed the amendments to the Sandiganbayan Act (RA 10660) to further strengthen its functional and structural organization, and the amendments to the Probation Law (RA 10707), which expands the benefit of probation.

It has also given its nod to 15 news laws creating municipal and regional trial courts to help improve judicial efficiency.

Improvement of education, social services

Drilon said that the Senate continues to give priority to expanding the reach of educational services in the country, as shown by its push for the passage of the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education Act (RA 10687) which will harmonize student financial assistance programs for poor but deserving college students, and the law which authorizes the Open High School System (RA 10655) for out-of-school youth.

"We have also increased the state's support for our student athletes, by enacting the National Athletes, Coaches and Trainers Benefits and Incentives Act (RA 10699) for greater and more organized provision of state funding and support to our athletes, and the Student Athletes Protection Act (RA 10676), to ensure that student athletes receive quality education even while participating in athletic events," Drilon said.

Drilon added that the Senate acted to pass the PAGASA Modernization Act (RA 10692), which would pour more funds into our state weather bureau and boost the nation's ability to "effectively manage weather and geological-related risks." He also noted the measure that will expand the benefits and privileges of persons with disability is waiting for the approval of the President.

No let up in Senate's work

Drilon vowed that there will be no let up in the Senate's legislative efforts: "Even with the elections drawing close, we have much work to do in the Senate. We intend to make good on our promise to the Filipino people on the start of the 16th Congress that we will help the poor, widen the delivery of education and other social services and improve the economy."

Drilon said that deliberations on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law will continue when the session resumes on January 18. The Senate will also prioritize the passage into law of the SSL IV, the CTMA and the Public-Private Partnership Act.

"The Senate will continue to be a working Senate, and we vow as one chamber that we will maximize our remaining time to continue our mandate and work on relevant, important and much-needed laws for our people," the Senate leader concluded.

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