Starting next week, the Senate will start holding sessions on Thursday mornings to prioritize the enactment of local bills emanating from the House of Representatives to ensure better relations between the two chambers of Congress, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said today.
"In a caucus we had earlier this week, we agreed to resume the holding of the Thursday sessions next week so that we can take up and approve as much bills and resolutions as possible," Enrile said in a statement.
"It has come to our attention that there are numerous bills of local importance dealing on education, justice, public works and others which have been approved by the Lower House, transmitted to the Senate for concurrence and are now pending in the various committees in the Senate," Enrile added, "We have also lined up many important pieces of legislation that must be prioritized."
The Senate President noted that there were only 48 remaining session days in the Second Regular Session of the 14th Congress and that both chambers should maximize the time available to enact vital pieces of legislation, both of national and local importance.
"More importantly, holding sessions on Thursdays will affirm our commitment to our counterpart in the Lower House that we are willing to work with them for the benefit of our people," Enrile said. Records obtained by the Senate Public Relations and Information Bureau (PRIB) indicated that since the start of the 14th Congress, a total of 963 House bills have been sent to the Senate for concurrence. Only a total of 148 House bills have been acted upon by the Senate, the records said.Enrile noted that the past weeks, the Senate has been working double time to approve important measures needed to help the executive branch overcome the effects of the ongoing global financial slowdownHe said the Senate has also approved a number of local bills on third reading that have been pending since December.
"We will be able to take up more local bills as soon as the various Senate committees file their reports on matters relating to justice, public works, local government, among others," Enrile said.The other bills included in Enrile's priority agenda are the Baseline Bill that was approved on third reading Tuesday, the Magna Carta for Women, amendments to the Agrarian Reform Law, amendments to EPIRA and the proposed Anti-Trust law, among others.
In will be recalled that in September last year, the House of Representatives created a Special Task Force to monitor House bills transmitted to the Senate to ensure their immediate passage. Speaker Prospero Nograles said so-called "House ambassadors to the Senate" would lobby for the passage of bills that had been approved on Third Reading in the House of Representatives. House sources said the Task Force was Nograles' response to a nagging problem in a bicameral set-up wherein bills could not be passed without the concurrence of both chambers.