THE Philippine Senate adjourned sessions on December 14 for the holidays, wrapping up a productive season with pieces of legislation “recognizing and responding to Filipinos’ needs.”
“Since we first convened 20 weeks ago, we have devoted every single day to carrying out the duties the Constitution has assigned us and delivering the results our constituents expect of us,” Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri said in closing the session.
Of the numerous bills and legislative measures that the Senate acted on, Zubiri said the “most important” is the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
The law, signed by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on December 16, contains the P5.268-trillion national budget for next year.
“Consisting of thousands of funding lines, this massive yet minute book of spending, finances the start of the reconstruction our people deserve after three years of being pummeled by the pandemic. The way the budget, and all the bills, are hammered in the Senate is proof that ours is not only an institution driven by initiative but also by industry,” Zubiri said.
From the time the First Regular Session of the 19th Congress was convened on July 25 until December 14, a total of 1,610 bills and 388 resolutions were filed by the senators.
Members of the Upper Chamber successfully passed Republic Act (RA) No. 11934, or the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration Act, which regulates the sale and use of SIMs to curb “mobile phone-aided” crimes in the country.
The Senate also approved the now RA 11935, which rescheduled this year’s Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Elections to the last Monday of October, 2023.
Senators likewise supported the campaign for safe, sustainable, and healthy modes of transport in the country, passing on the third and final reading Senate Bill (SB) No. 1290, or the proposed “Walkable and Bikeable Communities Act”. A counterpart bill is pending in the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, the Senate adopted a total of 38 simple resolutions, which include the resolution creating the Oversight Committee on Intelligence and Confidential Funds; and an unnumbered resolution expressing the sense of the chamber on China’s continued harassment in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Senators were also not remiss in recognizing the Philippines’ statesmen, artists, scientists, and athletes.
In a concurrent resolution, the Senate also backed the Marcos administration’s 2022-2028 Medium Term Fiscal Framework, whose targets shall guide Congress’ legislative agenda.
It also approved the concurrent resolution establishing the Philippine Congress-Bangsamoro Parliament Forum, as mandated by the Bangsamoro Organic Law (Republic Act No. 11054), to foster cooperation and coordination between the national government and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
For 2023, Zubiri said the Senate will continue to “champion innovations while protecting and helping indigent Filipinos.”
“These kinds of tandem initiatives – which blend the macro and the micro, the long-gestating with the quick-acting – is the template that this Senate, this hardworking, forward-looking Senate, should follow when we return here this January,” the Senate chief said.
“Our labors in the coming months will sustain our path to recovery while battling the headwinds which threaten to slow down our march to a place better than where we were before the pandemic,” he added.
“Sa ating mga kababayan, ang nais niyo ay nais din namin: Harinawa’y ang darating na taon ay puno ng sigla, hitik ng makabuluhang pagbabago, at tunay na maghahatid ng ginhawa. Sa ating pagtutulungan, sa ating pagsisikap, sa awa ng Maykapal, kaya nating kamtin ang mga iyan. May God Bless the Philippines!” Zubiri said.
Plenary sessions will resume on January 23, 2023.