By Angie M. Rosales | The Daily Tribune
Senators, veterans and the newly elected, gave a preview on their priorities for legislation in the 16th Congress with seasoned senators getting the first crack at filing bills.
Senators Vicente “Tito” Sotto, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Francis “Chiz” Escudero and acting Senate President Jinggoy Estrada were the early birds in filing their pet bills in the Senate.
Done via lottery, the order of filing was raffled off by Senate Secretary Emma Lirio-Reyes who was assisted by Edwin Bellen, Deputy Secretary for Legislation, and Renato Bantug, Director for Legislation, with Sotto getting the first slot.
Senators Ma. Lourdes “Nancy” Binay and Grace Poe personally filed their bills and were received by Director Antoniette Aristorza of the Legislative Bills and Index (LBIS).
Binay has lined up 15 bills which are mostly concerned on the protection of children’s and women’s rights.
Establishing child care facilities in private and government offices, creating programs for imprisoned parents and their children, mandating gender sensitivity training in the workplace, providing free medical and dental assistance to indigent children, protecting schools from sex offenders, and amending the VAWC Law to include digital forms of violence against women and children are among the bills in the pipeline for Binay.
Binay has scheduled to frontload all her priority bills this week to ensure that they be referred to appropriate committees once the formal sessions in the Senate start.
The 16th Congress would not begin its legislative assembly until July 22.
Binay said that the early filing of bills is critical to advancing the priorities of the Senate and she hopes that most of the bills that she filed would find their way to passage.
“This is the time I start working on the promises I made during the campaign. This is part of my advocacy and UNA’s legislative agenda that I promised to pursue,” the first-termer lady senator said.
Among her bills are The Employers Child Care Centers Act of 2013; Parents in Jail Act of 2013; Special Education Act of 2013, Women’s and Children’s Resource Development and Crisis Assistance Act of 2013; The Indigent Children Free Medical and Dental Service Act; Firecracker Safety Law; Women and Gender Education Act.
The Anti-Corporate Punishment Act of 2013; The E-Vaw Law of 2013, Rest Period for Women Employees; Sex Offenders School Access Prohibition Act; Philippine Arbitration Commission Act of 2013; Petroleum Exploration and Development Act; Sugar Cane Industry Development Act of 2013 and the Food Fortification Act.
“I want to make sure that the bills we will be crafting are realistic, doable and would benefit every Filipino family, especially women and children. I am aware that it would take a lot of skill to manage and defend to get the bills passed, but I’m ready to discuss and negotiate with my colleagues in the Senate in order to reach the needed consensus on pressing issues,” she stressed.
Binay campaigned on a platform of improving health and education. She has likewise expressed her strong support for the advocacy for legal adoption of orphans and vowed to review existing statutes on adoption.
Other senators who filed bills at the LBIS of the Philippine Senate include Senators Koko Pimentel, who was the sixth to file his bills, followed by Pia Cayetano (seventh), Franklin Drilon (ninth), Antonio Trillanes (10th), Serge Osmeña (11th).
Osmeña was followed by Senators Bong Revilla (12th), former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (13th), Miriam Defensor-Santiago (14th), Sonny Angara (15th), Gringo Honasan (16th), while JV Ejercito placed 17th in the line-up of early filers.
Senators Teofisto “TG” Guingona (18th), Manuel “Lito” Lapid (21st), Minority Leader Alan Cayetano (22nd), Ralph Recto (23rd), also filed their bills.