Dateline Manila: Senate goes on a break PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 26 September 2014 12:53

BY Sammy Santos


Bills promoting education and better social services topped the Senate’s legislative achievements as Congress took a break yesterday, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2014. Plenary sessions would resume on October 20, 2014.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said that the senators’ work since the opening of the 2nd Regular Session of Congress reflects their commitment “to bring back the people’s faith in this institution as a bastion of our democracy.”

Before going on a break, the Senate ratified three bicameral committee reports promoting education. The passing of a number of pro-education legislation is seen to expand the delivery of educational services offered by the state.

Last Thursday, the upper chamber ratified the bicameral committee report for Senate Bill No. 2272, which aims to strengthen the ladderized interface between technical-vocational education and higher education. The proposed measure seeks to provide alternative methods and systems of education for working students and out of school youths.

On Tuesday, the Senate ratified the bicameral committee reports for Senate Bill No. 2274, which seeks to expand access to education through open learning and distance education in the tertiary level, and Senate Bill No. 2275, or the “Iskolar ng Bayan Act,” which seeks the automatic admission and provision of scholarship grants by all state colleges and universities to public high school students who belong to the top ten places of their graduating classes.

Once enacted into law, the bill would give approximately 80,000 graduating students access to free college education as early as next year.

The  three education bills belong to the five proposed legislation passed by the Senate since the beginning of the 2nd Regular Session of the 16th Congress that are intended to advance the reach of the national educational system, and to overcome the challenges posed by poverty, physical barriers and lack of opportunities to the educational sector.

In a press statement, Drilon said: “Since the opening of the 16th Congress last July, the Senate has passed 14 bills on third reading, and another bill on second reading, while eight other bills are currently being interpellated or amended on the floor. The Senate also passed a total of 16 resolutions and three concurrent resolutions with the House of Representatives.”

The senators also pushed for the upgrading of social services extended by the government to its citizens.

Leading such measures is the Senate Bill No. 712, which provides for the mandatory Philhealth coverage for all senior citizens, thus amending Republic Act No. 7432 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

Drilon said under the bill, all senior citizens would only need to present valid IDs to avail of Philhealth coverage for their medical expenses, as compared to the existing law where only senior citizens classified as indigent could avail of the national health insurance program.

The Senate also passed Senate Joint Res. No. 2, which seeks to increase the subsistence allowance of all personnel under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) from P90 to P150 per day, and carried over House Bill No. 694, which aims to increase the burial assistance for veterans from P10,000 to P 20,000.

Drilon revealed that upon resumption of Senate sessions next month, the chamber will focus on the passage of the 2015 national budget, and other priority legislation such as Senate Bill No. 2408, or the Bangsamoro bill.

“When we return to the Senate floor, we will act on the proposed General Appropriations Act, which we have to finish and pass by the end of the year,” Drilon said. He expected the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law to be passed the Senate within the first quarter of next year.

The Senate would also work on the joint resolution being sought by President Aquino granting him emergency power to deal with the looming power shortage in the summer season next year.

The following were the bills passed on 3rd reading since the opening of 2nd Regular Session of 16th Congress last July:

1. S. No. 2272 Strengthening the Ladderized Interface Between Technical-Vocational Education And Training And Higher Education

2. S. No. 2274 Expand Access To Education Through Open Learning And Distance Education In Tertiary Levels Of Education

3. S. No. 2275 Mandating All State Colleges And Universities To Annually Confer Automatic Admission And Provide Scholarship Grants To The Top Ten (10) Public High School Students Of Their Graduating Class

4. S. No. 2277 Establishing the Open High School System in the Philippines

5. S. No. 712 Providing for the Mandatory Philhealth Coverage for All Senior Citizens, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 7432, As Amended by Republic Act No. 9994, Otherwise Known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010

6. S. No. 914 Regulate and Modernize the Practice of Chemistry in the Philippines, Repealing for the Purpose Republic Act No. 754 Entitled ‘An Act to Regulate the Practice of Chemistry in the Philippines’

7. S. No. 1647 Repealing The Crime Of Premature Marriage Under Article 351 Of Act No. 3815, Otherwise Known As    The Revised Penal Code

8. S. No. 2055 Regulating the Practice of Forestry in the Philippines, Repealing for the Purpose Republic Act Numbered Sixty-two Hundred Thirty-nine, Known as “The Forestry Profession Law”

9. S. No. 2103 Regulating the Practice of Metallurgical Engineering in the Philippines, Repealing for This Purpose Presidential Decree Numbered 1536, Otherwise Known as the Metallurgical Engineering Law of the Philippines

10. S. No. 2161 Creating the Quezon City Development Authority (QCDA), Defining Its Powers and Functions, Providing for Its Organizational Structure and Capitalization

11. S. No. 2212 Actively Promote Entrepreneurship and Financial Education Among Filipino Youth

12. S. No. 2278 Mandating the Completion of the Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) Component of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) by June 30, 2016 Pursuant to Republic Act No. 6657, Otherwise Known as The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, as Amended

13. S. Jt. Res. No. 2 Increasing the Subsistence Allowance of All Officers and Enlisted Personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and of all Commissioned and Non-Commissioned Personnel of the Philippine National Police From Ninety Pesos (P90.00) to One Hundred and Fifty Pesos (P150.00) Per Day

14. H. No. 694 Increasing the Burial Assistance for Veterans From Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) to Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00), Amending for The Purpose Republic Act No. 6948, As Amended, Otherwise Known as An Act Standardizing and Upgrading the Benefits for Military Veterans and Their Dependents

Meanwhile, the Senate on Wednesday adopted a resolution commending the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan Awardees for their contribution in promoting the country’s cultural heritage. Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 765, introduced by Sen. Loren Legarda, recognizes the outstanding Filipinos artists whose craft reflects Filipino culture and identity.

The Gawad ng Manlilikha ng Bayan or GAMABA award was institutionalized through Republic Act No. 7355 in April 1992. “Since its first conferment in 1993, the GAMABA award has so far recognized the efforts of 13 traditional artists,” the resolution said.

The GAMABA awardees are Ginaw Bilog, Masino Intaray, Samaon Sulaiman, Lang Dulay, Salinta Monon, Alonzo Saclag, Federico Caballero, Uwang Ahadas, Darhata Sawabi, Eduardo Mutuc, Haja Amina Appi, Teofilo Garcia and Magdalena Gamayo.

“Cognizant of their artistic genius and their perseverance to instill national pride through the arts, it is but fitting that our Manlilikha ng Bayan, the nation’s “living treasures,” be recognized and honored for their painstaking dedication to promote, protect and safeguard the nation’s rich intangible heritage,” Legarda said.

Candidates for the GAMABA award must be inhabitants of an indigenous cultural community in the Philippines that has preserved indigenous customs, beliefs, rituals and traditions and/or has syncretized whatever external elements that have influenced it.

Each candidate must have engaged in a folk art tradition that has been in existence and documented for at least 50 years.

The candidate must have consistently performed or produced over a significant period works of superior and distinctive quality. He or she must possess a mastery of tools and materials needed by the art, and must have an established reputation in the art as master and maker of works of extraordinary technical quality.

The candidate must have passed on and/or will pass on to other members of the community their skills in the folk art for which the community is traditionally known.