Senate adjourns session for the holidays

The Senate adjourned its session yesterday, December 14, to go on a legislative break during the holidays. Regular sessions will resume on January 16, 2017, Monday.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said the holiday season is “truly the season for thanksgiving, and we in the Senate have much to be thankful for this 2016.”  
“We opened the First Regular Session of the Senate of the 17th Congress by crafting an 11-point legislative agenda to guide us to Change. And this early, we can see results,” he said.
Since the start of the 17th Congress last July 25, the senators had filed a total of 1,283 bills and 253 resolutions, which are in different stages of legislation.
Topping off the list is the Senate’s passing of the 2017 General Appropriations Act, which the Upper Chamber also ratified and adopted during today’s session.
The Senate’s P 3.35 trillion proposed national budget for 2017 allocates around P1.4 trillion or 40 percent of the whole budget to social services programs.
“To fund the priority programs of the President, we ensured that the Budget for Change did not waste a single peso on any frivolous item. The result is a 3.35 trillion-peso budget that we now ratified for submission to the President. It is our gift to the Filipino people this Christmas,” Pimentel said.
According to Pimentel, the Senate also successfully passed a bill that postponed the barangay and SK elections, the first law passed by the 17th Congress.
It also adopted 33 resolutions, most noteworthy is Senate Resolution No. 33, concurring in the ratification of the Articles of Agreement of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which Pimentel said provided “the government access to more sources of funding so we can usher in a golden age of infrastructure for the Philippines.”
Pimentel said the large number of bills did not prevent the institution from discharging its other duties, noting that the Senate held various hearings on the most pressing issues of the day, including the “process of shifting the country to federalism.”  
These achievements, Pimentel said, were the reason for the Senate’s high public approval ratings as recorded under the September 2016 Ulat ng Bayan survey of polling firm Pulse Asia.          
“In the centennial year of our beloved institution, the public gave us one of the highest net satisfaction ratings recorded since these surveys started in 1988 (at 52 percent as of September 2016),” he said.  
“This is an affirmation that the public trusts us to deliver on the President’s promise of a meaningful change in the lives of our countrymen,” he added.
Pimentel said the Senate would continue its “labor of love for the country,” adding that he would call for a senator’s caucus early next year to properly set the legislative agenda for 2017.
He said the Senate would continue pursuing priority bills under its 11-point legislative agenda such as the bills on Personal Income Tax Reform, the Amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act, as well as the bills granting emergency powers to address the traffic crisis, and the end of contractualization, among others. 
We will spur national discussions even on controversial measures because that is the essence of democracy. And we will continue, in our 101st year, to lay the foundations for the future of an independent, responsible, and responsive Senate,” Pimentel said.  
“We will continue to build a Senate that is truly a pillar of democracy and the pride of the Filipino people,” he concluded.
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