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Drilon: Congress running out of time

MANILA – Priority bills were set as the Senate formally opened the third regular session of the 16th Congress on Monday.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said six months are remaining in their regular sessions and senators are pledging to work on a range of measures which would lead the country towards attaining economic prosperity, peace, and uplifting the life of every Filipino.

"We should continue in the last regular session of this Congress, and even beyond, the pursuit of good governance and the audacity to implement meaningful reforms, no matter how unpopular they may be," Drilon said.

The Senate has a six-month window starting today until December 18. There will be a short break on October 10 to November 2.

Drilon said both the Senate and House of Representatives have agreed that for the last six months, they will focus on six measures.

These are the Bangsamoro Basic Law; the 2016 National Budget; the creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology; the amendments to the built-operate-and-transfer law to strengthen our private-public partnership; the PAGASA modernization; and the Freedom of Information Bill.

"We are racing against time. We must set aside political interests and think of solutions to the nation's pressing problems. Let us remind ourselves that we are here to serve the people, and not special interest groups." Drilon said.

Apart from that, there are about 15 other measures which they will closely monitor and push such as the tariff and customs modernization act; the national ID system; the proposed public-private partnership act; acquisition of the right-of-way act; the prepaid SIM card registration, among others.


The Senate president also said Senator Bongbong Marcos will be ready to file his committee's report on the BBL on August 3, which is one week after the last State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Aquino.

When this report is presented on August 3, Drilon will ask for a caucus with all senators so that they can set their time table.

"We will continue to promote lasting peace and sustainable development in Mindanao through a Bangsamoro Basic Law that is consistent with our Constitution," he said.

Drilon said he is confident that there will no lump sums nor any insertions in next year's budget. He said he is confident that Senator Francis Escudero, who chairs the Senate finance committee, will be able to defend the budget.

"We assure our people that the pork barrel system is a thing of the past." Drilon said.

"The challenge that is thrown to us and to the people who will be elected in 2016, is to nsure the continuity of these reforms. We must ensure a bright and promising future for the younger generation and the generations yet unborn.''

Ron Gagalac

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