MANILA - The Senate of the Philippines closed the 18th Congress' second regular session on Thursday with 72 measures passed into law.
Despite the Senate's migration to hybrid sessions - with senators either physically or virtually present for plenary debates because of pandemic restrictions - the chamber was able to pass 72 bills, with 21 more awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte's signature, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a statement.
"We made sure early on in the pandemic to allow for hybrid physical and virtual sessions and hearings, so we could continue our work as legislators, and particularly so we could craft urgently needed legislation for our battle against COVID," he said.
Among the notable measures that were passed into law from the second regular session's opening on July 27, 2020 to its adjournment on June 3, 2021 are as follows:
LAWS RELATED TO COVID-19 RESPONSE
- Bayanihan to Recover as One
- Act Expediting the Processing of National and Local Permits, Licenses, and Certifications in Times of National Emergency
- Amending the Social Security Act to Mandate the Deferment of SSS Contributions in Times of National Emergency
- Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act
- COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act
- Doktor Para sa Bayan Act
- Alternative Learning System Act
- Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act
- Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Act
- Labor Education Act
- PNP, BFP, BJMP, and BuCor Height Equality Act
"Aware of the urgent needs of the pandemic, your Senate committed to a legislative policy of shepherding government programs and resources for fighting COVID-19," Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in his sine die adjournment speech.
"I say that more is required from the government, not only because it has the resources to do so, but because the best public service is government’s covenant to its people," he said.
Among the bills that the chamber failed to pass in the second regular session was the third Bayanihan law in response to the pandemic.
Sotto appealed to the public to give government more time to address pandemic-related concerns in the coming months.
"In extraordinary times such as this— where there are so many unknowns— no government, not even the most advanced country in the world can act fast enough," the Senate President said.
"I would like to think that similar to the fable of the tortoise and the hare, we will win over the pandemic not because of how fast we run, but how wise we are at strategizing for the win," he said.
The 18th Congress is expected to open its third and final session on the fourth Monday of July, shortly before President Rodrigo Duterte's last State of the Nation Address (SONA).