Friday, December 14, 2007

Senate passes 5 of 9 LEDAC priority bills

By Veronica Uy

MANILA, Philippines -- The Senate has approved five of nine bills that had been prioritized by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), Senate President Manuel Villar said Thursday.

Apart from the P1.227-trillion proposed national budget for 2008, Villar said the Senate also passed the Magna Carta for Small and Medium Enterprises, Cheaper Medicines Bill, Personal Equity and Retirement Account Act, and the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), the last one being passed Wednesday night with 12 affirmative votes.

ACEF, sponsored by Senator Edgardo Angara, seeks to ensure more benefits to Filipino farmers with more agricultural infrastructure, post-harvest facilities, research and development, and training.

It also provides that 10 percent of the fund be used to support scholarships in agriculture and fisheries, and in courses such as veterinary medicine.

“Next week we are set to ratify the bicameral report on the national budget and present it to the President for her signature. We will also work on the passage of the bill creating the Credit Information Bureau and bills for the benefit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Villar said.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Francis Pangilinan said the bicameral conference meeting that would thresh out the differences in the versions of the two Chambers was scheduled next week.

Villar said this showed that the Senate honored the commitment it made during the LEDAC meeting to pass more priority bills before Congress adjourns for Christmas.

With these bills and the ratification of the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Treaty between the Philippines and Spain, Villar said the Senate had approved 14 measures “after only four months of holding plenary sessions.”

“The passage of these bills indicates that the Senate recognizes the real need to institute reforms in governance. This feat belies allegations that the Senate engages in too much politics at the expense of its legislative work,” he said.

The other priority bills specified at the LEDAC meeting were: amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, Civil Aviation Authority bill, amendments to the University of the Philippines Charter, and the Credit Information System.

“The Senate is willing to extend a hand of cooperation to the administration in order to fast-track the enactment of laws needed by the people,” Villar said.

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