MANILA, Philippines – Senators will resume their work on Monday with a promise to push anti-corruption measures as the highest priority items on their agenda.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said that on the top of the list is Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, “which would enable significant steps in curbing corruption in Philippine bureaucracy.”
The Senate President also said that the Senate will continue with the intensive discussions they started just before they went on break back in December.
The enactment of the FOI bill into law “will encourage active participation in the governance process and will introduce new levels of accountability by increased public scrutiny,” he added.
Another bill the lawmakers will also focus on will be Senate Bill No. 470, which seeks to introduce reforms to the current Sandiganbayan Law.
It will give way to “expedite the disposition of numerous ongoing cases bogged down in the anti-graft court.”
Senators reportedly expressed the need to work hard this year to make up for the lost time the previous year.
The lawmakers received numerous criticisms last year because of the “pork scam” when some of its members were linked to alleged “pork scam” queen Janet Lim-Napoles.
Aside from anti-corruption bill, Drilon also said that the Senate will also focus on sustaining the country’s economic growth.
“We have been also striving towards the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. 2043, which will establish the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) as the sole administrative agency responsible for the implementation of the International Convention of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping of the country’s seafarers,” he said.
The Senate president added: “The measure would allow us to avoid a European Union ban that could possibly capsize the local maritime industry.”
The lawmakers are also set to act on the Senate Bill No. 2046, or the “Go Negosyo Act of 2013.”
The bill was introduced by Sen. Bam Aquino, which aim to promote the national development of micro, small and medium enterprises as a potential tool towards reducing the country’s poverty rate.
Another bill the lawmaker would “strongly consider” is Senate Bill No. 819 being pushed by Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes.
The bill aims to create a fully independent national agency similar to the United States’ Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA), which function on addressing the natural and human-made disasters that would hit the country.
Drilon said they would “urgently address” Senate Bill No. 480 and Senate Joint Resolution No. 2. Both bills are intended to provide for the “long-requested and much-clamored increases” in the quarterly and subsistence allowances of enlisted personnel and officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and commissioned and non-commissioned personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP).