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Friday, December 8, 2023

House defends hybrid session for urgent bills

The House of Representatives on Tuesday defended the legality of a hybrid session it conducted Monday night, which saw the approval of several key bills, among them the reform of the pension system for military and uniformed personnel and the fiscal regime for the mining industry.

“It’s not a hybrid midnight session. It’s an authorized hybrid session (allowed under the rules) which started at 9 in the morning Monday and ended after midnight.” Secretary General Reginald Velasco said in a statement.

According to Velasco, Speaker Martin Romualdez authorized the hybrid sessions for September 25 and 26 “to take up urgent priority measures.”

Velasco’s comments came after Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel assailed the conduct of the session, which saw many members of the House physically absent from the session hall.

According to Manuel, a hybrid session is only allowed when there are “riots or civil disturbances that would warrant us to have hybrid sessions.”

Meanwhile, four of the five proposed bills listed among the priority measures of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. were approved by the Senate.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said these pieces of legislation “were carefully studied and deliberated on by senators to help improve the lives of every Filipino.”

Among these was Senate Bill No. 1846 or the proposed Internet Transactions Act, which the Senate leader himself authored.

Senator Mark Villar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, sponsored the measure, which was intended to promote digital transactions in the country.

Zubiri was also among the co-authors of Senate Bill No. 2224, or the Ease of Paying Taxes Act, which Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who heads the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, defended on the Senate floor.

The Senate leader also authored and co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 2233, to be known as the Public Private Partnership Act, which Senate Deputy Majority Leader JV Ejercito sponsored. Macon Ramos-Araneta

Zubiri likewise co-authored and co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 2001 (the New Philippine Passport Act) and Senate Bill No. 2028 (An Act Recognizing the Octogenarians, Nonagenarians and Centenarians).

Senator Imee Marcos, chair of the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations, and Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, stood on the Senate floor as sponsor of both measures.

Apart from these national bills, 12 local bills involving SUCs were also approved on final reading.

Meanwhile, Senator Raffy Tulfo expressed his elation over President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. certifying as urgent Senate Bill No. 2221 or the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers.

Tulfo, principal sponsor of the bill, said he is also grateful for the support of his colleagues and seafarers’ unions for the measure, particularly during its first phase through the period of amendments yesterday.

“I am very happy that we have passed the first phase of the period of amendments for the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers bill on Sept. 25, which coincides with the celebration of the National Maritime Week,” he said.

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