Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday cited five priority measures he authored that he wants the Senate to fast-track during the Second Regular Session of the 18th Congress set to open on July 27.
Among the measures Sotto authored he wants prioritized are as follows: Medical Scholarship Act, Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority Act, Hybrid Election Act, Anti-False Content Act, and the 14th Month Pay Law — all of which seek to improve current government systems and uplift the labor sector.
“I will move for speedy but comprehensive committee and plenary discussions on these five priority measures which I believe can make a huge impact on the lives of the Filipino people,” Sotto stressed.
“The variety in the objectives of these measures would hopefully bring about needed reforms in governance, which at this time are essential to tip the scale in favor of public welfare over political, corporate or personal interests,” Sotto added.
The proposed Medical Scholarship Act was already being discussed in the plenary when Congress adjourned sine die last month.
The said measure grants scholarships to deserving medical students in a bid to address the issues of scarcity and maldistribution of physicians in the country.
Scholarship grantees will be required to work in the Philippines for five years after graduation, two years of which should be rendered in a government hospital or office where the scholar lives.
Sotto said he believes the proposed law will encourage financially-challenged students to take up medicine, which will eventually increase the number of physicians in the country, especially as the nation still faces the threat of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the proposed Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority Act, which Sotto wants speedy debates for, aims to reinforce the government’s fight against illegal drugs by unifying its four major programs of enforcement, prosecution, prevention, and rehabilitation into a single agency.
The proposed Hybrid Election Act, on the other hand, seeks to establish an electoral system that would employ manual voting and counting at the precinct level and electronic transmission and canvassing.
Sotto said this mixed mode of voting and canvassing aims to ensure credible, accurate, and transparent elections.
At the same time, Sotto appealed for immediate committee hearings on the proposed Anti-False Content Act, or the Anti-Fake News Bill, which prohibits and sanctions the publication and proliferation of false online content and promotes responsible Internet use.
Sotto likewise urged his fellow senators to act on his bill mandating the grant of additional Christmas pay to workers in the private sector, which is covered in the proposed 14th Month Pay Law.
“Times are difficult, especially with the impacts of the COVID-19 nightmare likely to haunt us for a long time. We need a break. These measures would, hopefully, give our people something to look forward to,” he said.
“Government needs to ramp up its effort to uplift the lives of Filipinos, especially in the aftermath of this horrifying crisis,” he added./Stacy Ang