Senate marathon passes 27 bills after four-month break


MANILA — As the 16th congress nears its adjournment, on Monday, resumed from a four-month break to pass on third and final reading 27 measures, including 21 from the House of Representatives which aims to either grant or extend franchises to the telecommunications, radio and television operators in the country.

Voting 14-0, the senators approved Senate Bill No. 2239 requiring all the franchise holders or operators of the television stations and producers of television programs to broadcast or present their programs with closed captions options.

The Senate also passed SB 3204 requiring basic education students to undergo age-appropriate basic life support training; SB 2794, an act providing for a new anti-carnapping law; SB 29, prohibiting the discrimination on the employment of any individual on the basis merely of age; and, SB 449, honoring the Filipino centenarians.

Other Senate bills approved on Monday are SB 3209, an act providing stronger measures against unlawful practices, businesses and schemes of matching and offering Filipino to foreign nationals for purposes of marriage; and, SB 3205, an act of mandating the integration of Filipino-Muslim and Indigenous People’s history, culture and identity in the study of Philippine history both in basic and higher education.

Among the approved House bills include House Bill No. 5601 extending to 25 years the franchise granted to the Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T); HB 6193 renewing to another 25 years the franchise of Kalayaan Broadcasting System; and, HB 6168 amending and extending the franchise of Byers Communications, Inc.

HB 6005 has also been approved to grant request for franchise by Infinivan, Inc.; MegaManila Telecom Corp. (HB 6314), Metro Connections and Telecom Corp. (HB 6312), and AMA Telecommunications, Inc. (HB 6003) to construct, install, operate and maintain telecommunications systems throughout the Philippines.

On the other hand, Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano asked to defer the approval for third and final reading House Bill No. 5942, an act amending and extending for 25 years the franchise granted to Smart Communications, Inc., the country’s leading telecommunication company.

Meanwhile, the Senate extended to another 25 years the franchises granted to Veritas Media Arts. Inc. (HB 6011); Zoe Broadcasting, Inc.; and, People’s Broadcasting Service, Inc. (HB 5859).

The Senate also granted the requests for franchise of Makinig Network, Inc. (HB 6313) and Pilipinas Radio Waves Corp. (HB 6315) to construct, operate and maintain radio/or television broadcasting stations in the country.

Other local bills approved by the Senate include HB 2817, an act separating the Cagasat National High School in Bgy. Magsaysay, Cordon, Isabela; HB 6144 establishing the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTSP); HB 2185 granting the First Bay Power Corp. (FBPC) a franchise to construct, operate and maintain a distribution system for the conveyance of electric power to end users in Bauan, Batangas.

The Senate also approved HB 6021 granting the Pilipinas Asian Pearl Airways, Inc. a franchise to operate domestic and international air transport services; HB 5511 establishing the Southwestern Tagalog Region to be known as the MIMAROPA Region; HB 6152 an act declaring Batanes as a responsible, community-based cultural heritage and eco-tourism zone; HB 5576 declaring tourism development areas in Camiguin; and HB 3145 creating additional branch of regional trial court with seat in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.

The Senate has approved Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 10, convening the two houses of Congress beginning May 24 to canvass the votes cast and proclaim the winning candidates for president and vice presidential in the last May 9 elections.

Senate Secretary Oscar Yabes said the two panels will start canvassing of votes on May 25 at the House of Representatives at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said they will try to finish the canvassing “as soon as we can.”

The 17th Congress, which began on July 22, 2013, is set to adjourn sine die on June 10 this year. (PNA / By Jelly F. Musico)

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