SENATE Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, prodding members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to frontload passage of pending major bills, including the Public Service Act, SIM Card Registration and No-expiry franchise bill, reminded lawmakers Monday to “move swiftly on the remaining 10 session days to pass critical laws that can hasten the country’s economic recovery” before lawmakers of both chambers go on recess.
For instance, Drilon cited the need for lawmakers to address the proliferation of troll accounts, address franchise woes, and expand protection for solo parents before going on recess again for the 2022 national and local elections.
Drilon issued the appeal as members of Congress are set to return to work on January 17 until February 4, giving lawmakers “about 10 sessions days to work on several measures before it goes on recess for the 2022 national and local elections.”
For instance, the Senate Minority Leader listed pending amendments to the Public Service Act that he noted is still in the bicameral committee, including a proposal to limit the definition of public utility, while opening up other public services to the market.
As the principal author of the measure, Drilon clarified that the proposed amendments to the Public Service Law, which was enacted in 1936, aims to provide a clear definition of public utilities, pointing out how the interchangeable use of “public utility” and “public service” has effectively barred foreign entry into the market.
According to Drilon,“the passage of this measure, along with the newly-signed Republic Act (RA) 11595 or the Amended Retail Trade Act, will set the stage for the country’s economic recovery,” adding that “they will boost the country’s chance to return to pre-pandemic economic growth level.” Drilon is also the principal author of RA 11595 lowering the paid-up capital requirement in retail trade to P25 million from its previous limit of $2.5 million or roughly P125 million.
Moreover, the senator said that Congress should approve the Sim Card Registration Act and send it immediately to the President for his approval.
He pointed out that the bill mandates the ownership registration of all SIM cards in the country to “deter the proliferation of SIM card, internet or electronic communication-aided crimes, such as, but not limited to terrorism; text scams; unsolicited, indecent or obscene messages; bank fraud; libel; anonymous online defamation; trolling; hate speech, spread of digital disinformation or fake news.”
At the same time, Drilon inserted a provision in the proposed measure that can unmask trolls and fight anonymity in cyberspace by requiring real-name and phone number upon creation of social media accounts. “This new provision will prevent anyone from making anonymous accounts online. Section 5 of the proposed measure states that all social media account providers shall require real-name and phone number upon creation of account,” Drilon said.
The opposition lawmaker likewise aired hopes Congress can pass the non-expiration of license and franchise bill that he authored and the Senate passed on third reading last month.
This, even as he also affirmed support for the AFP Modernization bill, Teacher Education Excellence Act, Night Shift Differential Pay bill, Judiciary Marshalls Act, all of which are being tackled in the bicameral panels.
The Senate Minority Leader also wants Congress to prioritize the bill that seeks to increase the age for determining statutory rape, as provided in the bill that recently hurdled the bicameral level and will soon be up for final approval by both chambers soon as Congress reconvenes regular session.
“We have a long list of measures that are in advanced stages of legislation. Some of them have been pending in bicameral for months. I urge the leadership of both houses of Congress to take a look at it so we can prioritize its passage in the remaining session days,” said Drilon. “We must move at lightning speed in the remaining 10 sessions days before the campaign period kicks in,” he added, noting that Resolution 10695 of the Commission on Elections sets the campaign period for candidates for president, vice president and party-list groups, from February 8 to May 7, 2022.