Senate to prioritize passage of FOI, HR reparation bills

SENATE Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III on Sunday assured the immediate passage of all important bills now pending before the Bicameral Conference committee during the remaining nine session days before adjourning for a four-month long recess for the campaign period.

Sotto, in a radio interview over DzBB, said that among the priority measures to be tackled in the resumption of the session on Monday are Freedom of Information Bill (Peoples’ Ownership of Government Information, POGI), Human Rights Reparation Bill, Land Use Act and Anti-Trust Bill, but no assurance on Anti-Money Laundering Act amendments.

“We talked on what bills pending in the House which was approved by the Senate, and those pending in the Senate which was approved by the House, dahil mas madaling galawin iyon,” Sotto said.

For the FOI Bill, Sotto said the House leaders expressed no commitment to pass the measure because of some questions being raised by its members. The Senate version on FOI bill, which is the POGI bill sponsored by Senator Gregorio Honasan, is now pending in the bicameral conference committee.

For AMLA, Sotto added that it will finish deliberation on the bill which was approved by the Lower House after finishing the interpellation from Senators Joker Arroyo, Manny Villar, Bongbong Marcos. “We have laid our cards to the table on them. Mas maganda na iyon, talagang maliwanag, walang bolahan, ano ang kaya, at ano ang hindi.”

He said the meeting was initiated by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte with House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales III, and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile including Senate Assistant Majority Leader Gregorio Honasan and secretariat of both Houses.

Sotto said that both Houses is also committed to pass the Land Use Act, which is badly needed by the country.  Earlier, Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice, assured the passage of the Human Rights Reparation Bill in the bicameral conference committee by Wednesday.

Further, Sotto said that under the Constitution, both Houses can extend session days up to Fridays without informing each other through a resolution.

He said if there are bill approved in the third reading during the remaining nine days sessions, it will be ratified by both House in June before it adjourn for the next Congress.

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