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Anti-terror law, nat’l ID system, BBL among priority bills in Senate 2nd regular session

MANILA-- The Senate on Monday at 10:12 a.m., officially opened its second regular session laying out its priority measures.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, in his speech, said that four of the Senate's priority measure are strengthening the anti-terrorism law, the national ID system, universal healthcare act, Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), and plans to shift to a federal system of government.

He, however, said that these measures are not the only items in its agenda.

The Senate President said that there are currently a total of 1,242 bills and 297 resolutions pending before the Senate committees.

In an interview with reporters before the session started, Pimentel said that since the House of Representatives has already passed the death penalty bill, the Senate, as a gesture of friendship vowed to discuss it.

This bill was submitted by the House so we owe it as a gesture of friendship to the House since they passed this that means that they want us to also discuss it, Pimentel said.

I will assure the House that we will discuss the death penalty. Not a priority but in the regular course of business, he added.

Unlike the House, the Senate has been divided on its stand to allow the reimposition of death penalty in the country. Liberal Party (LP) senators have been firm in saying that they will oppose it.

Pimentel, meanwhile, expressed confidence that the Senate would do better in its second session especially after survey results showed that it was the most trusted institution in the Philippines.

Based on the latest Pulse Asia survey released last week, the Senate got a 59 percent approval and 57 percent trust rating from 1,200 survey respondents.

The Senate's approval and trust ratings increased by four percent and 3 percent, respectively, compared to the firm's survey last March.

This should inspire us as we resume our session, but with higher trust and higher approval come higher expectations. We may have performed well before but we must exceed the standard we set in the previous session, Pimentel said.

I am confident that we the Senate family can successfully meet this challenge, he added.

The Senate adjourned at around 10:40 to allow senators to prepare for the joint session in the Congress and President Rodrigo Duterte's second State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Some cabinet members were also present during the Senate's regular session opening including Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea among others.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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