Press Release
December 27, 2015

Villar-Chaired Senate Committees Cite Accomplishments
Five bills enacted into law; three bills passed in the Senate level

Going into the third year of her chairing the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food as well as the Senate Committee on Government Corporation and Public Enterprises, Senator Cynthia Villar provides a yearend report of the committees' legislative accomplishments, so far. Among which is the passage into law of five bills and the approval in the Senate level of three more bills.

The bills passed into law were: Republic Act (R.A.) No.10659 or the Sugarcane Industry Development Act of 2015 (signed by President Aquino on March 2014); R.A. 10654 or the act to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing that amended the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998; R.A. No. 10638 extending to 50 years (until 2064) the corporate life of state-owned Philippine National Railways or PNR (signed on June 2014); Senate bills, under Committee Report No. 213, granting PhP2,000 across-the-board increase in the monthly pension pay of Social Security System (SSS) pensioners; and Farm Tourism Development Act of 2015 under Committee Report No. 289.

The SSS pension bill was approved on November 27 and farm tourism was approved on December 1. Under the 1987 Constitution, a bill neither vetoed nor signed by the President becomes a law after 30 days. The farm tourism still need to go through bicameral meeting. The Senate adopted the House version of the SSS bill, so no bicam meeting is needed.

"We are pleased to inform the public that our committees have pursued and passed into law important and priority legislations referred to us. We believe that their enactment into law will make a real positive difference in the lives of many Filipinos," cites Villar.

Villar cited, the increase in monthly SSS pension will benefit 1.9 million pensioners who are eagerly awaiting its implementation. Meanwhile, the continuous operation and planned modernization of PNR trains will help decongest traffic in some parts of Metro Manila and some provinces. In 2013, PNR trains transported to over 20 million passengers or 55,400 commuters on a daily basis. Presently, PNR operates a commuter service between Tutuban and Sta. Rosa, Laguna. The train service to Bicol was suspended in October 2012 but according to PNR, they plan to resume the service next year.

The enactment of R.A. 10654 caused the lifting of the yellow tag imposed by the European Union (EU, which if not immediately addressed, would cause a ban on the exportation of fish products to one of the country's largest markets. In 2013 alone, the Philippines exported P9.4 billion worth of fish products to EU countries.

"I am keeping my promise to those who voted for me in 2013 that I will help ease poverty in our country. With my chairmanship of the Agriculture committee, I am already helping two-thirds of our country's population who are involved directly and indirectly in agriculture," said Villar.

Based on the latest official poverty statistics, fishermen posted the highest poverty incidence for nine basic sectors in the Philippines at 41.4%, followed by farmers atf 36.7%--these are higher than the poverty incidence among the entire population in the Philippines at 26.5%.

Three more bills from the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food have been passed in the Senate and awaiting approval in the House. These are Senate Bill No. 2831 or the 'Halal Bill' under Committee Report No. 175, which seeks to institute the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Program; Senate Bill No. 2923 or the 'Anti Agricultural Smuggling Bill' under Committee Report No. 215 or "declaring large-scale agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage"; and Senate Bill No. 2951, under Committee Report No. 251, "An Act Amending the Period of Collection and Utilization of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or ACEF".

The enactment of a law that will declare smuggling of agricultural products as economic sabotage and a non-bailable offense, Villar said, will remove the biggest threat to the expansion of income and livelihood of farmers and fisherfolks that also slows down the growth of the agriculture sector.

Ten local bills promoting fisheries and aquatic resources (shrimps crustaceans etc.) in areas where they can be propagated have been sponsored by Villar in the Senate before the Christmas break. These are House Bill Nos. 1948, 4432, 4458, 5645, 5650, 5651, 5652, 6085, 6086, and 6088 under Committee Report Nos. 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347 and 348, respectively.

News Latest News Feed