January 18, 2017
E-POWERS, FOI TOP POE'S LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
As Congress resumed session on Jan. 16, Sen. Grace Poe, chair of two major Senate committees has vowed to fast-track three pet legislative measures during the remaining nine-week plenary sessions.
Poe, as chairperson of the Senate committees on public services and on information and mass media, has submitted two bills to Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III following an all-senators' caucus last week that tackled the list of measures the chamber is prioritizing.
On top of the agenda of the Senate public services committee is Senate Bill (SB) No. 1284 granting emergency powers to President Duterte to solve the crippling traffic crisis in Metro Manila and other major urban areas. The bill is set to enter the period of interpellation after Poe endorsed the measure last December. The senator expressed confidence that the bill will get multi-partisan support.
Sponsored in October last year, the proposed Freedom of Information (FOI) Act which promotes transparency and accountability in the bureaucracy--is also up in the agenda of the Senate committee on public information and mass media. SB 159 will be scheduled for plenary debates in the first quarter of the year.
Poe also hopes that the chamber will front-load the approval of a bill amending Republic Act No. 53, as amended, also called the Shield or Sotto Law that protects journalists from revealing their sources.
The public information and mass media panel will also conduct a public hearing on Jan. 24 on Senate Resolution No. 257 filed by Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III recommending the creation of a film festival exclusively for independent films during the semestral break.
The public services committee, which is in charge of the grant of legislative franchises, is also expected to commence hearings on franchises of major telecommunications firms Smart Telecommunications Inc. and Globe Telecom, both of which are set to expire this year. The creation of People's Broadcasting Corp. that will replace the state-run People's Television Network Inc. is also lined up for hearing.
Public hearings on measures establishing the Bill of Rights of Taxi Passengers and Bill of Rights of Air Passengers, protection of prepaid load and possibly extending or scrapping the validity and registration of prepaid subscriber identity module (SIM) cards are also in the agenda of the public services panel.
Poe likewise urged her colleagues to support SB 1297 seeking to establish a schools-based feeding program for public school students enrolled in K-12 and SB 160 or the First 1,000 Days Act.
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Thursday, April 20