May 21, 2019
THE Senate on Monday resumed session and passed on third and final reading 10 bills, including one that seeks to amend the Labor Code and a measure that would create the Philippine Space Agency (PhiSA).
The Senate has nine session days remaining until it adjourns on June 7. The 18th Congress will open on July 22.
The senators approved Senate Bill (SB) 1571 allowing flexible working arrangements; SB 2065 that will create positions for judges-at-large; SB 2168 that seeks to create the Davao International Airport Authority; SB 2069 that seeks to ensure the continuous transmission of electricity and protection of powerlines; SB 2133 that aims to strengthen the functions and powers of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan; SB 1983 or the proposed Philippine Space Agency law; House Bill (HB) 7785, which seeks to establish a framework for the selection of national performing arts companies; HB 8730 that will require state universities and colleges (SUCs) to implement a land use development and infrastructure plan that include the construction of dormitories for students and housing sites for employees; HB 7856 declaring September 8 of every year a special working holiday nationwide to commemorate the feast of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and HB 5438 that aims to upgrade the sub-district engineering office in Carmona, Cavite into a regular district engineering office.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, sponsor of SB 1571, said the measure amends Article 83 of the Labor Code to accommodate work duration that exceeds eight hours per day.
The senator said compressed workweek arrangement would not only reduce cost of work transit, but would also enable employees to allocate more time for other personal and social obligations, “thus, further promoting work-life balance.”
“This bill seeks to institutionalize the adoption of alternative working arrangements, such as compressed workweek,” said Villanueva. However, it limits the work duration to 48 hours per week to safeguard the rights, health and well-being of each employee.
Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino 4th, sponsor of SB 1983, said the launching of a space program in the Philippines would improve disaster management and enhance agribusinesses due to soil and weather monitoring and assessment.
The Philippines has been involved in space technology since the 1960s when the government built a satellite receiving station. In the 1970s, the country also ventured on its first rocket development program.
In 1996, a Filipino private firm, Mabuhay Satellite Corp., acquired the country’s first in-orbit satellite Agila-1. In 1997, the company had its own telecommunications satellites, Agila 2, which was launched to space from China. (Agila 2 was developed by a US company but was launched from China).
Sen. Francis Escudero, sponsor of HB 8730, said the passage of the bill into law would ensure an effective land use development and infrastructure plan that would utilize idle assets within the school.
“It has been observed that some students, especially those coming from poor families, usually drop out of school saying they can no longer afford to pay the costly board and lodging near the universities or colleges,” he said.
Under HB 8730, all SUCs must submit a Land Use Development and Infrastructure Plan (Ludip) to the Commission on Higher Education within two years after approval of the bill. The plan will be updated periodically as the need arises.
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