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The outgoing Senate’s parting gifts to PH

May 22, 2019

IN its last days before adjourning to make way for the 18th Congress, the Senate passed a number of measures that have not been given much attention by the media or the public, but should provide a number of benefits to the country.

The two most significant of these are House Bill (HB) 8730, which requires state universities and colleges (SUCs) to implement land use and infrastructure plans, and HB 7785, which will establish a framework for national performing arts companies. Both of these measures will become law once they are signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

HB 8730 should be a welcome law because it will oblige SUCs to make productive use of the large amounts of idle property many of them hold. The infrastructure plans for SUCs to develop will include housing for students and employees, in response to a trend of low-income students being forced to drop out of school due to the high cost of room and board.

HB 7785 is a partial response to the lack of active government support to performing arts companies, which is needed to help preserve the country’s cultural heritage. This will improve cultural and art education in the country, as well as raise the profile of our unique artistic heritage before the rest of the world.

Several other important measures passed by the Senate will also require passage by the House of Representatives. Senate Bill (SB) 1571 will permit employers to offer flexible working arrangements to the workers. SB 2065 allows for the creation of judges-at-large, and SB 1983 seeks to create the Philippine Space Agency and a comprehensive space development program.

SB 1571 will allow flexibility in working schedules, including “compressed” work weeks such as four-day schedules. Sen. Joel Villanueva, who sponsored the bill, highlighted its importance in helping workers reduce commuting expenses and better balance their work and personal lives.

SB 2065 intends to provide some flexibility for the judiciary through the creation of judgeships that are not tied to specific jurisdictions. This will allow the overworked and undermanned court system to better manage caseload because judges can be sent to areas where they are needed most.

And finally, SB 1983, sponsored by outgoing Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino 4th, will help to advance Philippine capabilities in science and research by creating the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA). The idea that the country should invest in space science may seem unrealistic to some people, but there are a number of benefits that can be gained from it. Access to satellites will help to improve weather monitoring and prediction, disaster management and land use management. It will also help to improve science and technology education in the country by making partnerships with researchers and agencies in other countries easier.

The incoming Congress, which will begin work on July 22 this year, should be urged to consider these Senate measures favorably. Not only are they beneficial to the country, they will also enable Congress to “hit the ground running.”

Having given candidates allied with or supportive of the Duterte administration, the Filipino people have signaled their expectations of progress. Starting with the work left to them by the outgoing Senate is an easy way for the incoming legislators to validate the faith of the voters.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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