Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) – June 5, 2021 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate adjourned its second regular session on Thursday with 72 bills enacted into law since July last year.

“I’m proud to say that the Senate’s output for the second regular session has been outstanding, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve had 72 bills passed into law, with 21 more awaiting the President’s approval,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said before session was adjourned.

“We made sure early on in the pandemic to allow for hybrid physical and virtual sessions and hearings, so we could continue our work as legislators and, particularly, so we could craft urgently needed legislation for our battle against COVID,” he added.

Zubiri spearheaded the resolution allowing the Senate to hold and join plenary sessions remotely through video conferencing.

The second regular session covered the period between July 27, 2020 and June 3, 2021. It saw the passage of major COVID-related measures, including Republic Act 11494 or the Bayanihan 2; RA 11517, or the Act Expediting the Processing of National and Local Permits, Licenses and Certifications in Times of National Emergency; RA 11548, which amends the Social Security Act to mandate the deferment of SSS contributions in times of national emergency; RA 11534 or CREATE, for the country’s economic recovery, and RA 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act.

Other laws passed during the period were the Doktor Para sa Bayan Act, the Alternative Learning System Act, the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Act, the Labor Education Act, and the PNP, BFP, BJMP and BuCor Height Equality Act.

As the Senate adjourned, three more bills are lined up for bicameral conference committee, including an amendment to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and the BFP Modernization Bill.

There are also 34 bills approved on third reading, including the Separate Facility for Heinous Crimes Inmates Act, Inclusive Education Act, Safe Pathways Network Act, Electric Vehicles Act, and the Special Protections against Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children Act.

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