After Corona trial, pending bills await Senate hearings

By Alexander Villafania

PASAY CITY, METRO MANILA - With the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona over, the Senate would be busy with a lot of assignments.

Many proposals that have been passed in the House of Representatives since January this year are awaiting their respective Senate versions, a necessary act that would put these proposals into law.

Severely pushed back by the trials, the Senate has to fast track many of the bills that have been waiting for them to review. Here are some of the House Bills that will have to be reviewed by the Senate and pass corresponding versions:

House Bill 592 “Promoting Folic Acid to Prevent Birth Defects”- Authored by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd district, Cagayan de Oro), the bill seeks to have women of reproductive capacity to have daily dose of folic acid, a natural vitamin that prevents neutral tube defects that could cause birth defects in babies. It was passed by the House of Representatives in January this year. The Senate version, Senate Bill 2310 was filed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago in 2010.

House Bill 5496 “Anti-Bullying Act of 2012” - It requires all elementary and secondary schools to have anti-bullying policies and help students and parents cope with bullying. It passed third and final reading in January. The Senate version, SB 2677, was also written by Santiago.

House Bill 4307 “Early Voting for the National and Local Elections” - This has provisions allowing Filipino voters to cast their votes earlier than the date of the elections. It was passed by the House of Representatives in February. The Senate version, SB 3570, was already passed by the Senate in 2010 but must be presented in a bicameral conference for it to be ratified.

House Bill 5990 “Providing Compensation to Human Rights Victims During Marcos Regime” - The bill was passed on its third and final reading last March. Its counterpart bill, SB 2615 has been in the backburners since 2010.

House Bill 5567 “Designating a Cooperative Officer in the LGU” - This bill, passed also last March, would allow presence of a cooperative representative in the local government unit (LGU) office. Pushed by Rep. Isidro Lico (Ating Koop partylist) and Rep. Jose Ping-ay (COOP NATCCO partylist), the bill has no counterpart yet in the Senate.

House Bill 3005 “Declaring December as Anti-Corruption Month” - Capitalizing on the ongoing impeachment trial, the House of Representatives passed this bill last March to declare December as Anti-Corruption Month. The Senate has yet to come up with its own version.

House Bill 709 “Penalizing Cable Television or Cable Internet Pilferage” - After years of lobbying, cable TV providers were treated to the passage of a bill on anti-cable TV theft, at least on the House of Representatives level in March. A similar version by Senator Jinggoy Estrada, SB 347, has yet to be reviewed.

House Bill 5854 “Revised Philippine Passport Act” - The bill, passed by the Lower House in April, was aimed at allowing applicants to get passports with five- to 10-year validity, as well as simplifying passport documentation requirements. SB 896 by Senator Edgardo Angara has also been pushing for passage of the amendments since 2009.

House Bill 5805 “Cybercrime Bill” - Probably one of the more contentious bills for a long time, the Cybercrime Bill has finally passed the House of Representatives last May 26. It aims to strengthen the country's protection programs against cybercriminals. The Senate version, SB 2796, was passed in early May but has yet to be consolidated.

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