The Senate reopened on Monday, and set its agenda for the coming legislative session: “How can we make this situation better for every Filipino,” Senate President Vicente Sotto said, addressing his colleagues who sat behind plastic barriers.
The agenda is five-fold, Sotto said: build a digital landscape that enables the new normal, lay the foundation for distance learning, strengthen infrastructure for commerce, encourage new businesses to flourish and support the arts.
The Senate will exercise its oversight function to ensure the proper and effective implementation of COVID-19 response laws that were passed during the previous Congress, Sotto said.
On Tuesday, the Senate will pass Bayanihan 2, the sequel to the country’s first pandemic response law that provided among others, cash aid and loan payment relief, said Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, a COVID-19 survivor.
“There is a sense of urgency and purpose. As long as we share the burden, we must continue to work towards saving lives and easing our common anxiety,” Sotto said. “The Senate is ready to do more.”
“Your legislators will be proposing laws that will answer the question: How can we make this situation better for every Filpino,” he said. “We must not lose hope or turn our frustration into anger.”
Sotto discussed the agenda in broad strokes and deffered to committee heads for specifics. The digital highway must be strengthened as quarantines encourage a shift to e-commerce. A reassessment of tariffs and further easing of regulatory burdens can encourage investments. The arts must be supported, even at this time, because "We must rebuild our nation in both body and soul," said the Senate leader, a former TV host and actor.