Drilon to next Senate: Protect reforms from 'force, personalities'

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Franklin Drilon on Monday, June 6, posed a challenge to the members of the next Senate, as the chamber adjourned sine die.

Drilon, in his closing speech during the last session of the 16th Congress, talked about the reforms and laws passed under the Aquino administration.

From being the Sick Man of Asia barely 6 years ago, Drilon said the country is now called the “Asia’s Rising Star.”

But this is not enough, Drilon said. The challenge is to protect these gains from “force” or “personalities” that may want to reverse them.

“However, the challenge that we must face head on is to protect our gains, and ensure the continuity of reforms, so that their fruits will be enjoyed not only by this generation, but also by the generations yet unborn,” Drilon said.

“Now, more than ever, we need to safeguard the reforms we have painstakingly put in place, so that neither force, nor personalities, can reverse them,” he added.

Drilon did not name anyone during his speech. The next Senate opens under the administration of president-elect Rodrigo Duterte and a possible new leadership in the chamber.

No BBL, FOI

While the Senate approved several landmark measures, including the Reproductive Health and Sin Tax reform laws, it had failed to pass two other crucial laws supported by the Aquino administration – the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the Freedom of Information Act.

The FOI was one of the campaign promises of Aquino in 2010 but he failed to include it in his priority legislative agenda. Although the Senate approved the bill allowing public access to government records, the measure failed to hurdle the fight in the House of Representatives – members of whom have been consistently blocking the bill’s passage.

The administration, meanwhile, pushed the BBL in support of the final peace agreement it signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014.

Some senators opposed Malacañang’s version, saying it is unconstitutional and it discriminated against other groups in Mindanao. Sentiments against BBL grew louder after the death of 44 members of the elite Special Action Forces group. 

Drilon, in his speech, admitted the outgoing Senate could have done more.

“Yes, there remain areas that require fixing. Yes, we failed to tick all the items in our government's bucket list, but we managed to cross out those that truly count,” he said.

Now that these measures failed to pass in this Congress, they're all back to square one and have to go through the entire legislative grinder again when the 17th Congress opens on July 25. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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