SENATOR-ELECT Rafael T. Tulfo will be proposing adjustments in rules to allow the new Congress to take up bills deemed important from where the previous legislature left off.
“Perhaps a few changes to the rules of both chambers can make this happen,” Mr. Tulfo said in a statement released late Wednesday after he and the 11 other new senators were officially proclaimed by the Commission on Elections.
“I see several worthy bills which have gone through hundreds, thousands of man-hours of work. It would be a pity if those worthy bills will just go straight to the archives of Congress just because the 18th Congress ends,” he said.
By worthy bills, he meant proposed laws that have at least been approved at the committee level.
“I will therefore ask the current Senate leadership and my colleagues in the incoming 19th Congress to find ways to preserve the bills by keeping them alive, returning them to the committees they came from so that the members of the 19th Congress can build upon those bills with inputs from the new members of Congress,” he said.
Mr. Tulfo earlier said that he will prioritize legislation relating to labor issues.
The current Congress will resume sessions on May 24 and adjourn on June 3, leaving only two weeks for lawmakers to pass bills and canvass votes for president and vice president.
Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said Mr. Tulfo’s plan is unlikely to happen, but bills that will be refiled in the 19th Congress can always use previous discussions as reference.
“All bills and resolutions filed are deemed dead after June 3 adjournment sine die,” he said.
“What he (Mr. Tulfo) wants is easy to solve without violating laws and traditions. Refile, then those in advance stages can use the previous hearings and debates as references.”
The senate chief has said that the upper chamber plans to pass bills on second and third reading during its six remaining plenary sessions.
However, for all other bills that are not in their advanced stages, it is no longer possible, he added.
Members from both chambers of Congress are expected to meet next week in a joint session at the House of Representatives to form the National Board of Canvassers.
Mr. Sotto said they will work continuously to finish the canvassing of votes for president and vice president on time.
“If we start on (the) 24th, non-stop, we can finish by the 26th,” he said. “The practice or tradition is that proclamation follows immediately after.”
Mr. Sotto and House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco will spearhead the canvassing of votes. Their goal is to proclaim the country’s two top leaders by May 28 at the latest.
Canvassers need to “ensure that the canvassing of votes cast and proclamation of the country’s next two highest officials will be seamless and the integrity of the electoral process is upheld,” said Mr. Velasco in a statement on Wednesday.
The Senate has received 88% or 153 of 173 election certificates and returns for president and vice-president as of Thursday morning, it said in a statement.
It took delivery of local certificates and returns from Sulu and overseas absentee voting certificates from the United States of America and Australia.
Newly-appointed leaders of the country will assume office at noon on June 30. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan