MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Monday opened the third and last regular session of the 18th Congress ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) later in the day.
Thirteen senators personally attended the opening of the session while nine were virtually present.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III presided over the opening of the session.
In its third regular session, the Senate said it will work for the passage of 10 priority measures.
These include the Amendments to the Foreign Investment Acts (FIA), Amendments to the Public Service Act (PSA), Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE), Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act.
The upper chamber will also prioritize the passage of Package 4 of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) or the Passive Income Tax and Financial Intermediary Tax Act (PIFITA), Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP), Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Development Financing System Act (Agri-Agra) and Package 3 of the CTRP or the Valuation Reform Bill.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier said the Senate will work on the passage of the following measures: Modernization of the Bureau of Fire Protection, Increasing the Statutory Rape Age Act, Military and Uniformed Personnel Insurance Fund Act, Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Act, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Extension Law and possibly the Bayanihan 3.
Just like last year, visitors and guests will not be allowed inside the Senate premises due to stringent health protocols and regulations.
Family members of senators, former senators, government officials, and media personalities will also not be allowed inside the gallery hall. Only selected Senate employees will be allowed inside to assist during the session.
After the morning session, Sotto will lead some senators to the House of Representatives for a joint session of Congress to hear Duterte’s SONA.
Sotto earlier said only eight senators will physically witness Duterte deliver his SONA due to restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.