SPEECH | Tax reform, anti-terrorism, federalism, budget, health care on Senate priorities – Koko Pimentel | News5

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MANILA – Saying their 59 percent approval rating in latest surveys implied not just satisfaction but also great expectations from people, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel on Monday unveiled the chamber’s list of priorities at the opening of the second regular session of the 17th Congress.

It was topped by, among others, the national budget, tax reforms, universal health care, a national ID system, and a stronger anti-terrorism law. The last was in apparent reaction to the ongoing, two-month-long siege of Marawi and the threat of other extremists attacking other parts of the country.

HERE’S FULL TEXT OF SP KOKO PIMENTEL’S SPEECH AT THE OPENING OF THE SENATE:

Good morning my dear colleagues and other members of the Senate family. Today we open the Second Regular Session of the Senate of the 17th Congress in the best possible way. A survey was released last week which showed that we enjoy a 59% approval rating, 4 points higher than the survey I cited in my message to you when we closed the First Regular Session. The same survey also showed that 57% of Filipinos trust our institution, 3 percentage points higher than the 54% rating we received in the previous survey.

Congratulations are therefore in order for everyone – my fellow senators, your staff, and the officials and employees of the Secretariat. The survey says, the Senate is the most trusted major institution in our country today. This should inspire us as we resume our session.

But with higher trust and higher approval come higher expectations. We may have performed well before, but we must exceed the standard we set in the previous session if we are to retain or exceed the trust and approval that we have from the public. I am confident that we, the Senate family, can successfully meet this challenge.

In this session, we will again address issues of national importance.

We will ease the burden of working- and middle-class Filipinos while ensuring that all government programs remain funded through the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act or TRAIN.

We will ensure the safety of our people by strengthening the Anti-Terrorism Law.

We will improve the delivery of basic services through the National ID system.

We will provide health care to all Filipinos through the Universal Health Care Act.

We will pursue a path to lasting peace in Mindanao by addressing the valid concerns of our Muslim brothers and sisters through the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Finally, we will empower our regions to determine their development plans, their overall direction, through the shift to Federalism.

These topics alone would require much discussion, study, and analysis on our part. But they are not the only items in our agenda.

We have 1,242 bills and 297 resolutions pending before our committees. More will come as we realize new ideas to improve our laws to better serve the public and improve the quality of life of all Filipinos. Each bill or measure must be scrutinized with the view of accepting or rejecting it based on how well they can be of service to the people. We are looking at a lot of work.

These are large numbers, but they are not daunting numbers. We have proven in the previous session just how much work we can put in when the public welfare is on the line. I am confident we can do just as well, or even better than how we did in the previous session. There are no better companions for the tasks ahead than the Senate family.

And so to everyone, welcome back! And let’s get back to work. Thank you very much. ###

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