By Jelly F. Musico
Despite the intervening five-month congressional recess and the May 10 national and local elections, the Senate still emerged productive in 2010 under the leadership of veteran Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, whose long years of experience in government service earned him respect from his colleagues.
Actually, the Senate of the 14th Congress held only nine session days before going on sine die adjournment last Feb. 18 to give way for the 90-day campaign period for the automated May 10 polls, the first in the country’s history.
But amid the impending election fever, the senators had been able to buckle down to work and approve important measures, including Senate Bill 3561 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act, which grants additional benefits and privileges to elderly persons.
The Senate also approved on third and final reading the Philippine Immigration Act of 2009, which would give the Bureau of Immigration a major role in economic development.
The two measures were just part of the almost 500 Senate and House bills that were passed on third reading during the 14th Congress, thanks to the hard work and dedication given by the lawmakers.
The Senate also adopted 42 resolutions, including Senate Resolution 217 expressing the sense of the Senate that Proclamation No. 1959 is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.
The proclamation, issued on Nov. 24, 2009 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, declared a state of emergency and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City, as a result of the Nov. 23,2009 Maguindanao massacre.
“I am proud to say that this (14th) Congress has passed more bills than the 11th, 12th and 13th Congresses combined,” Enrile said in a Senate website report.
The three-month campaign season proved crucial for the Senate as four of its members tried their luck in the presidential race and two others in the vice presidential derby. All six re-electionist senators, including Enrile himself, made it again.
Senators Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, Manny Villar, Richard Gordon and Ma. Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal joined the presidential derby which was won convincingly by Aquino, son of the late former President Corazon Aquino.
In the vice presidential race, outgoing Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay pulled off a big surprise in beating top favorite vice presidential candidate Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas and Senator Loren Legarda.
Aside from Enrile, Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Pia Cayetano, Lito Lapid and Jinggoy Estrada have been reelected to join comebacking Senators Vicente Sotto III, Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, Serge Osmena III and neophyte Senators Teofisto ‘TG’ Guingona Jr. and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Despite failure to win as president and vice president, respectively, Senators Villar and Legarda returned to the Senate to serve the remaining half of their six-year term until 2013 along with Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, Joker Arroyo, Edgardo Angara, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes IV.