V1 3rd ISSUE
The First Regular Session of the 14th Congress:
An Appraisal of its Performance,
A Challenge to Move Forward
The First Regular Session of the 14th Congress:
An Appraisal of its Performance,
A Challenge to Move Forward
Congress is n...
3List of Priority
Business Groups
Leading domestic and foreign business firms in the country joined
forces in their letter...
4The European Chamber of Commerce of the
Philippines (ECCP), on the other hand, joined forces with
other local and foreign...
Opposition to the JPEPA, on the other hand, raised the possibility of Japanese
toxic waste dumping into the Philippine and...
Looking At the Highs and Lows
The passage of long overdue bills resulted to the crafting
of seven new laws, as follow:
1. ...
has set the deadline in May 2009 for all the
claimant countries to submit pertinent evidences.
What Was In the Bag
Indepen...
Attendance Is a Must in the Upper Chamber
In the Senate, where the number is small and the concerns are national in
nature...
A Turnaround to Move Forward
It is a distressing diagnosis to say that the first regular session of
the 14th Congress migh...
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Vol. 1. no. 3. the first regular session of the 14th congress. (2008)

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Vol. 1. no. 3. the first regular session of the 14th congress. (2008)

  1. 1. V1 3rd ISSUE The First Regular Session of the 14th Congress: An Appraisal of its Performance, A Challenge to Move Forward
  2. 2. The First Regular Session of the 14th Congress: An Appraisal of its Performance, A Challenge to Move Forward Congress is now ready to start the second regular session after adjourning last June 13, acclaiming success, at least in terms of quantity. On its first year, the 14th Congress enacted seven new laws with three more awaiting President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo’s (PGMA) action.A total of 30 and 253 bills were passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively. Of the reaped efforts of the 14th Congress, 52 are nationally applicable while 197 are locally applicable. 1 Once Upon A Year Ago PGMA called on the legislators to refocus their efforts in the successful passage of several vital measures during her 2007 State of the Nation Address (SONA), signaling the opening of the first regular session of the 14th Congress.The specific measures GMA cited included the amendment of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to pave the way for more competition and possibility of open access. House Bill 3156 which seeks to establish the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the country and strengthen its existing institutional framework was also one of the priority agenda the President mentioned in her last SONA.The President gave emphasis to the country’s need to set up the CAA in response to the importance of public safety and the complex challenges faced by the aviation industry. Other imperative measures underscored by the President in July 2007 include electoral reforms which take into account the modernization of the means of voting, counting, and canvassing as well as eradicating election-related violence. GMA also pushed for measures in behalf of senior citizens, citing the clamor for legislation that would provide long term health care for the aged. In fighting terrorism, GMA called for the enactment of laws to cultivate counter-terrorism response. 2 GMA also resurrected the “Cheaper Medicines Bill that was almost enacted during the last regular session of the 13th Congress, yielding her SONA to hit after hit of disparagement as critics explicitly contend that almost is never good enough. Looking back when the President’s 2007 SONA was delivered, detractors and political analysts alike cite that many other bills were shoved down the peoples’ throats in lieu of more crucial ones such as the Cheaper Medicines Bill. 2
  3. 3. 3List of Priority Business Groups Leading domestic and foreign business firms in the country joined forces in their letter to the President dated July 12, 2007.The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) and the Philippine Business Groups (PBG) expressed their notable advocacy of a priority legisla- tive reform agenda for the 14th Congress.This legislative agenda aimed at strengthening the country’s competitiveness and increasing economic growth and social development. According to these blocs, the passage of a number of bills during the 13th Congress is already commendable. However, legislators blew the chances of passing a number of bills that would have improved the business and investment climate of the country. One of the recommendations made by JFC and PBG through their letter to the President was the creation of a joint or separate Ad Hoc Committee on Competitiveness. The chairpersons of key committees will have the task of advising the House and Senate leadership on a Legislative Agenda for Philippine Competitiveness.As mentioned in the letter, JFC and PBG looked forward to the passage of the agenda early in the 14th Congress. 3 In pursuit of a competitive investment climate, JFC and PBG pro- posed the following legislations: •BOT Law Amendments •Credit Information System Act •Customs Brokers Act Amendment •Financial SectorTaxes Rationalization Act •Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Act •Foreign Investment Restrictions Rationalization Act •Freedom of Access to Information Act (especially contract transparency) •Land Administration Reform Act •Local Government Code Amendments (clarify role re: investment) •Magna Carta for Small and Medium Enterprises Act Amendments •Renewable Energy Act •Simplified Net IncomeTaxation Act LEDAC and ECCP In December 2007, the second Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) convened to assess what have been passed so far and fast-track pending prior- ity legislative measures. Eleven pending bills were targeted as priority.The list was topped by the 2008 National Budget bill. 4 The other priority bills identified in the meeting were as follows: 1.Amnesty Proclamation 2.Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) Extension 3. Creation of the Civil Aviation Authority 4. Establishment of the Personal Equity Retirement Account (PERA) 5. Credit Information System 6.Amendments to EPIRA Law 7.Amendments to the Customs Brokers 8. University of the Philippines (UP) Charter amendments 9. Cheaper Medicines Bill 10.Amendments to the Magna Carta for Small and Medium Scale Industry Looking back when the President’s 2007 SONA was delivered, detractors and political analysts alike cite that many other bills were shoved down the peoples’ throats in lieu of more crucial ones such as the Cheaper Medicines Bill.
  4. 4. 4The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), on the other hand, joined forces with other local and foreign business organizations in discussing the LEDAC priority bills.The Council has identified a total of five bills lined up for approval. Priority bills specified at the LEDAC meeting were the amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, Civil Aviation Authority bill, amendments to the University of the Philippines Charter, and the Credit Information System. On the basis of best efforts, the General Amnesty Bill was considered for approval.The group opted to propose to LEDAC that the Customs Brokers Act be included in the list. ECCP also re-echoed the stance of JFC that the EPIRA amendment demanding only 50% National Power Corporation (NPC) privatization should not be passed. Other bills identified as priority and were lined up for session and approvals are enumerated below according to their intended schedule. 5 In Crunch Mode After a month-long break, Congress reconvened last April 2008 seeking to approve more of the priority measures agreed upon by the LEDAC. However, with the 14th Congress’ first regular session ended, legislators then only anticipated the approval of two more and cited the earlier passage of five out of eleven. Of the LEDAC bills, lawmakers delivered on their com- mitment to pass before their June 13 adjournment the Cheaper Medicines.They, however, failed to deliver on the amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).The EPIRA amendments were scheduled for second reading approval in both chambers. Prior to Christmas Recess •2008 Budget •Cheaper Medicines •EPIRA Amendments •Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) Prior to Holy Week Recess •Credit Info Systems Act •Civil Aviation Authority •Magna Carta for SMEs •NationalTourism Policy •UP Charter After the Holy Week •Renewable Energy Bill •PERA Bill Both Houses also planned to pass a law extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program as well as measures that would define the country’s territory, address the rice crisis and an income tax exemption measures for minimum wage earners.The last three bills that were prompted by current concerns were not in the list of priority. Only the income tax exemption measures for minimum wage earners were signed into law by President Arroyo. Congress ran out of time on the first three urgent bills. Further exhibiting their multi-tasking ability, the Senate also conducted another round of hearings on the defunct but still controversial National Broadband Network project. Malacañang did not look at this kindly, deeming this as detrimental to its priority legislative measures. Before finally adjourning its first regular session, lawmakers rushed the passage of more bills.After shelving debates on the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, the House opted to move on to other measures and successfully approved tax perks for renewable energy projects and a centralized credit information system. The Senate has postponed discussions on the Renewable Energy Bill, which is a priority measure. Senators approved on third reading the NationalTourism Policy Act, granting tax perks for tourism projects.This tourism measure however is yet to be cleared at the House committee level. The credit information bill is now ready for the Bicameral Committee as the Senate version was approved way back in December 2007 and the House version was approved was approved in March 2008. The other priority bill passed was the Personal Equity Retirement Account or PERA, which would enable banks and other financial firms to offer tax-free pension funds. Both Houses have approved the version of the bill crafted by a bicameral committee, now pending for the President’s signature.
  5. 5. Opposition to the JPEPA, on the other hand, raised the possibility of Japanese toxic waste dumping into the Philippine and exploitation of Filipino labor going to Japan. It Started with a Note In the controversial letter addressed to the President, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) advised the government not to push through with the reversal of the policies in deregulation and privatization in the power sector, claiming that these will help promote the country’s competitiveness. The joint chamber also put forward their concerns regarding “unwarranted accusations” of lawmakers and officials of government corporations that may result to the reversals of reforms in the power industry.The Senate had invited JFC to a hearing to discuss which particular provisions of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) the joint chamber wants retained. The hearing unfortunately turned into a tongue-lashing as fuming senators castigated for undue interference the near speechless panel of business leaders, representing the chambers of commerce of countries like the US,Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, and Korea. The President of the European Chamber of Commerce, Hubert Díaboville, was not even able finish the statement he had prepared for the hearing.The Joint Foreign Chambers tried to put across the intentions behind the letter they sent to President Arroyo, being the issue raised is not limited to EPIRA. Díaboville reiterated that their group, which has 2,000 members and employs about a million, is only in pursuit of a more competitive and stable business environment. 8 Going Downhill,Time Ran Out Included in the Palace’s “wish list” are the successful passage of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), Optional Protocol againstTorture, United Nations Convention on Disability, Philippines- AustraliaVisiting Forces Agreement and a treaty with New Zealand restraining double taxation that gathered dust in the Senate for some reasons. 6 Towards the end of May 2008, the Senate has deferred voting for JPEPA, awaiting yet another exchange of notes between the Japanese and Philippine governments.Trade insiders had anticipated the nod senators would have given after the rigorous legal debate on the constitutionality of JPEPA.The projected economic costs and benefits of the agreement were also tackled in the chamber. In any event, expectants of the JPEPA ratification have no other choice but to shift their optimism to a wait-and-see perspective. One big would-have, could-have been is the promising business environment assuming the passage of JPEPA, providing benefits and opportunities to Philippine and Japanese firms. Some of the opportunities stalled by the failure of legislators to ratify the agreement within the period of the 14th Congress include the policy directing the elimination of tariffs on 95 percent of agricultural and industrial products exported by the Philippines to Japan. 7 The reductions relating to exports from the Philippines into Japan may be delineated as follows: •Tariffs on automobiles, auto parts, and electronic products, will be eliminated within a 10-year timeframe. •Several varieties of fruit (e.g. avocadoes, mangoes) and vegetable exports (e.g. asparagus, cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce) from the Philippines will be granted duty free treatment upon implementation of the JPEPA, while tariffs on others will be phased out in five and seven year installments (e.g. onions, sweet corn, tomatoes). •Poultry exports to Japan will be granted a tariff rate quota of 3,000 MT for the first year, which will grow to 7,000 MT by the 5th year of implementation.A preferential 8.5 percent in-quota rate will also be provided. •Indigenous wines and liquor from the Philippines will be allowed to enter Japan tariff free upon the implementation of the Agreement. •Japanese tariffs on textile products from the Philippines would likewise be immediately eliminated once the Agreement takes effect. 5
  6. 6. Looking At the Highs and Lows The passage of long overdue bills resulted to the crafting of seven new laws, as follow: 1. Republic Act 09496:An act to extend the utilization period of the agricultural competitiveness enhancement fund. 2. Republic Act 09497:An act creating the civil aviation authority of the Philippines 3. Republic Act 09498:The General Appropriations Act of 2008 4. Republic Act 09499:An act allowing Filipino World War IIVeterans to continue receiving Philippine government pensions and benefits provided by the US government 5. Republic Act 09500:An act to strengthen the University of the Philippines as the national university 6. Republic Act 09501:The Magna Carta for Small Enterprises 7. Republic Act 09502:Act providing for cheaper and quality medicines After several tedious years of working on a re-enacted budget, the Congress successfully passed a new appropriations act.Although some of its provisions spurred yet again another round of questions and criticisms, what was commendable in the new appropriations act is the allocation of a budget to update the population census.The country has long been Possibilities concerning the future of CARP remain ambiguous until Congress resumes.At this point, would- be beneficiaries of CARP’s extension, including 4.2 million farmers, could only hope that land redistribution would still push through.As feared, there may be other factors that could further stall its implementation and this includes the failure to allocate funds. The 10-year extension of the program was deemed necessary to complete the acquisition and distribution of 1.3 million hectares of land that remain undistributed. Congress’ failure to finalize the CARP’s extension further raised questions on whether CARP had always been a low priority of the government.A study by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the German Technical Assistance (GTZ) on CARP’s performance showed that from a financial perspective, all branches of government have approached the program without urgency. Specific figures from the GTZ report affirm that twenty years of CARP has land distribution yield of 7 million hectares out of the actual target of 8.2 million hectares. Four million of the seven million were distributed by DAR; three million by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).These figures however failed to show that land distribution has been applicable mainly in public lands rather than in the more critical private lands. 9 Another substantial measure did not make it by the adjournment of the Congress is the Archipelagic Baselines bill.The Philippine baselines bill is deemed to be a critical evidence for the country’s claim over the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the hotly-contested Spratlys.The United Nations Convention designated for the Laws of the Sea dependent on the outdated 2000 population statistics. The Cheaper Medicines Bill was finally enacted into law after failed attempts in the previous Congresses.After a long standoff on the House-supported generic-only provision, which was opposed by the Senate, the congressmen finally conceded.The law’s effect on the prices of drugs, however, is yet to be seen and felt by the common man as its Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) is still in the process of being crafted by the Technical Working Group led by the Department of Health. The low end of the 14th Congress score card however was earmarked by the failure of the House to pass two other key measures. One of which is the extension of the demised Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).The House of Representatives instead approved a joint resolution retaining the land acquisition and distri- bution component of CARP until December 2008.The Upper Chamber however failed to pass a similar resolu- tion.The backlash of the Congress’ failure to pass CARP’s extension already looms as a probable ground to oppose land acquisition and distribution in courts in the future. “The Cheaper Medicines Bill was finally enacted into law after failed attempts in the previous Congresses. After a long standoff on the House-supported generic-only provision, which was opposed by the Senate, the congressmen finally conceded...” 6
  7. 7. has set the deadline in May 2009 for all the claimant countries to submit pertinent evidences. What Was In the Bag Independent senator and Majority Leader Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan cited the Senate’s feats and again affirmed the Upper House’s commitment to enact imperative measures for the people.Almost all priority bills noted by the LEDAC according to Pangilinan were passed by the Senate. By the end of the session, thirty national bills have been ratified, translating to an average of three bills in a month or at least one bill per week.These bills are deemed to directly affect the lives of the masses. Pangilinan took pride in the Senate’s unwavering efforts in the passage of measures for the development of important areas like education, tourism, as well as The Senate was vilified by more critics after the previous Congress failed to enact certain bills ratified by the House.The Senate committees were then focused on scrutinizing the high-profile anomalies involving the Palace.The Senate, however, continued to be steadfast on this. Since July 2007, 342 public hearings were conducted by the Upper House including a handful of the most controversial: the failed national broadband deal, the Glorietta 2 bombing, and irregularities involving escalading power rates of the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO). Other Highlights A Change of Leadership in the Lower House While the Senate was in hot pursuit of the NBN fiasco, with star witness Jun Lozada returning from Hong Kong to testify, a change of leadership in the House of Representatives was hatched.This scheme ultimately led to the axing as Speaker of Jose deVenecia by his colleagues and party mates. His successor, Congressman Prospero Nograles of Davao faced the pressure of proving himself as the better Speaker and not a mere stooge of the Palace. The Lower Chamber, known for enacting congressional district concerns, passed a total of 253 bills on third reading.Again, comparing to the House’s performance during the first regular session of the 13th Congress, only five bills were passed on third reading. Over all during the 13th Congress, only 38 bills were passed on third reading. Nograles, assuming his post only in February, unfortunately cannot take full credit for this seeming improvement. Be that as it may, Nograles acclaims with pride in the fact that he and his colleagues were able to pass ‘quality, responsive and timely’ national and local bills. 12 the pre-need sector, to name a few. Pangilinan adds that this signifies also the Senate’s responsiveness with the nation in the on-going battle against the food and oil crisis. 10 Senate President ManuelVillar, on the other hand, acclaims the Senate’s distinctive accomplishments. 11 Villar cites that bills were rarely approved in the first regular session and that during the 12th and the 13th Congresses, the Senate was able to pass only on third and second reading a total of sixteen and eight bills respectively. Given this breaking record,Villar expects redemption from the criticisms that the Senate has reneged its lawmaking functions to give way to oversight congressional investigations on alleged fraud and corruption in government. Not that this is not important in the check and balance in governance. House Speaker Prospero Nograles Former House Speaker Jose de Venecia 7
  8. 8. Attendance Is a Must in the Upper Chamber In the Senate, where the number is small and the concerns are national in nature, the matter of attendance, tardiness, and travel are sensitive issues and barometers for performance. Based on the latest journal of attendance of the Senate, Sen. Rodolfo Biazon emerged as the leading absentee, being absent for nine session days; Sen. Jamby Madrigal is the tardiest and Sen. Edgardo Angara is the most traveled among the twenty-three members of the Upper Chamber. Sen. Madrigal tardy record accounts for nearly a third of all the sessions or twenty-four session days, closely followed by Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri with twenty-two. Only four senators managed to maintain perfect attendance since the start of the 14th Congress last year.They are Senate President MannyVillar, Senators Benigno Aquino III, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile. Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile had proposed to conduct an examination of how absenteeism and tardiness in the chamber were tallied. Sen. Enrile expressed concern over the fact that senators given permission to go on ‘official missions’ are not listed as absent, and as such, is unfair to legislators who are physically present in the session hall. 13 How the Business Sector Rated Congress As the first regular session of the 14th Congress adjourned sine die, Mr.Alberto Lim, Executive Director of the Makati Business Club (MBC), has rated the overall performance of Congress as “commendable.” Mr. Lim however followed up with an afterthought that there were indeed measures the lawmakers reneged and left behind. His colleague, Mr. Sammie Lim of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), had called on the lawmakers to approve all the bills specified in the LEDAC list. Foreseeing the impossibility of successfully doing and fees by telecommunication service companies on mobile “text” messaging; the proposed Cyber Crime Act; the proposed Department of Information Communications Technology; proposed registration subscriber identification modules; establishing an ICT Hub in every province; amending the Postal Services Act of 1992; Cable/TV SignalsTheft bill; and increasing penalties on erring public telecommunication firms. 15 Senate President MannyVillar foresees a very “productive” Senate in the second regular session.Villar confidently avows that the Upper Chamber’s passage of the pending urgent measures will be accomplished before the Lower House hands over the 2009 proposed national budget. Bills on renewable energy and amendment of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), demarcation of the Philippine baselines, JPEPA, environmental concerns including global warming and policies toward food self-sufficiency will be the foci of Senate’s law making efforts. 16 so, Lim urged the lawmakers to at least tag the pending measures with the greatest priority in the next regular session. 14 Promises for the Second Regular Session It seems the wishes of the business sector and other groups of society have not fallen on deaf ears.This early or late, depending on one’s point of view, Speaker Nograles has disclosed the legislative fiats the House will focus on come July 28.Topping the list is the proposed Credit Information System under House Bill 4260, which is now pending in the bicameral conference panel and could be enacted into law “very soon.” Others include the amendments to theTariff and Customs Code that would increase the penalties for smuggling. In the Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries, there are HBs 159 and 295, establishing the Pre-Need Code; HB 294, establishing pre-need insurance; HB 38827, suspending the required capital adequacy ratio prescribed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for all rural banks for a period of two years. In the Information & CommunicationsTechnology Committee, there are the regulation of charges “ The Congress’ shortcomings can be gleaned in terms of its disassociation from the public’s needs and its inability to fulfill its intrinsic duties...” 8
  9. 9. A Turnaround to Move Forward It is a distressing diagnosis to say that the first regular session of the 14th Congress might have ended where it had begun.The beginning of the 14th Congress started with the battle in the House over something as basic as congregating a quorum. Before it can go on with full throttle, it was pre-occupied with ridding itself of Malacañang’s old and reliable ally-- then House Speaker Jose deVenecia Jr. Despite the considerably commendable passage by Congress of essential legislations including the lowering of taxes for employees and making cheaper drugs available, the House failed to exude dynamism in reviewing the now demised Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.The Congress’ shortcomings can be gleaned in terms of its disassociation from the public’s needs and its inability to fulfill its intrinsic duties.These include the House’s failure to mature and grow out of ad hoc approach in investigations and in being more interested in wresting ‘acts of kindness’ from the executive instead of maximizing the jurisdiction of its power to deter and veto deplorable decisions e.g. unacceptable presidential appointments. It has still to carve an image of an independent, credible, non-parochial co-equal branch of government. The adjournment of the 14th Congress has elicited a variety of performance assessment. It generally generated a passing mark. It has also been ascertained that both Houses have the ability to ‘multi-task.’ However, both Chambers remain oblivious to the fact that the Congressional probes they conducted, e.g. the Upper Chamber’s investigation of controversial deals made by the President or the House’s query regarding the executive’s diplomatic record on Spratlys, resulted to more heat than actual light.A bravura fit for a telenovela. Perhaps, if they are serious about prosecuting scoundrels and scalawags in the bureaucracy, they can strengthen the office of the Ombudsman and tighten the government procurement system for starters. Nonetheless, the public has learned to intuitively understand the importance of an oversight in a democratic system.The ordinary citizens appreciated this role of Congress but at the same time they are frustrated that Congress failed to break out of the executive’s canny ability to maneuver over its investigations. More than ad hoc, a constant, secured focus is called for. The “happy ending” that is yet to be fulfilled by Congress is a legislative evolution; one that will provide a lucid transition beyond the vision and failures of the Arroyo administration.A fool-proof basis of a commendable performance in terms of investigation ought to be the assurance of our legislators that the ghosts of past issues will no longer haunt us, putting an end to abuses and corruption in the bureaucracy; and doing what it really means to hold paramount the concept of common good. The Congress will reconvene for its second session with the President’s State of the Nation Address on July 28.Yet this early, only shortly after the 14th Congress went into recess after its First Regular Session, many are already keenly awaiting the second session as a possible second chance for our legislators to take the challenge of not only changing for the better but also moving forward to bring hope.After all, the problems facing the nation are as real as the grumblings of the stomachs of the common people on the streets.And these very same people will render their assessment and judgment of the 14th Congress come May 2010. Endnotes: 1 Fonbuena, Carmela.“Report Card: Senate passes 30 bills: House, 253,” News Break, June 15, 2008. 2 President Gloria Arroyo’s 2007 State of the Nation Address, July 23, 2007 . 3 Foreign Chambers and Philippine Business Groups Letter to PGMA re 14th Congress Legislative Agenda, July 12, 2007. 4 Gov.Ph News,“PGMA Seeks Approval Of 11 Urgent Bills Before CongressTakes Christmas Recess,” December 11, 2007. 5 ECCP Website,“LEDAC Priority Bills,” December 13, 2007. 6 Marcelo, E. and Allauigan, B.“Legislators LikelyTo OK JustTwo More Priority Bills,” Business World, June 10, 2008. 7 Gatdula, Jeremy.“Awaiting the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement,” Philippine Star, May 27, 2008. 8 Calica,Aurea,“EPIRAThe Senate:‘Investors’ Grilling An Overkill,” Philip- pine Star, June 8, 2008. 9 De Castro, Isagani.“Arroyo’s Lack of Political Will Blamed for Non- Extension of CARP,”ABS-CBN Special Reports, July 5, 2008. 10 Senate of the Philippines 14th Congress Press Release,“Senate Passes Priority Bills;Adjourns 1st Regular Session,” June 12, 2008. 11 Uy,Veronica.”1ST REGULAR SESSION, Senate Passes Over 30 Bills,” INQUIRER.net, First Posted 00:58:00 06/12/2008. 12 Ager, Maila.“House Adjourns; 398 Bills Approved,” INQUIRER.net, First Posted 18:09:00 06/12/2008. 13 Cabacungan, Gil,“Biazon Is Most Absent, Madrigal MostTardy,” Philip- pine Daily Inquirer, July 10, 2008. 14 Marcelo, E. and Allauigan, B.“Legislators LikelyTo OK JustTwo More Priority Bills,” Business World, June 10, 2008. 15 Business World,“House Identifies Priority Bills For Upcoming Regular Session,” July 21, 2008. 16 Danao, Efren,“Renewable Energy, EPIRA top Senate Agenda,” Manila Times, July 23, 2008. 9

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