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Senate passes 53 bills as special session starts

February 20, 2007

THE Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading 53 bills, including six with national application and 47 local measures, at the opening of Congress� special session called by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Among the national bills the Senate passed were two bills authored by Senator Pia Cayetano, namely SB No. 2600 or the “Oil Pollution Compensation Act” and House Bill No. 68, prohibiting and penalizing the detention of patients in hospitals and medical clinics for non payment of their bills.

The Senate also approved on third and final reading SB 2466, or “An Act Strengthening the Workers’s Constitutional Right to Self-Organization”; SB 5292 authorizing local councils to declare special holidays in their localities; SB 5792, establishing the National Archives of the Philippines; and SB 1120, or “An Act Granting the Right of Reply and Providing Penalties for Violation Thereof”.

The Senate suspended its session, which lasted for barely two hours, after passing the 53 bills.

Cayetano, who acted as the Senate Majority Leader, said SB 2600 provides mechanism for the prevention, abatement, mitigation and control of oil pollution within the country.

“(It) lays down tougher rules to make oil polluters pay, and make them pay heavily, so that they will be more conscious of the need to protect the environment,” Cayetano said in a statement.

The senator noted that in the past two years, the Solar I oil spill off Guimaras Island on August 2006 and the Napocor barge oil spill off Semirara Island on December 2005 were took two of the worst environmental disasters to have hit the country.

Cayetano noted that while some affected Guimaras residents were paid by the Oil Pollution Compensation Fund, insurer of state-run Petron Corp. that chartered the ill-fated Solar I, the bill approved by the Senate would obligate those responsible for long-term damages in incidents in the future.

(For the rest of the story, click GMA News TV, Feb. 19, 2007.)

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