MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 29 May) - Barely five days to go before the 13th Congress resumes again for the last time, Senator Mar Roxas once more called on his fellow legislators to attend the last three plenary session days and the forthcoming meetings of the Bicameral Conference Committee, to help push the approval of a bill seeking quality and affordable medicines.
“This is a very important piece of health legislation. Providing quality and affordable medicines to our people is a moral imperative. It should no longer be delayed, he said in a statement sent Tueasday to the Mindanao Examiner newspaper.
“I ask my colleagues in both houses of Congress to exercise political will and pass this bill into law before the session ends,” he said.
He noted that next week would be the last chance for legislators who belong to the 13th Congress to address the urgent need of ordinary Filipinos for quality and affordable medicines.
Congress will resume on Monday, June 4, after almost a four-month break, and is expected to adjourn sine die on June 6.
Roxas, who is primary author and sponsor of the bill, also welcomed the active engagement of stakeholder groups in making sure that the landmark legislation is passed within the 13th Congress.
These groups include British aid agency Oxfam, the 3CP Net (Cut the Cost, Cut the Pain Network), AGAP (Ayos na Gamot sa Abot-kayang Presyo), Third World Network, Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) among others.
“I greatly appreciate the activities being organized by stakeholders in support of this bill. These vigilant efforts are very helpful in preventing those who are blocking this bill from succeeding.”
“This snowballing of support makes the quest for cheaper and affordable medicines more worthwhile,” he added.
The Liberal Party stalwart also ensured that a consolidated version of the bill is already underway, as constant communication among the technical staff and with the concerned sectors is being held.
“Even before the bicameral meetings are held, we’ve been in constant communication with our counterparts in the House, with government agencies involved and stakeholder groups, and our staff are doing consolidation of drafts of the bill,” he said.
Provided there is a quorum, the House is expected to pass the bill on 3rd reading on Monday. The Bicameral Conference Committee will then convene to iron-out the disagreeing provisions of the House and Senate versions of the bill.
After which, a Bicameral Conference Committee report proposing a consolidated version of the bill will be transmitted to both Chambers for ratification.
The consolidated version will then be sent to the President for signature. The Senate has approved Senate Bill 2263 on Third Reading on January 31, 2007.
The House of Representatives, meanwhile, has passed its version—House Bill No. 6035—on Second Reading last February 20, 2007.