Senate OKs bill extending passport validity to 10 years

MANILA — At least six measures were passed in the Senate on Monday, including a measure meant to extend passport validity from five to 10 years.

With 18 affirmative votes, zero negative votes and zero abstention, the Senate passed Senate Bill No. 1365 or the Philippine Passport Act which seeks to extend the validity of the passport from five years to 10 years to make travel abroad easier, especially for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

It was authored by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, Alan Peter Cayetano, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Richard Gordon, Loren Legarda, Joel Villanueva, Grace Poe, and Cynthia Villar.

Cayetano, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the passage of the measure would be in line with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s promise to promote the welfare of the people.

Another measure passed was Senate Bill No. 1353 which seeks to amend and strengthen Republic Act. No. 8344 or the Anti-hospital Deposit Law by imposing stricter penalties against erring hospitals that demand any deposit or other form of advance payment before admitting and treating an emergency patient. It was approved with 18 affirmative votes, zero negative votes and zero abstention.

The measure was authored and sponsored by neophyte Sen. Risa Hontiveros. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Richard Gordon are also authors of the bill.

Hontiveros, former chair of the Senate Committee on Health, said the passage of the measure would show Filipinos “that health is, in fact, more important than wealth.”

Also approved was Senate Bill No. 1255 or an Act expanding the coverage of exemptions from revealing the source of published news or information obtained in confidence.

The measure, which was authored by Sotto and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, seeks to amend Republic Act No. 53, better known as the Shield Law which exempts the publisher, editor, columnist or duly accredited reporter of any newspaper, magazine or periodical of general circulation from divulging their sources unless it endangers the security of the state.

Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, said that the passage of the measure would ensure press freedom by allowing the press to report on matters involving public interest without fear of undue pressure from the government to reveal their sources.

Meanwhile, the Senate also approved three house bills seeking to create new barangays in Navotas City namely House Bills No. (HBN) 973, 938 and 4402.

These measures were authored and sponsored by Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government.

HBN 973 would divide Barangay North Bay Boulevard South in Navotas into three barangays to be known as Barangay NBBS Proper, Barangay NBBS Kaunlaran and Barangay NBBS Dagat-Dagatan. The current barangay has a population of more than 67,000.

Meanwhile, HBN 938 would divide Barangay Tangos into two barangays to be known as Tangos North and Tangos South. It has a current population of 33,000. Finally, HBN 4402 would divide Barangay Tanza, which has a population of 26,000, into Barangay Tanza 1 and Barangay Tanza 2.

Angara said that the measure would help provide local governments the power and funds they need to efficiently serve their constituents. Azer Parrocha/