At the last session day of the First Regular Session of the 19th Congress, Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" F. Zubiri highlighted the accomplishments of the Upper Chamber, saying that the body responded to the needs of the people and the challenges of the times. ![migz1.jpg]( Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri delivers his closing speech before the Senate adjourned sine die on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (Senate PRIB Photo)

In his closing speech before the 24-member Senate adjourned sine die last night, May 31, Zubiri emphasized that it is only through "hard work and high purpose" that the body approved 31 landmark bills and more than 70 resolutions in the first year of the 19th Congress. "While this scoreboard shows the quantity of our input, it cannot even begin to describe the quality of each. True to our tradition, we do not agree to proposals without discussion, nor embrace ideas without debate," the Senate President said. Zubiri also expressed his gratitude to all of his colleagues, recognizing that each member has properly accomplished his or her part in honoring their mandate. "We will return with high-impact legislation. When we meet again in this hall, let it be with greater determination and a renewed commitment to perform the duties that the Republic and our people expect us to," he added. The Senate and the House of Representatives go back to work on July 24 when they meet in joint session to hear the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand ‘’Bongbong’’ R. Marcos Jr. at the Batasan Pambansa complex in Quezon City. Before adjournment, the Senate ratified the bicameral conference report on the ‘One Town, One Product’ (OTOP) bill, an Act institutionalizing the OTOP Philippines program. Senator Mark Villar, chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce, Entrepreneurship, reported the highlights of the reconciled version of Senate Bill (SB) 1594 and House Bill (HB) 1171, which seeks to institutionalize the OTOP Philippines program. Some of the provisions added to the new version by Senate and House of Representatives conferees, Villar said, are the formulation of a national OTOP strategic development plan and the setting of qualification criteria for OTOP products consistent with elements of culture, community resources, connection, creativity and competitive advantage. Villar said the reconciled version also provides for additional program components such as provision of market access and product promotion. “I firmly believe that the impact of this legislation may extend far beyond our shores. The OTOP Philippines Program will put our nation in the international stage, showcasing the diverse range of high-quality products that our towns and municipalities have to offer, he explained. ‘’This program will not only boost our local economies but also serves as a beacon of inspiration for other nations striving to uplift their MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) and promote sustainable development,” Villar said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (