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The Senate takes a Christmas break.

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The Senate adjourned on Wednesday to make room for the holiday vacation, but Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva announced that committee hearings in support of legislation will still take place.

Senate Resolution No. 21 “authorizes all standing committees, oversight committees, and special committees to conduct hearings, and consultation to have continuity of pending resolutions,” Villanueva recalled to his colleagues during the adjournment.

The national budget for 2023, which was approved under Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri’s strong leadership and is anticipated to be signed into law by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., was also lauded by him.

For his part, Senate President Zubiri thanked the senators and staff members who had helped him lead the chamber during his first six months in office.

The next meeting will start on January 23, 2023.

Sen. Francis Tolentino’s privileged speech on Chinese infringement on Philippine territory ended this year’s final session by pleading with lawmakers, the nation’s maritime security forces, and diplomats to safeguard and advance the country’s interests in the West Philippine Sea.

He mentioned the November 2022 event when the China Coast Guard (CCG) forcibly removed wreckage from a Chinese Long March 5B rocket that fell within the Pag-asa Islands Territorial Sea as evidence that the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea issue was of serious national security importance.

He claimed that the occurrence violated Philippine sovereignty gravely in accordance with both the 2016 Arbitral Award and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Tolentino also exhorted personnel of the armed forces and diplomatic corps to keep calling attention to the flagrant violations of Philippine maritime sovereignty and defending the nation’s rights.

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