The Senate will tackle bills calling for stricter anti-terror measures as well as the lifting of foreign equity restrictions on public utilities and other businesses, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said.

These bills were priorities in the previous 17th Congress but were not passed because of lack of time.

“More or less the amendments to the Human Security Act which eventually [will] be called the Anti-Terrorism Act is going to be a priority, and then the amendments also to the Public Service Act and the Foreign Investments Act. These were some of the bills that I know were left from the 17th Congress that we wanted to prioritize, but [there was] lack of time,” Sotto told reporters at the opening of the 18th Congress on Monday.

Sotto said the Senate expected President Rodrigo Duterte to seek support for his “Build, Build, Build” program and other priority programs during his State of the Nation Address later on Monday.

Sotto couldn’t say if the re-imposition of the death penalty, which he said was a “divisive” measure, would be a priority.

“Perhaps, it is a priority to debate on it. I would rather say that, instead of saying that it is a priority measure, kasi it is one issue that is very divisive,” he said.

“So we’d like to perhaps start debate on it. I filed a bill on that, particularly high-level drug trafficking, but we have two new senators who have filed a bill encompassing all heinous crimes, so I hope it will be a healthy debate,” he added.

Sotto however said the bill would have better chances of passing “If it will be confined to high-level drug trafficking.”

Sotto, described by Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri as a “workhorse,” was reelected to another term as Senate president.

In nominating Sotto, Zubiri said the Senate ended the 17th Congress “on a remarkably productive note, with 406 bills passed into law and 186 more in the pipeline.” (