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House to speed up work on Duterte priority bills

Martin Romualdez
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez

AS the Congress resumes session today, the House of Representatives will be working double time to pass the priority legislative agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte.

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said the House will pursue economic reforms that would ensure a sustained campaign to defeat the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Romualdez, chairman of the House Committee on Rules, said the House leadership will work for the immediate approval of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) and Amendments to Republic Act (RA) No. 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) of 2001 in the bicameral conference committee.

The House leader stressed that both CREATE and AMLA bills are administration measures which the Department of Finance classified as vital for the country’s economic recovery program.

Once enacted into law, Romualdez said “the CREATE bill will definitely provide businesses, particularly micro- small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), with one of the largest economic stimulus measures in the country’s history to help them recover from the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The AMLA amendments, on the other hand, need to be passed before February for the Philippines to avoid being included in the Financial Action Task Force’s so-called gray list, Romualdez added.

The AMLA amendments measure seeks to address the deficiencies in the anti-money laundering law and to implement regulations that will improve efforts to curb terrorist financing.

CREATE is now pending in the bicameral conference committee while AMLA amendments were approved by the House of Representatives on third and final reading last December.

The House is scheduled to approve on third and final reading HB 08097 or the Additional Benefits for Solo Parents, which is part of President Duterte’s priority measures underscored in his State of the Nation Address’ (SONA).

Also pending third reading approval, according to Romualdez, are proposed laws Instituting the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers and Extending the Implementation of the Lifeline Rate.

HB 07814 or Strengthening Drug Prevention and Control is now under period of sponsorship, he said.

Romualdez said the House of Representatives already transmitted to the Senate the following SONA priority measures: HB 00304 or the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation (PIFITA) Act; HB 04664 or the Real Property Valuation Assessment; HB 06134 or Mandating Banking Institutions to Strengthen the Financing System for Agricultural, Fisheries and Rural Development in the Philippines; HB 00078 or the Public Service Act Amendments; HB 05832 or the Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment (DFOFE) Act; HB 05989 or the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR); HB 07406 or the Bureau of Fire Protection Modernization Act; and HB 07805 or the Internet Transaction Act/E Commerce Law.

Last December, the House of Representatives ratified HB 06816 or the Financial Institution Strategic Transfer (FIST) Act and adopted a Senate bill under HB 08136 or the Coconut Farmers Trust Fund Bill or Coco Levy.

The two measures are also among the SONA priority measures.