2 bills among top priorities

September 22, 2019
Martin Romualdez

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez yesterday said the proposed Salary Standardization Law (SSL) 5 for civilian state workers and postponement of the May 2020 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls to May 2023 are among the top priority measures to be approved by the House leadership before adjourning this December.

Romualdez, who chairs the House Committee on Rules, made the announcement after attending the meeting of the Legislative-Executive Coordinating Council (LECC) recently where the initial list of its common priority measures for inclusion in President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s legislative agenda were identified.

He said the pieces of legislation the Congress leaders and top Cabinet officials want taken up for immediate approval also include the creation of the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and free legal assistance to the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“Let’s wait for the official communication from the Palace about the final list of priority legislative measures it would be submitting to Congress. These are just the initial list. In the meantime, we agreed to pursue these as our common priority measures,” said Romualdez after attending the meeting in preparation to the Legislative-Executive-Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

Romualdez said the House leadership is “eyeing the passage of the common legislative measures before Congress adjourns this December.”

“The SSL 5 shows the President’s sincere ‘malasakit’ to the plight of our civilian state workers. We will work very hard to ensure funding for their salary increase,” Romualdez added.

Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu and Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, who chairs the House Committee on Ways and Means, said the SSL 5 has been programmed within the organic capacity of the government and there is no need for an additional tax measure for it.

“This is in line with President Duterte’s commitment to improve the life of our civilian state workers, including teachers and nurses. At the same time, this will result in their higher level of productivity to public service,” said Abu.

“The SSL 5 will raise civil servants’ salaries by 15 percent over three years. The adjustments will preserve and somewhat improve the purchasing power of civil servants considering the consumer price inflation of 3.4 percent over the past three years [2016 — 1.8 percent, 2017 — 3.2 percent and 2018 — 5.2 percent] and forward estimates of a 3-year inflation of 2 percent to 4 percent per year,” said Salceda.

Romualdez reiterated that the House leadership is forging tighter coordination with the Palace and the Senate to avoid even a single presidential veto of bills approved by the 18th Congress.

“Under the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, we are committed to expeditiously act on these measures. We will continue to work in harmony with the Senate and Cabinet members to pursue and realize President Duterte’s desire of ensuring a comfortable life for Filipinos,” said Romualdez, a lawyer and banker, as he cited the record time passage last Friday of the proposed 2020 P4.1 trillion national expenditure program (NEP) on third and final reading.

“The House leaders will exhaust all means possible to make sure that the Executive and the Legislative departments are always in one direction with regard to the version of the priority and certified bills filed in the 18th Congress. We do not want to put to waste all the resources, time and effort, which are normally spent in passing bills,” said Romualdez after attending the third “regular monthly meeting” to ensure a better shepherding of President Duterte’s priority measures.

Aside from Romualdez, joining the small group meeting from the House of Representatives were Speaker Cayetano and Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte.

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sens. Bong Go and Joel Villanueva, Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III, Labor Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III, and acting Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, also attended the small group meeting.