SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano hailed the success of the First Regular session of the 18th Congress with the passage of important measures that seek to response to the needs of the Filipinos.
In a statement, Cayetano said he had appealed to the members of the House of Representatives to do what is right and make Congress “relevant, responsive, and reliable institution.”
When Cayetano was voted Speaker of the House last year, he pledged that the lower chamber would pass measures that seek to provide a safe and comfortable life to all Filipinos.
At the end of the First Regular Session, 11 bills have been signed into law, including five State of the Nation Address (SONA) priority measures:
Postponement of the May 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections;
Establishment of Malasakit Centers;
Increasing and Restructuring the Excise Tax Rates on Alcohol, Heated Tobacco, and Vapor Products;
Creation of the National Academy of Sports; and
The Salary Standardization Law of 2019 which increased the salary of teachers and nurses.
Four other SONA priority measures were approved on Third and Final Reading, namely:
Major tax reform measures such as the Corporate Income Tax & Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA);
Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA);
Real Property Valuation and Assessment Act; and Creation of the Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment.
Meanwhile, five other legislative measures were enacted into law, namely:
The Act Extending Availability of the 2019 Appropriations to December 31, 2020;
The Act Appropriating Funds for the Operation of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines from January 1-December 31, 2020;
The Act Designating the Third Sunday of November Every Year as the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims, Survivors, and Their Families;
The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act; and
The Good Manners and Right Conduct Act.
In a record span of 20 days, the P4.1-trillion national budget was passed in the House of Representatives, preventing a repeat of the budget deadlock in the 17th Congress that caused delays in the implementation of key government programs.
In addition, the Lower House has also approved 250 measures on third reading and 32 bills on second reading since the opening of the session last year.
Sustained momentum amid the pandemic
Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, the 18th Congress was able to sustain its momentum of performance and productivity,” he stressed.
During the enhanced community quarantine, Congress passed the historic Bayanihan to Heal as One Act granting President Rodrigo Duterte additional special powers for a limited period time to combat the health crisis.
Congress also passed six bills on third and final reading in a span of one month to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the lives and livelihood of the Filipinos, protect the health and safety of frontliners and high-risk population, and restore economic growth.
These are the following:
House Bill (HB) No. 6815 or the proposed P1.3-trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines (ARISE Philippines) Act;
HB No. 6817 or the proposed COVID-19-Related Anti-Discrimination Act;
HB No. 6865 or the Crushing COVID-19 Act that mandates the conduct of baseline Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing as the protocol for COVID-19 testing for the vulnerable members of the society;
HB No. 6816 or the proposed Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Act that seeks to help financial institutions resolve their debts and manage their non-performing assets (NPAs);
HB No. 6920 or the COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020; and
HB 6895 or an Act to Lengthen the School Calendar from Two Hundred Days to Not More than Two Hundred Twenty Class Days, which empowers the President to set a different date for the start of the school year during a state of emergency or state of calamity.
The House also passed the Anti-Terrorism Bill as certified urgent by the President and conducted fair, impartial, thorough, and comprehensive proceedings on the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corporation.