THE House Minority bloc expressed full support for the priority legislative measures which the Senate and House leaderships agreed to pursue immediately.
Minority Leader Stephen Paduano attended the leadership meeting initiated by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Senate President Tito Sotto.
According to Paduano, he expects a smooth relationship between the House of Representatives and Senate after its leaders had met in an informal caucus.
“We will cooperate with the House leadership while we continue to perform as fiscalizers of the initiatives of the majority,” he explained.
The solon clarified that the minority will maintain their critical cooperation with the leadership of Velasco, especially on the passage of urgent legislative measures aimed at alleviating poverty and addressing socio- economic woes brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Both Congress leaders had earlier agreed to put forward a common legislative agenda that will streamline and ensure speedy and efficient lawmaking.
He pointed out that “per agreement, the minority will submit its own list of priority measures which may be included in the common agenda”.
The common agenda is a consolidated list of the priority measures as identified by both Houses, he emphasized.
Meanwhile Paduano stressed that “cooperation” is imperative between the two Houses of Congress as stated in Article 6, Section 1 of the Constitution.
Earlier in the meeting initiated by Velasco and Sotto the House of Representatives and Senate agreed to prioritize important measures particularly those mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Velasco said he wanted the remaining months of the 18th Congress to be fruitful and productive.
When session resumes this November 16, the House and Senate will work for the ratification of the proposed 2021 national budget amounting to P4.5 trillion.
“We look forward to a very good working relationship between the House and the Senate as both chambers strive to ensure the remaining sessions of the 18th Congress will be fruitful and productive,” Velasco said.
“We consider the senators as vital partners, allies and friends, and we thank the Senate leadership for this productive meeting,” he added.
Among the measures to be given priority are the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE Act, Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer or FIST Act, Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Development Financing System Act, and the bill creating the Department of Overseas Filipinos.
Meanwhile, Velasco assured President Rodrigo Duterte that he can rely on Congress because it is willing to help in fulfilling his promises to the people .
“We take seriously his call to put an end to systemic corruption, and we will work together with our fellow lawmakers to come up with legislation to help our overseas Filipino workers, farmers and fisherfolk,” he added.
In addition, Velasco has requested the Senate to prioritize the proposed Magna Carta of Barangay Workers to support barangay frontliners, as well as the proposed Internet Transactions Act that seeks to protect consumers, especially with the increase in online transactions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Present during the meeting were Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Finance Committee chair Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, House Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, House Committee on Appropriations chair Eric Yap, and House Minority Leader Paduano.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also joined the meeting via videoconferencing app Webex.
Velasco expressed confidence the GAB will be passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Duterte before the year ends to prevent a reenacted spending program that could slow economic growth and hamper the delivery of government services.
Last October 27, the House transmitted the approved copy of the proposed P4.506-trillion 2021 GAB to the Senate one day ahead of schedule.