House to push priority bills as session resumes

November 03, 2019
Martin Romualdez
Martin Romualdez

THE House of Representatives will hit the ground running when it resumes session this Monday, aiming to approve on third and final reading two priority legislative measures on its calendar of business.

House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who chairs the powerful House Committee on Rules, said the measures scheduled for final approval this Monday include the Joint Resolution extending the availability of the 2019 appropriations for maintenance and capital outlays to December 31, 2020, and the bill postponing the May 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

Romualdez said the House also aims to discuss and fast-track the approval of a pending joint resolution that authorizes the use of the rice subsidy as provided in this year’s P3.757-trillion national budget for the purchase of palay (unhusked rice) from farmers.

“We aim to hit the ground running on the first day of work. Time to roll up our sleeves once again and work double time on vital legislative measures,” said Romualdez.

Romualdez said the House of Representatives has already passed 18 measures on third reading since the start of the 18th Congress, including the 2020 national budget, key tax bills, and amendments to the Foreign Investment Act of 1991.

The tax legislation was among the priority measures identified by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) to open the congressional session. He later also certified the budget as urgent.

In his fourth SONA, President Duterte called for the passage of other measures including those authorizing the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections; the Magna Carta for Barangays; the National Land Use Bill; the creation of departments for Overseas Filipino Workers, disaster resilience, and water resources; the fire protection modernization program; the new Salary Standardization Law; the new version of the measure outlining the disposal of the coconut levy funds; and the mandatory implementation of Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program in senior high school.

“The tax legislation that we passed under the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) will help the government achieve the A credit rating goal of the Duterte administration. We are a notch away from ‘A’ territory after a vote of confidence by Standard & Poor’s (S&P), upgrading the country’s credit rating from ‘BBB’ to ‘BBB+’ with a stable outlook because of robust economic growth,” Romualdez said.

According to Romualdez, other economic bills that needed swift action from the House include measures dealing with the Real Property Valuation and Assessment system, amendments to the Public Service Act amendment, a measure raising the Motor Vehicle Road User’s Tax, as well as the proposals to create new government departments.

Romualdez said the sterling performance of the House since the opening of the 18th Congress would not have been possible without the cooperation of majority and minority members of the chamber.

“The work ethic of our congressmen, both from the majority and the minority, is really incredible. It is truly an honor working with them,” said the House leader from Leyte.

Acting on Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s instructions, Romualdez said the House aims to pass before the year ends the measure creating the Department of Water Resources, the Department of Filipino Overseas, and the Department of Disaster Resilience.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself called on Congress to work on these measures during his fourth SONA last July.

The measure proposing the creation of the Department of Water Resources aims to rationalize water resource management to provide the public with clean, safe, and accessible water.

A House technical working group led by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda held a meeting to tackle the provisions of the measure earlier last month.

Romualdez said the House of Representatives likewise targets to approve before the year ends the proposed measure providing free legal assistance to officers and enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who are charged in relation to the performance of their duties.