We delivered -- Romualdez

December 22, 2019
Alan Peter Cayetano & Martin Romualdez

PUSHING for the legislative agenda of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte, the House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has processed a total of 900 measures in 32 session days, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said on Sunday.

Romualdez, who chairs the powerful House Committee on Rules, said the House of Representatives as an institution performed its tasks commendably by answering the “challenges and demands of our duties and responsibilities.”

The House Majority Leader said these include Republic Act No. 11462 postponing the May 2020 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to December 2022, RA No. 11463 or the Malasakit Centers Act, which seeks to establish a one-stop shop in every government hospital where poor patients can seek financial assistance for their medical needs from four government agencies: the Department of Health, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), ratification of House Bill (HB) No. 4228 or the proposed 2020 P4.1 trillion national budget, and HB No. 1026, which seeks to increase the tax on electronic cigarettes and impose higher duties on alcohol or the Package 2 Plus B of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, amending Sections 141, 142 and 143 of the Republic Act 8424, as amended or the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, among others.

Through the sterling leadership of Speaker Cayetano, Romualdez reiterated his assurance to the public that the lower chamber will continue to perform better.

Before Congress went on a month-long Christmas break starting December 21, Romualdez said the House of Representatives processed a total of 900 measures or an average of 28 measures per day during the 32 session days.

From July 22 to December 18, 2019, Romualdez said the House received a total of 6,562 measures and 186 committee reports.

Of these, Romualdez said 5,889 are bills and 673 are resolutions.

“I am proud to report, as the Majority Leader, that the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress processed a total of 900 legislative measures since July 22 to December 18 of the current year. In just 32 session days, we were able to steer the approval of 175 legislative measures. Two of these measures, the institutionalization of the Malasakit Centers and the postponement of the barangay and SK elections, had already been signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte,” said Romualdez in his report to Cayetano.

“The bicameral report of two other measures, the 2020 General Appropriations Act and the Sin Taxes, were also ratified by both Houses of Congress and are due for signature by the President before the end of the year,” said Romualdez.

Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), said the record time third and final reading approval of the proposed 2020 P4.1 trillion national budget by the House of Representatives is one of the highlights of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress.

“I consider the swift passage of the 2020 General Appropriations as one of the highlights of the First Regular Session of the House of Representatives. We were able to steer the approval of the 2020 national budget in record time through creative initiatives never before experienced in the House of Representatives. Committee hearings for the budgets of various departments and offices were held simultaneously, from day to night, Monday to Friday,” Romualdez pointed out, adding that the House of Representatives also approved the tax reform measures of the Duterte administration to promote the country as a viable investment destination.

Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), also lauded both the majority and the minority’s “tough work ethic in doing their jobs creditably.”

“Your congressmen, both from the majority and the minority, worked feverishly in the committee and plenary levels just to get the job done on time. The minority congressmen were given almost 80 percent of the total time allotted in plenary for interpellation. With democracy at work in the House, we managed to craft a national budget that is truly a collaborative product of hard-working legislators. No pork, no parking, and no delay. With the swift approval of the 2020 budget, we are confident that we will meet the country’s economic target of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent growth for this year up to 2020,” Romualdez stressed.

“I also credit the congressmen’s work ethic for the swift passage in the House of tax reform measures needed to propel the country’s economic takeoff. We have already approved on third and final reading the measure amending the Foreign Investment Act of 1991, the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA), and the Corporate Income Tax and Incentive Rationalization Act (CITIRA). These bills are important parcels of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP)  that is required to help reach the A Credit Rating goal of the Duterte administration,” Romualdez added.

The House of Representatives also approved a total of 93 bills on third and final reading, he said.