Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in effect said this as the House of Representatives under her leadership passed several legislations that promote President Rodrigo Duterte’s legacy in his first three years in office.
With only a few session days left before the 17th Congress ends on June 30, 2019, the Arroyo-led House processed a total of 1,426 measures since the Third Regular Session of the 17th Congress began on July 23, 2018 and adjourned on Dec. 12, 2018 for a Christmas break.
This translates to an average of 35 measures processed each day during the 41 session days.
At the adjournment on Dec.13, Speaker Arroyo addressed members of the House to congratulate them on their hard work as the House succeeded in processing all the priority measures of President Duterte—a promise Speaker Arroyo made when she was elected to lead her fellow Representatives.
“My concern is not my legacy as Speaker. My concern is to support President Duterte’s legacy in the year that I have as Speaker. And as of yesterday, the House can report with confidence that we have already passed the President’s entire legislative agenda as he announced in his 2018 State of the Nation Address,” Arroyo said.
Of the total measures processed, 95 were enacted into law, 16 of which were of national significance and 79 of local import.
These include Republic Act 11054, or the “Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” a landmark legislation that was based on House Bill 6475.
Also enacted was RA 11148, or the “Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act” based on HB 5777, which scales up the national and local health and nutrition programs through a strengthened integrated strategy for maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.
Others are RA 11106 or the “Filipino Sign Language Act” based on HB 7503; RA 11127 or the “National Payments Systems Act” based on HB 5000; RA 11131 or the “Philippine Criminology Act of 2018” based on HB 7191; RA 11055, or the “Philippine Identification System Act” based on HB 6221; RA 11057, or the “Personal Property Security Act” based on HB 6907; RA 11058, “An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards” based on HB 64; and RA 11059 or the “Retirement Law of the Office of the Ombudsman” based on HB 6578.
Additionally, 39 more measures were transmitted to the President, awaiting his approval for them to be enacted into laws.
The House also ratified a total of 30 bicameral reports during this period. Twenty-six of the reports were of national significance and four were of local import.
These include HB 7735 and SB 1998, “Revised Agricultural Tariffication Act;” HB 7402 and SB 1363, “Telecommuting Act”; HB 8239 and SB 1477, “Positive and Nonviolent Discipline of Children Act;” HB 8139 and SB 1431, “Tulong-Trabaho Act; ” HB 5675 and SB 2081, “Simulated Birth Rectification Act;” HB 8636 and SB 1850, “National Integrated Cancer Control Act; ” HB 6617 and SB 1390, “Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act;” HB 4113 and SB 1305, “Increasing the Maternity Leave to 100 Days”; HB 7652 and SB 1636, “Mobile Number Portability Act; ” HB 8374 and SB 1280, “Revised Corporation Code of the Philippines” and House Joint Resolution 26, which seeks to extend the period of availability of funds intended for victims of Human Rights violations under the Marcos Regime until December 2019.
Also pending at the bicameral conference are 22 measures comprising 19 national bills and 3 local bills.
The national bills include HB 7449, “An Act Appropriating The Sum Of P1,161 Billion as Supplemental Appropriations For Fy 2018 And For Other Purposes” which was certified as urgent; HB 8417, “Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop Act;” HB 8419, “Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act;” HB 8637, “Regional Investment and Infrastructure Coordinating Hub of Central Luzon”; and HB 8715, “Philippine Innovation Act.”
In terms of plenary approval, 228 measures hurdled third and final approval. Of these, 85 were national bills, 141 were local bills, one was a resolution of both Houses, and one was a joint resolution.
Among the national bills approved on third reading is HB 8169, “Fiscal Year 2019 General Appropriations Act” which provides for a national budget of P3.757 trillion for fiscal year 2019.
Meanwhile, other bills of national significance that hurdled third reading are: HB 7512, “Barangay Integrated Development Approach for Nutrition Improvement (BIDANI) Act;” HB 7437, “Anti-Privatization of Public Hospitals, Health Facilities and Health Services Act;” HB 8143, “Tourism Sites Accessibility Act;” HB 7774, “Bill of Rights of Taxi, Tourist Car Transport Service and Vehicle for Hire Passengers; ” and HB 8322, “Mandatory Automatic Headlights On for Motorcycles Act.”
Similarly, the House approved on third reading the draft federal charter or Resolution of Both Houses 15, proposing the revision of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, as well as House Joint resolution 32, extending the availability of the 2018 appropriations for maintenance and other operating expenses and capital outlays to Dec. 31, 2019.
The House also approved on second reading 37 measures consisting of 25 national bills and 12 local bills.
Among the national bills approved on second reading were: HB 8727, “Family Tree Planting Act;” HB 8682, “Transnational Higher Education Act”; HB 8794, “Safe Street, Public and Online Spaces Act;” HB 8791, “Collective Investment Schemes Law;” HB 8785, “Philippine Indigenous or Traditional Writing Systems Act;” and HB 8733, “Comprehensive Nuclear Regulation Act.”
The House likewise rescinded the approval of one national bill and consigned one national bill to the archives.
Finally, the House adopted a total of 44 resolutions consisting of 32 regular resolutions; seven concurrent resolutions; three resolutions on inquiries, in aid of legislation; and two resolutions of both Houses.
The Resolutions of Both Houses adopted during this period were RBH 16, informing President Duterte that both chambers of Congress convened in a joint session to consider the request of the President for the further extension of the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao for one year, and RBH 17, extending the declaration of martial law and suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao for a period of one year from Jan. 1, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2019.
Meanwhile, House leaders lauded the strong and competent leadership of Speaker Arroyo in steering the House to accomplish so much in just a short period of time, while beating the odds, which is indeed an unprecedented feat to beat.
They said Arroyo’s leadership provided inspiration and clear direction to the House in pursuing priority measures since she took over last July 23, 2018.
Rep. Estrellita Suansing of Nueva Ecija, chairperson of the Committee on Ways and Means, praised Speaker Arroyo for providing inspiration and good example to House Members which were essential in the timely approval of vital measures, including tax bills that will generate additional revenues for the government.
“Good leaders like Speaker Arroyo are trailblazers who make a path for others to follow,” said Suansing.
Suansing said Arroyo exemplified effective leadership through the following traits and policies: 1) she wants everyone to be on time; 2) she is workaholic; 3) she is a hands on and supportive leader; 4) she wants everything done right away and refuses any delay; and 6) she personally monitors every bill because she believes that what is monitored gets effectively done or finished.
Suansing recalled that Speaker Arroyo closely followed the hearings of the Committee on Ways and Means on vital tax measures which were eventually approved in the committee and finally in the plenary. These include : House Bill 8400, entitled “An Act Establishing the Fiscal Regime for the Mining Industry;” HB 8453, entitled “An Act Instituting Reforms in Real Property Valuation and Assessment in the Philippines, Reorganizing the Bureau of Local Government Finance, and Appropriating Funds Therefor”; HB 8554, entitled “Granting Amnesty On All Unpaid Internal Revenue Taxes Imposed By The National Government For Taxable Year 2017 And Prior Years”; HB 8645, entitled “Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act”; HB 8677, entitled “An Act Increasing The Excise Tax Rate on Tobacco Products”; and HB 8618, entitled “Increasing and Restructuring the Excise Tax Rates on Alcohol Products.”
“As an economist, Speaker Arroyo knows the importance of these measures in helping our economy. The tax measures are vital in raising more revenues for the government to fund its pro-people and pro-development programs. In addition, HB 8618 and 8677 will help fund the Universal Health Care Program of the government while at the same time reduce consumption of sin products which are detrimental to public health, by increasing their excise taxes,” said Suansing.
Describing further the Speaker’s brand of leadership, Suansing quoted former PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi which said tht that “Leadership is hard to define and good leadership is even harder. But if you can get people to follow you get the ends of the earth, you are a good leader.”
Meanwhile, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte said Arroyo’s no-nonsense leadership style is what is needed in these trying times.
Barbers, chairman of the House dangerous drugs committee, said Arroyo managed to effectively lead the House members despite their big number and different backgrounds.
“It’s not easy to handle 300 House Members with different opinions and interests; but with diligence and motivation to pass the important legislation needed by President Duterte, all well-meaning Members are easily swayed and convinced to support the call of Speaker Arroyo to pass and approve these important legislative measures,” said Barbers.
Rep. Gus Tambunting of Parañaque City, chairman of the Committee on games and amusements, lauded Speaker Arroyo for remaining committed and dedicated to fulfilling her mandate as the leader of the House.
“Speaker Arroyo has stayed true to her word in focusing on the priority bills of President Duterte, as she, being a former President very well knows how important it is for Congress to support the President for anything to get done. In only half a year, the House has done so much under her good leadership, and this is something we can be proud of,” said Tambunting.
Committee on agriculture and food Chairman Rep. Jose Panganiban Jr. of ANAC IP party-list said Speaker Arroyo exemplified her trademark sense of hard work even during the hearings and deliberations on the 2019 national budget.
“The House Members deliberated overnight on the budgets of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of National Defense (DND), and Speaker Arroyo stayed with the lawmakers. Then the next day, she attended a committee hearing at 9am. That’s how hardworking and professional she is,” said Panganiban.
Panganiban said the House is expected to accomplish more when session resumes in January. For now, he said the House can proudly say it has done its part in passing the priority legislative measures of President Duterte through the competent leadership of Speaker Arroyo. “We salute Speaker Arroyo for effectively leading the House in passing all the measures in the priority agenda of President Duterte. Such an unprecedented feat to beat,” he said.