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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Congress leaders vow to pass LEDAC bills

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House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Senate President Francis Escudero are confident in fulfilling the administration’s legislative agenda during the 5th Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting which took place in Malacañang on Tuesday.

The meeting presided over by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Romualdez, and Escudero highlighted the House and Senate’s stance in addressing the nation’s needs through timely legislation.

“Good experience, the conversation between Congress, House, and Senate was good as well as the executive… I have full hope and belief that we can do this,” Escudero said.

Romualdez noted the positive impact of the Senate’s new leadership. “With the new leadership in the Senate, I am confident that we will be able to finish our legislative agenda,” he said.

The House approved all 20 priority LEDAC measures by March, three months ahead of the June 2024 target. Of these, three have been enacted into law, including the Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System Act.

 Additionally, three measures are undergoing the enrollment process, four are under bicameral conference committee deliberation, and ten have been approved on the third and final reading.

The measures under bicameral deliberation include the Philippine Defense Industry Development Act and the VAT on Digital Transactions Act. The ten other LEDAC priority bills approved by the House include the E-Governance Act and the Military and Uniformed Personnel Pension Reform Bill.

As of June 25, 2024, LEDAC had identified 59 priority measures, with 13 already enacted into law. These include the SIM Registration Act, the Postponement of Barangay/SK Elections, and the New Agrarian Emancipation Act.

Romualdez  committed to passing the remaining three of the 28 bills identified by the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) for approval before the conclusion of the 19th Congress next year. 

“Most of the bills (25) are already in their final stages and approved by the House of Representatives. We are committed to approving the remaining three of the twenty-eight measures named during our LEDAC meeting with President Bongbong Marcos, Senate President Chiz Escudero, and other officials. These legislative measures are crucial to the country’s development agenda,” the Speaker said.  

The five new LEDAC measures, including its status in the House of Representatives, are as follows: 1. Amendments to the Foreign Investors’ Long-Term Lease Act (no bill filed), 2. Amendments to the Agrarian Reform Law (for committee deliberation), 3. Archipelagic Sea Lanes Act (3rd reading), 4. Reforms to the Philippine Capital Markets (3rd reading), and 5. Amendments to the Rice Tarrification Law (RTL) (3rd reading).

The remaining 23 of 28 bills are the following:

1. Amendments to the EPIRA (Under Technical Working Group/Committee Deliberations) 

2. Amendments to the Right of Way Act (3rd reading) 

3. Excise Tax on Single-Use of Plastics (3rd reading) 

4. Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime (3rd reading) 

5. Department of Water Resources (3rd reading) 

6. CREATE MORE Act (3rd reading) 

7. Blue Economy Act (3rd reading) 

8. Enterprise-Based Education and Training Framework Act (3rd reading) 

9. Amendments to the Universal Health Care Act (3rd reading) 

10. Open Access in Data Transmission Act (3rd reading) 

11. Waste to Energy Bill (3rd reading) 

12. Instituting a National Citizens Service Training (NCST) Program – (3rd reading) 

13. United System of Separation, Retirement and Pension of Military and Uniformed Personnel (3rd reading) 

14. E-Government Act/E-Governance Act (3rd reading) 

15. Philippine Immigration Act (3rd reading) 

16. Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Act (ratified bicameral report) 

17.  Amendments to the Government Procurement Reform Act (ratified bicameral report) 

18. Anti-Financial Accounts Scamming Act (Adopted Senate Bill as amendment to House bill) 

19.  Self-Reliant Defense Posture Revitalization Act 

20.  Philippine Maritime Zone Act (Bicameral conference) 

21.  Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Program Act (bicameral conference) 

22.  VAT on Digital Services (bicameral conference) 

23.  New Government Auditing Code (3rd reading)

Romualdez said President Marcos underscored the need to approve these bills to help drive national progress and address significant concerns facing the country.   Escudero expressed confidence in the collaborative efforts among the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Executive Branch.

He noted the productive discussions with President Marcos and Speaker Martin Romualdez, as he emphasized the shared commitment to prioritize essential and meaningful legislation in the remaining 73 session days of the 19th Congress.

Escudero said the upper chamber will prioritize the passage of six of the remaining 10 priority measures identified by the LEDAC, along with three key Senate priority bills, when session resumes neet month.

Escudero said the six LEDAC priorities, which are now set for plenary deliberation and approval on final reading in the Senate, are the proposed Blue Economy Act, Enterprise-Based Education and Training Framework Act, amendments to the Universal Health Care Act, establishment of the Department of Water Resources, Open Access in Data Transmission Act, and Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises to Maximize Opportunities for Reinvigorating the Economy or CREATE MORE.

The Senate chief also pushed for the inclusion of three Senate priority measures in LEDAC’s Common Legislative Agenda (CLA). These are the proposed amendments to the Right-of-Way Act (Republic Act 10752), the Investors’ Lease Act (R.A. 7652), and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (R.A. 6657).

The proposed amendments to R.A. 10752 aim to make it easier to grant Right-of-Way for public projects, while changes to R.A. 7652 would allow leasing private lands for up to 99 years to attract foreign investments.

The amendments to R.A. 6657 aim to lift restrictions on the ownership and transfer of lands awarded under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program to boost agricultural productivity.

On the other hand, Escudero said that further clarification is needed for four LEDAC measures, namely, the Waste-to-Energy (Senate Bill No. 2267), the Mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (SB No. 2034), Unified System of Separation, Retirement, and Pension of Military and Uniformed Personnel (SB No. 2501), and the E-Government Act /E-Governance Act.

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