Congress has moved closer to amending the 84-year-old Public Service Act by terminating plenary debates on the measure.
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said the termination last week capped six months of discussions on House Bill No. 78 seeking to limit the definition of what a public utility is.
“The House leadership is attending to important legislative measures even in the face of COVID-19 and other issues,” he said.
Romualdez is the House committee on rules chairperson.
Deputy Speaker and Aambis-Owa party-list Rep. Sharon Garin is the bill’s principal sponsor of the measure.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, who opposed the proposed law, has ended his interpellation, saying that he would just deliver a further explanation for his opposition to the bill when it is voted on final reading.
The next step in the process is the presentation of committee and individual amendments, after which the bill is put to a second-reading vote.
The final and third-reading vote takes place after three days.
Under HB No. 78, the definition of a public utility is limited to electricity distribution, electricity transmission, and water pipeline distribution or sewerage pipeline system.
The proposed law would amend Commonwealth Act No. 146 or the Public Service Act of 1936.
In his explanatory note, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, the measure’s author, said, “competition and foreign investment are inhibited because limitations that should only apply to the operation of a public utility are applied to all public services.”
“This situation is caused by the ambiguity in the definition of public utility that is often used interchangeably with public service under Commonwealth Act No. 146. The key to fixing this problem is to develop a clear statutory definition of public utility,” he said.
The enactment of his proposed law would significantly benefit consumers, Salceda said.
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