The House of Representatives has remained true to its promise of alleviating the lives of the people despite the coronavirus pandemic in support of the Duterte administration by passing over 100 vital measures, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said Monday.
“The House leadership has shown resilience amidst adversity. The institution has worked efficiently to ensure the timely passage of the 2021 national government budget,” said Romualdez, representative of Leyte's First District and chairman of the House Committee on Rules.
Romualdez said: “Fast forward to June 2 before our sine die adjournment, the chamber, through Speaker Velasco’s direction, was able to process 2,107 measures within 16 session days or an average of 132 measures processed per session day.
“Through the hard work and dedication of our colleagues and staff, we successfully approved 628 measures, 112 of these are national bills approved on third and final reading, while 58 local and national bills were signed into law.”
He also credited the hard-working House officials, secretariat and other employees who have been helping the chamber's leadership in shepherding the passage of pro-people priority legislations that cater to the needs of the welfare of the people especially in these challenging and difficult times.
Velasco, in a speech following his election as Speaker, vowed to pass laws responsive to the needs of Filipinos here and abroad, as well as prioritize measures that would generate jobs, uplift the economy and the lives of Filipinos, and improve the health-care system, and peace and order, among others.
“True enough, Speaker Velasco wasted no time and led the passage of crucial and urgent legislative measures to address the needs of the Filipino people,” Romualdez said.
“Under Speaker Velasco’s term, many relevant laws were signed into law and some of these are Republic Act (RA) 11534 or the CREATE Act (Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentive for Enterprises), RA 11509 or An Act Establishing a Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program for Deserving Students, RA 11525 which expedited the procurement and administration process of our vaccination against COVID-19, and RA 11523 or An Act Ensuring Philippine Financial Industry Resiliency Against the COVID-19 Pandemic (FIST),” the legislator added.
A few of the notable laws passed under Velasco’s term include:
· RA 11548 which granted the President to defer the increases in contributions of the Social Security System for the duration of the state of calamity
· RA 11510 or An Act Institutionalizing the Alternative Learning System in Basic Education for Out-Of-School Children in Special Cases and for Adults and Appropriating Funds Therefor
· RA 11517 which authorized the President to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses and certifications in times of national emergency
· RA 11519 which extended the availability of appropriations under Republic Act No. 11494 or the "Bayanihan to Recover As One Act"
· RA 11521, which further strengthened the Anti-Money Laundering Law; and
· RA 11524, which mandated the creation of the coconut farmers and industry trust fund.
During the Second Regular Session of the 18th Congress, the House approved on third and final reading the remaining priority bills certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte which include
House Bill 8999 or the “Medical Reserve Corps Act,” and bills seeking to further amend Commonwealth Act 146 or the “Public Service Act,” as amended; RA 7042 or the “Foreign Investments Act of 1991,” as amended; and RA 8762 or the “Retail Trade Liberalization Act Of 2000.”
“The House leadership also pushed to recognize the important role of frontliners, healthcare workers, and workers in general who risk their health and lives to serve the country during this pandemic,” Romualdez said.
He noted House Bill 7647 or An Act Declaring April 7 of Every Year as Barangay Health Workers Day; HB 8259 or An Act Providing Income Tax Relief to Medical Frontliners for Taxable Year 2020; and HB 7036 which seeks to strengthen the security of tenure of workers in the private sector were also approved on third and final reading.
“The House also ensured the protection of the welfare of our OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) who have to sacrifice being away despite these difficult times through the passage on third reading of House Bill 7951 or An Act Providing for Protection of the Remittances of Overseas Filipino Workers, and House Bill 8057 or the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers,” Romualdez said.
The chamber also passed on final reading other measures for the improvement of our basic social services, and to further protect women, children, members of the press, and recognition of Muslim tradition. These are:
HB 8461 or An Act Granting the President of The Philippines the Power to Suspend the Scheduled Increase in Philhealth Premium Rates
HB 8097 granting additional benefits to solo parents
HB 9072 or An Act Providing for a Free Annual Medical Check-Up for Filipinos
HB 7722 or An Act Expanding the Prohibited Acts of Discrimination Against Women on Account of Sex
HB 7836 which seeks to increase the age for determining the commission of statutory rape from 12 to 16 years old
HB 7762 or An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Promotion of the Welfare of Workers or Independent Contractors in the Film, Television, and Radio Entertainment Industry
HB 9182 which seeks to declare August 30 of every year as “National Press Freedom Day”; and
HB 8249 which declares the first day of February every year as National Hijab Day and promoting an understanding of the Muslim tradition of wearing a Hijab.
Romualdez added: “We also pushed for the passage of vital measures that would help improve our economy greatly affected by the pandemic by passing on final reading House Bill No. 7749 or An Act Providing for Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE); HB 9411 or An Act Providing for Additional Mechanisms to Accelerate the Recovery, Bolster the Resiliency of the Philippine Economy,” Romualdez said.
“The passage on the final reading of Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 proposing amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, and House Bill No. 5777 which seeks to tax persons engaged in Philippine offshore gaming operations are also aimed at helping our economy,” he added.
Equally important measures were also approved on the second reading in the chamber and are expected to be prioritized in the opening of the Third Regular Session on July 26, according to Romualdez. Some of these are:
· HB 9459 An Act Increasing the Social Pension of Indigent Senior Citizens and Appropriating Funds Therefore, amending for the Purpose Republic Act 7432 Entitled, ‘An Act to Maximize the Contribution of Senior Citizens to Nation Building, Grant Benefits and Special Privileges and for Other Purposes,’ as amended
· HB 9147 or An Act Regulating the Production, Importation, Sale, Distribution, Provision, Use, Recovery, Collection, Recycling, and Disposal of Single-Use Plastic Products
· HB 9538 or An Act Further Extending the Release, Obligation and Disbursement of Appropriations or Funds Provided Under Republic Act No. 11494,' Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 11519, titled 'An Act Extending the Availability of Appropriations Under Republic Act 11494, Otherwise Known as the 'Bayanihan to Recover as One Act'; and
· HB 9560 or An Act Providing for the Modernization of the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities, Establishing for this Purpose the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, and Appropriating Funds Therefor.
Throughout the 18th Congress (July 22, 2019, to June 2, 2021) 11,472 measures have been filed in the House and 1,098 of these were approved. In total, 3,916 measures were processed in 84 session days or an average of 47 measures processed per session.