House delivers on Duterte agenda

House leaders delivered President Rodrigo Duterte’s legislative agenda after processing 220 measures in 20 session days, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said Monday.

READ: House, economic managers must be in sync—Romualdez

They approved the measures despite the hotly contested speakership race―and rumblings over the weekend that the term-sharing deal between House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco would be scuttled.

READ: Speakership brawl looms

Those measures, said Romualdez as chairman of the House Committee on Rules included the quick approval of the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 and the tax reform measures to promote the country as a viable investment destination.

He said the House assured the public that the congressmen would continue to perform better.

However, two other lawmakers said over the weekend that Cayetano was unlikely to be replaced given his current good performance as indicated by his recent high trust and approval survey ratings.

Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said there would be “a groundswell among House members and the public” for Cayetano to stay on as Speaker, and Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero of 1-Pacman party-list said it would be “difficult” to replace the Taguig-Pateros lawmaker if he maintains his good performance and survey ratings.

“I am sure he will sustain that performance. There is no reason for him not to. So why change or swap horses in midstream? We might as well retain him as our Speaker for three years until June 30, 2022,”  said Barzaga of Cavite.

Romero, who heads the 54-solon Party-list Coalition, added: “Like before we elected our Speaker in July, most of us congressmen would listen to what the President would suggest on this issue. But I think he would also listen to what we House members collectively will have to say.”

Under an agreement brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte last July, Cayetano would hold the post for 15 months or until October 2020, after which Velasco takes over the Speakership.

Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association, praised both the majority and the minority’s “tough work ethic in doing their jobs creditably.”

“The House as an institution performed its tasks commendably and with distinction to deliver the legislative agenda of the President. We answered the challenges and demands of our duties and responsibilities,”said Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.

“This will usher us to a good start. Through the collective hard work and determination of House members under the leadership of Speaker Cayetano, we are always focused and committed to pass quality legislation at all times to make better the life of Filipinos,” Romualdez said after Cayetano got an impressive 64-percent approval and 62-percent trust ratings based on the September 2019 Ulat ng Bayan Survey of Pulse Asia.

Before Congress went on a month-long Halloween break on Oct. 2, the House of Representatives processed 220 measures or an average of 11 measures per day during the 20 session days.

From July 22 to Oct. 8, 2019, Romualdez said, the House of Representatives received 5,566 measures and 70 committee reports.

Of those, 5,121 were bills and 445 were resolutions.

The House also approved 18 bills on third and final reading, Romualdez said.

Notable among the bills approved on third and final reading were House Bill 4228 or the 2020 national budget, HB 1026 or a measure imposing additional excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco and vape products, HB 300 or an amendment to the Foreign Investment Act of 1991, HB 304 or the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act, and HB 4157 or the Corporate Income Tax and Incentive Rationalization Act, Romualdez said.

“We also immediately passed on third and final reading bills under the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program to help reach the A-credit-rating goal of the Duterte administration. We are a notch away from the ‘A’ territory rating after a vote of confidence by Standard & Poor’s, upgrading the country’s credit rating from ‘BBB’to ‘BBB+’with a stable outlook because of the robust economic growth,” Romualdez said.

During the same period, Romualdez said, the House of Representatives approved 38 bills on second reading and adopted 14 resolutions, and three of those were concurrent resolutions and the remaining 11 were regular resolutions.

Romualdez said the House also approved on second reading HB 4933, as amended, on Oct. 2, 2019, or the proposed law seeking to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections from May 11, 2020, to Dec. 5, 2022.

The House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms-approved version was to reset the BSKE from the second Monday of May 2020 to May 2023 until the plenary amended it to Dec. 5, 2022, Romualdez said.

HB 4696 or An Act Mandating the Integration of the National Building Code of the Philippines as a major subject in BS engineering courses and inclusion as a topic in professional licensure examinations was also approved on second reading.

Similarly, the House adopted House Joint Resolution 19 extending the validity of the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses and Capital Outlays of the 2019 national budget to Dec. 31, 2020, Romualdez said.

READ: Romualdez cites ‘twin engines’ of growth

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Martin Romualdez , Alan Peter Cayetano , Lord Allan Velasco , Elpidio Barzaga Jr.
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