MANILA – The House of Representatives committee on poverty alleviation, chaired by Rep. Mikee Romero of 1-Pacman party-list, on Wednesday vowed to push for the approval of several poverty reduction measures, including a bill that would reduce the cost of medicines.

Romero was referring to the following proposed measures: Drugs and Medicines Regulation Act; the Rental Housing Subsidy Bill; National Land Use Act; Pandemic Resiliency Bill; Young Farmer and Fisherfolk Challenge Program; Unified System of Separation, Retirement and Pension; and institutionalization of the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) recommended for approval all the bills, which Romero said are the key to achieving the objectives of the eight-point socio-economic development agenda of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s administration.

Romero said they would work on the passage of these proposed measures with the support of House Speaker and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez.

On Tuesday, the NEDA submitted its proposals to the committee.

Romero said these measures are now pending with his committee and other concerned House panels.

He said the NEDA also suggested the full reopening of the economy and the resumption of face-to-face classes in all schools throughout the country.

“We can adopt these suggestions, provided that we continue to remain vigilant against Covid-19 by following the necessary health protocols, like wearing of a face mask, frequent hand washing, and observing physical distance,” he said.

He added that the resumption of economic activities across all sectors “will lead to the restoration and creation of employment opportunities and income for our people.”

The NEDA noted that the pandemic has resulted in the loss of jobs, which in turn contributed to increased poverty incidence in the country.

Its data showed that the employment rate went down from 94.7 percent (of the labor force) in 2018 to 92.1 percent in 2021, while unemployment jumped from 5.3 percent to 7.9 percent.

Underemployment expanded from 16.4 percent to 17.5 percent during the same period.

The NEDA also recommended more programs that would provide or strengthen skills and knowledge and more investments in research and development and technology. (PNA)