LEADERS’ MEETING. Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez (head of the table, right) meets with party leaders at the House of Representatives on Monday (May 8, 2023). They discussed steps on how to fast-track the approval of the remaining priority measures of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. before the sine die adjournment. (Photo courtesy of Office of the Speaker)

MANILA – Leaders of various political parties at the House of Representatives gave their commitment of support for Speaker Martin Romualdez’s call to have most, if not all, of the 13 remaining priority bills of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. passed before next month’s sine die adjournment.

“We will try to achieve that objective on a best-effort basis. The bills on deck will complement those that we have already passed, and which support the Agenda for Prosperity and eight-point socio-economic roadmap of President Marcos,” Romualdez said in a statement.

Leaders of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), PDP-Laban, Nacionalista Party (NP), National Unity Party (NUP), Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), and Party-list Coalition Foundation, Inc. (PCFI) gave their commitment during an all-party caucus late Monday that was presided by Romualdez, who is president of Lakas-CMD.

According to the Speaker’s office, Deputy Speaker and Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Aurelio "Dong" Gonzales Jr., and Reps. Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur and Rida Robes of San Jose City represented PDP-Laban in the party leaders’ caucus.

The NP was represented by Reps. Eleandro Jesus "Budoy" Madrona of Romblon, Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte and Janette Garin of Iloilo; while Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Zaldy Co, PCFI president, spoke for his group.

The NPC was represented by Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga and Ilocos Sur Rep. Kristine Meehan Singson; and NUP by Antipolo City Rep. Robbie Puno and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr.

Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, BHW Party-list Rep. Angelica Natasha Co, and Bicol Saro Party-list Rep. Brian Yamsuan also joined the meeting.

Romualdez convened the caucus shortly after presiding over the first day of session Monday after the Holy Week recess of Congress.

He called on his fellow party leaders to maximize and efficiently use the remaining four weeks of sessions for the House to pass all urgent measures identified by President Marcos in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), and later adopted by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

Deputy Speaker Gonzales said he and other party leaders responded positively to the Speaker’s appeal.

“We hope we could do it in the short time we have before our annual mandatory adjournment. We are ready to go the extra mile to accomplish the task,” Gonzales said.

"President Marcos' legislative priority will benefit the Filipino people and these measures deserve our support," Barbers said on behalf of his party.

On Sunday, Romualdez said Marcos has approved 11 additional bills as part of the LEDAC, bringing to 42 the total number of priority administration measures, from the original 31.

On Monday, the House approved on final reading House Bill (HB) 7751, or the proposed Department of Health Specialty Centers in Hospitals Act, which aims to expand healthcare services by establishing specialized care centers in hospitals under the supervision and control of the Department of Health (DOH).

HB 7751 was part of the original eight remaining SONA-LEDAC priority measures the House is aiming to approve in the homestretch of the First Regular Session of the 19th Congress.

The seven other bills from the original LEDAC measures are the enabling law for the natural gas industry; National Land Use Act; the Department of Water Resources and Services and the creation of a Water Regulatory Commission; Budget Modernization Act; National Defense Act; amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act; and the bill on a unified system of separation, retirement, and pension for uniformed personnel.

Meanwhile, of the 11 new LEDAC bills, five measures have already been approved by the House of Representatives and transmitted to the Senate. These are amending the AFP Fixed Term Bill (transmitted to the President); Ease of Paying Taxes; Maharlika Investment Fund; Local Government Unit Income Classification; and Amendment to the Universal Health Care Act.

Of the six remaining new LEDAC bills, two are now for committee report preparation: the Bureau of Immigration Modernization bill, and the Infrastructure Development Plan/Build Build Build Program.

The Philippine Salt Industry Development Act; Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System (PENCAS); National Employment Action Plan; and Amendment to the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, are all under committee/technical working group (TWG) status. (PNA)