Romualdez: House on track to pass all 9 remaining priority bills

By Zaldy De Layola

August 3, 2023, 5:36 pm

MANILA – Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Thursday said the House of Representatives is on the right track to fulfill its prior commitments to pass the remaining nine out of 44 urgent measures identified by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

This, after the House approved on Wednesday night House Bill (HB) Nos. 8456 and 8443, two out of the nine LEDAC priority measures, barely two weeks after the 2nd regular session of the 19th Congress opened on July 24.

“The approval of these twin measures manifests our firm commitment to the passage of the remaining LEDAC priority measures in line with the Agenda for Prosperity of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.,” Romualdez said.

Approved by a vote of 215 against three, HB 8456 or the “Philippine Downstream Natural Gas Industry Development Act,” seeks to establish the Philippine Downstream Natural Gas Industry (PDNGI) to promote the role of natural gas as a “safe, environment-friendly, efficient, and cost-effective source of energy.”

President Marcos, Romualdez said, had called for the expansion of the natural gas industry to diversify the nation’s energy mix and address growing energy demand, giving the country lead time for the development of more renewable energy sources.

“Makakatulong ito sa ating layunin na pangalagaan ang kapaligiran upang maibsan ang masamang epekto ng climate change at masigurong mayroong sapat na supply at mas abot-kayang presyo ng koryente para sa ating mga mamamayan (It will help our objective to protect our environment in order to address the bad effects of climate change and to ensure that there would be enough supply and affordable price of electricity for our people),” Romualdez pointed out.

HB 8456 provides regulatory policies and promotes the conversion of existing equipment and facilities from using fossil fuel to natural gas.

The measure compels the Department of Energy to supervise and monitor the development of the PDNGI, as well as the regulation of the construction and operation of natural gas pipelines and related facilities for the transmission, distribution and supply of natural gas.

On the other hand, HB No. 8443, which seeks to establish the Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System (PENCAS), was also unanimously approved by 215 House members on the third and final reading.

PENCAS is a framework that takes into account the country’s natural capital and its impact on the economy, which calls for the establishment of a system for the collection, compilation, and development of natural capital accounts in the government as a tool for development planning and programming, policy analysis, and decision-making.

Under HB 8443, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the Interagency Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Statistics (IACENRS), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) shall work hand-in-hand in the implementation of the measure.

With the swift passage of HB 8456 and HB 8443, Romualdez said the House still has ample time to pass the remaining seven LEDAC priority measures, namely: the National Employment Action Plan, Department of Water Services and Resources Act, amendments to the Electric Power Industry Act, Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, Budget Modernization, National Defense Act, and the Unified System of Separation, Retirement and Pension for Uniformed Personnel. (PNA)