MANILA – Congress is “on track” to pass all 20 priority measures identified by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. before yearend, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
The assurance came from both leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives after the third Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting at Malacañan Palace in Manila, Communication Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement.
“Both houses of Congress are on track for the December passage of the 20 priority measures requested by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. including the General Appropriations Bill (GAB),” Garafil said.
Apart from the GAB, other bills identified as priority measures are the proposed National Employment Action Plan; the proposed Automatic Income Classification Act for Local Government Units (LGUs); the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) bill introducing amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT); and the proposed Salt Development Industry Act.
Garafil said other priority measures include the proposed measure promoting the ease of paying taxes; the proposed Real Property Evaluation and Assessment Reform Act; the proposed Magna Carta for Seafarers; and the proposed Anti-Agriculture Smuggling Act.
Other measures are the Waste-to-Energy bill; the measure creating the National Disease Prevention Management Authority; the proposed amendments to the Banking Act or the Fund Secrecy Law; the bill creating the Medical Reserve Corps; and the measure establishing the Virology Institute of the Philippines.
Completing the list of the Marcos administration’s priority bills are the proposed E-Governance Act; the proposed New Philippine Passport Act; the proposed National Government Rightsizing Act; the proposed National Scamming Act; the proposed National Citizens Service Training Program Act; and the proposed Military and Uniformed Personnel (MUP) Pension System Act.
“The Senate has finished about half of the 20 priority legislations requested by the President for a December passage,” Garafil said, citing the statement of Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri after the LEDAC meeting.
Acting on Marcos’ call for the quick passage of the legislative measures, Zubiri said the Senate would pass all of them “as soon as possible.”
Garafil said Speaker Martin Romualdez told Marcos that 18 out of the 20 priority bills have already been approved by the House of Representatives.
Romualdez, she said, also bared Congress’ plan to approve on third and final reading all the priority measures “at the end of September or three months in advance of the prescribed deadline.”
Garafil said the bills approved both by the Senate and the House on third and final reading include the proposed Salt Development Industry Act; the LGU Income Classification bill; and the proposed National Employment Action Plan.
On the other hand, the bills approved on third and final reading by the House are the BOT/PPP Bill, the proposed creation of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control; the proposed Internet Transaction Act/ E-Commerce Law; the proposed Mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and National Service Training Program (NSTP); the proposed New Philippine Passport Act; the Waste-to-Energy Bill; the proposed Magna Carta for Filipino Seafarers; the Valuable Reform bill; the bill creating the Medical Reserve Corps; and the measure establishing the Virology Institute of the Philippines; the proposed E-Governance Act; E-Government Act and the proposed National Government Rightsizing Act.
Also approved on third and final reading by House lawmakers are the bill providing free legal assistance for police and soldiers; the proposed Apprenticeship Law; the proposed creation of the Eastern Visayas Development Authority; the bill establishing Negros Island Region; the proposed Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA); the proposed National Land Use Act; the proposed Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers; the proposed Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) law; the bill creating Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone and the proposed Enabling Law for the Natural Gas Industry.
The House also passed on third reading the bill promoting ease of paying taxes; the proposed Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System (PENCAS); the proposed Comprehensive Infrastructure Development Master Plan; the Philippine Immigration Bill; and the proposed Amendment to the Universal Health Care Act.
It also approved on third reading the proposed Amendment to the Bank Deposits Secrecy Law and the proposed Anti-Financial Accounts Scamming Law.
2 remaining bills before October recess
Romualdez said the House of Representatives is on track to pass two remaining priority bills “before the October recess.”
“In sum, the House of Representatives will meet its commitment to approve all 20 priority measures by the end of September, or three months ahead of target,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
Romualdez said HB 8969, or the Military and Uniformed Personnel Pension System Act, was approved on second reading during the plenary session Tuesday and slated for approval on third and final reading next week.
He added the substitute bill consolidating all measures seeking amendments to the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act was approved by the Committee on Agriculture and Food early Wednesday, paving the way for its scheduled approval in plenary by next week.
Romualdez also reported that the House started on Tuesday the plenary deliberations of the proposed PHP5.768 trillion national budget for 2024 or General Appropriations Bill (GAB), with the session lasting over 12 hours.
“The House commits to exert all efforts to continuously deliberate on the GAB to meet its target passage on third and final reading by next week, Wednesday, September 27, 2023,” he said.
Meanwhile, Romualdez reported that of the 17 measures President Marcos identified in his latest State of the Nation Address (SONA), seven have been approved by the House on third and final reading while two were on the second reading stage.
He said the eight remaining measures are in still at the committee level, six of which are already in advanced stages and scheduled to be reported for plenary discussion and approval when Congress resumes session in November.
The House had ratified the bicameral conference committee report of the Automatic Income Classification Act for Local Government Units; and approved on third and final reading the Excise Tax on Single-Use Plastics; Value Added Tax on Digital Services; Amendment of the Fisheries Code; Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act (AFASA); Ease of Paying Taxes; and The Philippine Immigration Act.
On Tuesday, the House approved on second reading the Unified System for Separation, Retirement and Pension of the Military and Uniformed Personnel (MUP); while the Rationalization of Mining Fiscal Regime is slated for approval on second reading before the session break.
The Committee on Agriculture and Food has just approved its committee report on the Amendments to the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act which will be reported to the plenary for its consideration and approval.
For comments of the House Committees on Appropriations and Ways and Means are the Department of Water Resources and Services and Creation of Water Regulatory Commission; Motor Vehicle User’s Charge/Road User’s Tax; Tatak-Pinoy (Proudly Filipino) Act; and Blue Economy Law.
Under Committee/Technical Working Group (TWG) Meeting are the New Government Procurement Law and Amendment of the Cooperative Code; while the New Government Auditing Code is undergoing committee deliberations.
“We are confident of meeting our self-imposed target of having all these measures approved before we go on our Christmas break,” Romualdez said. (with reports from Jose Cielito Reganit/PNA)