House accomplished mission on peace, economy – Romualdez

By Jose Cielito Reganit

May 22, 2024, 10:56 pm

MANILA – Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday reported that the House of Representatives has accomplished its mission of enhancing peace and improving the economy.

“Our work in this session has been driven by a clear and compelling mission. Our focus: national security and economic transformation, which are key to improving the living condition for Filipinos,” Romualdez told his colleagues in his speech marking the end of the second regular session of Congress.

“This holistic approach underscores our commitment to safeguarding our nation while fostering economic growth and ensuring that every Filipino experiences a tangible improvement in their quality of life.”

On national security, Romualdez said the House recognizes that “sovereignty is a crucial element of independence” and any threat to the nation’s sovereignty requires no less than “prompt and deliberate action.”

In pursuit of a defense position against any act of aggression or provocation, he said the House has passed critical measures on sovereignty and defense to enhance the nation’s defense capabilities.

“This ensures the protection of our sovereignty and the preservation of our territorial integrity. Our efforts include bolstering our nation’s military capabilities and enhancing our diplomatic strategies to secure our interests in the region,” he said.

He specifically cited House Bill (HB) 9713, or the “Philippine Self-Reliant Defense Posture Program Act,” as one defense-related measure the House has passed.

“Another equally crucial matter that requires our ongoing effort is the economic stability and growth of our nation. To sustain our impressive economic growth, we have enacted fiscal measures and created a stable economic environment conducive to long-term prosperity by ensuring improved revenue collections and prudent spending,” Romualdez said.

To meet revenue targets, he said the chamber has approved Ease of Paying Taxes Act, which is now Republic Act (RA) 11976.

“With this enactment, processes have been digitized, taxpayer registration has been streamlined, and the tax base has been expanded, leading to a 17-percent rise in revenue collections this year,” he said.

To further improve the investment climate in the country, Congress has approved RA 11954, or the “Maharlika Investment Fund Act of 2023.”

“This is a significant step towards attracting high-impact investments that will drive economic growth and create jobs for our people,” he stressed.

In the area of infrastructure development, the Speaker pointed out that the “country’s growing economy must be supported by excellent infrastructure development.”

“This leads me to one of our top priorities: the Build Better More Program. Our unwavering commitment to such a program helped secure funding and legislative support for numerous infrastructure projects, including the unified national grid, which aims to enhance connectivity and competitiveness across our archipelago,” he said.

He said the House has also advanced the Department of Public Works and Highway-National Irrigation Administration Convergence Plan, integrating flood control efforts with broader water management strategies to ensure efficient use of our water resources.

He noted that the initiative aims to enhance food security, support irrigation, and manage water supply effectively.

By aligning the DPWH's flood control programs with NIA's water conservation initiatives, he said the government can better manage our resources to support multiple needs, including irrigation, water supply, and potentially power generation.

“This integrated approach will significantly contribute to our agricultural productivity, food security, and overall economic stability,” Romualdez said.

“Malinaw po ang misyon nating lahat. Kapayapaan sa buong bansa. Seguridad sa mga komunidad. Masiglang ekonomiya. Maunlad na kabuhayan para sa lahat (Our mission is clear. Peace in the whole country. Secure communities. Vibrant economy. Prosperous livelihood for all). As always, we were faithful in fulfilling our solemn obligation.”

Decent housing, better education and quality jobs

Romualdez assured every Filipino household of access to decent housing, better education and quality jobs under the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

“Hindi tayo titigil sa trabaho hangga’t hindi natutupad ang pangarap ni Pangulong Marcos: ang mabigyan ng bahay ang bawat pamilyang Pilipino (We will not stop until we have fulfilled the aspiration of President Marcos: to provide a home for every Filipino family),” he said.

He pointed out that legislative actions have been taken to ensure the provision of over 1 million affordable housing units, giving every Filipino the opportunity to own a home and improve their living conditions.

He said the overwhelming passage of HB 10172, the “National Housing Authority Act,” “further demonstrates this chamber’s strong desire to serve the underprivileged, homeless, and low-income households.”

The House has also approved HB 9506, or the “Rental Housing Subsidy Program Act,” which seeks to establish a rental housing subsidy program for informal settler families to further alleviate their plight.

“These measures are crucial in providing immediate relief and long-term housing stability to those in need,” he said.

Romualdez also noted that the House has also approved measures that have become laws to enhance the healthcare system and citizen welfare.

He cited RA 11959, or the “Regional Specialty Centers Act,” which simplified healthcare services, ensuring that specialized medical care is accessible to regions outside Metro Manila; and RA 11965, or the “Caregivers’ Welfare Act,” which provides necessary protections and benefits to caregivers, recognizing their invaluable contribution to society.

There is also HB 8461, which seeks to strengthen the national health program for senior citizens through a comprehensive nutrition and wellness program to prevent poor nutrition and related illnesses in the elderly.

Another measure, HB 7447, proposes to strengthen local health boards by ensuring the representation of barangay health workers, whom we continue to recognize as essential front-liners in health promotion and advocacy.

In the area of education, Romualdez said Congress has enacted RA 11984, or the “No Permit, No Exam Prohibition Act,” to ensure that financial constraints do not hinder our students’ academic progress.

The House has also passed HB 8210, or the “Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Program Act,” to address and resolve the gap between current and expected learning competencies; and HB 10142, or the “Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) System Act,” which aligns early childhood care and development services with maternal, child health, and nutrition programs, aimed at nurturing our youngest citizens from the earliest stages of their development.

Meanwhile, he assured employees that the House has attended to measures to increase employment opportunities and protect labor rights.

“Matibay po ang ating paniniwala, kailangan natin ang mga investment para makalikha ng mga trabaho. At hindi basta lamang na trabaho. Trabaho na marangal at kayang bumuhay ng pamilya (It is our strong belief that we need investments to create jobs. And not just jobs, but decent jobs that can sustain a family)” he said.

He noted that RA 11962, or the “Trabaho Para sa Bayan Act,” focuses on improving the employability and competitiveness of Filipino workers through upskilling and reskilling initiatives, as well as support for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and industry stakeholders.

On social welfare, he said the House social welfare initiatives “are designed to uplift marginalized communities and ensure equitable access to resources.”

He cited three proposed laws: HB 8463, or the “Disaster Food Bank and Stockpile Act,” which provides for the establishment of disaster food banks and stockpiles throughout the country to speed up the delivery of relief goods and other supplies during calamities;

HB 9506, or the “Rental Housing Subsidy Program Act,” which seeks to establish a rental housing subsidy program for informal settler families to further alleviate their plight. These measures are crucial in providing immediate relief and long-term housing stability to those in need;

HB 9978, or the “Moratorium on Payment of Student Loan Act,” which proposes to postpone the collection of student loans for a reasonable duration during and following the occurrence of disasters and other emergencies.

Romualdez also touched on renewable energy and environmental protection.

He said the House has approved HB 8456, or the “Philippine Downstream Natural Gas Industry Development Act,” to increase the share of renewable energy in our power mix and promote sustainability, reflects our commitment to address climate change and ensure a resilient future for our nation.

It also approved HB 9663, or the “National Water Resources Act,” which calls for the establishment of the Department of Water Resource Management and enhances disaster preparedness measures which are critical steps towards safeguarding our environment and ensuring sustainable development.

“All these legislative measures that we had approved are not merely words on paper; they embody our commitment to the welfare of every Filipino and reflect our dedication to creating a more just, prosperous, and dynamic society. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, ‘The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today’,” Romualdez said. (PNA)