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19TH CONGRESS REOPENS

July 24, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 337 views

THE Second Regular Session of the 19th Congress opened smoothly ahead of PresidentFerdinandMarcos Jr.’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez presided over the first session day which was adjourned after an hour without as much as a whisper about changing the House leadership.

Romualdez took pride in the achievements the House made during the First Regular Session of Congress, for which he expressed his deep gratitude to his colleagues.

“The First Regular Session’s accomplishments bear testament to our collective will and determination. We have raised the standards, and the expectations are high. Yet, we are not daunted. We are inspired. We are not simply lawmakers but nation-builders and champions of the people,” he said.

“Your relentless devotion and unyielding efforts have launched us toward addressing the urgent challenges of our era and enacting impactful legislation. Now, we must ensure this momentum propels us further. Our solemn pledge is to continue championing the change our beloved nation so earnestly requires,” he added.

Aside from attending to agriculture sector issues and other priorities, Speaker Romualdez said Congress also likewise focus on approving the 20 LEDAC bills.

He enumerated the 20 measures: (1) amendments to the BOT Law or Public-Private Partnership bill; (2) National Disease Prevention Management Authority; (3) Internet Transactions Act or E-Commerce Law; (4) Health Emergency Auxiliary Reinforcement Team Act, formerly Medical Reserve Corps; (5) Virology Institute of the Philippines; (6) Mandatory ROTC and National Service Training Program; (7) Revitalizing the Salt Industry; (8) Valuation Reform; (9) e-Government and e-Governance; (10) Ease of Paying Taxes Equally; (11) National Government Rightsizing Program; (12) Unified System of Separation/Retirement and Pension of Military and Other Uniformed Personnel; (13) LGU Income Classification; (14) Waste-to-Energy Bill; (15) New Philippine Passport Act; (16) Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers; (17) National Employment Action Plan; (18) Amendments to the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act; (19) Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas-endorsed Bank Deposit Secrecy; and (20) Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act.

“We face the remaining bills in the LEDAC priority list with enthusiasm and optimism, steadfast in our determination to transform these initiatives into concrete laws for the benefit of our fellow Filipinos,” Romualdez told his House colleagues in his opening speech.

He expressed hope that this session stands as further testament to the capability and dedication as the people’s lawmakers.

“Let us labor to sustain our gains, continue to work tirelessly, and strive to realize our shared dreams for our nation. Let us retain the momentum of the Nineteenth Congress and strive to make it one of the most productive and impactful in our history,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Senate officially reopened with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri banging the gavel at 10 a.m. yesterday and with 23 senators physically present.

Senator Pilar Pia Cayetano was the only one absent during the opening as she led the Philippine delegation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand.

Zubiri who maintained his post as the Senate Chief in the 19th Congress despite rumors of possible change of leadership shrugged off the so-called coup in the Senate saying there is so much work to do under his leadership.

“Maraming trabaho na dapat namin gawin and we are too busy para patulan po ang mga ganyan issue,” Zubiri told People’s Journal in an ambush interview.

According to the Senate chief, the recent survey shows that the Filipino people are satisfied and he considered the result of the survey as an inspiration to work harder and do better.

The session which only lasted thirty minutes with no contention from other senators nor any disagreement.

“If the majority say so, I will not insist on staying in this position. We are here to serve the people and the majority in the Senate will decide who must lead them,” Zubiri who was able to maintain his seat as the Senate President said.

Senator Joel Villanueva said the supermajority in the Senate echoed one voice in supporting Zubiri.

Earlier, Senator Jose Jinggoy Estrada denied the rumor that he is replacing Zubiri as well as those committee chairmanship under the present leadership. By Jester Manalastas and Camille P. Balagtas