Martin SPEAKER ROMUALDEZ MEETS WITH PARTY LEADERS – Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, House Majority Leader Manuel Jose ‘Mannix’ Dalipe, and House Secretary General Reginald Velasco meet with party leaders in the House of Representatives Monday evening to discuss steps that need to be taken to fast-track approval of the remaining priority measures. Photo by VER NOVENO

Political parties commit to pass remaining priority bills

May 9, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 197 views

POLITICAL parties represented in the House of Representatives have committed to support the passage of 13 remaining priority bills of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., mostly before the sine die adjournment.

Leaders of 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 the commitment during an all-party caucus on late Monday afternoon presided over by Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, who is president of Lakas-CMD.

The Speaker expressed his gratitude to his colleagues for supporting his goal to have the chamber approve most, if not all, of the 13 remaining priority bills on third and final reading before next month’s 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 Ferdinand Marcos Jr.,” Speaker Romualdez said.

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.

NP was represented by Reps. Eleandro Jesus “Budoy” Madrona of Romblon, Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte and Janette Garin of Iloilo.

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. LRay Villafuerte.

Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Zaldy Co, PCFI president, spoke for his group.

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

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

He told his colleagues they have only four weeks to approve the remaining priority bills, asking them to maximize the time so that the House could pass all the urgent measures identified by President Marcos in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July last year 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.

For his part, Barbers said, “President Marcos’ legislative priority will benefit the Filipino people and these measures deserve our support.”

On Sunday, Speaker Romualdez bared that President Marcos approved 11 additional bills, including the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) as part of LEDAC, bringing to 42 from the original 31 the total number of priority administration measures.

On Monday, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill (HB) No. 7751, or the proposed Department of Health Specialty Centers in Hospitals Act that aims to expand healthcare services by establishing specialized care centers in hospitals under the supervision and control of the Department of Health (DOH).

This 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 original LEDAC measures are the enabling law for the natural gas industry, National Land Use Act, Department of Water Resources and Services and creation of 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.

The six measures from 11 new LEDAC bills are 1. Bureau of Immigration Modernization; 2. Infrastructure Development Plan/Build Build Build Program, which is now for committee report preparation; 3. Philippine Salt Industry Development Act; 4. Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System (PENCAS); 5. National Employment Action Plan; and 6. Amendments to the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act are under committee/technical working group (TWG) status.

While the five measures from 11 new LEDAC bills were already approved by the House of Representatives: 1. Amending the AFP Fixed Term Bill (transmitted to the President); 2. Ease of Paying Taxes; 3. Maharlika Investment Fund; 4. Local Government Unit Income Classification; and 5. Amendment to Universal Health Care Act (all were already transmitted to the Senate).