4 Palace measures get Congress priority

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    FOUR Malacañang-endorsed measures will be given priority attention by lawmakers for the next five months pursuant to the agenda that President Duterte set out in his State of the Nation Address last July.

    The new leadership of the House of Representatives and their Senate counterparts yesterday agreed to push to the front row the approval of the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE Act, Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer or FIST Act, Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Development Financing System Act, and the bill creating the Department of Overseas Filipinos.

    Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco and Senate President Vicente Sotto III held an informal caucus with other House and Senate leaders at a hotel in Mandaluyong City where they agreed which measures will make it to the list of legislative priorities ahead of the November 16 resumption of session.

    “We look forward to a very good working relationship between the House and the Senate as both chambers strive to ensure the remaining sessions of the 18th Congress will be fruitful and productive,” Velasco said.

    The meeting, which was initiated by the Speaker, was also attended by Senate president pro tempore Ralph Recto, Senate finance committee chair Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, House majority leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, House committee on appropriations chair Eric Yap, and House minority leader Joseph Stephen Paduano.

    Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and minority leader Franklin Drilon also joined the meeting via videoconferencing.

    Velasco said the House also requested the Senate to prioritize the proposed Magna Carta of Barangay Workers to support barangay frontliners, as well as the proposed Internet Transactions Act that seeks to protect consumers, especially with the increase in online transactions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The Speaker expressed confidence that the the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) will be approved by both Houses of Congress and signed into law by President Duterte before the year ends to prevent a reenacted spending program “that could slow economic growth and hamper the delivery of government services.”

    Last October 27, the House transmitted the approved copy of the proposed P4.506-trillion 2021 GAB to the Senate, a day ahead of schedule.

    “The House and Senate leaderships were both in agreement that the national budget should be approved as soon as possible,” Velasco said. “We have a good working relationship with the Senate, and everyone is united,” Velasco said. “We are confident that we can pass responsive laws that will help our countrymen rise above this pandemic before the year ends.”