More bills passed by 18th Congress

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    THE number of bills approved on third and final reading by the 18th Congress is four times the output registered by the 17th Congress for the same period of the First Regular Session, according to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

    Cayetano made the announcement before the House adjourned session for the Lenten break last Wednesday evening.

    The Speaker said the number of measures processed and total measures approved during the same period increased by 180 percent and 178 percent, respectively.

    In terms of approved bills in the committees and in the plenary, the records show that there were 175 measures approved as of December 2019 compared with only 63 in the first six months of the regular session of the previous Congress.

    Records from the office of majority leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez shows the same figures covering the same period.

    Among those measures passed are priority bills mentioned by the President Duterte during his state of the nation address (SONA) in 2019.

    This includes the establishment of the National Academy of Sports System, which was approved by the bicameral conference committee this week, and the creation of the Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment, which was recently approved on second reading.

    The proposed amendments to the Public Service Act, which seek to allow foreigners to own and operate public utilities in the Philippines to attract more foreign investors, was also passed on final reading last Tuesday.

    The proposed Good Manners and Right Conduct (GMRC) and Values Education Act, which was principally authored by the Speaker, was ratified by both the Senate and the House of Representatives last week.

    A number of tax reform measures that are responsive to the President’s Agenda were also passed by the House — the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act, the Corporate Income Tax and Incentive Rationalization Act, and the Real Property Valuation and Assessment Act.

    In a period of six months, at least seven laws signed into law. These are the P4.1-trillion General Appropriations Act of 2020, Salary Standardization Law of 2019 (SSL V), Malasakit Center Act, Postponement of the Conduct of the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, the law increasing the excise tax rate on alcohol beverages and electronic cigarettes, the law extending the availability of the 2019 Appropriations to Dec. 31, 2020, and the law designating the third Sunday of November every year as the National Day for Road Crash Victims and Their Families.

    Cayetano cited his colleagues, including the opposition, for their role in the crafting of laws.

    “Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we achieved in the past few months,” he said. “We’d also like to thank the minority; we couldn’t have done it without you. And to be fair, the deliberations sometimes drag on but you make legislation better. The interpellations, the suggestions, forced us to think and forced us to come up with better legislation,” he said.

    In an interview with reporters, the Speaker said his rift with Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco of the ruling party PDP-Laban should be set aside to allow the House to focus on legislation.