The House of Representatives succeeded in approving on third and final reading 23 of 31 bills identified by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) as priority measures of the Marcos administration before its session adjourns for the Holy Week recess, Speaker Martin G. Romualdez said Wednesday.
These measures were already transmitted to the Senate.
Lawmakers will continue working on remaining priority legislation even during the congressional break.
The House authorized Wednesday night all its committees to hold hearings, if needed, during the period of adjournment from March 23 to May 7, 2023, to process important bills pending in various panels of the chamber.
As of press time Wednesday, the House was scheduled to ratify the bicameral conference committee report on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Fixed Term Law, which is also a House priority.
In a formal motion raised before the plenary, House Majority Leader and Zamboanga City Rep. Manuel Jose M. Dalipe moved to allow all standing and special committees of the House to pursue the performance of their mandate of passing vital pieces of legislation during the recess.
“Mr. Speaker, in accordance with our rules, I move that we authorize all committees to conduct meetings and/or public hearings, if deemed necessary, during the House recess from March 23 to May 7, 2023,” Dalipe said.
After hearing no objection, Speaker Romualdez, who presided over the session, granted the motion.
The 31 LEDAC priority measures, collectively called the Common Legislative Agenda (CLA) of Malacañang, Senate, and the House of Representatives were drawn up from dozens of legislative measures filed in Congress to further stimulate economic activities, create job opportunities, reduce poverty, and provide better health care services for Filipinos.
Romualdez said out of the 23 measures approved by the House, two had been signed into law by President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr., while the remaining eight bills in the LEDAC priority list are under advanced stages of deliberation.
“We have done our share in passing important pieces of legislation that will help the country recover from the crippling impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and external shocks that adversely affect the economy and the nation,” he said.
“That was our commitment during the series of meetings at LEDAC. That is our continuing commitment to the Filipino people,” the House leader added.
The approved bills were also among those enumerated by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July last year, Romualdez said.
“We have responded positively to the President’s call for legislation that would hasten the country’s recovery from the pandemic, sustain our economic growth, and implement his Agenda for Prosperity,” the Speaker added.
The two bills the President has signed into law are the mobile phone SIM (subscriber information module) Registration Act, which is now under implementation, and the measure postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to October this year.
The 20 other LEDAC-endorsed bills approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives are the Magna Carta of Seafarers, E-Governance Act / E-Government Act, Negros Island Region, Virology Institute of the Philippines, Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act;
National Disease Prevention Management Authority or Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Medical Reserve Corps, Philippine Passport Act; Internet Transaction Act / E-Commerce Law, Waste-to-Energy Bill, Free Legal Assistance for Police and Soldiers, Apprenticeship Act; Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law, Magna Carta of Barangay Health Workers, Valuation Reform, Eastern Visayas Development Authority, Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone, Government Financial Institutions
Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery, National Citizens Service Training Program, and Rightsizing the National Government.
Another LEDAC bill, the Agrarian Reform Debts Condonation measure, is now for bicameral conference committee approval.
The eight other LEDAC bills pending in the House are the: Regional Specialty Hospitals (for second reading approval), Enabling Law for the Natural Gas Industry (under technical working group or TWG deliberation), National Land Use Act (TWG);
Department of Water Resources and Services and Creation of Water Regulatory Commission (TWG), Electric Power Industry Reform Act (for committee deliberation), Budget Modernization (for committee deliberation), National Defense Act (for committee deliberation), and Unified System of Separation, Retirement and Pension for Uniformed Personnel (for committee deliberation).
“We are working double time to pass the remaining eight LEDAC measures and our own priority bills. We are confident of approving them on third and final reading before the sine die break,” Romualdez said.
Aside from the 31 bills in the LEDAC list, Romualdez said the House committee chairmen and members have identified 21 measures that they wanted to be given priority.
He said the 21 include 10 for LEDAC endorsement, four of which – the Maharlika Investment Fund bill, Ease of Paying Taxes Act, LGU Income Classification, and Amendment to Universal Health Care Act—have been approved on third and final reading.
The Speaker added that the House priority list includes Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 6, which calls for a constitutional convention to amend “restrictive” economic provisions of the Charter, which would enable the country to attract more foreign investments, and its implementing measure, HB No. 7352.
The House voted 301 against six with one abstention to overwhelmingly approve RBH 6 on third and final reading.
HB 7352 has also hurdled third reading with 301 for and seven voting against.
“These measures, we at the House of Representatives believe, will help create a more vibrant economy not only for the Philippines but also for the countries in the Asia-Pacific Region, by reducing, if not, totally eliminating economic barriers to investments. Indeed, there are so much more to look forward to,” Romualdez said.
The other House priorities that have been approved on third and final reading are the following: On-Site, In-City Near City Local Government Resettlement Program, Open Access in Data Transmission, Online Registration of Voters;
Amendments to the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation Charter, and Mandatory Establishment of Evacuation Centers in Every City, Province, Municipality/Permanent Evacuation Centers, and Local Government Income Classification.
As of press time Wednesday, the House is scheduled to ratify the bicameral conference committee report on the AFP Fixed Term Law, which is also a House priority.
Under other priority measures are Government Procurement Act (TWG), Department of Resilience (committee level), and Livestock Development and Competitiveness Bill (committee level).
Several other measures—Revitalizing Salt Industry, Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System, Bureau of Immigration Modernization, National Employment Action Plan, Amendment to the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, and Infrastructure Development Plan/Build Build Build Program—are for LEDAC inclusion and undergoing committee deliberation.