In the last three weeks of the 17th Congress, Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is making last-ditch efforts to push the legislative agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a letter sent to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Arroyo said the House of Representatives was looking forward to the action of the Senate on 11 priority bills still pending in the Upper Chamber.
Arroyo said in the last three weeks of session before the end of the 17th Congress and before she steps down, she was looking forward to the action to be taken by the Senate on the 11 remaining priority bills of Duterte which had been passed by the House on second and third reading but are pending at the Senate.
“As for the 11 pending bills in the President’s priority legislative agenda, we await the action of the Senate and stand ready to adopt the Senate version in the interest of speedy legislation,” she said.
She also said the House reintroduced a bill on the creation of the Coconut Industry Trust Fund which she hopes would “conform more to the policy direction of the Executive and thus constitutes our main priority for our last three weeks’ work in the House of Representatives.”
The said bill was vetoed by the President.
Arroyo also said she considered it an honor to have worked with the Senate to carry out Duterte’s legislative agenda.
“It has been an honor doing legislative work with you,” Arroyo said.
Meanwhile, even with only seven legislative days left before the 17th Congress adjourns sine die, a pro-administration lawmaker remains optimistic his bill which seeks to grant additional privileges for persons with disabilities (PWDs) will still be passed into law.
Outgoing Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Treñas, who scored a landslide win as mayor of Iloilo City, said that there is still time for Congress to approve House Bill 9106 which he authored after it was approved Tuesday on second reading.
“We still have time to approve this measure and pass it into law. We should make the most of the remaining session days so we can make life easier and better for our PWDs,” Treñas said.
It was Treñas who passionately defended and justified the immediate approval of the bill despite challenges due to shortened session days and quorum problems as a result of the campaign season.
Treñas said House Bill 9106 would amend provisions of Republic Act 7277 or the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities, to include additional privileges for PWDs such as the mandatory employment in government offices, government corporations and even in the private sector.
Under the proposed law, all government agencies, offices or government corporations are mandated to fill up at least two percent of all positions for qualified PWDs.
Private corporations with more than 1,000 employees are likewise required to allot at least two percent of all positions for PWDS and one percent for those with less than 1,000 employees.
In return, private corporations and entities that employ PWDs who meet the required skills or qualifications as apprentices or learners “shall be entitled to an additional deduction, from their gross income, equivalent to 25 percent of the total amount paid as salaries and wages to PWDs.”
On the other hand, “private entities that employ PWDs as regular employees shall be entitled to an additional deduction from their gross income, equivalent to 50 percent of the total amount paid as salaries and wages for the PWDs.”
The law also mandates the provision of free assistive technology services including designing, customizing, maintaining, repairing or replacing assistive technology devices to enhance the functional capacity of PWDs.
“Once approved, the government will also provide free wheelchairs, walkers, canes and other aids for our PWDs whenever funds will allow. Malaking tulong din ito para sa ating mga PWDs,” Treñas said.
Also provided on the proposed law as additional privileges for PWDs are as follows:
• Monthly stipend amounting to P500 for marginalized PWDs to augment their daily subsistence, medical and other needs.
• Exemption from passport processing fees, as well as travel taxes, terminal fees, other fees and charges levied on airports, ports, or other terminals by the government, any of its agencies or instrumentalities, or by government-owned or controlled corporations.
• Lifetime validity of PWD identification cards.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development is mandated to monitor compliance on the provisions of the proposed law and ensure that the privileges provided are not abused by its beneficiaries.