Speaker Romualdez says House has passed 31 of 42 Marcos priority bills

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THE House of Representatives has passed 31 out of 42 priority measures identified by the Marcos administration, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said.

“We are proud of our collective accomplishment — 31 out of 42 and counting. As of today, we have achieved a significant part of our goal in less than a year of session,” Mr. Romualdez said in a statement.

Mr. Romualdez cited House Bill (HB) No. 8078, which was approved on third reading on Monday, would institutionalize the President’s Building Better More program.

“It will be an all-encompassing program covering not only public works like roads, bridges and expressways, which we commonly refer to as infrastructure, but also energy, water resources, information and technology, agri-fisheries, food logistics, and socially oriented structures such as school buildings and other educational facilities,” he said.

In a briefing, Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene D. Brosas, one of the legislators who voted in opposition to the measure, said HB 8078 “institutionalizes infrastructure projects that are vulnerable to corruption and (generate only) contractual jobs.”

Ms. Brosas said she would rather that funding be redirected to develop industries and bring forward agrarian reform.

Mr. Romualdez also cited the National Land Use Act (HB 8162), which was approved on third reading on Monday.

“This is a long-awaited measure and the President knows its importance,” Mr. Romualdez said. HB 8162 seeks to optimize the proper use of land.

Bills that the House approved on third reading are the E-Governance/E-Government bill, the creation of the Negros Island region, the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act, as well as measures creating the Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the Medical Reserve Corps and the Virology Institute of the Philippines.

The House also passed measures that would, with a corresponding Senate vote, become the Philippine Passport Act, the Internet transactions/E-Commerce Law, the Waste-to-Energy Act, the Apprenticeship Act, amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, and a law providing for free legal assistance for police and soldiers.

Also approved were bills outlining the rights of seafarers and barangay health workers, as well as those creating the Eastern Visayas Development Authority and the Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone.

The House also passed the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery bill, the real property valuation reform bill, the measure proposing to set up the National Citizens Service Training Program, and the national rightsizing program bill.

The House has yet to approve on third reading measures reviving the Philippine salt industry and modernizing the Immigration bureau.

Priority measures awaiting second-reading approval are the proposed National Employment Action Plan, an enabling law for the natural gas industry, and the Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System bill.

Measures proposing to create a Water Resources department, as well as amendments to the Electric Power Industry Act and the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act are currently being evaluated at committee or by technical working groups.

Also up for committee discussion are the Budget Modernization and National Defense bills, and a measure creating a unified system of separation, retirement and pension for uniformed personnel.

Priority bills signed into law were the SIM Registration Act, the measure postponing the village and youth council elections, and the measure amending the fixed terms of Armed Forces of the Philippines chiefs of staff and other senior officers.

A bill seeking to condone unpaid loans of agrarian reform beneficiaries has been transmitted to Malacañang. The proposed Maharlika Investment Fund bill is undergoing interpellation at the Senate.

The measures “aim to support the President’s vision of keeping the economy on the high growth path and generating more jobs and income opportunities for our people,” Mr. Romualdez said. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz