By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House of Representatives has processed a total of 1,630 measures or an average of 27 measures per day during the 60 session days, including six measures that were passed on third and final reading to strengthen the government’s response against COVID-19 pandemic.
This was disclosed by House Majority Leader and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez, chairperson of the House committee on rules, in his accomplishment report to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano covering the entire First Regular Session of the 18th Congress.
“The House of Representatives performed its tasks commendably by answering the challenges and demands of our duties and responsibilities, especially on passing measures that would mitigate the economic impact of the global health crisis,” he said in a statement.
“As promised, we worked round the clock to ensure the approval of major anti-COVID measures that were filed in the House of Representatives.”
Romualdez noted that of the processed measures, one was enacted into law –Republic Act (RA) No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which was signed into law last March granting President Duterte additional special powers to combat the pandemic crisis.
He said the measures that were recently approved on third and final reading were House Bill (HB) No. 6815 or the P1.3 trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines (ARISE Philippines Act), HB No. 6817 or the proposed COVID-19-Related Anti-Discrimination Act, HB No. 6865 or the “Crushing COVID-19 Act which mandates the conduct of baseline Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing as the protocol for COVID-19 testing for the vulnerable members of the society,” and HB No. 6895 or “An Act To Lengthen the School Calendar From Two Hundred Days to Not More Than Two Hundred Twenty Class Days” to empower the President to set a different date for the start of the school year in a state of emergency or state of calamity.
HB No. 6816 or the proposed “Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Act” that seeks to help financial institutions resolve their debts and manage their non-performing assets (NPAs), and HB No. 6709 or the COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020 were also finally approved by the Lower Chamber, he added.
HB No. 6864 or the proposed “Better Normal for the Workplace, Communities and Public Spaces Act of 2020” was also approved on second reading. The bill aims to prepare and educate Filipinos for life through new norms of social or physical distancing and safety measures in government and private offices, schools, commercial establishments, and other public spaces.
“I thank my fellow House members for rising to the challenge of the times, working until 12 midnight and attending sessions that lasted until Thursday and Friday,” Romualdez said.
“These landmark measures are the contribution of the House of Representatives in the war against the COVID-19. We [went] on sine die adjournment last Friday, fully satisfied that we have done our work to save our people from joblessness and their families from starvation in this age of pandemic,” he added.
In his report to Cayetano, Romualdez said from July 1, 2019 to June 5, 2020, the Lower Chamber received a total of 7,969 measures — 6,972 billls and 997 resolutions, and 372 committee reports.
“Since the formal opening of the 18th Congress last July 22, Congress passed eight bills of national application, which President Duterte signed into law,” he said.
These include RA No. 11469 or the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act, RA No. 11462 or Postponing the May 2020 Barangay and Sangguaniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) and resetting these twin elections to December 5, 2022, RA No. 11463 or Establishing Malasakit Centers in all Department of Health (DoH) Hospitals, and RA No. 11464 or Extending the Availability of the 2019 Appropriations to December 31, 2020 to ensure the continuity of government’s priority infrastructure projects.
Also included in the list of eight enacted laws are RA No. 11465 or the P4.1-trillion national budget; RA No. 11466 or the Salary Standardization Law 5 benefiting about 1.4 million state workers; RA No. 114667 or the Sin Tax law which imposes additional excise taxes on alcohol, heated tobacco products (HTPs) and vape products to help the effective implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act; and RA No. 114667 or Designating the Third Sunday of November Every year as the National Day for Road Crash Victims, Survivors, and their Families.
In his report to Cayetano, Romualdez disclosed that three national bills and six local bills have been transmitted to President Duterte for his signature.
These include HB No. 5829 or the Good Manners and Right Conduct Act, and HB No. 6312 which seeks to establish the National Academy of Sports System.
Last Friday, Congress adjourned sessions sine die, marking the end of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress.
The sessions will resume on July 27 or the beginning of the Second Regular Session, the same day when President Duterte is expected to deliver his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA).