Palace prods Congress to pass priority bills this year

Published July 22, 2021, 2:51 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang nudged Congress to pass the administration’s priority bills before the year ends, noting that many of them will be busy with their reelection bids in 2022.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque (File photo/Malacañang)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement days ahead of President Duterte’s sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 26.

In his press briefing on Thursday, July 22, Roque said Congress should work on passing Duterte’s priority bills before the year ended.

“Kung meron mga talagang priority bills, kailangan maipasa na ‘yan sa lalong mabilis na panahon (If there really were priority bills, they should be passed immediately),” he said.

“Kapag pinaabot pa natin sa susunod na taon, alam na natin busy na sa politika ang lahat (If we wait until next year, we know everybody will be busy with politics). So the priority bills must be heard and hopefully will be passed within the year 2021,” he added.

Despite this, Roque remained confident that Congress will be able to work on urgent bills, citing the good working relationship between the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

“Kampante naman po kami dahil napakabuti ng samahan ng Presidente sa parehong kapulungan ng Kongreso na kung talagang ang urgent ang nature ng bill ay mapapasa po ‘yan (We are confident that because of the good relationship of the President with both houses of Congress, urgent bills will be passed),” he said.

Early this month, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) Undersecretary Jacinto Paras listed down President Duterte’s priority bills for his last year in office:

  • Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos (DMWOF)
  • The fourth package of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP)
  • Resolution of the impasse in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)
  • Pension Fund
  • Public Service Act
  • Foreign Investment Act

Paras, however, said that a law seeking to give workers security of tenure and stopping the end of contract scheme (ENDO) was no longer part of President Duterte’s priority legislation.

He explained that the measure was shelved because it was not being talked about anymore. Duterte has certified such a measure as urgent but he ended up vetoing the Security of Tenure Bill.

However, early this week, Roque said the Security of Tenure bill was still considered an administration bill.