THE Legislative-Executive Coordinating Council (LECC) has identified the measures the legislature is prioritizing which are in line with the President’s legislative agenda, the House majority leader said Sunday.
Representative Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez of Leyte’s first district said Congressional leaders and Cabinet officials agreed on the immediate approval of the fifth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law for government workers; the creation of the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers; the postponement of the May 2020 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to May 2023; and free legal assistance to the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“Let’s wait the official communication from the Palace about the final list of priority legislative measures it will be submitting to Congress. This is just the initial list. In the meantime, we agreed to pursue these as our common priority measures,” according to Mr. Romualdez, who also chairs the House committee on rules, in a statement.
The LECC is the small-group Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting, according to Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III in a phone message.
Aside from Mr. Romualdez and Mr. Sotto, the small group meeting was attended by Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano, Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. Luis Raymund F. Villuarte, Jr., Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, Senators Christopher T. Go and Joel J. Villanueva, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, and acting Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado.
Mr. Romualdez said the House leadership is “eyeing the passage of the common legislative measures before Congress adjourns this December.”
During his fourth State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo R. Duterte asked Congress to pass measures creating a department for overseas Filipino Workers, approving the latest tranche of the salary standardization law, and rescheduling the barangay elections.
Recently, Rep. Jose Ma. S. Salceda, the Ways and Means committee chairperson from Albay’s second district, said the 2020 budget provides for P32 billion for wage increases and P4 billion worth of miscellaneous benefits for government workers, including nurses and teachers.
Last week, the House committees on government reorganization and overseas workers affairs agreed to form a technical working group that will consolidate 31 bills seeking to create a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers.
Mr. Romualdez reiterated that the chamber is aiming for “tighter” coordination with the Palace and the Senate.
“We are eyeing zero vetoes for all bills to be approved by the Senate and the House. We hope to avoid any possibility of a Presidential veto by working closely with Cabinet members and Senate officials,” Mr. Romualdez said.
Rep. Isidro T. Ungab, the House Appropriations committee chair from Davao City’s third district, said that the House will tackle this week in committee the extension of the validity of the 2019 budget until December 2020.
“Sa next Committee hearing namin i-tackle iyong extension ng validity ng 2019 budget. (We will tackle the budget validity extension at the next committee hearing) There are pending measures requesting extension of the validity of the 2019 budget,” Mr. Ungab told BusinessWorld in a phone message.
“Considering that the 2019 budget was only signed into law in April, the validity of the appropriations will be extended from Dec. 31, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2020.”
The chamber on Friday also approved the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 on third and final reading, two weeks ahead of its Oct. 4 deadline. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras