THE HOUSE of Representatives aims to pass nine priority measures of the Marcos administration, as Congress opens its second regular session on July 24, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said on Sunday.
In a statement, he said these measures including the 2024 General Appropriations Bill would be fully debated. The Senate and House will open sessions on Monday and will go on a break at the end of September.
Nine bills under the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) include changes to the Electric Power Industry Act and the proposed anti-agricultural smuggling law, the National Defense bill and pension reforms in the military and police.
Mr. Romualdez said the House aims to pass the Budget Modernization bill, a national employment action plan and the creation of a Water Resources department.
Other priority measures are the proposed enabling law for the natural gas industry and the creation of an accounting system for the country’s natural resources.
Congress is also expected to start budget deliberations a week after President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s second state of the nation address on Monday.
Mr. Romualdez, the President’s first cousin, also committed to help achieve the president’s goal of bringing down the price of rice to P20 a kilo.
“We will find ways to make sure that local production is up and that there will be fewer, if not no more occasions, for hoarding or profiteering,” he said.
Hansley A. Juliano, a political economy researcher studying at Nagoya University’s Graduate School of International Development in Japan, said he expects Congress to remain a supermajority, focusing mainly on Mr. Marcos’ priority measures.
“The only way his agendas will hit roadblocks is if the split between the Dutertes and Arroyos grow wider, and if their preferred legislative agendas to cement their machineries conflict with the Romualdezes,” he said in a Facebook Messenger chat.
Meanwhile, the Senate is ready to hit the ground running on priority bills and other key pieces of legislation, Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri said in a separate statement.
“We made a commitment that, on the part of the Senate, we will pass 20 priority bills by December,” he said. “We need to hit the ground running.”
The Senate chief said they aim to pass the proposed Public-Private Partnership Act, which will amend the Build-Operate-Transfer law; creation of a National Disease Prevention Management Authority; the proposed Internet Transactions Act; establishment of a Medical Reserve Corps and Virology Institute; reinstatement of citizen’s military training; and a bill revitalizing the Philippine salt industry.
Senators are also set to work on measures that seek to improve and streamline government transactions and services, specifically on real property valuation, e-governance, ease of paying taxes, government rightsizing, automatic income classification of local governments, a new passport law and reforms in military and police pensions.
The chamber also sees the passage of the proposed Waste-to-Energy Act, Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers, the proposed “Trabaho Para Sa Bayan” Act, the Anti-Financial Scamming Act and proposed changes to the Bank Secrecy Law, Mr. Zubiri said.
Apart from the priority bills, the Senate president said he would push his proposal for a legislated wage hike.
The Senate president will also push third reading approval of the bills on the development of the Defense industry, cyber-security and changes to procurement provisions of the Armed Forces Modernization Act.
The chamber would also adopt a resolution calling on the government to take China’s incursions in Philippine waters before the United Nations General Assembly.
“The Senate is the last bastion of democracy,” Mr. Zubiri said. “It is important to maintain independence.”
After the plenary session in the morning, the senators will go to the House of Representatives for a joint session of Congress to hear President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s second state of the nation address. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz