AS THE BATTLE for House speakership drags on with more players joining the fray, two lawmakers believe that what is crucial is for the new leader to have an understanding of and support the administration’s economic reform agenda.
“Kailangan maisulong ang mga reform programs ng Pangulo (The reform programs of the President must be pushed)… he must be able to mobilize a national consensus around the President’s program,” said Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey S. Salceda in a press briefing in Quezon City on Thursday.
He added, “Importante rin sa bansa na masuportahan po ang lahat ng (It is also important for the country that we support all the) structural reforms ng Pangulo, sa pananaw ko ang ekonomiya ngayon ay nasa (of the President, because I can see that our economy is already at the) take-off stage na.”
For his part, Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Michael T. Defensor said the 18th Congress is the right time to push for economic and political reforms.
“This is the best time because for the first time in Congress, we have in the House and Senate, where the President has a very strong majority,” said Mr. Defensor.
Mr. Defensor also noted that the speaker must possess leadership skills because the position calls for coordination not just among congressmen, but with the President and his Cabinet.
Both lawmakers expressed support for Leyte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez to be the next speaker.
“Our choice for speakership is not just our personal choice, but what will also benefit the President. How the legislative agenda will be achieved,” said Mr. Defensor.
Meanwhile, Mr. Salceda said that it is also the best time to give another chance to the proposals for the Retail Trade Liberalization Act and Foreign Investments Act.
Both failed passage in the 17th Congress.
Out of 28 measures in the Common Legislative Agenda for the 17th Congress approved by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council, lawmakers were able to pass 14, including three bills that form part of the government’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program.
Two are still awaiting Mr. Duterte’s signature, the security of tenure bill and the bill increasing taxes on tobacco products, while one priority measure, the coconut levy fund, was vetoed. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras