Congress leaders to pass 38 priority bills

July 28, 2017 at 11:26

Congress leaders to pass 38 priority bills

By Ben R. Rosario | Updated 

Congress leaders on Wednesday agreed to pass 38 bills they have included in the list of priority measures for the second regular session of the 17th Congress.

The top four officials of the House of Representatives and the Senate, headed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, respectively, met early Wednesday to thresh out the priority measures and agreed to pursue 38 pending bills.



Also in attendance were Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Minority Leader Franklin Drilon for the Senate and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, and Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua of Quirino province for the House of Representatives.

Some of the bills have either been approved or are now in the advance stages of the legislative process in the Lower House.

Suarez said that among the measures are the proposed restoration of the death penalty and the tax reform package. Both are pending action in the Senate.

The opposition lawmaker disclosed that the first part of the Duterte administrations proposed tax reform measure has encountered serious opposition among senators.

“I believe the minority bloc’s proposal for a revenue neutral provision of the tax reform bill would address the opposition. We strongly recommend a bill that would allow government to collect additional taxes that will not exceed the foregone revenues resulting from the reduction of taxes for fix income earners,” said Suarez.

Fariñas disclosed that the leaders of the two chambers agreed to pass the priority measures into law during the second regular session of the 17th Congress or in four quarters.

Under the setup, the first quarter will be from last Monday to October, the second quarter will be from November to December, third from January to March, 2018, and fourth from May to June, 2018.

However, included to their priority bills but without any set schedule are proposed revision of Constitution and Bangsamoro Basic Law, and Minimum Wage Law.

To be passed during the first quarter of the agreed legislative calendar are:

  • Amendment to Republic Act 8178, or the Agricultural Tariffication Act which will scrap the quantitative restriction (QR) and convert it into tariffs. The bill remains in the committee level of both chambers.
  • Amendments to Government Procurement Reform Act. Under the proposal, negotiated procurement will be allowed “before, during, or after a calamity.” Currently, negotiated procurement is only applicable during a state of calamity. Still in committee level.
  • The proposed Agrarian and Agricultural Credit Condonation Act. The bill aims to provide farmers, fisherfolk and agrarian reform beneficiaries the opportunity to regain access to government and commercial credit facilities through the condonation of unpaid interests, penalties and surcharges on their existing loans obtained through government lending programs.
  • National Land Use Act. The bill seeks to classify land use into four functions: protection of land; production-land use; settlements development and infrastructure development.
  • First package of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP). The first of five packages of the CTRP seeks to lower personal income tax. Approved in the Lower Hosue but still pending before Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
  • Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act. Last year, President Duterte asked Congress to grant him emergency powers to address the immense and growing traffic dilemma in the National Capital Region and major cities in the country.
  • Prohibition of contractualization of labor. Ending contractualization is one of the campaign promises of Duterte.
  • Salary Standardization Law IV. The proposal seeks to increase the salary of government employees to be competitive with the market rates. The House eyes passage between November to December while the Senate will pass it between July and October.
  • Ease of doing business act/fast business permit proposal.
  • Corporation Code of the Philippines. Among the salient provision of the proposal is the introduction of new classification of corporation, its conversion or revival, new minimum capital requirements and new term.

Also scheduled to be passed from July to October, 2017 include the following: Ban on the conversion of irrigated land; national ID system; Enhanced Universal Health Care Act;  Estate Tax Reform Act; Social Security Act Amendments; Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act; Allowable/Recoverable System Loss Act (electricity); community service in lieu of imprisonment for the penalty of arresto menor;  Free School Feeding/Pagkaing Pinoy para sa Batang Pinoy Act; One Town: One Doctor Act; Expand Coverage of Local Absentee Voting Act; Family Code of the Philippines Amendment (default property regime: Complete separation of property); Amendment of Fair Election Act; Anti-Terrorism Law (National Security Act); Anti-Hazing Law Amendments; and Department of Disaster Response (Public Safety).

The bills to be passed from November to December are amendments to Public Service Act, Department of Housing and Urban Development Act; Anti-Discrimination Act; Unified Uniformed Personnel Benefits and Pension Reform Act and Criminal Investigation Act.

From January to May, the following are scheduled for passage: Requiring legislative franchise for operating railways; bill creating Mindanao Railway Corporation/Authority; Central Luzon Railways Corporations extending the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways to another 25 years.

  All rights to the stock images are owned by Getty Images and its image partners and are protected by United States copyright laws, international treaty provisions and other applicable laws.
Getty Images and its image partners retain all rights and are available for purchase by visiting gettyimages website.

Arangkada Philippines: A Business Perspective — Move Twice As Fast | Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines