We Must Be Instruments of Change – ALVAREZ


Members of the House of Representatives adjourned the First Regular Session of the 17th Congress with their hard work and commitment to genuine change resulting in a rich production of pro-people legislative measures, some of which had already been enacted into law while others hurdled the second and third reading in plenary, and the bicameral conference committee.

At the opening of the 17th Congress on July 25, 2016, Speaker Bebot Alvarez in his acceptance speech clearly spelled out the significant role of the House members: “We must give President Duterte the necessary legislation which will be his tools to effect meaningful and genuine change. In sum, we too must be instruments of change.”

The Speaker’s guidance and leadership effectively steered the House in producing numerous significant measures for the benefit of the people as shown by the data pertaining to the accomplishments of the House.

The Speaker has been ably assisted by Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas, Deputy Speakers Eric Singson, Mercedes Alvarez, Fredenil Castro, Raneo Abu, Romero Quimbo, Mylene Garcia-Albano, Gwendolyn Garcia, Pia Cayetano, Sharon Garin, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Bai Sandra Sema, Ferdinand Hernandez, Frederick Abueg, and Rolando Andaya, Jr., Minority Leader Danilo Suarez and other leaders of the chamber.

Data from the House committee on rules showed that since the 17th Congress convened on July 25, 2016, the House processed a total of 1,247 measures in just 97 session days, or an average of 13 measures processed per session day.

The House also managed to approve a total of 295 measures broken down as follows: enacted into law, four; approved on third reading, 194; approved on second reading, 13; adopted resolutions, 67; ratified bicameral reports, six; adopted Senate versions/provisions, one ; and concurred with Senate amendments, four.

Of 194 bills approved on third and final reading, 53 are national bills, 140 are local bills and one Joint Resolution, HJR 10 which is “Increasing the Monthly Pension of Social Security System Pensioners under The Social Security Act Of 1997.”

Of the 13 bills passed on second reading, seven are of national significance while six are of local significance.

The House also explored as many ways and means possible to address the socio-economic concerns of the country through the filing of 6,908 House Bills and House Resolutions. The figure consists of 5,819 bills and 1,089 resolutions.

The four House measures enacted into law are: House Bill 3504 which became Republic Act 10923, postponing the October 2016 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections; HB 3408 which was enacted into RA 10924 or the General Appropriations Act of 2017; HB 4632 which became RA 10925, renewing for another 25 years the franchise granted to Republic Broadcasting System, Inc., presently known as GMA Network, Inc.; and HB 10926 which became RA 10926, extending for another 25 years the franchise granted to Smart Communications, Inc. (Formerly Smart Information Technologies, Inc.).

Meanwhile, the bicameral committee reports ratified by the House are: House Bill 4767 and Senate Bill 1365, or “An Act Extending the Validity of the Philippine Passport, Amending for the Purpose Section 10 Of Republic Act 8239, Otherwise Known As The “Philippine Passport Act Of 1996”; HB 5225 and SB 1277 or “An Act Mandating The Provision Of Free Wi-Fi Internet Access In Public Areas”; HB 5159 and SB 1353 or “An Act Strengthening The Provision Of Emergency Health Care Service To Patients, Further Amending For The Purpose Batas Pambansa Bilang 702, As Amended, Entitled “An Act Prohibiting The Demand Of Deposits Or Advanced Payments For The Confinement Or Treatment Of Patients In Hospitals And Medical Clinics In Certain Cases”; HB 5633 and SB 28 or “An Act Promoting Universal Access To Quality Tertiary Education By Providing For Free Tuition And Other School Fees In State Universities And Colleges And State-Run Technical-Vocational Institutions, Strengthening The Unified Student Financial Assistance System For Tertiary Education; HB 5513 and SB 14 or “An Act Adjusting The Amounts Or The Value Of Property On Which A Penalty Is Based, And The Fines Imposed Under The Revised Penal Code, Amending For The Purpose Act No. 3815, Otherwise Known As ꞌThe Revised Penal Codeꞌ, As Amended’; and HB 5648 and SB 1449 or “An Act Rationalizing And Strengthening The Policy Regarding Driver’s License, Providing For A Five-Year Validity And Penalizing Acts In Violation Of Its Issuance And Application.”

Pending at the bicameral committee is House Bill 64 and Senate Bill 1317 or “An Act Strengthening Compliance With Occupational Safety And Health Standards And Providing Penalties For Violations Thereof.”

Meanwhile, among the measures approved on third reading are House Bill 4727 or “An Act Imposing The Death Penalty On Certain Heinous Crimes, Repealing For The Purpose Republic Act No. 9346, Entitled ‘An Act Prohibiting The Imposition Of Death Penalty In The Philippines’, And Further Amending Act No. 3815, As Amended, Otherwise Known As The ‘Revised Penal Code’, And Republic Act No. 9165, Otherwise Known As The ‘Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act Of 2002’’; HB 5636 or the “Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN)” Bill; HB 187, providing for the restructuring and condonation of unpaid interests, penalties and surcharges on loans secured by farmers, fisherfolk and agrarian reform beneficiaries from the Department Of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department Of Agriculture (DA), People’s Credit And Finance Corporation (PCFC),Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), National Food Authority (NFA) and Quedan And Rural Credit Guarantee Corporation (QUEDANCOR); HB 335, authorizing the court to require community service in lieu of imprisonment for the penalty of arresto menor; HB 477, declaring January 23 of every year a special working holiday in the entire country to commemorate the declaration of the First Philippine Republic; and HB 1344, prescribing stricter penalties on the crime of delivering prisoners from jail and infidelity in the custody of prisoners.

Among the bills approved on second reading are : House Bill 5685 or “An Act Instituting The Magna Carta Of Filipino Seafarers”; HB 5707 or “An Act Rightsizing The National Government To Improve Public Service Delivery”; HB 5685 or “An Act Instituting The Magna Carta Of Filipino Seafarers’’; and HB 5685 or “An Act DeclaringJuly 27 Of Every Year A Special National Nonworking Holiday, Amending For The Purpose Republic Act No. 9645, Otherwise Known As The ꞌCommemoration Of The Founding Anniversary Of Iglesia Ni Cristo Act.”
The House also came out with 294 committee reports and adopted 67 resolutions that were based on the hearings and inquiries conducted by the different committees on varying issues.

The breakdown of the 67 adopted resolutions: 58 regular resolutions; five concurrent resolutions; two reports on resolution on inquiries; one report of the Committee of the Whole on House Resolution 1050 which is “Resolution Expressing The Full Support Of The House Of Representatives To President Rodrigo Duterte As It Finds No Reason To Revoke Proclamation No. 216, Entitled “Declaring A State Of Martial Law And Suspending The Privilege Of The Writ Of Habeas Corpus In The Whole Of Mindanao” ; and one report on impeachment, which is Committee Report 257 on House Resolution 157 “Resolution Dismissing The Verified Complaint For Impeachment And The Supplemental Complaint-Affidavit Filed By Rep. Gary C. Alejano Against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.”

The two reports on inquires adopted by the House are : 1) Report: Resolution Calling For An Investigation, In Aid Of Legislation, On The Proliferation Of Drug Syndicates At The National Bilibid Prison; and 2) Report: Resolution Directing The Committee On Cooperatives Development To Conduct An Inquiry, In Aid Of Legislation, For Non Compliance Of Bureau Of Internal Revenue With Section 13 Of The Joint Rules And Regulations Implementing Articles 60, 61 And 144 Of Republic Act 9520, Otherwise Known As The Philippine Cooperative Code Of 2008.

Meanwhile, House members are set to act on several pending measures during the Second Regular Session which opens on July 24, 2017.

Included in the Calendar of Unfinished Business are : House Bill 4113 or “An Act Increasing The Maternity Leave Period To 100 Days For Female Workers In The Government Service And In The Private Sector, And Granting An Option To Extend For An Additional 30 Days Without Pay” which is in the period of interpellation; HB 4982 or “An Act Prohibiting Discrimination On The Basis Of Sexual Orientation Or Gender Identity Or Expression (SOGIE) And Providing Penalties Therefor” which is in the period of sponsorship; HB 3177 or “An Act Penalizing Influence Peddling And For Other Purposes” which is in the period of interpellation; and HB 3988 or “An Act Providing For The Conjugal Partnership Of Gains As The Governing Regime In The Absence Of A Marriage Settlement Or When The Regime Agreed Upon Is Void, Amending For The Purpose Article 75 Of Title Iv Of Executive Order No. 209, As Amended By Executive Order No. 227, Otherwise Known As The Family Code Of The Philippines.”


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