With the hoopla over the midterm elections already in the rearview mirror, lawmakers at the House of Representatives are now raring to get back to work when session resumes, with the hope of passing more measures in the remainder of the 17th Congress.
They are also awaiting the signing into law by President Rodrigo Duterte of several measures sent to him earlier this year.
Among them are party-list Representatives Francisco Datol (Senior Citizen), Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Bagong Henerasyon) and Salvador Belaro Jr. (1-Ang Edukasyon).
Datol said among his legislative priorities is the full operation of the National Commission for Senior Citizens and bills on the treatment of the elderly in homes and communities.
“Noting that the Seniors Commission bill is getting closer to becoming a law, it would be prudent to get ready for the next steps in order to pave the way for its smooth operations, especially in the regions where they are needed most,” the legislator said.
“We shall also push for upgrades in the PhilHealth benefits packages for seniors, the social pension for the indigent elderly, and retirement welfare of civil servants and private sector employees,” the lawmaker added.
In the meantime, House Assistant Majority Leader Herrera-Dy said at least four bills that she had worked on are also waiting for the President’s signature.
Herrera-Dy said among these are the proposed law to institutionalize the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and the Magna Carta for the Poor.
She is also hoping that some 30 bills initiated by the Bagong Henerasyon Party-list that have been approved by the House on third and final reading would be acted upon by the Senate.
“If the Senate is able to approve some of those 30 bills, the House would swiftly act on them so they can be sent to Malacañang at the soonest,” Herrera-Dy said.
Belaro said he is also awaiting the signing into law of three education bills that 1-Ang Edukasyon initiated.
These are the amendments to the National Museum Act, the conversion of the Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges into the Polytechnic State University of Bicol, and amendments to the Magna Carta for Scientists.
The education lawmaker said they will push for the approval on third reading several bills aimed at recognizing the sacrifice and service of the teachers and other members of the board of election inspectors during elections.
“Among the bills I will ask the House leadership to fast track is that which exempts election service honoraria, allowances, and benefits from taxation. Congress can approve these bill on third reading this May and June, so they can move forward when the next Congress convenes in July,” the legislator said.
“Among the bills I will ask the House leadership to fast track is that which exempts election service honoraria, allowances, and benefits from taxation.’
He also said there are at least 11 bills he had worked on that have already been sent to the Senate.
“I am hoping the Senate can approve some or all of these 11 bills so the House can ratify or concur prior to transmittal to President Duterte,” Belaro said.
The 17th Congress resumed sessions on May 20 and will adjourn sine die on June 7 — giving the present Congress at least nine session days to wrap up its business.
In the meantime, Datol and Herrera-Dy vowed to be more active in pursuing their constituents’ agenda in the 18th Congress.
The Senior Citizen Party-list is in the top 10 and is safely assured of a seat in the next Congress, while Bagong Henerasyon is expected to garner enough votes to return.
Datol said his party would be more active in the 2020 budget deliberations, particularly in the establishment of senior citizens centers nationwide.
“Recently, we pointed out to the Department of Public Works and Highways that their construction standards for senior citizens centers must have acceptable and uniform quality nationwide. We noticed that different seniors centers built by different contractors had widely different output quality. High quality must be the same no matter where in the country a seniors center is constructed,” Datol said.
Meanwhile, Herrera-Dy vowed to focus on the basic needs of Filipino families and the values, which she said were crucial to the victory of Bagong Henerasyon in the recent elections.
“Voters saw how focused we were on their core family needs: household expenses on water, electricity, hospitalization, medicines, food, and education,” she said.
“We will not rest. We will continue to pursue the people’s agenda,” Herrera-Dy said.
On the other hand, Belaro vowed that his party will continue its advocacy on education issues even if it is not re-elected. 1-Ang Edukasyon is in 72nd place among the party-list groups, and is in danger of losing its seat in Congress.
“If Comelec does not proclaim 1-Ang Edukasyon as re-elected, we will still continue to speak out on education issues. We shall still represent students, teachers, and schools and continue to lobby for more resources and investments in education, entrepreneurship, and the environment,” he said.
“We shall still represent students, teachers, and schools and continue to lobby for more resources and investments in education, entrepreneurship, and the environment.”
“Our public service is not yet over. Some of the laws we worked on in this 17th Congress would still be alive in the 18th Congress because they were approved on third reading,” Belaro added.