Cayetano thanks House colleagues

Alan Peter S. Cayetano

SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano has called on members of the 18th Congress to continue providing a safe and comfortable life for all Filipinos amid the the coronavirus (COVID-19) scare.

He made the call during his speech in the House of Representatives at the closing of session of Congress and at the same time thanked the members for their cooperation in passing important measures that will help improve the lives of the Filipinos.

“Now that we are facing many challenges, it is now the House of the People which should give us hope, which should inspire us, which should show people that we have faith and not fear. So I hope that, during the next few weeks, we will actually be giving hope and faith to our Kababayans,” Cayetano said.

Specifically, he thanked Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the Committee on Rules which Romualdez chairs, and the deputy speakers.

Cayetano asked the lawmakers to continue working even during session breaks to help contain the virus.

“The problem is quite complex, that’s why I urge my colleagues: together as an institution, let’s continue working. Let’s have committee hearing, let’s have roundtables, let’s take the precautions, let’s include the Executive Department, let’s come up with executive-legislative solutions, and let’s ask the private sector and business—how can we help—and let’s meet our constituents, and let’s ask the government to release the funds that are needed ngayon na ang problema, kaya pa,” he stressed.

The speaker commended his colleagues for their overwhelming support in their shared vision of realizing the President’s legislative agenda and thanked the opposition, the administration party members, the majority and minority blocs, the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao blocs, as well as those who provided the quorum and those who questioned the quorum.

“Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we achieved in the past few months,” he said.

“We’d also like to thank the minority, sapagkat hindi naman ito magagawa ‘pag wala kayo. And to be fair, minsan mahaba lang, pero you make legislation better. The interpellations, the suggestions, forced us to think and forced us to come up with better legislation,” Cayetano added.

Citing the statistics from the Committee on Rules, he said that a “record-breaking output” was achieved by the House of Representatives during the first six months of the 18th Congress.

The number of measures approved on Third Reading increased by more than 400 percent compared with the output of the 17th Congress for the same period, while the total measures approved on Second Reading as well as the number of committee reports filed have also increased by 300 percent, he noted.

Meanwhile, the number of measures processed and total measures approved during the period increased by 180 percent and 178 percent respectively. In terms of approved bills in the committees and in the plenary, the records show that there were 175 measures approved as of December 2019 compared with only 63 in the first six months of the regular session of the previous Congress.

Among those measures passed are priority bills mentioned by the President during his State of the Nation Address in 2019, including the establishment of the National Academy of Sports System, which was approved by the bicameral conference committee this week, and the creation of the Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment, which was recently approved on second reading.

The proposed amendments to the Public Service Act, which will allow foreign nationals to own and operate public utilities in the Philippines and attract more foreign investors, was also passed on third reading Tuesday, March 10, while the proposed GMRC and Values Education Act, principally authored by Cayetano, was ratified by both the Senate and the House of Representatives last week.

In a period of six months, there were at least seven laws signed into law. These include: the P4.1 trillion General Appropriations Act of 2020; Salary Standardization Law of 2019  (SSL V); Malasakit Center Act; Postponement of the Conduct of the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections; the law increasing the excise tax rate on alcohol and beverages and electronic cigarettes; the law extending the availability of the 2019 Appropriations to December 2020; and the law designating the third Sunday of November every year as the National Day for Road Crash Victims and Their Families.