Romualdez cites house work ethic

Martin Romualdez
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez

HOUSE Majority Leader Martin Romualdez on Sunday cited the "exemplary work ethic" of Members of the 18th Congress under Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s leadership as the major reason behind their ability to surpass the performance of their predecessors in terms of productivity and number of legislative measures approved before the sine die adjournment.

For the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress, Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House Committee on Rules, said the House of Representatives processed a total of 1,630 legislative measures in 60 session days, or a 34 percent improvement from the First Regular Session of the previous 17th Congress.

Aside from their work ethic, Romualdez also credited their institution's productive output to House Members' "readiness to adapt to technological advances in legislative work" during the country's lockdown period.

"I have just received a report from the House Secretariat that a total of nine bills approved by the House of Representatives in the first Regular Session of the 18th Congress had been enacted into law compared to five measures approved by our predecessors, or a 60 percent jump in legislative performance," Romualdez said.

The number of measures enacted into law during the past 11 months, he said, does not include several bills that had been approved by the House of Representatives and already transmitted to Malacanang for the President's signature.

"If the President sign these measures into law, our legislative output for the First Regular Session may even surpass 100 percent," the House leader pointed out.

"For this, I thank my fellow House Members for their exemplary work ethic and readiness to adapt to technological advances that allowed us to work non-stop even during the period of lockdown," Romualdez said.

The House Secretariat report noted that for the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress, the House of Representatives processed a total of 1,630 legislative measures in 60 session days, or a 34 percent improvement from the previous Congress.

Even during Community Quarantine, the House was able to approve the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act last March and six other bills aimed at ensuring the Duterte administration’s strong response against the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include  House Bill (HB) No. 6815 or the P1.3 trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines (ARISE Philippines Act), HB No. 6817 or the proposed COVID-19-Related Anti-Discrimination Act, HB No. 6865 or the “Crushing COVID-19 Act which mandates the conduct of baseline Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing as the protocol for COVID-19 testing for the vulnerable members of the society, HB No. 6895 or “An Act To Lengthen the School Calendar From Two Hundred Days to Not More Than Two HundredTwenty Class Days” to empower the President to set a different date for the start of the school year during a state of emergency or state of calamity, HB No. 6816 or the proposed "Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Act" that seeks to help financial institutions to resolve their debts and manage their non-performing assets (NPAs), and HB No. 6709 or the COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020.

The House of Representatives also approved on second reading HB No. 6864 or the proposed "Better Normal for the Workplace, Communities and Public Spaces Act of 2020" to prepare and educate Filipinos for life through new norms of social or physical distancing and safety measures in government and private offices, schools, commercial establishments and other public spaces.

Romualdez pointed out that anti-COVID measures are designed to kick-start the economy through infrastructure spending programs that would create jobs and boost public health with the continued threat of the COVID-19.

"I thank my fellow House Members for rising to the challenge of the times, working until 12 midnight and attending sessions that lasted until Thursday and Friday," Romualdez said.

The House of Representatives also adopted a motion of Romualdez authorizing all standing and special committees to conduct public hearings or inquiries even during the current break.

MEASURES PROCESSED

Congress adjourned its sessions sine die last June 5, signaling the end of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress, and will resume on July 27 or the beginning of the Second Regular Session, the same day that President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte will deliver his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

From July 1, 2019 to June 5, 2020, the House of Representatives received a total of 7,969 measures and 372 committee reports.

Of these, 6,972 are bills and 997 are resolutions.

The House of Representatives processed a total of 1,630 measures or an average of 27 measures per day during the 60 session days.

Since the formal opening of the 18th Congress last July 22, Congress passed nine bills of national application, which President Duterte signed into law.

These include Republic Act (RA) No. 11462 or Postponing the May 2020 Barangay and Sangguaniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) and resetting these twin polls to December 5, 2022; RA No. 11463 or Establishing Malasakit Centers in all Department of Health (DoH) Hospitals where indigent patients will have widen access to quality medical and primary health care services that would complement the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) program; RA No. 11464 or Extending the Availability of the 2019 Appropriations to December 31, 2020 to ensure the continuity of government’s priority infrastructure projects; RA No. 11465 or the P4.1-trillion national budget, which is aimed at continuing the journey to a more peaceful and progressive Philippines by funding the government’s critical programs. RA No. 11466 or the Salary Standardization Law 5 will benefit about 1.4 million state workers on their salary adjustments; RA No. 114667 or the Sin Tax law which imposes additional excise taxes on alcohol, heated tobacco products (HTPs) and vape products to help the effective implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act; RA No. 114668 or Designating the Third Sunday of November Every year as the National Day for Road Crash Victims, Survivors and their Families; RA No. 11469 or The Bayanihan To Heal As One Act; and RA No. 11470 National or the Academy of Sports (NAS) Act.

The House of Representatives also transmitted to President Duterte three national bills and six local measures for his signature to make these as new laws.

This includes HB  5829 or the Good Manners and Right Conduct Act.

The House also approved 250 bills on third and final reading and 32 measures on second reading and adopted 74 resolutions.