The House leadership intends to make the most out of the “homestretch” of their work this year by tackling bills geared toward addressing Filipinos’ needs as dictated by the persisting COVID-19 pandemic, including a proposed extension of the “Bayanihan 2” Act.
“We need to hit the ground running and make full use of this year’s remaining sessions to tackle and pass the priority measures, especially those that have been certified urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte,” Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said in a statement Sunday.
The 301-member House of Representatives is set to resume sessions Monday, November 16.
The lawmakers only have four weeks of sessions left before Congress adjourns on December 19 for a month-long Christmas break. There are only three session days per week.
“We are working with our House leaders in finding ways to fast-track priority measures that will ensure a more efficient and responsive government during these trying times. We are confident that our colleagues in the legislature share a common goal as we all report for work on Monday,” Velasco added.
Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said in a separated statement that House members would go back to work Monday “with a full plate of priority bills scheduled for plenary and committee deliberation.”
“Speaker Lord Allan Velasco wants to place in the front burner all economic and anti-poverty measures so we can approve the President’s priority measures before the onset of the election season next year,” noted Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House Committee on Rules.
“We are also considering filing and expediting the approval of a bill that would extend the validity of the Bayanihan 2 (Act) to enable the national government to complete the release of our P140-billion response to the coronavirus pandemic even after the end of year 2020,” he said.
Also known as the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act,” the Bayanihan 2 is a stimulus package program specifically aimed at propping up the sectors that were adversely affected by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
Included in the list of priority economic measures for plenary interpellations, according to Romualdez, are House Bill (HB) No.7904, or the Amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act; HB 7749, or the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) Act; HB 7425, or the Digital Transactions Value Added Tax Act; HB 7406 ,or the Bureau of Fire Protection Modernization Act; HB 6135, or the Fiscal Mining Regime; and HB 7425, or Internet Transactions Act/E-Commerce Act.
Velasco vowed to ensure the immediate passage of economic bills that will “jumpstart the economy and help the country rise above the devastating effects of the pandemic.”
“All these economic measures would go hand in hand with bills that will address systemic corruption in government. Both are equally important in helping the country get back on track, especially in the last two years of the Duterte administration,” the Speaker said.