HOR COMPLEX, Quezon City (DWDD) – The House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez exemplified hard work and productivity during the initial months of the 17th Congress, as the chamber adjourned last December 14 with a total of 63 measures approved in only 56 session days.
The number of measures processed by the House totalled 321, broken down as follows: 63 measures passed; 201 referred resolutions on inquiries; 53 measures substituted/consolidated; and four measures in the Calendar of Business. This means that for 56 session days, an average six measures were processed per session day.
The committee on rules reckoned that since the 17th Congress convened in July this year, the House Bills and Index Division received a total of 6,029 measures, comprising of 5,360 bills and 669 resolutions. Moreover, the House produced 46 committee reports. The breakdown of the 63 measures approved: 18 bills passed on third and final reading; 11 bills approved on second reading; one bill enacted into law (Republic Act No.10923); one ratified bicameral conference committee report (House Bill 3408 or the 2017 General Appropriations Bill); and 32 adopted resolutions. The House effectively shunned a budget re-enactment, which was a problem and practice in the past, by passing HB 3408 or the 2017 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) as early as Oct. 19, 2016, and subsequently ratifying the bicameral conference report last Dec. 13.
The GAB provides for a P3.35 trillion national budget for next year. According to President Duterte, the 2017 national budget, the first budget of his administration, embodies the people’s clamor for real change and a compassionate government. Meanwhile, House Bill 3504 jointly authored by Speaker Alvarez, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas and Minority Floor Leader Danilo Suarez was signed into law as RA 10923 on October 15, 2016. The law postponed this year’s Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to the fourth Monday of October 2017. Of the 18 bills approved on third reading, nine are of local significance while nine others are of national significance.
The national bills are: House Bill 335, “An Act Authorizing The Court To Require Community Service in Lieu of Imprisonment for the Penalty of Arresto Menor, Amending for the Purpose Chapter 5, Title 3, Book I of Act No. 3815, as Amended, Otherwise Known As the Revised Penal Code”; HB 1344, “An Act Prescribing Stricter Penalties on the Crime of Delivering Prisoners From Jail and Infidelity in the Custody Of Prisoners, Amending for the Purpose Articles 156, 223 and 224 of Act No. 3815, As Amended, Otherwise Known as the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines”; HB 4100, “An Act Mandating Higher Education Institutions and Techno-Vocational Institutions to Insure the Safety and Security of the Academic Community From Internal and External Threats, thereby Creating a Crime Prevention Committee for This Purpose”; HB 3955, “An Act Mandating the Government to Pay the Capital Gains Tax and the Documentary Stamp Tax Due in Addition to the Just Compensation For the Sale of Real Property in the Exercise of the State’s Power of Eminent Domain, Amending for the Purpose Sections 24(D) and 196 Of Republic Act No. 8424, as Amended, Otherwise Known as the National Internal Revenue Code Of 1997”; HB 477, “An Act Declaring January 23 of Every Year A Special Working Holiday in the Entire Country to Commemorate the Declaration of the First Philippine Republic”; HB 416, “An Act Allowing Home Economics Graduates to Teach Home Economics Subjects and Home-Economics-Related Technical Vocational Subjects in All Public and Private Elementary and Secondary Educational Institutions”; HB 336, “An Act Excluding From the Application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law Those Convicted of Criminal Offenses Against a Minor, Amending For the Purpose Act No. 4103 Otherwise Known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law”; HB 64, “An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety And Health Standards And Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof”; and HB 4144, seeking to amend Section 145 (c) of the National Internal Revenue Code by imposing a two-tier excise tax structure on cigarettes. The 11 measures approved by the House on second reading include the long-awaited Joint Resolution No. 10 which increases the monthly pension of the Social Security System (SSS) pensioners, with the first tranche of P1,000 to be given starting January 2017 and the other P1,000 to be given in January 2019.
Meanwhile, notable among the 32 resolutions adopted by the House is House Resolution No. 105 containing Committee Report No. 14 about the investigation conducted by the justice committee, in aid of legislation, on the proliferation of drug syndicates at the National Bilibid Prison. The justice committee chaired by Rep. Reynaldo V. Umali (2nd District, Oriental Mindoro) also managed to pass the substitute bill on HBs 1, 16, 513, 3237, 3239, 3240, and 3418, all seeking to restore the death penalty. Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas noted that “for the first time in history, the roll call was conducted and the quorum was established every morning”, referring to the marathon hearing of the first budget bill under Duterte administration.
In his acceptance speech during the opening of the 17th Congress last July, the Speaker enjoined House members to “be instruments of change.” “Our mission, in this 17th Congress, is clear: to enact laws that will deliver to our nation and our peoples a future better than yesterday’s and brighter than today’s,” said the Speaker. During a lunch-fellowship cum Christmas party, the Speaker expressed optimism for the days ahead. “Maraming salamat duon sa maiksing panahon na nagsama-sama tayo, from June until December. I hope next year medyo mas maganda yung takbo ng House of Representatives. Kasi ngayon parang bago lang tayong pumasok at halos medyo nakapwesto na yung dapat gagawin, especially sa budget. For next year, tayo yung gagawa nung budget. I hope mas maa-address natin yun problema ng ating bansa”, said Alvarez.
Last September, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) reported that based on its Third Quarter Social Weather Survey, the initial net satisfaction rating of the House of Representatives under the Duterte administration was a “good” +38, with 53 percent satisfied and 14 percent dissatisfied. The SWS said that in comparison with initial ratings in the past administrations, the House under the stewardship of Speaker Alvarez scored the highest initial net satisfaction rating. During former President Cory Aquino’s time (August 4 to September 16, 1988), the initial net satisfaction rating of the House was a moderate +22; former President Ramos’ time (August 10 to September 8, 1992), moderate +25; former President Estrada’s time (September 11 to 29, 1998), moderate +19; former President Arroyo’s time (August 24 toSeptember8, 2002), moderate +12; and former President Aquino’s time (September 24 to 27, 2010), good +30. SENATE / MCAG