House passed fewer measures in 1st year
The House of Representatives of the 17th Congress has processed fewer measures daily compared to the first year of the 15th Congress under the Aquino administration.
But Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia said this should not be used to measure the House’s productivity because the numbers should not be “compared on an apple-to-apple basis.”
“You also have to look at the measures that will be passed,” Garcia said in a press briefing on Monday, where House leaders reported the 17th Congress’ accomplishments.
“Perhaps, what should be looked at is what kind of measures we passed, whether this be in bills or resolutions, would the resolutions or bills passed have affected a greater number of Filipinos,” she said.
Data from the House showed that on its first year, the 17th Congress processed an average of 13 measures a day. This was lower than the average of 23 for the first regular session of the 15th Congress.
A total of 194 bills were passed on third and final reading for the first year of the 17th Congress, compared to 256 during the comparable period for the 15th Congress.
Garcia enumerated key bills as follows: free college education; extension of the validity of passports to 10 years; extension of the validity of driver’s licenses to five years; a stricter measure prohibiting the payment of deposits before medical treatment; free irrigation; increase in Social Security System pensions; a national school feeding program; and free public Wi-Fi connection.
Four laws were enacted during the first year of the 17th Congress: the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to October 2017 (Republic Act (RA) No. 10923); the 2017 General Appropriations Act (RA No. 10924); and the renewal of the franchises of GMA Network Inc. and Smart Communications Inc., for another 25 years (RAs No. 10925 and No. 10926).
Ways and means committee chair Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua said the 17th Congress’ legislative output “should not only be gauged on the basis of the number of laws approved.”
Cua said the measures pending before the Senate and those pending the President’s signature should also be taken into account.
He also cited “intervening events,” such as Congress’ discussion of the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao, which he said affected both chambers’ timelines.
For the second regular session of the 17th Congress, Garcia cited several priority measures. Of primary importance would be the 2018 General Appropriations Act and the supplemental budget for the rehabilitation of Marawi City.
Garcia also confirmed that charter change would also be among the priorities.
“Federalism, which has been a battle cry of our President even during the campaign days, will be of utmost importance as we focus and we hope that we can move forward in our efforts at achieving Charter change,” she said.
Lastly, she cited the measure to grant civil and human rights to civil unions for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
“This is to promote civil and human rights of same-sex and heterosexual couples who want to live together but are not ready to marry,” Garcia said.
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