House to prioritize 2018 budget, Marawi rehab fund in 2nd session
Once the second regular session of the 17th Congress starts, the House of Representatives will prioritize the proposed 2018 national budget, a supplemental budget for the rehabilitation of Marawi City, charter change, civil union, and tax reform.
Priority legislation was among the topics discussed in a press conference held on Monday by Deputy Speakers Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu and Fredenil Castro of Capiz and Qurino Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua.
Garcia said the House would prioritize the passage of the 2018 proposed national budget, which was drafted by the Duterte administration’s Cabinet officials and intended to finance the administration’s ambitious infrastructure program.
“When we resume session of course a primary importance will be the national budget of 2018,” Garcia said. “This is very crucial as the Duterte administration embarks on the most massive infrastructure program.”
“As you know the motto has been ‘build, build, build’ and such a massive infrastructure undertaking will need the support of a budget that will support all of these infrastructure that will be built throughout the entire country,” she added.
Aside from the Duterte administration’s massive infrastructure project, Garcia also emphasized the need for a budget dedicated to the rehabilitation of Marawi City, which was ravaged by the ongoing fighting between government troops and the terror group Maute.
Garcia said the war-torn would need to help in “restoring normalcy in the lives of displaced residents, reviving local commerce, rebuilding homes.”
The 17th Congress will also be continuously pushing for charter change, especially after the House constitutional amendments committee passed a concurrent resolution calling on Congress to convene in an assembly to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
“The bill that seeks to amend or revise the constitution through constituent assembly,” she said. “We hope that the Senate will be acting on a similar measure so that we may finally tackle a growing sentiment amongst so many Filipinos for the need of Charter Change in order to adopt the changing realities and needs of our times.”
Garcia said charter change could make possible the shift to a federal government, one of the goals that President Rodrigo Duterte said he would pursue during the election campaign.
Meanwhile, Garcia said the legislators believed that passing a civil union bill would be of “great interest” to many people.
“This is (a) changing reality and has become a growing necessity. This is to promote civil and human rights for same sex couples,” she said.
She said the civil union bill would cater not only to same-sex couples but also to heterosexual couples who would want to live together but were “not ready to marry.”
Garcia and Cua both affirmed that the tax reform bill that was passed on third reading during the first regular session would impact positively on Filipinos who earn P250,000 or less in a year.
Cua emphasized the need to change the country’s tax system and make it more progressive.
“Despite that high growth in our economy, napansin po natin especially po itong mga mambabatas na nasa tabi ko na pag pumunta kayo sa kasuluk-sulukan ng ating bansa, hindi nararamdaman iyong growth ng ekonomiyang iyan ng ating nakakaraming mga kababayan,” Cua said.
“So the inclusivity of this growth is not very good,” he added. “Hindi nagtri-trickle down po ang ekonomiya at karamihan sa ating mga kababayan ay nananatiling mahirap pa rin ang buhay.”
Under the tax reform bill, the burden of the middle class will be lessened by lowering their personal income tax while raising the taxes on the upper class.
“Sa tax reform package makakapag-generate po ang ating gobyerno ng kaperahan na magpapatakbo ng ating gobyerno na siyang perang ito gagamitin sa infrastructure, and more importantly lalagyan ng malakas na social infrastructure o iyong sinasabi na pagpapalawak ng social benefits para sa ating mga mahihirap na kababayan,” Cua said.
Cua, who also chairs the ways and means committee, pointed out that the tax reform was aimed at giving the lower classes more advantages.
“Ang tax reform po talaga ay naka-design na para mabigyan ng mas maraming advantage, mas maraming serbisyo para sa mga mahihirap at mas malaking pag-asa na mai-angat ang kanilang sariling buhay,” he added. –Airei Kim Guanga, INQUIRER.net intern /atm
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