House adjourns third and final session of 18th Congress
MANILA, Philippines — With a new set of leaders governing the country by the end of the month, the House of Representatives on Wednesday adjourned sine die its final session of the 18th Congress.
Inside the Batasan Pambansa plenary hall in Quezon City, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco delivered his valedictory speech, saying the 18th Congress “was a key and steady partner” of the executive department in passing laws that will help the country.
Velasco thanked his colleagues as well as Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, as well as the deputy speakers in the lower chamber.
“Despite the many challenges that happened during my tenure as your Speaker, we have risen and proven ourselves to be One Congress, ready to serve our people,” Velasco said.
“One Congress, ready to scrutinize the national budget, to pass laws, to conduct hearings, to provide oversight on the implementation of laws, and to generally make it easier for the next Congress and its leadership, to continue the legislative work for the sake of our ‘kababayans’,” he added.
According to Velasco, the measures passed by the 18th Congress “promoted economic development, strengthened the administration of justice and the rule of law, and enhanced the protection of labor and social welfare.”
The measures likewise “improved the quality of and increased access to education and information, enhanced our health and emergency response system, and strengthened our political and governmental institutions,” Velasco added.
Velasco said the coronavirus pandemic pushed the House leadership to be more dynamic and innovative, noting that hybrid hearings were implemented to ensure that passage of measures will not be delayed.
Among the bills passed on time, Velasco said, were the 2021 and 2022 national budgets.
“Despite the lingering threat of COVID19, we approved much-needed emergency pandemic response measures, and despite some political challenges, managed to pass the 2021 and 2022 national budgets on time,” he said.
Further, Velasco noted that several economic laws were also passed in the House such as the the amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Foreign Investments Act, and the Public Service Act.
“The passage of this trifecta of economic liberalization laws marks an important landmark in our bid to ease restrictions and will help bring in projected investment leads of $100 billion over a two-year period, and create more jobs for Filipinos that would help drive the economic recovery of our country,” the Marinduque congressman said.
The Speaker also mentioned that several measures targeted to cushion the impact of the pandemic such as the Bayanihan laws, the vaccine procurement law, and the Streamlining Government Services in Times of National Emergency Act were also approved by the 18th Congress.
Other measures passed include providing of mandatory continuing benefits to our healthcare frontliners, strengthening of the Sangguniang Kabataan, providing mixed terms for officers of the armed forces, developing the electric vehicle industry, promoting the rights of foundlings or abandoned children, and providing stronger protection for children against sexual abuse, among others.
Velasco told his colleagues that they are leaving the 18th Congress “in order.”
“We have improved upon the past and will transition smoothly to the next Congress. We are One Congress” he said.
“We shall leave the House of the People with hope for the future under the new President, with the satisfaction that we have given our best to serve our people, and trust that the House shall continue what we have started— with unreserved ‘tapang’ and ‘malasakit’,” he added.
Meanwhile, Romualdez, a cousin of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who is poised to become the Speaker in the incoming 19th Congress, said that closely working with his colleagues is the “most rewarding experience as a legislator.”
“Having been a witness to your intellect and tenacity, I am proud to ha e walked these halls with all of you as we have faithfully discharged our duties to our nation and our people,” Romualdez said.
“As your majority leader, I am in awe of the fortitude and competence displayed by our collective nation action towards achieving a fruitful and responsive legislature. I must say that we finished our final year in the 18th Congress with integrity and honor, for the work we have done was a courageous lap amidst a time of uncertainty and abnormality,” he added.
During the session, House Resolution No. 2604, which seeks to commend Velasco “for his exemplary and dynamic leadership during the 2nd and 3rd Regular Session of the 18th Congress,” was adopted.
Also adopted was House Resolution No. 2603 which expresses the House’s appreciation “for the dedication, commitment, and sterling achievement” of the lower chamber’s leadership and staff.