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Alvarez vows Congress to be ‘on the side of the people’

/ 05:08 PM July 26, 2016
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez INQUIRER PHOTO/LYN RILLON

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (LYN RILLON/INQUIRER)

Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez on Tuesday pledged that the House of Representatives in the 17th Congress would always be on the side of the people.

In an interview over dzBB radio, Alvarez, who was elected Speaker in a landslide vote of 251 lawmakers, said the current Congress would tackle propeople pieces of legislation, such as the enactment of the freedom of information (FOI) and increase of pension funds for senior citizens.

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READ: Alvarez elected next Speaker in 17th Congress

Both pieces of legislation were not passed in the previous Congress, with the FOI bill approved up to the committee level only and the proposal to increase the Social Security System pension for senior citizens approved but vetoed by then President Benigno Aquino III.

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“Itong Kongreso na ito, let me assure you we will be on the side of the people,” Alvarez said in the interview.

READ: Aquino vetoes increase in SSS pension

Alvarez said one of the priorities under the current Congress was the passage of the FOI law, which seeks to institutionalize transparency in all transactions of all branches of government.

Though President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order on FOI, it covers only the executive branch of government, thus there is a need for Congress to pass an FOI bill to implement the policy in all branches of government, according to Alvarez.

READ: House panel OKs FOI bill

“One of priorities nung aking acceptance speech kung kailangan na magapasa tayo ng FOI bill. Ipasa na natin ‘yan at dahil naunahan na po tayo ng ating (Pangulo),” Alvarez said.

“Kailangan ng ating Kongreso na magpasa ng FOI bill kung saan ito ay applicable sa all three branches of the government,” he added.

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READ: Duterte signs FOI order

There is also a need to pass an antipolitical dynasty law that will define what a political dynasty is, according to Alvarez, although this is not a priority under the Duterte administration.

He said there was a need to define what would constitute a political clan which would be prohibited by the proposed law to level the playing field during elections.

READ: FOI, antidynasty bills good as dead in 16th Congress

“Idi-define na lang natin yung antidynasty. Kung ano man yung antidynasty pati naman siguro ‘yung mga pamilya ngayon na nasa pulitika na who are involved into the dynasty thing, nakita naman nila na sumisikip na ang mundo para sa kanila,” Alvarez said.

“Dumadami rin yung kamag-anak ngayon sila-sila na rin lang yung naglalabanan kaya hindi na rin healthy sa pamilya, kaya siguro kailangan na rin natin ipasa ‘yan,” he added.

READ: Alvarez urges Congress to get to work, bares legislative agenda

The antipolitical dynasty bill in the 16th Congress reached the plenary floor but was eventually set aside to give way to deliberations over the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, a priority bill during the administration of Duterte’s predecessor Aquino.

During his speech after being elected Speaker on Monday, Alvarez laid down the legislative agenda of his leadership: the restoration of the death penalty, lowering the criminal age of liability from 15 years old to nine, lowering corporate and income taxes, the amendment of the 1987 Constitution to change the system of government from unitary to federal, and the freedom of information, among others./rga

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TAGS: 17th Congress, Congress, House of Representatives, Pantaleon Alvarez
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