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House to approve 2 priority measures on first day of sessions –Romualdez

The House of Representatives would buckle down to work immediately after their month-long recess as congressmen were expected to approve two priority legislative measures on third and final reading on Monday.

According to House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, among the measures scheduled for final reading on Monday were the Joint Resolution extending the validity of the 2019 appropriations for maintenance and capital outlays to December 31, 2020, and the bill postponing the May 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

The chamber would also discuss and fast-track the approval the joint resolution authorizing the use of the rice subsidy fund under the 2019 national budget for the purchase of palay from local farmers.

“We aim to hit the ground running on the first day of work. Time to roll up our sleeves once again and work double time on vital legislative measures,” said Romualdez.

The majority leader had earlier emphasized that the extension of the validity of some portions of the 2019 budget was vital in ensuring that the funding requirements of some national projects under this year's appropriations would continue until 2020.

Meanwhile, the proposed postponement of the 2020 barangay and SK elections to December 5, 2022 would allow incumbent village officials "to finish their programs and projects for the interest and welfare of their barangays."

Before the House of Representatives took its break on October 2, Romualdez said it had approved 18 measures on third reading, including the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, several key tax measures, and the bill amending the Foreign Investment Act of 1991.

"The tax legislation that we passed under the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) will help the government achieve the A credit rating goal of the Duterte administration," he said.

"We are a notch away from ‘A’ territory after a vote of confidence by Standard & Poor’s (S&P), upgrading the country’s credit rating from ‘BBB’ to ‘BBB+’ with a stable outlook because of robust economic growth,” he added.

Among the other economic bills that the House would work on include those dealing with the Real Property Valuation and Assessment system, amendments to the Public Service Act amendment, a measure raising the Motor Vehicle Road User’s Tax, and the proposals to create new government departments.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano had said that the House would seek to approve the measures creating the Department of Water Resources, the Department of Filipino Overseas, and the Department of Disaster Resilience before the year ends.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda, in a dzBB interview earlier in the day, said the House could even approve the DDR bill within the month.

At the same time, Romualdez said the House aimed to approve the proposed measure providing free legal assistance to Armed Forces of the Philippines servicemen who were charged in relation to the performance of their duties before the year came to a close.

“These military officers offer their lives to serve and protect the public. It is but just to spare them from legal fees arising from harassment and nuisance cases,” he said.

The House of Representatives will hold sessions starting Monday until December 20 before it goes on another month-long break, this time for the Christmas holidays. — DVM, GMA News