Congress to resume with full focus on its targets – Belmonte

AS Congress resumes session on the 21st of January, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. today expressed optimism that the remaining weeks the 15th Congress has left before the campaign period for elections will still be quite fruitful in terms of output.

“We have worked under tremendous time limitations in the past and have still managed to make significant gains and meet our targets,” Belmonte said. “We should make this our cue to remain focused on our goals and continue to remain in sync – with one another as legislators and with our people and their priorities”.

The Speaker credited each member of the House of Representatives for giving his or her work and dedication towards the crafting of vital national policies and statutes that put in place a sound foundation for the reforms set by President Benigno Aquino III during the past three years.

“The achievements of Congress, the House in particular, clearly reflect the vitality of our democratic institutions where the more superior ideas that represent the interest of the majority and our national interest are allowed to prevail. I would like the 15th Congress remembered as a responsive and proactive legislature,” Belmonte said.

The Speaker noted that on many occasions decisions made were not at all easy, and at times were “agonizing”. But he said they were necessary and aimed at the providing future generations with the changes and reforms that they deserve.

“We have to look beyond our lifetimes,” he stressed, “this is a world that is changing and we need to adapt and evolve by crafting laws that are in touch with the times and these rapid developments.”

Belmonte then cited the substantive achievements of the House of Representatives – the enactment of vital legislations that saw no light during the past Congresses.

“Political will and unity of purpose made the difference,” the House leader surmised as he expressed his gratitude to the members of the majority coalition, and his appreciation to the members of the minority headed by Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez for their critical collaboration during the many-times very excruciating legislative crucible.

Records show that since July 26, 2010 until December, 2012, of the 4,038 measure processed, the House approved a total of 2,579 measures and some 207 became law.  About 13 ratified Bicameral Conference Committee reports await enrollment prior to Presidential action.

Six measures are in bicameral deliberation, while 736 national and local bills were approved on 3rd reading and 17 national and local measures passed 2nd reading.  Some 1,584 Resolutions and Reports were adopted by the Chamber’s plenary.

In simple figures, with a total of 4,038 measures processed during the 165 session days, plenary processed an average of 24 measures per session day.

“Again, we will devote our remaining session days to act swiftly on the highest priorities. Substantive legislation also means that we should be able to discern the difference between what the people want and what should be more beneficial to them in the long term,” the House leader pointed out.

Aside from the very prompt enactment of the annual General Appropriations Acts from 2011 to 2013 which relegated to history the days of re-enacted budgets, the most recent statutes that hugged the national consciousness were Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act (RH Bill), and R.A. 10351 or the Restructuring of the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco Products (Sin Taxes) now in effect.

Belmonte noted that the RH bill had been pending since the 11th Congress, while the Sin tax measure failed to hurdle plenary during the 14th Congress.

Likewise, the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act (R.A. 10353) which took roots during the 10th Congress finally saw the light of day in the 15th Congress.  Another remnant of the 10th Congress is the establishment of the People’s Fund, amending R.A. 9729 or the “Climate Change Act of 2009.”

The 15th Congress also saw the enactment of R.A. 10157 which institutionalized the Kindergarten Education into the Basic Education System (pending since the 9th Congress); R.A 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (13th Congress); R.A. 10167 – Further Strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Law (pending since the 14th Congress); R.A. 10168 – Defining the Crime of Financing of Terrorism (14th Congress); R.A. 10151 – Rationalizing the Nightwork Prohibition for Women Workers (12th Congress).

“There is still much to be done, and much that can be done this 2013, and I would like to believe this Congress remains ready to hurdle whatever lies ahead,” the Speaker concluded.

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