Bills vs endo, discrimination, and tax reform top Congress priorities

Mara Cepeda
Bills vs endo, discrimination, and tax reform top Congress priorities
Leaders of the 17th Congress also prioritize measures on national land use, government procurement, and creation of the disaster response and management department, which the President mentioned in his SONA

MANILA, Philippines – Leaders of both houses of the 17th Congress agreed to prioritize the passage of 38 bills within the next months, with measures on ending labor contractualization, anti-discrimination, and tax reform topping the agenda. 

The following leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate met at the EDSA Shangri-La on Wednesday, July 26, to discuss their common legislative agenda:

  • Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III
  • Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez
  • Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto
  • Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III
  • House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas
  • Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon
  • House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez 
  • Quirino Representative Dakila Cua, ways and means committee chairperson
  • CIBAC Representative Sherwin Tugna, suffrage and electoral reforms committee chairperson
Bill House target date Senate target date
Free Irrigation Services Act Approved Approved
Agrarian and Agricultural Credit Condonation Act Approved October
Enhanced Universal Healthcare Act October October
Philippine Mental Health Act October Aproved
Prohibit conversion of irrigated lands October October
National Land Use Act Approved October
Occupational Safety and Health Standards Act Approved Not specified
Community Service in lieu of Imprisonment for the Penalty of Arresto Menor October Not specified
Tax Refrom Act Approved October
Revision of Constitution Not specified, but a priority Not specified, but a priority
Bangsamoro Basic Law  Not specified, but a priority Not specified, but a priority
Public Service Act amendments December December
Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act October October
National ID System October October
Legislative Franchise for Operating Railways; Mindanao Railway Corporation/Authority; Central Luzon Railyways Corporation; Extending the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways to another 25 years March 2018 March 2018
End of Endo/Contractualization; Minimum Wage Law October  October
Free School Feeding/Pagkaing Pinoy para sa Batang Pinoy Act Approved October
Excise Tax Reform Act Approved October
Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act October October
Ease of Doing Business Act/Fast Business Permit Act October October
One Town: One Doctor Act October October
Corporation Code of the Philippines October October
Social Security Act amendments Approved October
Expand Coverage of Local Absentee Voting Act Approved October
Family Code of the Philippines amendment (default property regime; complete separation of property) October December
Department of Housing and Urban Development Act October December
Anti-Discrimination Act October October, but for women, ethnic and religious groups only
Government Procurement Reform Act amendments October October
Allowable/Recoverable System Loss Act (electricity) October, but may include water October
Salary Standardization Law IV December October
Unified Uniformed Personnel Benefits and Pension Reform Act December December
Criminal Investigation Act October December
Amendment of Fair Election Act October October
Anti-Hazing Law amendments October December
Anti-Terrorism Law (National Security Act) October October
Rice Tarrification October October
Department of Disaster Response (Public Safety) October December
Minimum Wage Law Not specified Not specified

As early as October 2017, both houses target to pass on 3rd and final reading bills aiming to end labor contractualization or “endo,” anti-discrimination, and the tax reform.

Of the 3, only the Tax Reform Act was mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in his 2nd State of the Nation Address. (READ: Duterte wants Senate to pass tax reform in full, zeroes in on Angara)

Other bills Duterte mentioned in his SONA are included in the list, including the National Land Use Act, review of procurement laws, and creation of a disaster response and management department. The first two are targeted to be approved by October, while the new department bill is being eyed by December.

Fariñas, however, said the House and the Senate are still deadlocked on the coverage of the anti-discrimination bill. Lawmakers committed to include discrimination against women, ethnic and religious groups, as well as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. 

But some senators are not too keen on including the protection of LGBTs in the bill. (READ: After 17 years, LGBT anti-discrimination bill up for Senate debate

Mukhang medyo may resistance daw doon, mas mahirap… ‘Di ko na alam [sino]. ‘Di na ko nagtanong (It seems there is a resistance there and it would be more difficult… I don’t know who is resisting. I didn’t ask),” said Fariñas, saying senators will have to find a consensus on the matter.

Senator Manny Pacquiao had been previously criticized for his anti-LGBT remarks, saying gay men are “worse than animals.” – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.