18th Congress leaders approve initial list of pet bills
MANILA, Philippines – Leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate identified the 4 initial priority bills they aim to pass in the first months of the 18th Congress.
On Sunday, September 22, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said both chambers want the "immediate approval" of the following common legislative priorities:
- 5th tranche of the Salary Standardization Law to benefit civilian state employees
- Creation of the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers
- Postponement of the May 2020 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to May 2023
- Free legal assistance to the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
These bills were among the pet measures cited by President Rodrigo Duterte during his 4th State of the Nation Address in July.
Romualdez said the initial list of priority measures was decided by the Legislative-Executive Coordinating Council (LECC), which is composed of House and Senate leaders who met on Monday, September 16.
Apart from Romualdez, among those who joined the LECC meeting were House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, House Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senator Bong Go, and Senator Joel Villanueva.
They were joined by Cabinet officials, including Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, and Acting Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado.
The LECC met in preparation for the upcoming Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting with the President himself.
Romualdez said, however, that the LECC’s initial list is not yet final, as Malacañang would still come up with the final list of priority bills.
“Let’s wait for the official communication from the Palace about the final list of priority legislative measures it would be submitting to Congress. [This is] just the initial list. In the meantime, we agreed to pursue these as our common priority measures,” said Romualdez.
The Leyte 1st District congressman also said House leaders will “exhaust all means possible” to ensure the executive and legislative branches remain in sync in terms of the priority bills.
They want to avoid another instance when a supposed priority bill of the President, like the one seeking to end labor contractualization, would later on be vetoed by Duterte. (READ: Senators hit Duterte veto of anti-endo bill: 'Get your act together’)
“This would smoothen the process and avoid the unfortunate experiences of having vetoed measures, especially those declared as priority measures by the executive,” said Romualdez.
“We are eyeing zero veto for all bills to be approved by the Senate and the House. Hopefully, we can avoid any possibility of a presidential veto by working closely with Cabinet members and Senate officials,” he added. – Rappler.com