6 bills passed on final reading as House adjourns session

Mara Cepeda

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6 bills passed on final reading as House adjourns session
Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas commends his colleagues for a 'truly productive' session. The House of Representatives resumes session on November 7.

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives spent its last session day before taking a two-week break by passing on 3rd and final reading a total of 6 bills.

Lawmakers on Wednesday, October 19, first approved House Bill (HB) Number 3408 or the General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017. The proposed P3.35-trillion budget got the nod of the Lower House with a vote of 243-5-1. 

The other 5 bills that were approved by legislators are as follows:

  • HB Number 335 or “An act authorizing the court to require community service in lieu of imprisonment for the penalty of arresto menor, amending for the purpose Chapter 5, Title 3, Book I of Act No 3815, as amended, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code”
  • HB Number 336 or “An act excluding from the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law those convicted of criminal offenses against a minor, amending for the purpose of Act No 4103, as amended, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law”
  • HB Number 477 or “The First Philippine Republic Day,” declaring every January 23 a special working holiday
  • HB Number 1344 or “An act prescribing stricter penalties on the crime of delivering prisoners from jail and infidelity in the custody of prisoners, amending for the purpose Articles 156, 223 and 224 of Act No 3815, as amended, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines”
  • HB Number 3955 or “An act mandating the government to pay the capital gains tax and the documentary stamp tax due in addition to the just compensation for the sale of real property in the exercise of the state’s power of eminent domain, amending for the purpose Sections 24 (D) and 196 of Republic Act No 8424, as amended, otherwise known as the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997

On September 13, the House of Representatives also passed on 3rd and final reading HB Number 3504, which is seeking the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls. The measure has already been signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte. 

During Wednesday’s session, the House also approved the justice committee’s report on its probe that dug into the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison. 

The committee report said there is “sufficient evidence” against former justice secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima. The House panel also recommended the reimposition of the death penalty for drug-related cases

In a brief speech during the session, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas thanked his colleagues for a “truly productive session.”  

“Another accomplishment is that the chamber has acted on measures filed before it. As of this day, there are more than 4,000 bills and 500 resolutions filed and referred to various committees. We have 6 bills already approved on 3rd and final reading, two bills approved on second reading, and 21 resolutions duly adopted,” said Fariñas. 

He noted that an average of 257 members of 88% of the congressmen were present during the past 39 sessions. Fariñas also commended the lawmakers for finishing the plenary deliberations on the proposed 2017 budget in just 8 days.

“More so, Mr Speaker and honorable colleagues, for the first time in history, in all of the 8 days, the roll was called every morning during session and we have quorum every time the roll was called. The calling of members in the morning is unprecedented,” said the Ilocos Norte 1st District representative. 

The House will resume session on November 7.

Pending priority measures 

Meanwhile, the House is still working on the other pending bills of the Duterte administration. (LIST: Priority bills of the Duterte administration

The House committee on constitutional amendments already voted in favor of the 17th Congress convening as a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) to pave the way for federalism. (READ: Will federalism address PH woes? The pros and cons of federalism)

Despite the criticism that people distrust Congress, Duterte’s preferred mode of amending the 1987 Constitution is through a Con-Ass. (READ: Duterte: I’ll close Congress if Con-Ass ruins Charter)

The measure seeking the restoration of capital punishment in the Philippines is already pending before the committee on justice.

The House committee on ways and means is closely working with the Department of Finance on the latter’s proposed tax reform package. (READ: House panel wants tax reform bill passed mid-2017

The committee on transportation has also been conducting several hearings on the bills granting Duterte emergency powers to address the perennial traffic problem. – 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.