Congress resumes sessions, to tackle priority bills

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2019   •   1378

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate and the House of Representatives are set resume their sessions today in a bid to pass several priority bills before the 17th Congress formally adjourns in three weeks.

The sessions will resume on Monday at three in the afternoon.

But before the plenary session begins in the Senate, majority of senators will first meet for a caucus called by Senate President Vicente Sotto III to finalize the legislative agenda of the upper chamber.

Sotto said that among the priorities that the Senate is looking to approve before the 17th congress adjourns on June 7 is the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act.

Sotto is referring to the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2019, which seeks to amend the Republic Act No. 9372 by redefining the acts of terrorism that are punishable by law and strengthening its provisions to deter terror groups.

The Senate will also try to finish tackling the proposed amendments to the Public Service Act. The bill seeks to amend Commonwealth Act No. 146 to address the confusion in the definition of a public utility and public services in order to provide Filipino consumers with more choices, better services and lower prices on utility services.

The measure is pending on second reading.

Sotto also expressed hope that the Medical Scholarship Act, which he authored, would be given equal priority before the sessions adjourn.

The bill seeks to address the issues of scarcity and unequal distribution of physicians in the country through the granting of scholarships to deserving medical students, provided that they would serve the country for five years.

The proposed measure is currently pending in the Senate committee on health and demography chaired by Senator JV Ejercito.

Other measures that the Senate is expected to discuss are the Budget Reform Act, Foreign Investment Act and the proposed granting of emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to address transportation woes in the country.

The lower House, for its part, is looking to approve more pro-people bills in the tight three-week schedule.

House Majority Leader Rep. Fredenil Castro said that among the bills they will tackle are the proposed Strengthening Drug Prevention and Control Act and the creation of Overseas Filipino Workers Sovereign Fund.

The Congress has nine session days before the sine die adjournment of 17th Congress. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

DBM submits P4.1 trillion proposed 2020 national budget to Congress

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 20, 2019

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has submitted the proposed 2020 national budget to the House of Representatives on Tuesday (Aug 20).

Majority of the proposed budget will go to the Department of Education (Deped), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Meanwhile, over P622 billion budget will be allotted to the anti-insurgency program.

The DBM said the proposed budget is 12% higher compared to the 2019 national budget. The 2020 national budget is also the highest budget in the country’s history.

According to DBM acting Secretary Wendel Avisado, the proposed budget will prioritize the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) program, the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program and the smooth transition of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“This budget will sustain and continue our journey to a more peaceful and progressive Philippines,” he said.

The House Committee on Appropriations will begin deliberating on the proposed national budget on Thursday (Aug 22). They also target to approve its passage before the first session break on October 4.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano assured there will be no ‘pork barrel’ inserted in the proposed budget.

“The budget of the president is equitable and remember hihimayin pa natin ito (We will still deliberate on this),” he said.—AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Poe family commemorates FPJ’s 80th birthday

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 20, 2019

Fernando Poe Jr.

The Poe family commemorated the 80th birthday of Fernando Poe Jr. on Tuesday (Aug 20) at the Manila North Cemetery.

They also distributed grocery packs and toys to some 200 indigent families.

Senator Grace Poe is still overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for their family.

“Kakaiba talaga ito kasi 15 taon na. Umulan o umaraw, halos hindi pa rin natitinag iyong mga nagmamahal kay FPJ (It is still overwhelming because it has been 15 years. Rain or shine, their love for FPJ is still there),” she said.

Lovi Poe, meanwhile, posted old photos of her father on her insta-story.

House to hold 2020 budget hearings starting August 22

Robie de Guzman   •   August 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is looking to begin its deliberation on the 2020 proposed national budget on August 22.

According to Davao City 3rd District Representative Isidro Ungab, who chairs the House Committee on Appropriations, this is to ensure the P4.1 trillion budget bill’s timely passage.

Ungab said House hearings will be held from Monday to Friday after the formal submission of the National Expenditure Program of fiscal year 2020 by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on August 20.

“We will do our best to approve the budget on time and exercise our constitutional duty to scrutinize the budget to make sure that every peso that we appropriate will contribute to the overall growth and development of the country,” Ungab said in a news release.

The lawmaker also expressed hope of holding the budget hearings by the second week of September and start plenary deliberations as soon as the panel approves its committee report.

The lower House earlier said it is targeting to pass the 2020 budget bill on October 4 before the Congress goes into break.

READ: House eyes passing 2020 budget bill in October – Salceda

The DBM earlier said that the 2020 cash appropriations will prioritize the acceleration of infrastructure, anti-poverty, and pro-employment spending. It cited that the Build, Build, Build Program will continue to be the flagship program of the Duterte administration’s infrastructure development reaching around P1.8 trillion, or 6.9 percent of the country’s GDP by 2022.

New critical programs identified by the DBM include the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act; passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and smooth transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; liberalization of rice importation and ensuring food security; institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program; and operationalization of the newly-created Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.

Other priority programs cited by the DBM are strengthening of the monitoring of the K to 12 Program and the Tech-Voc Program; ensuring the financial sustainability of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education; implementation of the Unconditional Cash Transfer Program; improvement of the Risk Resiliency Program; and effective management of coastal resources.

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