QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The House of Representatives (HOR) approved on third and final reading, the proposed rice tarrification bill that imposes tariffs on rice in place of import quotas.
The measure is among the priorities President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned at his third state of the nation address (SONA) in July which aims to bring down prices of the country’s staple and also to help control inflation.
But the Makabayan bloc, in opposition, cited the measure’s risk to local farmers as cheaper rice imports may put local rice growers at a disadvantage.
“Sa susunod na mga buwan ay babahain tayo ng mga imported na bigas at tiyak papatay ito sa ating mga magsasaka,”argued Anak Pawis Rep. Ariel Casilao.
Once enacted into law, the government is expected to save up to P20 billion which it intends to use to subsidize local rice farmers. – Grace Casin / Marje Pelayo
MANILA, Philippines – The race for the next speaker of the House of Representatives (HOR) gets more intense less than a month before the 18th Congress formally opens.
Government allies have been waiting for President Rodrigo Duterte to make a decision on who he thinks the next speaker should be who could help him push his administration’s legislative agenda.
During the oath taking ceremony at Malacañang on Tuesday (June 25), President Duterte asked newly elected congressmen to give him until June 28 to make a decision.
However, the President seems to prefer not to endorse anyone for the speakership post.
In his speech, President Duterte said he asked House Speaker Gloria Arroyo to choose her own successor.
The conversation, he said, happened during the Hugpong ng Pagbabago’s thanksgiving party.
The President said he asked Arroyo to spare him the burden of having to choose among his friends who were vying for the post.
“Sabi ko, ikaw na ang mamili ng speaker, (I told [Arroyo] to choose a speaker for me),” the President said.
“Tinawag ko si Cayetano, Alvarez, si Velasco, si Bebot na hindi naman lumapit. ‘Mamili ka na, ma’am,’ sabi ko, ‘hindi ako nagbobolahan.'”
(I called Cayetano, Alvarez, Velasco and Bebot. I told her, “You choose, ma’am. I am not joking.”)
“‘I will ask a favor from you [Arroyo]. Huwag mo na akong bigyan ng sakit ng loob (Don’t make it hard for me) because they are all my friends. I do not want to hurt anybody lalo na iyan. Ikaw na lang, tutal ikaw ang pinaka-senior dito, (I’ll let you do it, after all, you are the most senior here),” he added.
President Duterte did say that the incumbent Speaker refused to choose the next House leader for him.
He then told the congressmen to pick their leader themselves and make their decision.
“You have to decide. You can do it by party (or) affiliation. You can take out of Hugpong for the meantime because it’s just a foisted political party for the purpose of election,” the President said.
“Huwag na lang akong isali ninyo, (Just spare me),” he concluded.
Newly elected congressmen have begun their training on legislation Monday (June 17) for them to get oriented on their roles and responsibilities as lawmakers in the 18th Congress that will officially open on July 22.
Fifteen neophyte congressmen formed the first batch of three who will undergo the 3-day Legislators Executive Course at the House of Representatives (HOR).
The HOR and the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG) organized the executive course for new members of the incoming Congress.
The three batches of training are from Monday to Wednesday on June 17 to 19, June 24 to 26 and July 1 to 3.
By the end of the course, “participants shall have gained knowledge, honed skills and imbibed good values on policy-making particularly on development policy, planning, and programming for a better quality of life, well-being and sustainable human development” as indicated in the course overview.
UP National College on Pulbic Administration dean Maria Fe Mendoza assured, “tutulungan namin sila na malaman nila kung ang legislative process ang policy proces paaano sila gagalaw sa policy system mayroon tayo kasi hindi lahat ng gusto nilang gawin ay mangayayari mahirap kasi ang bill to become a law.”
House secretary-general Robert Maling said they will also focus on delineating the difference of the workflow between the local and national governments.
“Marami sa kanila ang galing sa local yung transition kasi from the local to the congress medyo kailangang gawin nating madali para sa kanila,” said Maling.
One of the trainees, Navotas Representative John Rey Tiangco, said that as a former city mayor, he embraced the necessity of undergoing the course, although such is not a requirement from them, as he recognizes the fact that the work of a mayor is so much different from that of a congressman.
“Iba ang trabaho ng mayor sa Congressman. First time natin magiging congressman at iba sa legislation,” Tiangco added. (with reports from Grace Casin) /mbmf
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