House to support bigger allocation for infra projects in 2018 budget

UNTV News   •   July 17, 2017   •   2849

IMAGE_UNTV_NEWS_071717_ infrastructure program

MANILA, Philippines — Lower House lawmakers pin-point four priority legislation for the 2nd regular session of the 17th Congress.

House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia said they will initially focus on passing the 2018 National Budget and on allocating bigger funding to the infrastructure projects of the administration.

“This is very crucial as the Duterte administration marks on the most massive infrastructure program. The motto has been ‘build build build,’ and such a massive infrastructure undertaking will need the support of the budget,” Deputy House Speaker Cong. Gwendolyn Garcia said.

The House also plans to pass a supplemental budget for the rehabilitation of Marawi City.

It also identified the charter change and federalism as among the priority legislation in the coming regular session.

While no bill has been filed yet, the lawmakers set to push for legalizing civil unions of same sex couples, or of heterosexual couples who wish to cohabitate but are not ready to get married.

This, following House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’ statements that he wants to provide protection and rights to live in couples.

“We have to address this, this is a changing reality, and it has been a growing necessity . . . The Civil Union Bill will also govern property rights, custodial rights over children, and adoption rights,” Deputy Garcia added.

The lawmakers, however, clarifed that they will hear all sides, as this is expected to be a controversial measure that might earn the ire of religious groups.

“Ang panukalang batas na ito ay isa palang panukala palang, Kung ano ang nakalagay sa panukala ito ay hindi pa ang batas, ibig sabihin pag-uusapan pa ito sa committee level at pag-uusapan pa sa plenaryo,” Deputy House Speaker Cong. Fred Castro said. (This proposed legislation is still a draft bill. Whatever is written on the bill is not yet the law, meaning, it has to be discussed in the committee level and scrutinized at the plenary.) – Joyce Balancio | UNTV News & Rescue

Senators think charter change still has a long way to go in 18th Congress

Maris Federez   •   July 10, 2019

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

Some senators are still not sold on the idea of instilling changes in the 1987 Constitution in the 18th Congress.

This, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s manifestations of pursuing the charter change.

Senator Franklin Drilon said it is still uncertain as to how senators will vote on the proposed constitutional amendment.

Drilon said, “(It is) difficult to predict at this time how the senators will vote. Senate prides itself as independent of Malacañang.”

“Plus, I sense that a number of my colleagues have a “moist eye” on the Presidency in 2022, and may not support an amendment which may lead to a shift to federalism,” he added.

Liberal Party president, Senator Francis Pangilinan, who held the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, meanwhile, said the fate of the charter change will depend on composition of the Senate.

“That all depends on the majority. We will see how it goes given the new composition of the Senate,” Pangilinan said.

Senator Ralph Recto, on the other hand, said he still wants to have the cha-cha proposal scrutinized.

“We’ll have to take a look at details of the cha-cha proposal,” he said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, believes that majority of the senators have not wavered in their stance regarding the charter change.

 “It’s a little more complicated than what the President and the House want. Why? We are simply back to the same question, which is to clarify the ambiguity of the provision in the Constitution that deals with the manner of voting by Congress constituting itself into a constituent assembly,” Lacson said.

He further said, “Again, in doing so, we are faced with a chicken and egg situation. If it’s via ConCom, do we have enough time to accomplish it before the end of his term?”

Neophyte senator Francis Tolentino, however, believes that the passage of the proposed change in the form of government can still happen during President Duterte’s term.

“Tapos na yung preparatory work ng ConCom. Yung ginawa ni former Justice Puno [The preparatory work in ConCom is finished. What former Justice Puno did], it was commissioned by the executive branch. May napadala na silang report at nasa infancy stage na yung kauna unahang version nito yung sa Bangsamoro. Hindi pa siguro huli ang lahat [They were able to send their report and the very first version of it – the Bangsamor- is already at the infancy stage. Maybe it’s not yet too late,” Tolentino said.

The proposed charter change was able to slightly move in the Lower House during the 17th Congress.

It was, however, stalled in the Senate until the Congress adjourned. (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Road to Speakership: who to stick with to be House Speaker

Maris Federez   •   June 27, 2019

Reps Lord Allan Velasco, Martin Romualdez and Alan Peter Cayetano vying for the Speakership in the House of Representative

The battle for the next House Speaker is still on among these names: Velasco, Romualdez, and Cayetano.

They are all making headlines and are seen to be always with President Rodrigo Duterte and his family in several gatherings.

Taguig Representative-Elect Alan Peter Cayetano had been close to the President for a long time now.

When Cayetano failed to make it in the 2016 Vice Presidential race, the President appointed him as the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

He said he resigned as DFA secretary and ran for Congress in the lone district of Taguig claiming that the President wanted him to be House Speaker.

“Hindi naman ako magre-resign sa DFA na walang plano, na wala kaming napagusapan [I won’t be resigning in DFA if I didn’t have a plan, or if we hadn’t have an agreement],” he said.

The name of Leyte Representative-Elect Martin Romualdez, meanwhile, floated when Hugpong ng Pagbabago Chairperson Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio called him “Speaker” in one campaign rally.

He had always been seen in gatherings where the Duterte siblings were also present.

On Wednesday night (June 26), Romualdez laid down before the President his platform in case he gets to be chosen as House Speaker.

Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, on the other hand, is seen to have taken the lead in the speakership race as the administration party PDP-Laban on Wednesday endorsed him for the job.

He’s also been seen with Mayor Sara Duterte since the campaign period and in several occasions.

Meanwhile, Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez had been trailing behind the three in the race.

It can be recalled that Alvares had been removed as House Speaker in the 17th Congress for allegedly making statements against the Chief Executive.

Mayor Sara was allegedly behind the ouster of Alvarez that happened on the very day of the 2018 SONA. (with reports from Grace Casin) /mbmf

17th Congress closing rites to be held for outgoing members

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2019

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

More than 70 members of the House of Representatives are “graduating” on June 5 this year when the regular session of 17th Congress adjourns.

These outgoing lawmakers, which make up less than a fourth of the current 294 House membership, are on their third and last term.

They include former House Majority leader Rudy Fariñas, who backed out of the 2019 gubernatorial race in Ilocos Norte two weeks before the midterm polls.

READ: Marcos scion now unopposed in Ilocos Norte after Fariñas’ withdrawal from race

67-year old Fariñas said in a statement he wants to retire from politics, adding that one of his children will seek for a congressional seat in the next elections.

Fariñas started his foray in the political arena when ran and won as mayor of Laoag City in 1980.

“Yes. I did not really want to run for any office as I want to retire on June 30 – after 39 years since I started as Laoag City Mayor on March 3, 1980, at the age of 27,” he said.

Former House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is also on his third and last term as a congressman. The 82-year old solon also opted to resign as a member of the Liberal party in preparation for his retirement from politics.

“After careful and deliberate consultations with my family and our constituents, and in preparation for my quiet retirement from politics,” he said in a statement.

Incumbent House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will also be ‘graduating’ when the 17th Congress adjourn next month.

When asked whether she is retiring from public office soon, she replied with: “I will write my memoirs. That’s all I know.”

The former president also refused to endorse any solon who will likely succeed her in the 18th Congress.

“I don’t want to comment on the next Congress because I am not going to be a part of it,” she said in a message.

Among the names that are emerging for the House Speakership race are Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Leyte 4th district Rep. Lucy Torres, Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

The “graduation” ceremony will be held on the day of the 17th Congress sine adjournment on June 5. Third-termers will be given a graduation medal as they reached their term limit as congressmen/women.

The 18th Congress will open on July 22 which will be the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address. (with details from Grace Casin)

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