FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his second state of the nation address (SONA) on July 24, 2017.
SONA 2018: Duterte signs new laws
Legislations signed by President Rodrigo Duterte during his second year in office.
R.A. 10928 or the Philippine Passport 10-Year Validity
An act extending the validity of Philippine passports from 5 years to 10 years signed August 2, 2017. It is an amendment to Section 10 of R.A. 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996.
R.A. 10929 or the Free Internet Access In Public Places Act Of 2017
An act that provides free internet access in public areas nationwide across the country. Signed August 2, 2017, the measure provides the public free access to internet in “national and local government offices; public basic education institutions; state universities and colleges, and technology institutions; public hospitals, health centers, and rural health units; public parks, plazas, libraries and barangay reading centers; public airports and seaports; and public transport terminals.”
The law also provides that no fees shall be collected from users to connect to the public Internet access points.
R.A. 10930 or Extending the validity period of drivers’ licenses from 3 years to 5 years
An act rationalizing and strengthening the policy regarding driver’s licenses. It amends Section 23 of RA 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code. Signed in August 2, 2017, the amended law mandates the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to extend the validity period of drivers’ licenses to five years, except for student permits. It charges P20,000 fine to applicant for a driver’s license who has willfully misrepresented his application; connived with the officer in the irregular conduct of examinations or issuance of license; falsified documents; and cheated during examinations.
R.A. 10932 of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act of 2017
The law covers the tuition and fees of students enrolled in 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs), 78 local universities and colleges (LUCs), and all technical-vocation education and training (TVET) programs registered under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) beginning school year 2018 to 2019.
Signed on August 3, 2017, the measure also specifically provides free miscellaneous and other school fees; affirmative action programs for minorities such as the Lumads, the Muslims, the indigenous peoples (IP), persons with disabilities (PWD), and students from public high schools and depressed areas. It also allows students who have financial capacity to volunteer to opt out of the free higher education provision or avail of the free tuition but also contribute a specific amount to the higher education institution (HEI). It provides tertiary education subsidy and student loan programs for tertiary students. The law also specifies no increase in tuition fees in the next 5 years.
R.A. 10932 or the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law
An amendment to Batasan Pambansa 702, the law prohibits demand of deposits or advance payments for the confinement or treatment of patients in hospitals and medical cases.
Signed on August 3, 2017, the law allows the attending physician to transfer the patient to a facility providing appropriate care in case of “inadequacy” of medical capabilities of the hospital or medical clinic. It also mandates local government units where the hospital or medical clinic is located to allow the free use of its emergency vehicle if there is no ambulance available for use for the emergency transfer of the patient.
It provides stiffer penalties to any hospitals and medical clinics that will refuse to administer appropriate initial medical treatment and support in emergency serious cases. Violators will face imprisonment of six months to not more than two years and will also face a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P300,000.
R.A. 10951 or the Anti-Fake News Act of 2017
An act amending amounts and fines imposed in the Revised Penal Code. The measure charges those guilty of spreading or publishing fake news of penalties of “arresto mayor” or imprisonment of one month and a day to six months, and a fine ranging from ₱40,000 to ₱200,000. The penalties also apply to those who deliver speeches that encourage disobedience to the law, those who publish an official document without proper authority, and those who will publish pamphlets anonymously.
Signed on August 29, 2017, the amended law also provides sky-high fines for sedition from the previous P10,000 of the Revised Penal Code to up to P2M pesos. The leader will also be imprisoned from six years to eight years. Meanwhile, those who will conspire will be punished by imprisonment of two years to four years and fined not exceeding ₱1 million, from the previous ₱5,000. Those who will incite others to sedition will be fined up to ₱400,000 and imprisoned from four years to 12 years.
The amended law also increases the fine for libel by means of writings or similar means from the previous ₱200 to ₱6,000 to ₱40,000 to ₱1.2 million. Those guilty of slander or oral defamation will now be fined not exceeding ₱20,000 from the previous ₱200 of the Revised Penal Code.
R.A. 10962 or the Gift Check Act of 2017
An act regulating the issuance, use and redemption of gift checks. Signed on December 19, 2017, the measure prohibits issuance of gift checks that bear expiry dates as a protection of consumers against deceptive and unfair sales or act. The new measure applies to all issuers of gift checks, gift cards or certificates, may they be in the form of paper, card, code, or other device.
R.A. 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act of 2017
Signed on December 19, 2017, the law is the first package of the Duterte administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) which seeks to redesign the Philippine tax system effective January 1, 2018. The new law provides for the increase in take-home pay of salaried Filipino by reducing income tax rates, while increasing and rationalizing tax rates in other goods such as oil and sugary beverages as well as services and adjustments in spending and consumption patterns.
R.A. 10969 or the Free Irrigation Service Act of 2017
An act amending R.A. 3601, the law exempts all farmers from paying irrigation fees for landholdings of eight hectares and below.
Signed on February 2, 2018, the measure also nulls all unpaid ISF and corresponding penalties, as well as loans and past due accounts and corresponding interests and penalties of the irrigator associations (IA) from the records of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
R.A. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Act
The law amends the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007. The amended law simplifies business procedures on the national and local levels. The law requires government agencies to act on applications within 3 days for simple transactions, 7 days for complex ones and 20 days for the highly technical.
Signed on May 28, 2018, the measure also mandates the adoption of a unified application form for local tax and building clearances and sanitary and zoning clearances, among others. It requires automation of permit and licensing procedures to local government units.
R.A. 11035 or the Balik Scientist Law
The law institutionalizes the Balik Scientist Program which provides incentives and assistance to returning Filipino experts, scientists, inventors, and engineers with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as the main implementing agency.
The measure allows a returning scientist to enjoy various forms of compensation, such as tax and duty exemptions; free medical and accident insurance; reimbursement of expenses for baggage related to scientific projects; special working and non-working visas and DOST-subsidized visa application; exemption from local travel tax; and relocation benefits, such as support in securing job opportunities for the spouse and in admitting children into preferred schools. They can also enjoy monthly housing or accommodation allowance.
Signed on June 11, 2018, the law mandates the utilization of the expertise of science, technology or innovation experts of Filipino descent.
R.A. 11036 or the Philippine Mental Health Law
A landmark legislation, the law provides Filipinos better access to mental health services down to the barangay level, and integrates mental health programs in hospitals.
It also seeks to improve mental health facilities and to promote mental health education in schools and workplaces.
Signed on June 20, 2018, the measure calls on the government health insurance provider PhilHealth to cover not just hospitalization or confinement but also psychiatric consultations and medicines. It also mandates the opening of units dedicated for patients with mental health care needs to be attended to by health workers.
R.A. 11037 or the “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act”
The law that institutionalizes a national feeding program for undernourished Filipino children. A school-based feeding program shall be implemented for undernourished public school children from kindergarten to Grade 6 students. Children under this program shall also receive one fortified meal for a period of not less than 120 days in a year. Implementers of the law are the Department of Education and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Signed on June 20, 2018, the law also provides for a milk feeding program and the creation of the National Nutrition Information System, which shall be utilized in monitoring the health and nutrition of all Filipino children, especially those covered by the program.
R.A. 11052 or the Food Technology Act
The law creates the Professional Regulatory Board of Food Technology which regulates the practice in the Philippines
Signed on June 29, 2018, the law “shall develop and nurture competent, virtuous, productive, and well-rounded professional food technologists whose standards of practice and service shall be excellent, world-class, and globally competitive through honest, effective, relevant, and credible licensure examinations” in recognition of the importance of professional food technologists in nation-building and development.
R.A. 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018
The law amends the Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 1995. The amended law totally bans all forms of hazing among fraternities, sororities and any school organization, offices, and uniformed learning institution.
Signed on June 29, 2018, the amended law expanded the definition of the term “hazing” to include “physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury inflicted on a recruit, neophyte, applicant or member as part of an initiation rite or a requirement for continuing membership in a fraternity or sorority or organization.”
It covers acts ranging from paddling to whipping, beating, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage, drug or other substance or any brutal treatment or forced physical activity likely to adversely affect the physical and psychological health of a recruit.
The amended law also provides harsher penalties as those who planned or participated in the hazing will face a penalty of reclusion perpetua and a P3M fine if the hazing resulted in death, rape, mutilation or sodomy, thus amending the previous measure which merely regulates it. Also, the new law penalizes attempts to cover up the hazing activities.