The leadership of the House of Representatives on Monday committed to pass the legislative priorities outlined by President Rodrigo Duterte in his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA).
In a statement, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez described the President’s mission as a three-fold strategy, “Kabuhayan, Kaligtasan, at Kaunlaran”, aimed at helping the country and its people recover from the effects of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Romualdez said the strategy includes protecting the Filipino nation from hunger and poverty caused by the pandemic; saving precious human lives from the viral disease, and ramping up budgetary measures needed to fully implement a responsive and sustainable recovery plan.
“We, here in the House of Representatives, are ready to face the challenges spelled out by our President in his SONA. As partners in nation-building, we commit ourselves to the realization of the state’s concrete plans and the passage of the priority legislative measures provided by the President,” Romualdez said.
In delivering his fifth SONA, Duterte asked Congress to pass the Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) bill, which contains a stimulus package to revive the country’s economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.
Duterte also stressed the need to fast-track the passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) bill and the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) bill to help the country recover from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
Romualdez said in this Covid-19 war, the President has clearly laid out the “battle plans” for the country to emerge “victorious” in the end.
“In this fight of our lifetime, each of us is given specific theaters of war to attend to. Everyone is being called to be part of the whole of government response to combat the pandemic,” he said.
“I pray that all Filipinos will heed the clarion call of the President for every able-bodied citizen to join the people’s war against Covid-19. There are no spectators in this fight. We need to link arms, and win as one if we are to survive as a nation,” he added.
Meanwhile, House Ways and Means chair Joey Sarte Salceda assured that both the CREATE bill and the second stimulus package under the Bayanihan 2 will be enacted as soon as possible.
Salceda also thanked President Duterte for requesting the passage of the FIST bill, more credit access for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), regulatory relief for small businesses, and the road toward digitalization.
“Digital processes are crucial – if not absolutely essential – for doing businesses in the new normal. We thank the President for directing government agencies to make this happen,” Salceda said.
“I also thank the President for adopting a no face-to-face policy on the resumption of classes. I also thank his explicit direction that we adopt a multi-modal means for learning,” he added.
Salceda noted that his other pet bills were also mentioned as priority measures in Duterte’s SONA, including the modernization of the Bureau of Fire Protection; creation of the Department on Disaster Resilience; push for satellite-based education; and the establishment of a center for disease control, among others.
“I am most thankful for President Duterte’s directive that Congress creates a national disease prevention and management authority. On January 29, when the country recorded its first cases of Covid-19, I filed House Bill No. 6096, the first and the most comprehensive bill on this matter. I made repeated calls to have this pioneering reform passed, and 166 of my colleagues have already signed on as co-sponsors. I expect more will do so in the days to come,” Salceda said.
“I will continue to work on the President’s priorities, and I will continue to counsel the President and the Congressional leadership on matters that affect our countrymen,” Salceda added. (Filane Mikee Cervantes/PNA)