By Jasper Y. Arcalas, October 24 2018; Business Mirror


Image Credit to Business World

SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo vowed on Tuesday the House of Representatives will pass as many pending bills as possible by year-end from the list of those identified as priority by President Duterte in his last State of the Nation Address (Sona).

Arroyo did not disclose the specific bills but pointed out that the President’s legislative agenda remains as the House of Representatives’ top priority.

The former President noted that lawmakers in the lower chamber will try their best to pass Duterte’s remaining priority measures with its remaining time, as the midterm elections in May 2019 is seen to cut their time frame.

“The legislative agenda of President Duterte is what we are really focusing on. There will be measures that would be delayed [due to election season]. We really lack time, that’s why we have to do as much as we can do,” she told the BusinessMirror on the sidelines of the groundbreaking ceremony of the Eternal Gardens Memorial Park in Barangay  Mamatid, Cabuyao, Laguna.

“As to how many bills [we would pass by year-end], that would be hard. But for sure the bills identified by President in his Sona are the most important ones,” she added.

The House of Representatives has passed three priority legislative measures of the Duterte administration since Arroyo assumed the speakership on July 23.

Rice tariffs, ‘Trabaho’ bill

One of the measures include the Revised Agricultural Tariffication Act, which seeks to scrap the country’s quantitative restriction on rice, a move that economic managers hope would pull down the retail prices of the staple in the market. Instead of the QR, a rice tariffication system will be put in place.

In September the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 8083, or the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-Quality Opportunities or “Trabaho” bill. The Trabaho bill is part of the Duterte administration’s tax-reform packages.

The lower chamber approved this months its version of a bill that seeks to create the Department of Disaster Resilience, another priority legislative measure of Duterte.

Among the pending measures before the House of the Representatives listed as a legislative priority of Duterte in his Sona are the laws on the utilization of the coconut-levy fund and ban on open-pit mining.

The bicameral conference committee-approved bill on the coconut-levy trust fund was returned to Congress to avert a veto by Duterte due to some contentious provisions.

On the other hand, the House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 8400 that seeks to establish a mining fiscal regime, wherein the government would earn its fair share of the minerals industry’s income.

The bill, coauthored by Arroyo, is also part of the administration’s tax-reform packages.