By Jose Cielito Reganit, July 7, 2023; Philippine News Agency

Manila – The House of Representatives on Friday vowed to extensively deliberate and pass the proposed PHP 5.768-trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2024 before the year ends.

Speaker Martin Romualdez said the House will also fast-track the approval of the priority bills of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. this year.

“Mas lalong magta-trabaho ang inyong Kamara de Representantes sa pagbubukas ng 2nd Regular Session nitong kasalukuyang buwan na ating sisimulan sa SONA (State of the Nation Address) ng ating Pangulong Marcos (Your House of Representatives will work doubly hard upon resumption of the 2nd Regular Session that starts later this month with President Marcos’ SONA),” he said in a statement.

Romualdez said the House will use its “power of the purse” mandate to comprehensively scrutinize the national budget.

Various panels, he said, will continue working during deliberations of the proposed 2024 NEP, while some committees may be authorized to pursue the performance of its mandate of passing vital pieces of legislation when the House starts plenary deliberations of the national budget.

Romualdez said if the productivity of the House of Representatives during the first year of the 19th Congress is an indication, he is confident that the chamber can accomplish its goals for the rest of 2023.

“If members of the House of Representatives will work with the same passion and vigor they exhibited during the First Regular Session, I have no doubt that we can do better this time around,” he added.

During the first 10 months of the 19th Congress, the chamber has processed a total of 9,600 measures – 8,490 bills, 1,109 resolutions and one petition. This is an average of 30 measures for each session day.

Lawmakers also approved on third and final reading 33 out of 42 bills listed as priority measures of President Marcos and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), which forms part of the total 577 bills passed on final reading, including the PHP5.268-trillion 2023 national budget.

“Processes and systems can always be improved. I believe there are still better ways we can perform our mandate of legislation without sacrificing the quality of our work,” he said.