Philippine House of Representatives Review

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA (PNA Feature) — With just 45 session days covering July to December this year, members of the House of Representatives have filed more than 4,697 measures consisting of 3,916 bills, 781 resolutions, eight concurrent resolutions, and 13 joint resolutions. Of this number, the Lower Chamber has approved 20 bills on third reading and another five bills of national significance on second reading.

“I extend my sincerest gratitude to the distinguished men and women who comprise this Chamber. Each of us has been ushered into this Chamber by our constituency not only hopeful but expectant of change,” said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

The Lower Chamber also passed legislations considered as “critical”, including the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2011, which paved the way for its early signing into law by President Benigno S. Aquino III.

“This is a marked departure from the past tradition of reenacting the budget which practice has created an atmosphere of uncertainty,” the Speaker said. For the first time in 11 years, the budget is signed on the same year it was passed. It puts an end to the reenacted budget years.

Belmonte said the early enactment of the 2011 national budget “signals our determination to institute greater discipline and responsiveness in the utilization of government resources.”

“By this action, we make known our resolve to promote greater confidence and predictability in the operations of our government,” he said.

The Lower Chamber also adopted House Concurrent Resolution no. 157 concurring Proclamation no. 75 issued by the President, which grants amnesty to soldiers and enlisted personnel involved in three uprisings in the past.

Among the uprisings were the July 27, 2003 Oakwood Mutiny; the February 2006 Marines Stand-Off; and the November 29, 2007 Manila Peninsula Incident against the previous administration.

Belmonte said the concurrence of Congress on Proclamation no. 75 “only proves that the present administration is keen on establishing a regime of peace and unity.”

“Our legislative action thus far has been marked not only by deliberate speed and decisiveness, but also by integrity and conviction. Indeed, I am most proud to preside over this House whose current membership has exhibited great courage to vote more on principle and less on political expediency, and whose actions have restored statesmanship amongst us,” he said.

The Speaker also boasts of a 78 percent average daily attendance of congressmen during plenary sessions having the largest number of membership since the installation of the new Congress in 1987.

At present, there are 283 congressmen, including the three party-list representatives, who swore in before Congress adjourned last Dec. 16 for the holidays. They are Reps. Catalina Bagasina (Association of Laborers and Employees), Isidro Lico (Adhikain Tinataguyod ng Kooperatiba), and Solaiman Pangandaman (Kasosyo, Producers, Consumers Exchange Association Inc.).

The Speaker said the 78 percent attendance during plenary sessions “is testament to our resolve to clear our legislative calendar of absenteeism which in the past has been the roadblock to this Chamber’s efficiency.”

“Our performance since July evinces our collective will to fulfill our people’s high expectations. As a result of our collective efforts, our institution — which has previously been regarded with skepticism — has regained our people’s confidence,” he said.

The House of Representatives has received one of the highest trust ratings (30 percent based on Pulse Asia Survey) ever attained by this Chamber in the past two decades.

Belmonte is confident the Lower Chamber could reach a +40 trust ratings in the coming months.

“The past five months signal our auspicious beginning. I extend my gratitude to all (House) members for their hard work, their magnanimity, and their readiness to cross party lines, all in the pursuit of national interest and of the common good. Our collective perseverance will certainly lead this auspicious start to its fruitful and prosperous end,” he said. (PNA Feature) DCT/LGI

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