House passes 24 national bills

By Paolo Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 11 2014 03:32 AM | Updated as of Jun 11 2014 11:32 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Despite the pork barrel fund scandal involving several lawmakers, the House of Representatives continued to work in approving scores of socio-economic measures and other bills of national importance in the last three months, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday.

Belmonte said the House “is functioning very well,” which he attributed to the close coordination of the chamber’s leaders with the leadership of the Senate in passing urgent bills, include 24 measures that are national in scope with some already signed into law.

“Our work is by no means finished because two session days to go… and we have had agreements already with the Senate on the various bills that we would like to fast track before the end of the session on Friday, so the despite the understandable worry of some people the House itself and the Senate also has not been remiss in its mission of legislation,” Belmonte said.

The House ratified last night the measure boosting micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises and the proposed Lemon Law.

Also ratified is the proposal to liberalize the entry of foreign banks.

At least two major bills, including the bill mandating picture-based health warnings on tobacco products, are being ratified.

Other measures that are expected to be ratified today include the measure strengthening the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Signed into law was the bill strengthening the Maritime Industry Authority that Belmonte said averted the blacklisting of Filipino seafarers by the European Union.

Among the measures approved by the House on second or final reading are the bill extending the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways; providing mandatory PhilHealth coverage to senior citizens; institutionalizing pre-hospital emergency medical care.

Belmonte said the House also passed a slew of education measures, including the bill establishing special education centers in every school division; providing for a unified scholarship and grant-in-aid program for technical-vocational and tertiary education; and providing for free college education in information and communications technology in state universities and colleges.

He said the chamber received a list of priority bills from Malacañang that included the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, amendments to the Cabotage Law, amendments to the archipelagic sealanes law, and the Freedom of Information Bill.

“We are happy to note that a lot of them have already been tackled by the House and some of them or most of them have been tackled by the Senate,” Belmonte said.