Budget, RH, CARP bills top Congress agenda


Posted at Nov 10 2008 11:00 AM | Updated as of Nov 10 2008 07:01 PM

MANILA - As the 14th Congress resumes sessions on Monday, House Speaker Prospero Nograles said the House of Representatives will have its hands full, hoping to cover at least 120 bills of national importance.

Topping their list is the passage of the 2009 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the Reproductive Health Bill, and the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Nograles remains optimistic that the proponents and those opposed to the approval of the two controversial measures -- Reproductive Health and CARP extension -- will find a middle ground to facilitate smooth plenary approval.

"We will have to act on these measures but we want to find a middle ground so that the measures are acceptable to everyone," he said.

Nograles also noted that the House leadership is also committed to expedite action on the impeachment complaint filed against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo "so that we can move on to the more important legislative work of the House."

The approval of the P1.415-trillion national budget for 2009 also takes the front seat in the list of the priority measures that has to be passed before the December break, he said.

Unfinished business

The House leader noted a long line of "unfinished business" that plenary will have to tackle before it again have its Christmas break in December.

The list includes the so-called social and economic parachutes that are designed to shield the country from the effects of the global financial crunch.

Majority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Arthur Defensor said among the vital measures lined up for second reading plenary approval under its "Calendar of Unfinished Business" include:

--HB 5241 -- "The Investments and Incentives Code of the Philippines," which is under the period of sponsorship in plenary by the Committee on Ways and Means chaired by Rep. Exequiel Javier of Antique;
-- HB 4077 -- "An Act sustaining the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, extending the acquisition and distribution of all agricultural lands, instituting necessary reforms and appropriating funds therefore," (period of interpellations) with plenary sponsors led by chairman Elias Bulut Jr., of Apayao;
-- HB 5043 -- "An Act providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development, and for other purposes," (period of interpellations) sponsored in plenary by the Committees on Health, Population and Family Relations and Appropriations; and
-- HB 3124 -- "An Act accelerating the implementation of retail competition and open access in the electric power industry, amending for the purpose Sections 31 and 43 of Republic Act 9136, otherwise known as the "Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 and for other purposes," (period of sponsorship), sponsored in plenary by the Committee on Energy, chaired by Rep. Juan Miguel 'Mikey' Macapagal-Arroyo.

Nograles said plenary is also expected to tackle HB 431, which provides for the venue of the criminal and civil action on libel cases against community journalists, publications or broadcast stations.

Likewise, the House will act on vital measures touching on electoral reforms, cultural communities, the Mindanao peace process, the role of people's organizations in the budget process, youth and women concerns and family relations; jobs creation and housing, among others.

On the other hand, already approved on second reading include HB 4273 -- Magna Carta of Women; HB 5077 -- Further strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Law; HB 3655 -- The Political Party Development Act of 2007; HB 5229 -- Tourism Act of 2008; HB 3012 -- The Anti-Discrimination Act of 2007; HB 5220 -- Pag-ibig Fund Law of 2008; HB 5208 -- Technology Transfer Act of 2008; HB 5207 -- Subdivision Green Parks Act of 2008; HB 5228 -- Fire Protection Modernization Act of 2008; HB 5115 -- Lemon Law of 2008; HB 5219 -- Philippine Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes Management Act of 2007; and HB 5210 -- amending the provisions of the National International Revenue Code of 1997.

Nograles said the House has endorsed for Senate action some 77 bills of national application, of which about 48 were passed during the second regular session. These are exclusive of those measures already signed into law by President Arroyo, the latest of which is the law instituting a socialized and low-cost housing loan restructuring program.