House leaders defend work

By July 17,2017

Members of the House of Representatives tackle the controversial death penalty bill on second reading in this March 1, 2017 photo.
/Inquirer file photo

MANILA — The House of Representatives’ 17th Congress has processed fewer measures every day compared to the first years of the Congresses under the Aquino administration.

But for Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, this should not be used to measure the House’s productivity because the numbers should not be “compared on an apple-to-apple basis.”

“You also have to look at the measures that will be passed,” Garcia said in a press briefing on Monday, where House leaders reported the 17th Congress’ accomplishment.

“Perhaps what should be looked at is what kind of measures that we passed, whether this be in bills or resolutions, would the resolutions or bills passed have affected a greater number of Filipinos?” she added.

Data from the House showed that for its first year, the 17th Congress processed an average of 13 measures a day. This was less than the averages of 16 and 23 for the first regular sessions of the 16th (2013–14) and the 15th (2010–11) Congresses.

A total of 194 bills were passed on third and final reading for the first year of the 17th Congress, compared to 209 and 256 during the comparable periods for the 16th and 15th Congresses.

Garcia enumerated key bills as follows: free college education, extension of the validity of passports to 10 years, extension of the validity of driver’s licenses to five years, a stricter measure prohibiting the payment of deposits before medical treatment, free irrigation, increase in Social Security System pensions, a national school feeding program and free public Wi-Fi connection.

Meanwhile, 13 bills have been approved on second reading, which means they have already hurdled the plenary debates and the period of amendments. To compare, the 16th and 15th Congresses ended their first years with 20 and 107 measures close to the last stage of the legislative mill.

Four laws were enacted during the first year of the 17th Congress: the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to October 2017 (Republic Act No. 10923), the 2017 General Appropriations Act (RA 10924), and the renewal of the franchises of GMA Network, Inc., and Smart Communications, Inc., for another 25 years (RAs 10925 and 10926).

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