HOUSE of Representatives Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Monday, July 26, 2021, rallied his colleagues to pass the remaining priority bills in the 18th Congress.
These include the amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Foreign Investments Act and the Public Service Act.
The House is also set to approve the Medical Stockpiling bill, which seeks to allow the Department of Health (DOH) to stockpile, conserve and facilitate the supply and distribution of pharmaceuticals and vaccines for public health emergencies.
Another priority bill seeks to establish the Philippine Center for Disease Control.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, in a press conference Monday, said the proposed Philippine Center for Disease Control will integrate their research activities, laboratories and surveillance operations to provide a proactive response during public health emergencies.
Vergeire also said they are pushing for the Medical Reserve Corps bill, which will provide for the development, organization, training and maintenance of a medical reserve corps.
Under the bill, the medical reserve corps will be composed of Filipino citizens who have degrees in the fields of medicine, nursing, medical technology and other health-related fields who have not yet been issued licenses and/or awaiting the results of licensure examinations.
It shall also include the medical reservists of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and public health experts, scientists and non-medical volunteers trained for health emergencies.
In his speech at the opening of the third and final session of the 18th Congress, Velasco said these legislative measures would further help Filipinos navigate and recover from the challenges brought by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“As we enter the final year of our present term in Congress, it is time for that one last big push,” Velasco said.
He made the call ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (Sona) before the joint session of Congress.
Other priority bills, which seek to assist in the country's economic recovery, seek to tax Philippine offshore gaming operators and e-sabong betting activities.
The House will also tackle the substitute bill on the proposed Military and Uniformed Personnel (MUP) pension law, which seeks to institute long-needed reforms in the pension system of MUP and to address its attendant fiscal burden and sustainability risks.
The House also deliberated on the proposed amendment to the National Internal Revenue Code in a bid to resolve the concerns of private educational institutions on a new Bureau of Internal Revenue policy that would hike its tax rate from 10 percent to 25 percent. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)