“While budget hearings were ongoing, the House was able to pass the Department on Disaster Resilience Bill on 3rd Reading.

Much took place this week at the House of Representatives, amidst the national news on the existence or non-existence of a “Red October” plot. Best to tackle these point by point to see how these would affect our country in the days to come, most especially that the filing of certificates of candidacy will start next week.

On the viral video of Rep. John Bertiz — A lot has been said and written about the embattled Representative of the ACTS-OFW Partylist that it is already too painful to add salt to the wound. It doesn’t help that Bertiz snubbed the hearing of the House Committee on Ethics on Wednesday due to stress, a script we’ve all read before.

It likewise doesn’t help that his supposed savior, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, dropped him like a hot potato by stating, in his statement posted on his Facebook Page, that there should be no special treatment for public officials.

It further does not help that a picture of Bertiz’s expulsion from the ACTS-OFW Partylist has been circulating in the Internet.

On Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson — Perhaps the most exciting portion of the House budget hearings that dragged to the wee hours of the morning would be the summons issued by House members, led by ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro, on Uson during the deliberations of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) budget last Tuesday. The House agreed to defer hearing the PCOO budget until Uson appears at the House. Instead of giving the pleasure to the House members, Uson made a bombshell announcement of resigning from her post — a resignation that is yet to be accepted by the President.

Everybody is thinking that this is preliminary to her next announcement of running at the 2019 Elections. For what position? With her five million followers on Facebook, she can make a run for the Senate, but an easier and more winnable option would be a Partylist Representative. Some media men said she is eyeing ACTS-OFW Partylist due to her strong appeal to Filipino workers abroad — something that will again not help Bertiz.

On who else will run or will not run in the 2019 Elections — House Appropriations Committee Chairman Karlo Nograles announced that he will no longer run for the Senate, despite previously putting up billboards along EDSA. Another congressman who currently has billboards is former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dakila Cua, from whom we have yet to hear announcement regarding his plans next year. As for those who will run, outgoing Sen. Loren Legarda announced that she will run as Representative in the Lone District of Antique, joining former Vice President Jejomar Binay in the names of high-profile, formerly nationally elected officials who will attempt to win a seat in the House.

On the approval of the General Appropriations Bill — Finally, the P3.757-trillion budget has been passed on 2nd Reading. So much controversy has surrounded this year’s budget hearings, from the disputed cash-based budgeting system to the alleged parked funds amounting to P52 billion which may have affected the political landscape (i.e., Nograles, Uson), but the good thing it shall be on schedule for 3rd Reading before Congress adjourns on 12 October.

“The Senate and House agreed on the Expanded Maternity Leave Bill which shall now last for 105 days.

While budget hearings were ongoing, the House was able to pass the Department on Disaster Resilience (DDR) Bill on 3rd Reading, principally authored by House Appropriations Chairman Yedda Romualdez of the “Ondoy”—struck province of Leyte. News on the tsunami hitting Indonesia where reportedly over 1,500 lives were lost, further highlights the need for the DDR and Romualdez urged the Senate to prioritize the same.

On another note, the Senate and House agreed on the Expanded Maternity Leave Bill which shall now last for 105 days. Both Houses have ratified it and it shall now be sent to the President for His Excellency’s signature. In the spirit of full disclosure, this writer is expecting his second baby soon, and is praying for this law’s passage sooner rather than later!
Another important bill tackled would be House Bill 3297 which exempts small-scale miners from paying excise taxes. Now passed on 2nd Reading, this HB seeks to return the sale of gold to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas by removing the imposition of taxes, to increase the country’s gold reserve.

All the above-mentioned tidbits prove that the House truly deserves its new campaign hashtag under the leadership of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo — #TheWorkingHousePH. Yet while all this was ongoing, the House members and Secretariat officials found time to celebrate the 82nd birthday of former Speaker Sonny Belmonte last 2 October. To end, may this writer again say — “Happy Birthday to Ninong SB! Cheers to long life and good health.”

Email: darren.dejesus@house.gov.ph

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