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7 priority bills to be expedited

Michelle R. Guillang

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At least seven priority bills of House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, including the controversial Coconut Levy Fund, will be expeditiously approved by the House of Representatives once it resumes sessions on 16 November.

Majority Leader Martin Romualdez on Friday said House committees in-charge of the bills may meet for just one hearing and immediately refer the committee reports for deliberations on the plenary floor.

Citing House Rule 10 Section 48, Romualdez said “committees are authorized to dispose of priority measures already filed and approved on third reading by the immediately preceding Congress.”

Earlier, Velasco disclosed that he wanted the passage of the coco levy bill before the year ends to gift coconut farmers on Christmas. The proposed measure seeks to create a trust fund from the taxes imposed on them by late President Ferdinand Marcos around 49 years ago.

Aside from the coco levy trust fund bill, the following measures are eligible for fast approval are: The National Land Use Act; Mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps or ROTC; Right to Adequate Food; Anti-Ethnic, Racial and Religious Discrimination Act and On-Site, In-City Near City Local Government Resettlement Program.

The passage of the bill seeking to “rightsize” the National Government would be also fast-tracked. If this gets enacted, some government agencies deemed to have redundant operations would be abolished in a bid to “improve public service delivery.”

Velasco, moreover, plans to swiftly approve his other priority bills such as the Internet Transaction Act; Military Uniformed Personnel Pension Fund; Magna Carta for Barangays, Amendments to the Revised Penal Code; Amendments to the Government Procurement Reform Act; and Bisikleta Para sa Kinabukasan Act.

More priority measures of Velasco include bills concerning his home province, namely Marinduque Special Economic Zone Act and Marinduque Sports Academy and Training Center Act.

“We discussed ways on how to expedite the approval of pending legislative measures in compliance with Speaker Velasco’s directive to hit the ground running. The concerned committees for these measures may meet for just one hearing and immediately refer the committee reports for plenary deliberation,” Romualdez said.

About 12 economic measures endorsed by the Duterte’s administration’s economic managers will be prioritized on the plenary floor and by the committees, including the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery; Digital Transactions Value-Added Tax; Bureau of Fire Protection Modernization Program; Fiscal Mining Regime; and Internet Transactions Act or E-Commerce Law — all under plenary deliberations.

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