Congress to focus on socio-economic bills

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — CONGRESS will focus on socio-economic measures that aim to shield Filipinos from the deepening global financial crisis.

Speaker Prospero Nograles gave the assurance that the legislative and executive departments will work to ensure better economy amid the financial turmoil.

“The House has lined up numerous socio-economic and governance legislation that make up our agenda,” Nograles said.

Despite Congress’ failure to approve the proposed P1.415 trillion national budget for 2009, the House leader is optimistic that the budget will be passed when session resumes on January 19.

“The global economic firestorm that is now sweeping even first world economies should further strengthen our resolve in instituting the needed social parachutes to protect our people from the after-effects of the global economic tsunami,” Nograles said.

The priority measures up for third reading include one that exempts poor litigants from posting bail when charged with non-capital offense for the first time, one that integrates the Medical Professions of the Philippines, a bill authorizing the issuance of free patent for residential land, resettlement, aid and rehabilitation services for the underprivileged and homeless citizens affected by the demolition of houses along danger areas.

Also for approval are measures that will reduce the rate of amusement tax to be collected from proprietors, lessees, or operators of theaters or cinemas, improve the standards of protection and assistance for migrant workers and strengthen the political party system.

“2009 will be one of the most challenging periods of our country’s modern history. It is paramount that we continue upgrading and updating our national economic policies and keep them abreast with the demands of the times,” Nograles said.

Congress will continue discussions on some unfinished business which are also important such as National Policy on Reproductive Health, Strengthening Anti-Money Laundering Act, Extending the CARP Law, Compensation to Human Rights Victims, Accelerating the implementation of retail competition and open access in the Electric Power Industry.