Slower chamber? Bills pile up at Senate — House

THE House of Representatives continues to churn out bills but the proposed laws have remained unacted on by the Senate, which Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez called the “slow chamber.”

“The congressmen are hardworking these days,” Alvarez said in a radio interview.

“Our problem is that what we have transmitted to the slow chamber have yet to be acted on.”

In other developments:

• Senate Bill No. 1592, or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Bill, and House Bill 6215 per Senate Committee Report 167, or the 2018 General Appropriations Bill, will be the priority measures in the Senate when it resumes session on Nov. 13 following a one-month break that started on Oct. 12.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said the two measures are currently pending on second reading.

The TRAIN measure is being pushed by Malacañang to generate revenues for the government’s infrastructure program.

• With the filing of the TRAIN Bill that retained the current incentives, the IT-Business Process Association of the Philippines said investor perception on doing business in the country had been improving.

Senator Sonny Angara, head of the Senate ways and means committee, said the IBPAP and IT-BPM investment had said the Philippines was now showing “signs of recovery.”

“Thanks to the Senate version of the first tax reform package that retained the current incentives of the industry,” he said.

At the end of the first regular session in July, Alvarez said the House had forwarded 110 bills approved on third and final reading, with 70 more transmitted from July to October.

“I don’t have the list now, but we will publish it,” he said.

Congress went on break on Oct. 11 and will resume session on Nov. 13. It will adjourn again on Dec. 16, 2017 up to Jan. 14, 2018.

Among the key measures that the House approved on third and final reading and forwarded to the Senate are the restoration of the death penalty and the proposed 2018 budget. A number of senators are against bringing back capital punishment.

The House is also hearing the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and, on Wednesday, impeached Commission on Elections chairman Andres Bautista.

An impeachment complaint is also poised against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

Since July 25 this year, the House has been implementing a new rule, locking all doors to the session hall and opening these only after the roll call.

The new rule is “in line with our efforts to facilitate our plenary deliberations and daily roll call,” according to a memorandum issued by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas.

“Except those who are deemed present under Section 71 of our Rules, all members are enjoined to be at the session hall before 4 p.m., as those appearing after the roll call shall be marked absent.”

Earlier, Fariñas said the new rule was meant to encourage his colleagues to report to the session hall on time, so that they could be more productive in transacting business.

The session is supposed to begin at 4 p.m., but the roll call is usually called an hour later to ensure there are enough members in the hall.