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3, 2013

NR # 3007C

Closing Remarks of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. Before the Adjournment of Session 15th Congress, 3rd Regular Session February 6, 2013
My Dear Colleagues, this is a moment where I invite all of you to reflect, as we put a close to this triumphant session. Allow me yet again the honor to commend you all for your sterling efforts, your untiring dedication, and your determined commitment to reform. The start of the 15th Congress was marked by a great clamour for change by our people. We all yearned for our nation to be reborn and given a new direction: a new waythe right wayof doing things. We rose to the call, and put ourselves to task. We focused on the work that we needed to do. We worked together to pass the measures that were necessary to uplift the lives of the ordinary Filipino. We held on to our legislative priorities, and helped to enact a total of 219 laws, to date. Now the Philippines is back on the map. It cannot be said enough: the sick man of Asia is now a rising economic tiger. Amidst a weak global economy in 2012, the Philippines registered a rapid economic growth of 6.6 percent, breaching the economic growth target of 5 to 6 percent set by our economic managers. The Philippines is showing a steady improvement on various governance and competitiveness indicators: we moved up by 24 places in the Transparency International Corruption Index; climbed 10 notches in the World Economic Forum Competitiveness Rankings; and advanced by 4 notches in the World Bank Government Effectiveness Indicator. With the strong macroeconomic fundamentals and upbeat economic prospects, there are huge expectations that the Philippines could be upgraded to investment grade this year. Here I must tell you that I believe the 15th Congress is very much a part of these positive developments happening in our country today. The 15th Congress holds the singular distinction of enacting the General Appropriations in a timely fashion. Before the start of fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013, government agencies were already assured of fresh appropriations without resorting to a temporary budget re-enactment. By putting the fiscal house in order, we were able to provide funds for social protection programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, supplemental feeding for daycare children, the self-employment assistance-kaunlaran program or SEA-K, and social pensions for indigent senior citizens, to name a few. After lengthy deliberations on the health and moral issues of cigarette and alcohol consumption,

as well as the implication of tax increase to tobacco farmers, the House of Representatives initiated the filing and subsequent approval by both Houses of sin tax reforms, under R.A. No. 10351. Annually, we expect incremental revenues of more than P30 billion which will go to Universal Health Care, medical assistance and health enhancement facilities program, and financial support for displaced workers in the alcohol and tobacco industries. Believing that good governance is the cornerstone of sustainable economic growth, we enacted the GOCC Governance Act of 2011, the Act Further Strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Law, and the Data Privacy Act. We await the Presidents signature on the Act Rationalizing the Taxes on International Air Carriers which will further boost our tourism efforts. To enable the marginalized and vulnerable sectors of our society to share and participate in the benefits of economic growth, we enacted the law Rationalizing the Nightwork Prohibition on Women Workers, the Act Decriminalizing Vagrancy, the Foster Care Act for Abandoned and Neglected Children And Children With Special Needs, the Act Establishing the Peoples Survival Fund, and the Kasambahay Law or the Domestic Workers Act. And after years of waiting, victims of human rights violations will soon find vindication for their struggles under the Human Rights Victims Compensation Act. Notably, to promote improved maternal health and reduce maternal mortality rates, we enacted the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act. To enhance our countrys basic education system, we enacted the law Institutionalizing Kindergarten Education into the Basic Education System, and have ratified the Bicameral Conference Committee Report on the Early Years Act and the Basic Education Act or the K+12 Law. To promote wider peace and order, we enacted the law Defining the Crime of Financing of Terrorism and the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act. Did our people appreciate our efforts? I am confident that they did. We have consistently garnered positive approval ratings in opinion polls. We encouraged peoples participation in the deliberation of the most contentious issues. We made sure that the opinions and sentiments of the people were heard and seriously considered. We will be remembered as the House that passed the most number of historic and game-changing laws with less histrionics. We substituted discipline for drama and the result is a rich harvest of laws that will improve the lot of our people and our country. From reproductive health to sin taxes to human rights compensation, long given up for dead for fear that they will disturb the status quo, these bills now end up as banner legislation for change. In these laws, we prove that no one can stop a House bent on making the most of its time and mandate from passing laws whose time have come. And, as in the case of the national budget, we also approved them on time because we believe that budget delayed is development denied. The prose of the laws that we passed are now being

transformed into projects on the ground. On top of these, we passed many other laws that will change our peoples lives for the better, secure our childrens right to a brighter future, and put out economy on stronger footing. We were able to achieve this because we worked under the canopy of big tent politics in a chamber cavernous enough to accommodate divergent views. Yes, the debates were often spirited, but such were pursued not to block the bills but to make them better. Yes, the exchanges were sometimes feisty, but civility was maintained at all times. There was no blood on the floor. Because of our passion for our causes, we Members of the 15th Congress can be determined and tenacious, but we are never obstructionists. We know when to stand ground and when to forge a common ground. You have earned the highest esteem anyone can bestow on ones colleagues. Indeed, I am proud and honoured to be your House Speaker. In closing, let me congratulate you all, my Dear colleagues, for your support and dedication. My deepest gratitude to all of you. The May elections are upon us: let me tell you that you deserve a strong sense of satisfaction in knowing that you contributed to a job well done. You were indispensable in the great task of getting our country back on track. However, our work has just begun. We still have a lot to accomplish to see to it that economic growth and new opportunities beckoning upon us will be sustained and result in the upliftment of the living condition of every Filipinothat nobody is left behind. I therefore wish each and every one of you, my beloved and respected colleagues, success in the forthcoming elections. Godspeed. Mabuhay tayong lahat! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!