JUNE 6, 2013

NR # 3126C

The House Adjourns Sine Die; Belmonte cites unity of purpose and dedication as gains towards public trust The House of Representatives has redeemed the faith of the Filipino people in government, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. declared at the close of the 15 th Congress Thursday night. “We end this Congress – confident in the truth that we have, by our unity in purpose, sheer hard work and dedication to duty, won back a good measure of our people’s faith in our ability to give them a House they can trust, in a government that unconditionally honors their trust,” the House leader declared. Through responsive legislation, Belmonte stressed, Congress succeeded in putting in place the “key policy pillars for good governance to achieve economic growth, peoplecentered political and administrative reforms, and social equity anchored on the imperative of securing the welfare of the poorest of the poor.” “Good governance by competent and upright leaders is the key to economic growth, poverty reduction and social peace. Good governance sets and implements right policies effectively, combats corruption, curbs abuse of power, and makes government and its officials accountable,” Belmonte stressed. Citing the highest ever public approval ratings since the restoration of the Philippine legislature in 1987, Belmonte expressed his gratitude to the people’s recognition of the collective efforts of the members of the House of Representatives. “This achievement, my fellow representatives, is a badge of honor for every member of the 15th Congress,” he told a full-house plenary hall. Noting the latest 7.8% growth rate posted in the first quarter, higher than the 6.6% level in 2012, Belmonte said “we were fortunate to work with an administration that pursued good governance as vigorously as we did.” “From the doldrums, in barely three years, the country now rides the crest of renewed confidence, both here and abroad, in a government that kept its promise of ethical service to the people, and revitalized the national economy towards unprecedented levels of growth and investor confidence,” he said. For the first time, he added, the country received investment grade ratings from three major credit rating agencies, namely: Fitch Ratings, Standard and Poor’s, and Japan Credit Rating Agency.

Likewise, the country climbed 20 notches in the World Economic Forum Competitiveness rankings from 2010 to 2012. The Philippine stock market soared to a record high of more than 30 percent in 2012, and on May 15, 2013, the PSE main index breached the 7,400 level for the first time in its history, the House leader noted. He also noted that foreign direct investments climbed from $1.2 billion in 2010 to $2-billion in 2012, reflecting increasing investor confidence in the economy under the Aquino Administration. “The 15th Congress was an active partner of the administration in achieving these milestones, and in creating the policy foundations that now spur the momentum for economic growth,” he added. The Speaker said the House passed the “most number of historic and gamechanging laws without fanfare or grandstanding.” He particularly cited the first ever Reproductive Health Law and the controversial sin tax restructuring, to curbing the scandalous allowances and perks of GOCCs and granting just compensation to human rights victims. This is not to mention the prompt passage of the annual General Appropriations Act during the last three years, ending an era of re-enacted budgets and allowing government agencies to implement crucial projects and programs at the start of each fiscal year. “We proved, beyond cavil, our resolve to make government, from the highest to the lowest, truly accountable to the people by first, impeaching an incumbent Ombudsman, and immediately thereafter, impeaching and successfully prosecuting a sitting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines,” he said. In terms of the number of laws enacted, he reported that some 447 laws out of 1,023 measures reported out by House committees and approved on third reading were enacted into law. “We also passed 25 priority measures of the LEDAC of which 15 have been enacted into laws. More than 500 House measures await Senate action to this hour,” he revealed. Other vital measures enacted into law include key social welfare programs like the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the Supplemental Feeding for Day-care Children program, the SEA-K or Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran program, and social pension programs for indigent senior citizens. He pointed out that the restructured Sin Tax law will generate some P35-billion more in annual revenues to boost funding for the National Health Insurance Program to achieve Universal Healthcare coverage for all Filipinos. “Social protection for the poor and marginalized was broadened with the landmark Kasambahay Law, the expanded Foster Care Law for the benefit of abandoned, neglected

and special children, the Juvenile Justice Reform Law that rationalizes the criminal liability of children in conflict with the Law, and the increase in SSS pensions for the elderly. Equally crucial to a sound financial sector are, among others, the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the Anti-Terrorism Financing Act, the Rural Bank Act and the strengthening of the functions of the Insurance Commission which will soon be sent to the President for his signature. “We created new regulatory frameworks with the ground breaking Data Privacy Law, the first ever Anti-Cybercrime Act, and an Anti-Illegal CableTV and Cable Internet Tapping Law,” he added. In the area of social justice and rule of law is the creation of more than 260 additional trials courts nationwide, the Revised AFP Modernization Act, the Expanded Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act, and the Involuntary Disappearance Act. Equally important were laws promoting a more competent and ethical bureaucracy, namely: the GOCC Governance Act; the Early Release of Retirement Benefits Act; the Act granting appropriate civil service eligibilities to Sanggunian members nationwide, and various Acts regulating the practice of selected professions. Also vital to industrial peace and economic productivity were laws improving the intellectual property system, rationalizing the night-work prohibition on women workers, strengthening conciliation and mediation as modes of labor dispute settlement, and strengthening Tripartism. And among the most important means to extricate the people from poverty were three landmark laws on education – the Kindergarten Education Act, the Early years Act, and the K to 12 Basic Education Act which, together with ladderized education, expand accessibility of education opportunities for all Filipinos. “While our accomplishments are many, much more needs to be done, the 16 th Congress will have its hands full,” Belmonte concluded. (30)

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