Palace certified as urgent, seven economic bills principally authored by Third District Rep. Arthur Yap which are among the 14 priority bills endorsed by the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).
Yap’s bills include HB 39 or the Tax Reform Bill which was substituted by HB 5636 that had been approved on third reading; HB 3769 or the Security of Tenure Bill (End of “Endo” or Contractualization) that had been with the House Committee on Labor and Employment as of May 17; National Transport Act to address transport traffic crisis (HB 38); (HB 4904) or the proposed Amendments to the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996; HB 37 (substituted by HB 5670) or the proposed Amendments to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Charter to allow for free irrigation; Amendment to Public Service Act HB 4501 (HB 5828) – for second reading; and HB 5093 or the Ease of Doing Business Act or Fast Business Permit Act.
Yap’s hard work has paid off when Palace certified those bills as urgent.
Other bills endorsed by LEDAC are the Unified National Identification System Act; Utilization of the Coconut Levy Fund; Budget Reform Act; National Land Use Act; Rightsizing of the National Government; Amendments to the Anti-Cybercrime Act; HB 4501 (HB 5828) or the proposed Amendment to Public Service Act that is for second reading; and the Government Procurement Reform Act Amendments.
For the Security of Tenure Bill, the House Committee on Labor and Employment chaired by Rep. Randolph Ting agreed to create a technical working group to draft a substitute bill to the 25 bills aimed at the same purpose.
Ting explained the importance of enacting a law that would strengthen the security of tenure of workers in the private sector and, at the same time, consider the interest of the employers, which would result in an inclusive sustainable growth of the country’s labor sector.
Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman and Isabela 2nd District Rep. Ana Cristina Go asserted that the bills’ main intention is to strengthen the security of tenure of workers, adding that employees who successfully complete a six-month probationary period should be hired as regular employees.
Rep. Mendoza (TUCP Partylist for HB 4444) informed the Committee that several consultative meetings with the labor groups have been conducted by the Committee relative to the proposed law.
Representatives from the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) and the Federation of the Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) objected to the complete prohibition of al forms of contractualization as what HB 4444 proposes.
They argued that prohibiting subcontracting, which is a form of contractualization, is not feasible especially for industries that hire employees on a seasonal basis to meet the demands of a particular season.
Several members of the Committee suggested the inclusion of a provision in the proposed law that would define and set the parameters for “seasonal employment” so as to curtail possible abuses.
The stakeholders present were requested to submit their position papers on the bills for consideration by the TWG.
On the National Transport Act intended to address transport traffic crisis, the Committee, chaired by Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, approved the substitution bill with amendments as of May 23.
It was agreed during the meeting to indicate in the bill that the Traffic Chief, which is the Secretary of Transportation, shall have the power or authority over transportation-related franchises; and to delete Section 42 of the bill which provides for the creation of a Department of Urban Traffic Management.
On the proposed amendments to the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996 through HB 4904, the Committee, chaired by Rep. Jose Panganiban Jr., agreed as of May 22 to create a TWG to study the bills further.
The TWG will be co-chaired by the authors- -Yap, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapacal-Arroyo, Reps. Chavez, Panganiban and Deputy Speaker Garin.
The bills highlight the importance of imposing tariff on rice importation in lieu of Quantitative Restrictions (QR), which is due to expire on June 30 in line with the country’s trade obligations with the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The authors also said that the proceeds from the tariffs on rice imports shall be used for the benefit of local rice producers to help them become more competitive in the global market.
Department of Agriculture USec. Segfredo Serrano said that President Rodrigo Duterte has signed Executive Order 23, series of 2017, that effectively retains the QR on rice for another three years or until a law imposing tariff on rice imports is enacted.
Tariff Commissioner Ernesto Albano said he is amenable to the proposal imposing tariffs on rice imports in lieu of QR.
On the request of Rep. Sarmiento for the DA and the Tariff Commission to recommend appropriate tariff rates, Serrano said that the rates should be adjusted depending on the situation, such as during harvest season when there is sufficient rice produce and therefore rice importation should be discouraged through higher tariffs.
Serrano noted, however, that imported rice is way cheaper than local rice even with a 35 percent tariff.
Rep. Suansing recommended a 100-percent tariff rate on rice imports, as proposed under HB 5023 by Macapagal-Arroyo.
The resource persons and stakeholders present were requested to submit their respective position papers and all other reports and documents required to be used as reference in the TWG deliberations.
For the proposed amendments to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Charter to allow for free irrigation through Tariff Commission), it was already approved on third reading as of May 29.
The Committee approved the Substitute Bill to the 29 bills subject to style and amendment on February 28.
For the Ease of Doing Business Act or Fast Business Permit Act, the Committee approved Unnumbered Substitute Bill (to four bills by Reps. Vilma Santos-Recto, Biron, Yap, Castelo) on May 23.
On May 9, The TWG, chaired by Rep. XJ Romualdo, decided to draft a subtitute Bill to HBs 2171, 4838, 5031 and 5093.
The TWG used Rep. Biron’s (5031) as its working draft.
Among the agreements reached during the meeting were to add another policy of the State in Sec. 2 (Declaration of Policy), to read as “Ensure timely and expeditious processing of business requirements by the LGUs or NGAs”.
It was also agreed that the prescribed processing time for license, clearance or permit applications of MSMEs shall not be longer than one day for the barangay level, three working days for simple applications, and 20 working days for complex applications from the time the application is received.
Another point agreed was for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to submit a revised version of Sec 8 which is on Extension of License, Clearance or Permit Application.
By then, Rep. Romualdo requested the concerned agencies to submit recommendations on May 12 for the TWG’s consideration in the drafting of the sub bill.