The House of Representatives under Speaker Martin Romualdez has started to work now that nearly all House committees have already been constituted with respective chairpersons and members.
Romualdez from Leyte’s District 1 said he expects the chamber to get busier in the 19th Congress now that most of the lawmakers know their roles.
Romualdez is the president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats party. Once constituted, House committees can hold hearings on filed House bills and other measures, which is among the initial steps in the legislative process.
During the House plenary sessions from July 25 to July 27 and from Aug. 1 to Aug. 3, 2,877 measures were referred to various The busiest committee in the next few weeks is the committee on appropriations, the main panel that scrutinizes the proposed national budget.
The precursor of the budget, called the National Expenditure Program, is expected to be submitted by Malacañang to the House of Representatives on the third week of August.
Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte meanwhile appealed to the Department of Finance and Department of Budget and Management to exert their “optimum effort” in looking for enough funds to enable the Marcos administration to carry out fully beginning this year a new amendatory law doubling to P1,000 the monthly social pension of more than four million indigent elderly Filipinos.
He urged fellow lawmakers to allocate a sufficient year-long amount for the targeted cash transfer in next year’s General Appropriations Act to ensure the sustainability of the subsidy increase in 2023 as provided for in the new measure that lapsed into law, Republic Act 11916.
House minority leader and 4Ps Partylist Rep. Marcelino “Nonoy” Libanan has urged the government to raise the amount of conditional cash grants for poor households under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), saying the purchasing power of the dole-outs has been severely eroded by steep increases in the prices of basic commodities.
Libanan, together with fellow 4Ps Partylist Rep. Jonathan Clement Abalos II, filed House Resolution No. 184, urging the National Advisory Council of the 4Ps to increase the amount of cash aid to help beneficiaries keep up with runaway inflation.
The two lawmakers filed their resolution the day after the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the annual inflation rate in the country zoomed to 6.4 percent in July on the back of higher food and transport costs.
“Given the current conditions, the cash amount being provided to 4Ps beneficiaries may not be enough to achieve the program’s goal to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty,” Libanan and Abalos said.
Libanan and Abalos did not specify in their resolution the exact amount of increase in the cash subsidy that they are seeking for 4Ps beneficiaries.
But in statement on Sunday, Libanan said: “A rate of increase at least matching the average annual inflation rate would be a good start.”
The General Appropriations Act of 2022 has earmarked a total of P99.1 billion this year to pay for the 4Ps cash grants, excluding
administrative and other incidental expenses.
The 4Ps is the government’s ambitious social protection program that focuses on human capital development by providing cash assistance to eligible poor households, subject to their compliance with education and health conditionalities.
The program covers the following household-beneficiaries, as determined by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD):
• Families registered in the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction;
• Victims of natural and man-made disasters rendered homeless and with no means of livelihood;
• Indigenous peoples in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas;
• Homeless street families; and
• Transitioning families under the 4Ps whose well-being have improved, but who may still be at high risk of falling back into survival as they insecurely live with little or no buffer against potential economic shocks.
Under the program, beneficiaries will receive the cash allowances for up to seven years as long as they comply with the following requirements:
• Pregnant women must avail of pre-natal services, give birth in a facility attended by a skilled health professional, and receive post-partum and post-natal care for her newborn;
• Children zero to five years old must receive preventive health and nutrition services, including check-ups and vaccination;
• Children one to 14 years old must avail of deworming pills at least once a year;
• Children five to 18 years old must attend elementary or secondary classes at least 85 percent of their time; and
• At least one responsible person must attend family development sessions conducted by the DSWD once a month.