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House gives priority to 5 bills, SONA agenda

The House of Representatives will prioritize the passage of five bills earlier identified by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) when it resumes session next week.

This, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said, alongside the legislative agenda President Rodrigo Duterte will outline in his final State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Velasco said the five were the proposed Philippine Virology Institute Act, Center for Disease Control Act, Amendments to the Continuing Professional Development Act of 2016, Bureau of Immigration Modernization Act, and National Housing Development Act.

“We will work toward the approval of these bills once we resume session and we will also take into account the priority measures President Duterte will mention in his sixth and final SONA,” Velasco said, adding “We will do our best to help the President fulfill all his promises to the Filipino people.”

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress seeks to establish the Philippine Virology Institute as the premier research and development institution in virology, encompassing all areas in viruses and viral diseases in humans, plants and animals.

It also wants to create the Philippine Center for Disease Control that will serve as the country’s principal health protection agency tasked to prevent, protect and manage the spread of diseases and other health threats originating domestically and internationally.

The proposed Bureau of Immigration Modernization Act seeks to modernize, professionalize and improve the compensation of officials and personnel of the Bureau of Immigration, while the proposed National Housing Development Act aims to significantly reduce the country’s housing backlog through continuous funding support for socialized housing.

This developed as Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera hopes President Duterte will use his last SONA to highlight the achievements of his presidency and reveal his plans for the remainder of his term.

“We all know that President Duterte is not the type who loves to brag about his accomplishments, but if I were him I would herald the achievements of his administration in a strong way so that the Filipino people have a better understanding of all that this President has done for them and the country,” Herrera said.

The Bagong Henerasyon lawmaker said she believed President Duterte had cemented his legacy as a strong, yet caring leader.

“President Duterte will always be remembered for his ‘tapang’ and ‘malasakit’ governance, which became more evident during the pandemic,” Herrera said.

For his part, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte has pushed for the passage of what he describes as a troika of initiatives to further accelerate the Philippines’  digital switch that would help the Philippines keep up with the expected strong rebound of many of its  regional neighbors from the COVID-driven economic malaise.

These digitalization initiatives are Villafuerte’s three legislative proposals on institutionalizing the Bangko sa Baryo, e-governance and digital education.

Meanwhile, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement they have been working non-stop in preparing the SONA be significant to the country, “something that reflects President Duterte as a leader.” The address will be helmed by Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) director Danny Abad while Andanar and People’s Television Network (PTV-4) general manager Katherine de Castro have been overseeing the production as the SONA committee chairpersons. “Design inspirations from Mindanao will be incorporated in delivering and focusing on the Duterte administration’s heirloom legacies,” Andanar said. Singer Morissette Amon, a Cebu native, will sing the national anthem live. Pre-recorded songs from the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, including “Ang Pagbabago”, “What a Wonderful World”, “Dust in the Wind”, and “McArthur Park”, will be played throughout Duterte’s speech. A documentary titled “Ang Pangulo” prepared by PTV-4 will also be aired before the SONA.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority will enforce a traffic rerouting scheme along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City in connection with the SONA. MMDA Chairman Benjamin Abalos Jr. ordered the deployment of 1,360 personnel to guide motorists on the rerouting scheme. The alternate routes are:

Northbound (Quezon Memorial Circle to Fairview) : From Elliptical Road (QMC), take North Avenue, Mindanao Ave., Quirino Highway, Commonwealth Ave, to destination, and

Southbound (Fairview to Quezon Memorial Circle) : From Elliptical Road (QMC), take Commonwealth Avenue, Quirino Highway, Mindanao Avenue, North Avenue to destination.

The Philippine National Police said they were 100 percent prepared to secure the SONA on Monday. This as the National Capital Region Police Office finalized security preparations and deployment plans. Some 15,000 police officers will be deployed to secure the Batasang Pambansa where Duterte will deliver his SONBA. The PNP said it had not monitored any threat to the SONA but Gen Guillermo Eleazar gave assurances that all personnel were ready to respond. The NCRPO has said it will use body-worn cameras to help monitor the movements of suspicious persons who may be planning to disrupt the SONA.

Topics: House of Representatives , Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council , Lord Allan Velasco , State of the Nation Address
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