PDP-Laban appoints Pampanga Rep. Gonzales as party’s National Executive VP

Robie de Guzman   •   June 17, 2019   •   1115

(L-R) Representative Aurelio Gonzales Jr. and Sen. Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel

The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) on Monday announced the appointment of Pampanga third district Representative Aurelio Gonzales Jr. as the ruling party’s Interim National Executive Vice President.

Gonzales was appointed to his new role by PDP-Laban president and re-elected Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel.

His appointment paper was signed on June 13 but was only released to the media on Monday (June 17).

Gonzales previously served as PDP-Laban’s regional president for Central Luzon.

He has been reported as one of the lawmakers being considered by the ruling party to be its candidate for the House Speakership post in the 18th Congress.

Other contenders include Davao del Norte Representative and former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Taguig Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco.

The PDP-Laban has yet to announce the name of its official bet for the speakership race.

House approves bill postponing 2020 Barangay, SK polls

Robie de Guzman   •   November 4, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to defer the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to 2022.

A total of 194 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill 4933, while six voted negative. There were no abstentions from the vote.

The approved bill proposes to reschedule the local polls to December 5, 2022.

Its original version sought to defer the barangay and SK elections to May 2023.

Under the bill, village elections will be held in 2022 to allow more time for incumbent Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials to implement and complete their respective projects.

After the 2022 elections, subsequent barangay and SK elections will be held on the first Monday of December 2025, and every three years thereafter.

The amended version of the House bill is similar to the one that Senate passed in September.

President Rodrigo Duterte during his fourth State of the Nation Address in July urged Congress to postpone the village elections.

Congress to tackle budget measures as session resumes Monday

Robie de Guzman   •   November 4, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate and House of Representatives are set to tackle the passage of the proposed 2020 national budget when the first regular session of the 18th Congress resumes on Monday, Nov. 4.

The 18th Congress went on a break last Oct. 5.

Before its adjournment, the Senate passed Senate Resolution No. 154 authorizing all committees to conduct hearings, meetings, and consultations during the recess to have continuity in the process of passing pending proposed legislations.

According to Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, the discussion on the 2020 budget bill will be at the topmost of the chamber’s priority measures.

“The Senate Finance Committee will definitely be busy conducting marathon hearings on the proposed P4.1 trillion National Government budget for next year. Congress is set to resume session after a one-month recess to tackle the 2020 Budget and other priority measures,” he said in a statement.

Zubiri stressed the importance of the timely passage of the proposed General Appropriations Bill to avoid the scenario of another reenacted budget like what happened last year.

It can be recalled that the passage of the 2019 national budget got stalled due to alleged illegal fund insertions.

“We had experienced difficulties when we failed to pass the 2019 Budget on time. We had a re-enacted budget for the first Semester of this year forcing National Government agencies to compress their timelines. Consequently, many important programs and projects for the benefit of our people were delayed,” Zubiri said.

Aside from next year’s budget, the Senate is also expected to finish Plenary debates on eight measures which have been approved at the Committee level and are pending Second Reading:

  • Grant of Night Shift Differential Pay for Government Employees including Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations
  • Separate Facility for Prisoners Convicted of Heinous Crimes
  • Increasing Excise Taxes on Alcohol Products
  • Heated Tobacco and Vapor Products
  • Creation of a National Transportation Safety Board
  • Amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act
  • Creation of the Philippine High School for Sports in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac
  • Grant of Teaching Supplies Allowance for Public School Teachers

The House of Representatives, for its part, said it is due to approve on the final reading the resolution seeking to extend the availability of P3.662-trillion budget for 2019 until Dec. 31, 2020.

“We aim to hit the ground running on the first day of work. Time to roll up our sleeves once again and work double time on vital legislative measures,” House Majority Leader Ferdinand Romualdez said in a statement Sunday.

The lower chamber is also set to approve the bill postponing the May 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections to allow more time for incumbent Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials who assumed office in May 2018 to implement their respective projects.

Romualdez said the House is also scheduled to continue deliberation of other economic measures, particularly the remaining packages of the comprehensive tax reform program.

Cayetano seeks review of National Building Code

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 30, 2019

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

House of Representatives (HOR) Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is pushing for a review of the National Building Code after the 6.6 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday in parts of Mindanao (October 29).

“I think it’s about time that we take three drastic steps. Number one, to review the National Building Code,” he said.

House Bill 4008 or the Building Code of 2019 aims to repeal the Presidential Decree 1046 or the National Building Code of the country.

Under the proposed bill, there will be new building standards to reduce the risk of severe damage during calamities like earthquakes. Non-compliance with the said standards can also lead to criminal liability.

In a statement, House Deputy Speaker and 1-PACMAN Rep. Mikee Romero said it is high time to change Presidential Decree 1046 because it was passed into law in 1977.

He also said there is poor compliance to the National Building Code.

“It is abundantly clear that poor compliance with the National Building Code is part of the systemic reason for the deaths, injuries, and widespread damage in Mindanao because of today’s magnitude 6.6 earthquake and the magnitude 6.3 earthquake last October 16,” he said.

The House Bill 4008 will be one of the priority bills to be discussed in the House of Representatives once session resumes on November 4.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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