WITH Congress already scheduled to take its break next week, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday certified as urgent House Bill (HB) No. 8980 or the 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
In his message addressed to leaders of both houses of Congress, the chief executive said he made the decision to ensure the continuous government operations following the end of the current fiscal year.
He also said it will help expedite the funding of various government programs.
The President made the decision despite the commitment by Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri and House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez during Third Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) to pass the 2024 GAA by December.
Following the certification of HB 8980, Congress can approve it on second reading and third reading during the same day.
Currently, the bill is still under period of interpellation at the House of Representatives.
It will still undergo the period of amendments before being approved for second reading and third and final reading.
Congress is scheduled to close its session on September 29 and adjourn from September 30 to November 5, 2023 for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections next month.
It will resume its session on November 6, 2023.
Malacañang said the Marcos administration is on track of achieving its 20 priority legislation goals, which include the 2024 GAA, before the end of the year.
During the LEDAC meeting, Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri informed the chief executive that Senate already “completed” almost half of the legislative wish list of the Executive Department.
“Those pending will become law within the next few weeks, and hopefully the President will be able to sign it,” Zubiri told the President in Filipino during the meeting.
The 20 bills identified as priority measures include the National Employment Action Plan, LGU Income Classification, Internet Transaction Act, BOT/PPP Act, Salt Development Industry Act, Ease of Paying Taxes, Real Property Evaluation and Assessment Reform Act, Magna Carta for Seafarers, and Anti-Agriculture Smuggling Act.
Also included in the list are the Waste-to-Energy Bill, National Disease Prevention Management Authority, Amendments to the Banking Act or the Fund Secrecy Law, Medical Reserve Corps, Virology Institute of the Philippines, E-Governance Act, New Philippine Passport Act, the National Government Rightsizing Act, the National Scamming Act, the National Citizens Service Training Program Act, and the Military and Uniformed Personnel Pension System Act.
Zubiri gave his assurance the Senate will pass the pending bills by December. For his part, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said 18 of the 20 priority legislation have been passed by the House of Representatives.
“Before we go on break, we will finish all of the 20 priority Ledac measures. At the end of September or three months in advance of the prescribed deadline we made an agreement with the Senate President and the President,” Romualdez said.
As for the two remaining Ledac measures, Romualdez said HB 8969, or the Military and Uniformed Personnel Pension System Act, was approved on second reading during the plenary session Tuesday and slated for approval on third and final reading next week.
He added that the House Committee on Agriculture and Food also approved on Wednesday the substitute bill consolidating all measures seeking amendments to the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, paving the way for its scheduled approval in plenary by next week.