SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
House leaders today identified some of the legislative priorities of the House of Representatives for the Second Regular Session of the 17th Congress which include the 2018 national budget, charter change leading to the shift to federalism, and the civil union proposal.
In a media briefing, House Deputy Speakers Gwendolyn Garcia and Fredenil Castro, and committee on ways and means chairman Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua (Lone District, Quirino) cited the House accomplishments during the First Regular Session and bared the chamber’s priorities for the Second Regular Session of the 17th Congress which opens when Congress convenes on July 24 for the second State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Garcia said a primary importance during the Second Regular Session will be the proposed national budget of 2018.
“This is very crucial as the Duterte administration marks the most massive infrastructure program. As you know the motto has been “Build, Build, Build” and such a massive infrastructure undertaking will need the support of a budget that will support all of these infrastructures that will be built throughout the entire country, not just in Metro Manila or in Luzon but these are to be seen from Luzon, Visayas, up to Mindanao.
Garcia said there will also be the supplemental budget for the Marawi rehabilitation. “With the armed conflict in Marawi City transforming into a humanitarian crisis and even an infrastructure crisis, restoring normalcy in the lives of displaced residents, reviving local commerce, and rebuilding homes in the city have become a necessity for the executive and legislative branches,” said Garcia.
Last week, Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the proposed national budget for 2018,which was approved by the President, amounts to P3.767 trillion. It would also include P10 billion for the rehabilitation of Marawi City, he said.
Garcia said the second priority of the House is charter change. “”As you know, we already passed on Plenary the bill that seeks to amend or revise the Constitution through constituent assembly. We hope that the Senate will be acting on a similar measure so that we may finally tackle a growing sentiment among so many Filipinos for charter change in order to adopt to the changing realities and needs of our times,” said Garcia.
Garcia said federalism, which has been a battle cry of the President even during the campaign days, will be of utmost importance as House members will focus on it with an ardent hope to move forward in their efforts at achieving charter change.
Garcia said the House will also address the proposal on civil union which is of great interest to a number of people.
"We have to address this. This is changing reality and has become a growing necessity. And this is to promote civil and human rights for same-sex couples, and even heterosexual couples who want to live together but are not ready to marry. And they can do this through a civil union,” said Garcia.
The civil union bill will also govern property rights, custodial rights over children and adoption rights.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said he will file a bill to legalize 'civil unions' that will l benefit and define the rights of same- sex couples and heterosexual couples who want to live together but are not yet ready to get married.
The Speaker explained the civil union bill will govern property rights, custodial rights over children and even adoption rights for childless couples.
On the possible displeasure of the Catholic Church and other religious sects over the bill, Garcia cited the need to address the changing realities of the time.
“It is a reality of the times that such heterosexual couples who would choose to just perhaps stay unmarried but to live together. I have mentioned earlier that we need to address the changing realities of our time, rest assured all of these concerns, whether existing laws such as the Family Code or the Constitution, would be addressed,” she said.
Castro said the civil union bill is just a proposal right now. “Ang panukalang batas na ito ay isang panukala pa lamang. Kung ano ang nakalagay sa panukalang batas, ito ay hindi pa batas. Ibig sabihin nito ito ay paguusapan pa ito sa committee level at paguusapan pa ito sa plenariyo at ang pinakamahalaga, dahil ito ay panukalang batas lamang ang lahat na sektor ng ating lipunan ay kukunsultahin pa ng bawat kasapi ng Mababang Kapulungan,”said Castro.
In his personal view, Castro said what matters is what will come out as beneficial based on the congressional consultations to be done involving the different sectors.
“Ang opinyon ko dito ay kung ano ang nakabubuti na lalabas ayos sa konsultasyon sa ating mga kasama sa lipunan ay yun ang aking magiging opinyon. Subalit, ibig ko lamang bigyan ng diin na ako ay pabor sa pagmintina ng solidarity ng isang pamilya. At kung panukalang batas na ito ay siyang gigiba o ang panukalang batas na ito ay siyang magpapahina ng tinatawag na dapat ay isang matatag at solidong pagsasama ng mag-asawa, ako ay tututol sa bagay na yan,”said Castro.
Cua reserved his comment on the civil union bill as he has not yet seen or read it. "To be honest, hindi ko pa po nakita yung draft. So mahirap din po talagang mag-comment na intelligently o competently dahil hindi ko pa alam ang mga detalye. But I follow the thinking of the good Deputy Speaker that ultimately ang akin po, kung makakabuti sa karamihan ng mga pamilya, strengthening the family, then it might be good for our country. But if it will destroy the integrity of our families, then mahirap din yata suportahan kung ganun,”said Cua.
Cua added : “But again, since hindi pa naman po tapos ang proseso, it may be refined in a way to be a positive innovation for our families. So tingnan na lang po natin how it turns out. Mahirap lang po magsalita ng tapos na in favor or not in favor ng hindi ko po nababasa ang mga detalye,”said Cua. / RBB