The 15th Congress in its second regular session that ended yesterday approved for enactment into law four measures prioritized by both the Executive and Legislative branches, prompting officials of foreign chambers to say yesterday they were "pretty happy" with such progress.
The Senate and House of Representatives ratified the Kindergarten Act (Republic Act 10157), data privacy bill and amendment to the Anti Money Laundering Act (AMLA). The House also adopted the Senate’s terrorist financing suppression bill (Senate Bill 3127), in effect enabling this measure to bypass the bicameral conference and ratification stages for direct submission to Malacañang for signing into law. All four are on the list of priority measures the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) drew up last year.
The data privacy bill seeks to ensure confidentiality of personal data in digital form, while the AMLA amendment and terrorist financing suppression bill strengthen state tools for fighting money laundering.
Enacted into law last January 20 was the Kindergarten Act, making completion of a year of kindergarten a requirement for admission to elementary grade.
The Senate also approved on third and final reading the following LEDAC bills, which are pending at the House:
- SB 3164, revising the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Modernization Program; and
- SB 78, protecting domestic workers’ rights by ensuring fair compensation and working hours.
The Universal Healthcare Bill (HB 6048), another LEDAC priority, was passed on third reading by the House, but not by the Senate where it awaits approval at the committee level.
Congressmen also passed on final reading two revenue-enhancing measures on LEDAC’s list -- streamlining of fiscal incentives (HB 4935) and the contentious excise tax reform (HB 5727) -- as well as another, the proposed customs modernization and tariff law (HB 4788), which was not a LEDAC priority.
Foreign chamber officials yesterday expressed satisfaction with Congress’ record, achieved despite Senate’s preoccupation with the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.
"We would note that the 15th Congress has already good business and economic laws in the pipeline," John D. Forbes, legislative committee chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said by phone, citing ratification of the Palace-certified cybercrime measure.
Henry Schumacher, vice-president for external affairs of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said his group was "pretty happy with how the legislative agenda moves despite the long impeachment sessions."
He said he was "glad" to see the excise tax reform bill approved at the House and the competition bill (SB 3098) presented for plenary approval at the Senate. -- ASOA and MJO
Source: Business World; Front Page; 8 June 2012