Death penalty, charter change among House priorities

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
MANILA, Philippines - House Speaker Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez, a partymate of President Rodrigo Duterte, stressed that the new president was elected on the basis of a simple promise to the Filipino people: genuine change.
"Those were refreshing words for a people tired and weary of rising criminality, proliferation of illegal drugs, traffic congestion, corruption and plain incompetence. Those were the words that blew on the main sail of his campaign and brought him to a new horizon, the horizon of national transformation," Alvarez said in his inaugural speech before members of the House of Representatives.
Priority legislation includes the change of the country's form of government from unitary presidential to federal parliamentary, the reimposition of the death penalty, the reversion of the minimum age of criminal responsibility among others.
Alvarez vowed that the House will provide the president the necessary legislation for him to effect meaningful and genuine change as promised.
"No one, man or woman, not even a superman can forge genuine change without the cooperation of the other branches of government and the cooperation of the people themselves. True and genuine change can only come if we as a people and as a nation join hands with the president in achieving it," the speaker said.
The speaker enumerated the top bills that will be prioritized as the regular session of the 17th Congress started:
  • Re-impose the death penalty for heinous crimes
  • Revert the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years to nine years old to build a culture of responsibility at an early age
  • Emergency powers for the president to act on traffic woes.
  • Revise government procurement act
  • Pass the Freedom of Information law covering all branches of government
  • Simplify taxation law to encourage people to pay taxes
  • Require mining companies to secure a legislative franchise before being allowed to operate
  • Revise the labor law and look into the practice of "endo" and increase penalties for non-payment of minimum wage
  • Adjust pensions of retirees
  • Allow senior citizens and persons with disabilities to avail of absentee voting during elections
  • Change the form of government from presidential to federal through a constitutional convention
Alvarez reminded his colleagues at the House of Representatives to not be afraid of change and encouraged them to "embrace" it instead.
"If these legislative agenda seen overly ambitious to some, it is only because of inertia - a body at rest tends to rest indefinitely and will resist movement... Let us be instruments of change and apply the other side of the law of inertia - a body on the move tends to move indefinitely," Alvarez said.

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