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2022 budget, POGO taxation, Virology Institute top House agenda

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
2022 budget, POGO taxation, Virology Institute top House agenda
“As we enter the final year of our present term in Congress, it is time for that one last big push,” Speaker Lord Allan Velasco told his colleagues when he opened the session yesterday morning, giving emphasis on measures aimed at helping the country recover from the health crisis.
AFP / Marcus Erricson, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — With less than a year before the end of President Duterte’s term, the House of Representatives leadership yesterday vowed to pass all the necessary measures for the country to recover from the adverse effects of the pandemic.

“As we enter the final year of our present term in Congress, it is time for that one last big push,” Speaker Lord Allan Velasco told his colleagues when he opened the session yesterday morning, giving emphasis on measures aimed at helping the country recover from the health crisis.

This is the third regular session of the 18th Congress, which started in mid-2019 and will end in mid-2022.

“To assist in our economic recovery, we are pushing for the taxation of Philippine offshore gaming operators and e-sabong betting activities,” the Marinduque congressman said.

Also being readied for approval are the proposed Virology Institute of the Philippines and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Foreign Investments Act and the Public Service Act.

“We are also set to approve the Medical Stockpiling bill to allow the Department of Health to stockpile, conserve and facilitate the supply and distribution of pharmaceuticals and vaccines for public health emergencies,” Velasco said.

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said the House will also work double time to approve the proposed P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022, just before the deadline for filing of certificates of candidacy in October.

“We will work hard to pass the 2022 national budget before the deadline of the filing of COCs,” the Leyte congressman said, which is the chamber’s target schedule under the leadership of Speaker Velasco. The start of filing of COCs is on Oct. 1 and ends on Oct. 8.

“We will take advantage of the technology, in fact the Zoom has allowed us to have an engagement that is actually much more than what has been afforded by the actual presence of each and every member of the House,” Romualdez added.

Rep. LRay Villafuerte (Camarines Sur), for his part, has pushed for the approval of three bills to further accelerate the Philippines’ digital switch to pave the way for the institutionalization of the Bangko sa Baryo, e-governance and digital education.

“We call on our colleagues in both chambers of the 18th Congress to give top priority to these three measures that aim to close the digital divide by transforming the way we transact and do business at the grassroots level, provide fast and reliable services to our people and educate our children with minimal or no physical or face-to-face interactions amid the lingering pandemic,” he said.

Villafuerte said digitalization is “crucial for the country to keep up with the expected strong bounce back of other economies in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) bloc.”

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