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Better leave controversial bills to the next Congress  



E CARTOON MAY 24, 2019The  current  17th Congress met last Monday to begin the last two weeks of its existence before it finally adjourns on  June  5.

 The 18th Congress—with  a House of Representatives composed of 303 members elected last May 13  and a Senate with 12 holdover members and 12 newly elected ones – will hold its opening sessions  on  July 22, at which time it will  meet in joint   session to heard President  Duterte  deliver his State of the Nation Address.

In these last few days of the 17th Congress,  some legislators  remain hopeful  that some important bills they  filed can still be acted  upon by Congress. House  Majority  Leader Fredenil Castro listed at least eight House measures  which, he hoped, will merit Senate action. Among  them are the Security of Tenure Act, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) 2, Mining Taxes, Alcohol Taxes, and Constitutional  Change to federalism.

Senate President Protempore  Ralph  Recto and Senate Majority  Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, however, said the Senate is not inclined to pass any new tax bills as these will require deep study and long debates.    Also  cited as needing considerable time and study are  the bills on Charter Change and revival of the death penalty for certain crimes.

We can understand the desire of some legislators to see their pet bills enacted into law, but this 17th Congress is highly unlikely to take any more action, especially on controversial bills that dominated the  headlines  in  recent months.

Possibly the most controversial of these  bills  is the one on  Charter Change, with its principal provision for a federal form of government  for the country. Speaker Gloria Macapagal  Arroyo  has already said there is absolutely  no more time for this bill and it should be left  to the  18th Congress  to  consider it.

As  for  tax bills,   TRAIN 2 seeks to  lower  corporate taxes while removing many of the tax exemptions  granted by past Congresses  to foreign  firms to  entice them to set up operations  in the Philippines’  export zones. There is fear that many foreign firms may pull  out, if they lose their present exemptions,  thus adding to the country’s unemployment problem.

These and other controversies may have to be left  to  the  next  Congress. The last  election  created  a House  with an entirely new membership  of 303 district and partylist  representatives and a Senate of 12 new members joining  12 holdover ones. The old 17th Congress has done its job well and should now let the new 18th Congress carry on the job of carrying on the work of legislation for the country.

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