House to act on remaining priority bills; Bayanihan 3, economic Cha-cha waiting for Senate nod

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 22) — The House of Representatives will act on its remaining priority measures when session resumes next week, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said Thursday.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source, Velasco laid down at least five bills to tackle which include the creation of Virology Science and Technology Institute and the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The House will also act on the Modernization of the Bureau of Immigration bill which has already hurdled the committee level as well as the Continuing Professional Development Act and the National Housing Development Act which are pending at the committee level, the Speaker added.

He also explained why the lower chamber failed to pass the five priority measures before going on a congressional break.

"When I (assumed post), that was back in October 2020, we're in the middle of budget season so I was pressured to finish the budget on time, mainly because the 2021 national budget actually contains a lot of COVID-19 pandemic response that we really need," said Velasco, who took over former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano's post through their term-sharing agreement.

RELATED: Velasco on proudest moment as speaker: 'I was able to unite Congress' 

Velasco also hopes the Senate will approve some major bills that the House passed such as the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act or Bayanihan 3 and the Resolution of Both Houses 2, which seeks to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution.

Senate President Tito Sotto previously told CNN Philippines' The Source that senators will review Bayanihan 3, a ₱401-billion COVID-19 stimulus package which the House approved last month. He explained they intend to pass Bayanihan 3, but they will incorporate a Senate version that will address conflicting provisions such as the billions of pesos worth of funds for uniformed personnel because it is "not incorporated in the sense of the entire bill."

The Senate will also prioritize the passage of primary economic bills such as the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Public Service Act, and the Foreign Investments Act before discussing economic Cha-Cha, Sotto added.

READ: Sotto: Economic Cha-cha has chance in Senate, but foreign investments bills still priority 

Velasco hopes the Senate would also approve the Internet Transactions Act which would regulate commercial transactions online as well as the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers and Oveseas Filipinos.

Meanwhile, the reimposition of death penalty, which President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned in all his State of the Nation Addresses after 2016, may not see the light of day. Velasco said the lower chamber "will try" but he expects a "big hurdle in the Senate."

The 18th Congress will resume session on July 26, the same day of the President's final SONA.