Thursday, 7 May 2009

House sobers up, musters quorum, rushes eight bills

By Christine F. Herrera
Manila Standard

The House of Representatives sobered up, mustered a quorum and rushed the passage of eight bills of national importance Tuesday night.

Apparently trying to make up for the two sessions that were adjourned due to a lack of quorum, congressmen held a marathon session last night, and as of 7:30 p.m. the attendance had grown to 187 from 178 without the quorum bell tolling.

The eight bills that the plenary approved on third and final reading were the following:

• House Bill 5241, which provides for the Investments and Incentives Code of the Philippines

• House Bill 263, which seeks to strengthen and propagate foster care for abandoned and neglected children and other children with special needs

• House Bill 6076, which seeks to expand the promotion of breastfeeding

• House Bill 6052, which requires all registered voters whose biometrics have not been captured to appear before the election officer of their place of registration to have their photographs, fingerprints and signatures captured

• House Bill 6096, which requires all government offices to ensure the release of the retirement benefits of its employees within 15 days from retirement

• House Bill 6101, which establishes the Philippine Legislative Academy

• House Bill 6097, which exempts the pledge of personal property covering a loan not exceeding P10,000 from the documentary stamp tax

• House Bill 6098, which regulates the rental of certain residential units.

As of 8 last night, the plenary was discussing measures to prevent the spread of influenza A or H1N1 after Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello delivered a privilege speech.

But Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros demanded a salary deduction from “junketing” lawmakers for making the House spend and waste P44 million for the two session days that no official business was held due to a lack of quorum.

Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino, the youngest congressman at 29, demanded that the 45 congressmen who went abroad be made to account for their trip.

The House finally mustered a quorum after 178 of its members showed up at the session hall, beating the required 134 to constitute a quorum of the 263-member chamber.

Hontiveros said the House was spending P22 million a day to air-condition the session hall, and food caterers were being paid in full regardless of how many or how few congressmen had shown up.

“As a result of the lack of quorum, the House, for the past two session days, has already wasted P44 million and counting,” Hontiveros said.

“I demand a salary deduction from all congressmen who were absent and who went abroad, because they caused the government to shoulder unnecessary expense for overhead and operating expenses.”

Palatino said the lawmakers who went to Las Vegas to watch Manny Pacquiao fight British champion Ricky Hatton should be quarantined for a different kind of virus.

“This virus has long infected the House. Lavish lifestyle, questionable assets and expensive junkets are some of its symptoms,” he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment