Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday called on his colleagues in Congress to pass the Bayanihan 3 and Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) bill before it adjourns on February 4.
In a media interview on January 21, Cayetano said political will on the part of the House of Representatives, Senate, and Malacañang can expedite deliberations on any priority measure, despite Congress having only two weeks left before it adjourns for the 2022 general elections.
“Parang basketball din ‘yan, y’ung last two minutes. Alam naman natin na ‘pag pinush talaga ng Speaker, ng Senate President, at lalo na ng Malacañang, maipapasa ‘yan. Kung gusto, may paraan. Kung ayaw, may dahilan. Kahit ‘yang Bayanihan 3, Department of Disaster Resilience Bill, maipapasa,” he said.
(Think of it as the last two minutes of a basketball game. We all know that if the Speaker, Senate President, and Malacañang will push for something, it will be passed right away. If there’s a will, there’s a way. But if one is unwilling, there’s always an excuse. We can pass Bayanihan 3 and the Department of Disaster Resilience Bill.)
The House of Representatives had passed the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) bill in September 2020 and the P401-billion Bayanihan 3 bill (Bayanihan to Arise as One) in June 2021.
Similar measures, however, are still pending approval in the Senate.
Set aside vice
Meanwhile, Cayetano lamented that Congress has recently been focused on legislation that seeks to make e-cigarettes and e-sabong more accessible to the public.
“Unfortunately, tulad ngayon, y’ung bicam, focus nila ngayon ay ilipat y’ung e-cigarettes o vape sa DTI mula sa FDA. Tapos balita ko, y’ung e-sabong, gusto pang i-hearing,” he said.
(Unfortunately, as of the moment, the bicameral conference is focused on transferring the registration of e-cigarettes or vape to the DTI from the FDA. And I have learned that they want to have a hearing on e-sabong.)
Last year, Congress passed the Vape Regulation Bill which seeks to transfer the registration of vaporized nicotine products from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The bill was widely opposed by the Department of Health (DOH), health experts, and various allied health groups.
At around the same time, the House of Representatives approved a 25-year congressional franchise for the e-sabong outlet Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc. The House ways and means committee later approved a bill that would grant a similar franchise for the Visayas Cockers Club Inc.
No need to wait
Cayetano said Congress should set aside the bills that promote vice and instead focus on the DDR and Bayanihan 3.
He said Congress has every opportunity to complete deliberations on these bills and pass them within the next two weeks, given that the Duterte administration is not fielding an official slate for the 2022 general elections.
“Remember, walang kandidato ang administrasyon. So, hindi big deal sa administrasyon ang mangampanya. So, kung gusto nilang tutukan ang Congress in the next two weeks at sabihin ng Presidente, ‘Ito ang gusto ko, one, two, three, four, five,’ mabilis pa sa alas-kwatro na magagawa ‘yan,” he said.
(Remember, the administration is not fielding any candidate. So, it’s not a big deal for the administration to campaign. So, if it wants to focus on Congress in the next two weeks and the President says, ‘I want this, one, two, three, four, five,’ it will be done immediately.)
The former Speaker also asked his colleagues not to wait for the next administration to push for their priorities to be turned into law.
“Bakit pa tayo maghihintay ng June 2022 na SONA bago natin gawin ang plataporma natin? Itong last two minutes, I think, di man natin magagawa ang lahat, mga tatlo hanggang limang importanteng bagay, tingin ko, kaya pa,” Cayetano said.
(Why do we need to wait for the State of the Nation Address in June 2022 before we act on our platforms? For these last two minutes, we may not be able to finish everything but I know we can finish between three to five priority measures.)