12 Bills to Watch Out for this ‘21

by Angel Grace D. Untalan, JANUARY 2021

In recent years, the Philippines have seen the enactment of landmark legislation such as the Universal Healthcare ActPhilippine Identification System ActRevised Corporation Code, as well as laws directed to address prevailing national issues such as the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act and its ‘twin’ Bayanihan to Recover As One Act, among others.

Although the pandemic ordeal may have dislodged the norms of both the upper and lower chambers of Congress, sessions remain in motion to fast track the enactment of laws with great import. The swift passage of bills dealing with national concerns is anticipated even in the new normal considering the need to cushion the blow brought about by the world’s current situation. 

For better appreciation, bills are not laws per se, unless its final and reconciled version from Congress is signed into law by the President, or enacted even without the President’s signature provided, that the bill remained unsigned within 30 days from receipt of the President’s office.

Often, bills are indicative of the economic, technological, and cultural state of the constituents being represented by these legislators. Hence, not all bills are necessarily endorsed to become law right away.

However, we have seen the ratification of progressive measures, echoed by the needs of both major and minor stakeholders over the years. To date, senators and representatives alike authored bills shortly upon the beginning of the decade to facilitate early discussion and deliberations.

With this, let us take a look at 12 bills eyeing the nation’s prime consideration and prompt action for the year 2021.

12 – Bating Filipino Para Sa Kalusugan Bill [1]

This bill caught bizarre attention from the public mainly because of its proposed mandate to standardize the placement of one’s palm at the center of the chest together with a slight nod as a customary Filipino gesture of respect, in observance of social distancing protocols. 

11 – Indigent Public Utility Driver’s License Application Subsidy Bill [2]

The subject bill allows qualified indigent applicants to be granted a twenty percent (20%) discount in the payment of certain clearances, certificates, and fees required by the LTO in applying for a Professional Driver’s License to provide greater accessibility to poor Filipinos.

10 – Motorcycles as Public Utility Vehicles Bill [3]

Since the proliferation of habal-habal or angkas before the pandemic, lawmakers seek to remedy the absence of a law regulating these operations to ensure the safety and welfare of the public. Provisions for this bill include prescribing standard fares and routes, with penalties for violations.

9 – Bill Exempting the COVID-19 Vaccine from Import Duties, Taxes, and Other Fees for Private Sector Employees and Dependents [4]

One of the bills filed earlier this year, this measure seeks for the exemption of private sectors from custom duties and taxes to provide for ease and affordability in procurement for the benefit of its employees and dependents against the pandemic.

8 –  Urban Greening Bill [5]

This bill moves to require all applicants for building permits of any development project to submit a greening plan, in addition to other requirements imposed by local government units. One of the author’s explanatory notes, further stated that the environmental problems generated by the pandemic necessitate our government to work on boosting ecological and environmental sustainability. 

7 – Bill Creating a Department for Overseas Filipino Workers [6]

A bill sought to establish a primary agency tasked to undertake a systemic national development program to protect OFWs’ rights to fair and equitable employment practices. Key points of the measure include the establishment of OFW centers and one-stop-shops dubbed as the “OFW Malasakit Center”.

6 –  Internet Infrastructure Integration Bill [7]

This bill seeks to establish a program in cooperation with the DPWH to include or integrate internet infrastructure such as fiber-optic cable installation during the construction of any government road infrastructure project using the same right-of-way.

5 – Use of Digital Payments Bill [8]

This is a bill directing all national government agencies, GOCCs, and LGUs to utilize safe and efficient digital payment collection of taxes, fees, tolls, and other revenues for the payment of goods, services, and disbursements with proposals to adopt a national QR Code standard to hasten interoperability. 

4 – Internet Transactions Act/E-Commerce Bill [9]

This bill advocates for the regulation of commercial transactions on the internet to protect both consumers and sellers from fraud and abuses committed in online sales of goods and services, as well as the creation of an e-Commerce Bureau, tasked to implement the provisions of the proposed law.

3   – Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) Bill

A proposed measure to allow banks and other financial institutions to dispose of their non-performing loans and assets in aid of expeditious liquidation of finances.

2 – Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Bill [10]

This bill provides for an immediate cut in the current 30% corporate income tax (CIT) for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with a net taxable income of P5 million and below to 20%, while other companies, including foreign firms, will pay a harmonized rate of 25% percent which may allow businesses to spend more following their tax savings. 

1 – Bills Granting the President the Power to Suspend Scheduled Increases in PhilHealth and Social Security Premium Contribution Rates [11]

Due to the onset of the pandemic, several bills were filed in Congress to combat the adverse effects of increasing the premium rates of PhilHealth and SSS for the year 2021. Some versions of the bill suggest suspending the increase until the cessation of the pandemic.

While these bills are not yet enacted, we may expect deliberations on the proposed measures to begin sooner than later, given the resumption of regular plenary sessions in Congress until the 26th of March 2021 [12].

In the meantime, we are counting on the approval of the bills from this list set to greatly benefit us all.

Sources:

[1] https://www.cnn.ph/news/2021/1/19/House-OKs-Bating-Filipino-bill-final-reading-.html

[2] http://legacy.senate.gov.ph/lis/bill_res.aspx?congress=18&q=SBN-1979

[3] http://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_18/HB00013.pdf and http://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_18/HB00037.pdf

[4] http://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_18/HB08301.pdf and http://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_18/HB08376.pdf

[5] http://legacy.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/3425431054!.pdf

[6] http://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_18/HB00002.pdf

[7] http://legacy.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/3426631065!.pdf

[8] http://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_18/HB08290.pdf

[9] https://mb.com.ph/2020/12/02/internet-transactions-act-why-it-matters/#:~:text=With%20the%20Internet%20Transactions%20Act%2C%20the%20government%20aims,UP%20TO%20DAILY%20NEWSLETTER%20CLICK%20HERE%20TO%20SIGN-UP

[10] https://mb.com.ph/2020/12/29/japanese-investors-plan-ph-expansion-with-tax-rate/

[11] http://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_18/HB08300.pdfhttp://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_18/HB08304.pdfhttp://legacy.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/3429031090!.pdf, http://legacy.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/3427831078!.pdf

[12] http://legacy.senate.gov.ph/18th_congress/resolutions/sctresno13.pdf

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About the writer:

Angel Grace D. Untalan. A Legal Management graduate with an inclination to pursue the field of higher arts. She is moderately comfortable with social interaction, but can also relish her time off from the crowd. Her works are influenced by distinguished screenwriters such as Gene Roddenberry, George R.R. Martin, and Quentin Tarantino. She aspires to become a law practitioner at The Hague, who has published papers in a Scopus-indexed journal at some point in the future.

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