House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez cites the comprehensive tax reform package his chamber approved tonight as an achievement of his watch during the first regular session of the 17th Congress.

In his sine die adjournment speech on the last day of the first regular session of the 17th Congress, Alvarez said, “Further, just this afternoon, we have successfully passed, on third reading the tax reform package of the present administration. This legislative measure will correct the outdated system of the 1997 National Internal Revenue Code.”

Alvarez also used the occasion to look back at other achievements of the House under his watch, which was called with controversial issues like the probe on the illegal drugs at the state penitentiary during the time of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and  the reimposition of the death penalty among others.

Among these are the longer life spans for Philippine passports and driver’s licenses.“ we have ratified the amendment to the Passport Act which now extends the validity of our passports to ten (10) years. We are also on track with extending the validity of the driver’s license, by law, to five (5) years.”

Alvarez also cited their contribution to alleviate the plight of OFW’s. “We have also passed on third reading, and the same is on track for ratification, an Act strengthening the protection for Filipinos who are in need of emergency health care service. The weak points of the law have been remedied to protect the weakest of our society at a time when they are most vulnerable. Mothers who are about to give birth and patients who are rushed to the emergency room will be administered the required medical care and attention. PhilHealth shall shoulder all the expenses advanced by hospitals for emergency care given to poor and indigent patients.”

Alvarez also cited their amendments to the Revised Penal Code. “We have also reviewed and updated our Revised Penal Code, giving new life to its pursuit for justice. The imposed fines and valuations from which penalties are based were crafted in 1930. That was 87 years ago. The amounts are grossly disproportionate to the existing realities of our time. For example, the act of treason, under the old Revised Penal Code, imposes a fine not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos. We have raised this to a more proportionate fine not exceeding Four million pesos (Php 4,000,000).”

Alvarez also reported the inclusion of casinos under the anti-money laundering act. “Moreover, we have revised the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) to include the casino sector under its coverage. By mandating casinos to report suspicious transactions to the Anti-Money Laundering Council, imposing stringent customer identification requirements and record keeping systems, and prohibiting the conversion of money not used for gaming, this bill can effectively curb the use of casinos as avenues for anomalous transactions. 

Alvarez also claimed credit for the House for free internet in public spaces. “This bill has been ratified and is awaiting the signature of the President of the Philippines. When it becomes law, it will further empower the Filipino people in using Information and Communications Technology as they go about with their daily lives. This ensures the success of Filipinos in a data-driven world.”

The House also approved a bill for affordable college education. “Taking heed of the timeless lesson that education is key for a nation to prosper and progress, higher education provided by our State Universities and Colleges will now be more affordable for all. This bill has been ratified. All that it requires is the signature of the President.”