President Aquino signs into law 4 new legislative measures in energy, labor and health care

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President Benigno S. Aquino III signed into law four measures in the fields of energy, labor and health care that impact on the social reform agenda of the Aquino administration.

In his speech during the signing ceremonies at the Rizal Hall of Malacanang Palace on Tuesday, the President said that the four new pieces of legislation symbolize the beginning of even more work, more night of discussions and arguments, more programs and support legislation to be instituted and passed all for the benefit of the people.

“These bills are only part of the foundation of the Philippines we want to build… I know these issues are only few problems out of the many, but they serve as reminders of the small road bumps we will undoubtedly encounter as we tread the straight path for the next five, ten or even twenty years,” the President said.

The four new measures include Republic Act (RA) 10150, an act that provides a ten-year extension of the lifeline rate implementation under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) as a socialized pricing mechanism that benefits the marginalized end-users of electricity.

RA 10150 was authored by House Representatives Henedina Abad, Rufus Rodriguez and Ben Evardone, while in the Senate it was pushed by Senators Francis Escudero, Sergio Osmena III and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

“The extension of this measure will allow the less fortunate among us to put more of their resources into feeding themselves or into saving enough to pay hospitals or medicine bills. In short, extending this lifeline rate allows those shackled by poverty to focus more of their resources into keeping themselves and their families alive while giving them access to electricity,” President Aquino stressed.

Also signed into law is Joint Resolution No. 1 – seeking a ten-year extension for the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) in order to ensure the continuous exercise of its oversight function towards the full realization of the objectives and goals of the EPIRA and the Renewable Energy Act.

This was authored by Representatives Arnulfo Fuentebella and Henedina Abad in Congress with Senators Sergio Osmena III and Francis Escudero in the Senate.

“The JCPC was tasked to make sure that reforms took place and to foster an environment for healthy competition in the sector,” the President said.

The Chief Executive also affixed his signature to Republic Act 10151, an Act allowing the employment of night workers thereby repealing articles 130 and 131 of Presidential Decree (PD) Number 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines. It will also ensure mandatory provision of ample health and social services as well as commensurate compensation for night-shift workers.

RA 10151 was classified as a priority bill in the last Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

President Aquino thanked Representatives Rufus Rodriguez and Emil Ong from Congress for the new measure and Senators Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada and Francis Pangilinan of the Senate.

“The signing of this act is also an economic measure because many women in the BPO sector have been unduly prejudiced by this legal accident. We must also do everything we can to protect our position as industry leaders.” the President said.

Last to be signed by the President was Republic Act 10152 or the act providing for mandatory basic immunization services for infants and children repealing for the purpose Presidential Decree No. 996, as amended.

This law requires mandatory Hepatitis-B immunization for infants within 24 hours of birth. The President cited the ill effects of the dreaded disease adding that it can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer, among others.

“It is not fair that the vaccine against Hepatitis-B can only be afforded by a privileged few. We are doing this to give these children and their families more access to health care, which the more privileged among us often take for granted,” President Aquino noted.

The law was authored by Representatives Susan Yap and Joseph Emilio Abaya as well as Senator Pia Cayetano and Francis Escudero.

The President also said that the signing of the four new laws will not automatically eradicate poverty and inequality altogether – but in small ways, the measures will make the lives of the Filipino people better. (jcl/1:10 p.m.)