After lawmakers have approved all of the priority bills of President Marcos, the next order of business for the House of Representatives will be the proposed P6.2-trillion national budget for 2025, Speaker Martin Romualdez disclosed yesterday.

'After the President delivers his State of the Nation Address (on July 22), of course the executive department will submit to us in Congress their proposed budget for 2025, and that will be our priority (when we resume sessions),' Romualdez told reporters.

'That will be our priority legislation,' the Speaker added, referring to July, after the 19th Congress (2022-2025) opens its third and last regular session, prior to the filing of certificate of candidacy by October this year, and before the May 2025 senatorial elections.

The leader of the 300-plus-strong House, who is also the president of the ruling Lakas-CMD political party, said the national spending program is the most important piece of legislation Congress passes each year.

Romualdez was interviewed at the Agriculture Convergence event in Tiaong, Quezon province over the weekend, after witnessing the distribution by the Department of Labor and Employment of financial aid under the agency's Tulong Panghanapbuhay para sa ating Disadvantaged at Displaced Workers (TUPAD).

He said Congress would continue to fund the workers' assistance program.

Near agreement on RTL amendments

In a related development, Romualdez said the House and the Senate are close to an agreement on the amendments to the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) following his first official meeting with Senate President Francis Escudero.

'The meeting and collaboration is ongoing, and it seems the House and the Senate are almost in agreement. We might have a good resolution (on RTL),' the Speaker said when interviewed by reporters on the sidelines of the event.

Aside from the TUPAD payout to workers, the event marked the launch of the Farmers Assistance for Recovery and Modernization program.

As guest of honor and keynote speaker during the event organized by Deputy Speaker and Quezon 2nd District Rep. David Suarez, Romualdez cited the ongoing efforts to amend the RTL to provide further support to farmers and relief to consumers grappling with high rice prices.

The leader of the 300-plus-strong House emphasized the chamber's support for the National Food Authority and its initiative to sell rice purchased directly from farmers to the public.

Romualdez underscored that these efforts, including the proposed amendments to the RTL, reflect the unwavering commitment to support Marcos' vision of revitalizing the agricultural sector and uplifting the lives of Filipino farmers.

The discussion on RTL amendments was a focal point in Romualdez's first official meeting with Escudero at the Aguado Residence in Malacañang on Thursday last week.

The amendments aim to ensure food security and economic stability for farmers by providing affordable quality rice to Filipinos, and increasing farmers' incomes.

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