Nograles Defines House Policy Thrusts during His Watch
Byline: BEN R. ROSARIO
Speaker Prospero Nograles vowed yesterday to steer the House of Representatives in pursuing anti-poverty measures which he said will be the priority agenda under his leadership.
In a policy speech delivered on his first month as head of the chamber, Nograles said food self-sufficiency should enhance the priority objective of lifting the conditions of poor Filipinos.
"The country as a whole is getting richer, the figures say it. But the people as a whole are still poor and many are getting poorer. The numbers show that, too," Nograles said.
However, he stressed that Filipinos must never prejudice social justice in the name of agricultural productivity and commercial viability.
"We must protect our natural sources of food, and enhance agricultural productivity and commercial viability but never at the expense of social justice," he said.
Nograles entered his first month as speaker yesterday with a vow to help sustain the economic growth that has been achieved by the Arroyo government.
The Davao City lawmaker became the first Mindanao-based congressman to be elected head of the chamber when Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr. was unseated last Feb. 3.
Nograles noted that despite the "partisan political noise," the country achieved a 7.3 percent economic growth rate in 2007, 3 percent higher than the goal government set for 2010.
"Government must be doing something right because the country is poised to achieve a higher growth rate when everywhere else is experiencing economic contraction and decline," he said.
Underscoring the legislative support put in place by Congress, Nograles gave credit to the efforts of President Arroyo's government for having "braved the greatest political risks to administer the strongest economic medicine."
"Some of the credit must surely go to the House of Representatives, which tackled, pushed, and passed some of the strongest but nonetheless necessary, some of the most painful and therefore unpopular, fiscal reforms in the country's history," Nograles said.
With the peso in its strongest level in eight years and the United States in an uncertain economic posture, Nograles said "now is the time to invest in capital equipment at home." With a healthy fiscal environment, "now is the time to avail of credit on reasonable terms."
With high oil prices, there is need to maximize investments in sensible alternative energy sources, and as the country projects a balanced budget this year, "now is the time to ensure it is sustained - not by tightening our belts but by encouraging economic expansion," he said. …