MANILA – President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Monday expressed hope that Congress would heed his call to pass at least 19 priority measures of his administration.
This, as Marcos enumerated his administration's priority legislative measures in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).
"As I am here today addressing the legislature, let me propose legislation that we would like for you to pass," he said in his SONA delivered before lawmakers at the plenary of the House of Representatives.
Better government services
Marcos pushed for the passage of bills that would help improve the government services under his leadership.
The proposed National Government Rightsizing Program (NGRP), the Budget Modernization bill, the proposed E-Government Act, and the proposed E-Governance Act are among the measures aimed at improving service delivery in government, Marcos said.
The NGRP is a reform mechanism that seeks to enhance the government’s institutional capacity to perform its mandate and provide better services, while ensuring optimal and efficient use of resources.
The rightsizing efforts, Marcos said, will involve the conduct of a "comprehensive" strategic review of functions, programs and projects that will cut across various agencies.
"Compared to previous government reorganization efforts, the NGRP will entail a comprehensive strategic review of the functions, operations, organization, systems and processes of the different agencies, and massive and transformational initiatives in agencies concerned, such as merger, consolidation, splitting, transfer, and abolition of some offices," he said.
Marcos said the proposed Budget Modernization law will institutionalize the Cash-based Budgeting System (CBS), which was adopted by virtue of Executive Order 91 signed in 2019, to strengthen fiscal discipline in the allocation and use of budget resources.
He said the measure would ensure that every peso budgeted by the government would lead to the actual delivery of programs and projects.
"The full implementation of the CBS is timely and vital as the government executes response and recovery plans post- pandemic," Marcos said.
Marcos also asked Congress to support the proposed E-Government Act which provides for the establishment of the E-Government Master Plan which shall cover all e-government services and processes.
The proposed E-Governance Act, on the other hand, aims to promote the use of Internet, Intranet, and other Information and Communications Technology to provide opportunities for citizens.
New departments, offices
Marcos also sought the passage of measures creating the Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) and the Department of Water Resources (DWR).
The proposed VIP, he said, would serve as an attached agency of then Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
"All offices and units under the DOST with functions related to virology shall be transferred to the VIP," Marcos said.
On the other hand, the proposed Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) will be adopted as the strategic framework for national water management, policymaking and planning, once the DWR is created, Marcos said.
Marcos also mentioned that the creation of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and the Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), which will be attached to the Department of Health (DOH), are also among his government's priorities.
The MRC, which will be under the Health and Emergency Management Bureau (HEMB) of the DOH, shall be composed of licensed physicians, medical students who have completed their four years of medical course, graduates of medicine, registered nurses, and licensed allied health professionals.
Marcos likewise expressed optimism that the lawmakers would back the Tax Package 3: Valuation Reform Bill and the Tax Package 4: Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA).
The Valuation Reform bill seeks the establishment of real property values and valuation standards across the country, as well as the development of Real Property Information System that provides for the database of all real property transactions and declarations in the country.
The proposed PIFITA, on the other hand, aims to introduce reforms to the taxation of capital income and financial services by redesigning the financial sector taxation into "simpler, fairer, more efficient and a revenue neutral tax system."
The other priority measures of the Marcos administration include the proposed Internet Transaction Act or E-Commerce Law, as well as the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE).
The E-Commerce Law aims the establishment of an effective regulation of commercial activities through the internet or electronic means, Marcos said.
The GUIDE bill, meantime, seeks to provide financial assistance to distressed enterprises critical to economic recovery through programs and initiatives that will be implemented by the Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines and Philippine Guarantee Corporation.
Marcos also pushed for a measure introducing amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law, in an effort to improve the implementation of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Program and align the desired outputs and outcomes with the strategic development targets of the country.
The amendments, he said, would address the ambiguities in the existing law and the bottlenecks and challenges affecting the implementation of the PPP Program.
Marcos added that amending the BOT Law would create a "more competitive and enabling environment" for PPP.
Marcos also expressed optimism that Congress would support the enactment of an enabling Law for the Natural Gas Industry.
"This primarily seeks to foster the development of the Midstream Natural Gas Industry in a bid to strengthen Philippine energy security by diversifying the country’s primary sources of energy and promoting the role of natural gas as a complementary fuel to variable renewable energy," he said.
He also asked the legislators to amend Republic Act (RA) 9136, otherwise known as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA, to improve the implementation of the law’s provisions and enhance its effectiveness to address high cost of electricity, alleged market collusion, and insufficient power supply.
"The bill seeks to restructure the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC) to foster accountability and improve the commission’s government system that would ensure consumer protection and in enhancing the competitive operation of the electricity market," Marcos said.
Developing lands, defense sector
Marcos said he also expects both the Senate and the House of Representatives to support the proposed National Land Use Act, the proposed National Defense Act, and the proposed Mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) and National Service Training Program (NSTP).
The proposed National Land Use Act provides for a "rational and holistic" management and development of country's land and water resources; hold owners accountable for making lands "productive and sustainable"; strengthen the local government units to manage ecological balance within its jurisdiction.
"It also provides for Land Use and Physical Planning/Framework as a mechanism in determining policies and principles to implement this legislative measure," Marcos said.
On the other hand, the National Defense Act seeks amendments to the antiquated National Defense Act of 1935 to provide for a change in the military structure of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, making it "more responsive to current and future non-conventional security threats to the country’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty," Marcos said.
Marcos also stressed the need to reinstitute the ROTC program as mandatory component of senior high school programs (Grades 11 and 12) in all public and private tertiary-level educational institutions.
"The aim is to motivate, train, organize and mobilize the students for national defense preparedness, including disaster preparedness and capacity building for risk-related situations," he said.
He likewise wanted to institutionalize the United System of Separation, Retirement and Pension which will grant a monthly disability pension, in lieu of disability benefits provided under existing laws, for military and uniformed personnel (MUPs) retired by reasons of disability. (PNA)