President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday urged Congress to pass at least 19 priority measures of his administration that would help improve government services under his leadership.
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.
The Marcos administration’s priority bills include the proposed National Government Rightsizing Program (NGRP), the Budget Modernization bill, and the proposed E-Government Act
The NGRP is a reform mechanism that aims to enhance the government’s institutional capacity to perform its mandate and provide better services while ensuring optimal and efficient use of resources.
The President said the rightsizing efforts 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.
The proposed Budget Modernization law hopes to 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.
“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 pass the proposed E-Government Act, which provides for the establishment of the E-Government Master Plan covering e-government services and processes.
The measure once enacted mandates the use of internet, intranet, and other information and communications technology to provide opportunities for citizens.
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.
The proposed Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) will be adopted as the strategic framework for national water management, policy making and planning, once the DWR is created, Marcos said.
Marcos also cited the need for Congress to work on 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).
The MRC, which will be under the Health and Emergency Management Bureau (HEMB) of the DOH, will be composed of licensed physicians, medical students who have completed their four years of the medical course, graduates of medicine, registered nurses, and licensed allied health professionals.
Marcos also pushed for the passage of 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 to establish real property values and valuation standards across the country, as well as the development of a 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 a “simpler, fairer, more efficient and a revenue-neutral tax system.”
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) also listed as priority measures of the Marcos administration.
The E-Commerce Law aims to establish an effective regulation of commercial activities through the internet or electronic means, Marcos said.
The GUIDE bill provides 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 amending 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.
Marcos said the amendments would address the ambiguities in the existing law and the bottlenecks and challenges affecting the implementation of the PPP Program so as to create a “more competitive and enabling environment” for PPP.
Marcos also appealed to legislators to 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 called for a review of the 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 the high cost of electricity, alleged market collusion, and insufficient power supply.
The President also asked Congress to enact 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 a country’s land and water resources; holds owners accountable for making lands “productive and sustainable”; and strengthens the local government units to manage ecological balance within its jurisdiction.
The National Defense Act amends 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.
He said reinstituting the ROTC program as a mandatory component of senior high school programs (Grades 11 and 12) in all public and private tertiary-level educational institutions will “motivate, train, organize and mobilize the students for national defense preparedness, including disaster preparedness and capacity building for risk-related situations.”
The President also batted for the institutionalization of the United System of Separation, Retirement, and Pension which grants a monthly disability pension, in lieu of disability benefits provided under existing laws, for military and uniformed personnel (MUPs) retired by reasons of disability.
PBBM’S PRIORITY BILLS
1. National Government Rightsizing Program
2. Budget Modernization Bill
3. Tax Package 3 Valuation Reform Bill
4. Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act
5. E-Govt Act
6. Internet Transaction Act or E-commerce law
7. GFI Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery
8. Establishment of Medical Reserve Corps
9. National Disease Prevention Management Authority
10. Creation of Virology Institute of the Philippines
11. Department of Water Resources
12. Unified System of Separation, Retirement and Pension
13. E-Governance Act
14. National Land Use Act
15. National Defense Act
16. Mandatory ROTC and National Service Training
17. Enactment of Enabling Law for Natural Gas Industry
18. Amendments to EPIRA
19. Amendments to BOT Law