President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. discussed at least seven priority measures – including the ratification of a regional trade pact, the proposed sovereign fund, and a measure limiting the military officials who will be entitled to a fixed term of three years – in a meeting with the top leaders of Congress on Friday.
Mr. Marcos underscored the importance of ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – a free trade agreement among the Asia-Pacific nations of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – during his meeting with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and House Speaker Martin Romualdez.
Zubiri said the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund was also raised, and the President agreed there is no need to rush its passage.
“I thank the President as he agreed not to rush this proposed measure so we can fine tune further the different provisions of the MIF and put in place enough safeguards to protect the funds from corruption or mismanagement,” the Senate President said.
He said the economic cluster of the Cabinet will brief the Senate on the MIF on Monday, January 30.
The proposed MIF has already been approved by the House of Representatives on final reading last month. At the Senate, a bill filed by Sen. Mark Villar was referred to the committee on banks, financial intermediaries, and currencies on Jan. 23.
Other priority measures discussed during the meeting are as follows: the condonation of unpaid amortization and interest on loans of agrarian reform beneficiaries; amendments to the law on the fixed three-year term for some military officials; the Medical Reserve Corps Act; the Center for Disease Prevention and Control Act; and the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines Act.
Congress has committed to pass the three health-related measures within the first quarter of the year, Zubiri said.
“Our promise to the President is that we will work hard to pass the bills that will help make a big impact on our economy, but most especially on all our kababayans so that the economic growth is felt by them as well,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, is not in favor of “discussing political amendments” as lawmakers revive efforts to revise the 1987 Constitution.
Rodriguez said the focus should be on provisions related to the economy.
“How do we open our country for more foreign investments? I think now is the time to help the president,” the lawmaker said.
“How can we attract foreign investors if they can only have a 40 percent share? We are going to look at that. Not so much on the political amendment,” Rodriguez added.