Major business groups and foreign chambers have recommended the passage of 24 priority measures for the incoming 19th Congress to consider and enact as it commences on July 25.
Meanwhile, legislators look forward to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expounding on his vision for the Philippines in the next six years in his first State of the Nation Address on Monday.
Senators Sonny Angara and Loren Legarda also expect to hear the “preamble of every new administration” through the SONA, particularly the President’s plan to assist the economic sectors that need help.
In a letter sent to Marcos on July 20, the business groups and foreign chambers endorsed the following legislative reforms: Liberalization of foreign equity restrictions in the Constitution; Open Access in Data Transmission; Ease of Paying Taxes; Promotion of Digital Payments; CREATE and PEZA Act Amendments for Hybrid/Flexible Work Schedules; Freedom of Information; Property Valuation and Assessment Reform; Capital Income and Financial Taxes Reform; the Build-Operate-Transfer Law Amendments/PPP Act; and the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Law amendments.
The groups also proposed the enactment of the National Unemployment Insurance, Department of Disaster Resilience Creation, E-Commerce Act amendments, Pandemic Protection Act, Holiday Rationalization Act, Philippine Airports Authority Creation; Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Charter amendments, Intellectual Property Code amendments, Philippine Pension System Portability and Strengthening Apprenticeship Program Reform, Agricultural Lands Ownership Easing, Commonwealth Act 138 (Flag Act) Repeal, International Maritime Trade Competitiveness Act, and the Satellite-based Technologies Promotion Act.
The letter said the business groups “look forward to working closely with the Marcos-Duterte administration and the 19th Congress to pursue the advocated reforms and others that will generate substantial impact in achieving inclusive growth.”
Signing the letter were the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Australian-New Zealand Chamber, Canadian Chamber, European Chamber, Japanese Chamber, and Korean Chamber.
The business groups who called for the passage of pending legislative bills were the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc. and the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc.
In the House of Representatives, Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda of Albay asked Marcos to articulate “grand national ambitions that are as large and as historic as his mandate from the people” in his first SONA.
“The first SONA is an opportunity for PBBM to show that his mandate to effect big changes will be used to accomplish exactly that – big changes,” Salceda said.
Rep. Ron Salo of the Kabayan party-list group wishes Marcos to convey his vision and action plans on “any of the following that will positively impact the welfare of our people,” such as the reiteration of the President’s campaign promise to lower the price of rice and the specific strategy in achieving it.
Salo also expects the President to expound on his strategy to address the excessive increase in oil prices and its domino effect on the cost of basic goods and services.
Rep. Bernadette Herrera of Bagong Henerasyon would like the President to lay down his plans to rebuild the economy post-COVID-19, address rising inflation, and improve internet connectivity.
The party-list lawmaker said she is also interested to know the new sources of revenue for the government to fund the country’s economic recovery.
In the Senate, Angara expects to hear the details of Marcos’ plan for the economy and is particularly interested in knowing the specifics of the plan of the President to work hand in hand with the private sector as partners.
After two years of little to no activity in practically all sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the economy has started to open once more.
“While many businesses have resumed operations, a lot more are still unable to resume due to the losses incurred over the two-year period,” he said, noting that education also took a hit when face-to-face classes were suspended in early 2020, which led to the closure of many schools, some permanently.
Sen. Loren Legarda for her part said the SONA has always been the preamble of every new administration.
“I am looking forward to hearing President Marcos’ specific plans for the country’s pandemic recovery and transition to a ‘better normal.’ I hope that it is one that is aligned and attuned to the climate path,” she said.
The returning senator also wants to hear the President’s plans to strengthen the education system in the country, considering that the World Bank reported in 2021 that over 80% of Filipino students fall below the minimum proficiency levels. She noted the number suggests the country has a crisis in education.
Meanwhile, Metro Manila police commander Maj. Gen. Felipe Natividad appealed to the public to cooperate with law enforcers and adhere to the policy to be implemented before and during the first SONA of President Marcos on Monday.
Natividad also asked cause-oriented groups and other protesters to secure permits from local governments prior to their activities, saying a “No Permit, No Rally” policy will be imposed.
“Nonetheless, the Civil Disturbance Management will be present to impose crowd control for those who will violate the policy with the highest form of respect to human rights,” he said.