President Aquino has called on Congress to swiftly pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, the P2.606-trillion national budget for 2015, and 28 other administration priority bills.
He made the call after getting the flak for his failure to mention the FOI bill in his fifth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) last Monday.
The list of the President Aquino’s priority legislative measures was transmitted by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.
Ochoa, in a recent letter to Belmonte, said the “high-impact” legislative bills seek to achieve inclusive growth, promote good governance, enhance social protection, among others.
“These are legislative bills that intend to achieve inclusive growth. More particularly, they are projected to result in a high, sustained, and broad-based economic growth that generate mass employment and draw the majority of the people into the economic and social mainstream, reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” Ochoa said.
“It is further hoped that these measures will improve the quality of governance, boost the market’s essential institutional infrastructure, and support an economy that guarantees full, equal, and universal enjoyment of all human rights,” he added.
The priority list included the six measures endorsed by the President in his SONA before the joint session of Congress last Monday. These are the 2015 national budget, supplemental budget for 2014 to fund projects previously bankrolled by the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Uniformed Personnel Pension Reform Bill, Bangsamoro Basic Law, extended filing of notice of coverage under land reform program, and the joint resolution that will clarify the budgetary items listed in the DAP.
The priority bills related to the economic development and trade are the rationalization of fiscal incentives, amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, amendments to the law on right of way of government infrastructure projects, amendments to the Cabotage law, amendments to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) charter, removal of investment restrictions in specific laws cited in the Foreign Investment Negative List, rationalization of the mining fiscal regime, and the Competition Law.
On ensuring security and public order, the President also pushed for the swift passage of the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, amendment to the Human Security Act, revision of the criminal code, and delineation of the Philippine maritime zone/archipelagic sea lanes.
Other proposed measures are the Act Instituting Reforms in Land Administration, National Land Use Act, Delineation of Specific Forest Limits of Public Domain, Water Sector Reform Act, the FOI Act, Civil Service Code Reform, Magna Carta of the Poor, Act Protecting Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, amendments to the Anti-enforced Disappearance Law, Strategic Trade Management Act, amendments to the Ombudsman Law, and bill converting Bantayan Island into alienable and disposable land.
Ochoa said the Palace is ready to discuss with Congress any additional priority measures that should be included in the list.