Delivering his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte called on Congress to pass legislations that will address labor, environment, and land use concerns in the country.
In his annual address to the Filipino people, the President discussed his campaign against Endo (end of contract), noting that his efforts have resulted to the regularization of more than 300,000 workers as of early this month.
While he wants to appease everyone in tackling labor issues, he said he does not have all the power vested upon him by the Constitution.
“And neither will I make both ends meet even if I violate the laws to achieve that purpose. Simply, it is not part of my territory,” he said.
“That is why I add mine to their voices in asking Congress to pass legislation ending the practice of contractualization once and for all,” he added.
The President also recognized the sacrifices of the country’s farmers being the producers of food for the people. He urged Congress to convene the bicameral conference committee and pass at the soonest possible time the bill establishing the Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund.
To avoid the repeat of the Boracay degradation, he urged the Senate to urgently pass the National Land Use Act to put in place a national land use policy that will address competing land requirements for food, housing, businesses, and environmental conservation.
“What has happened to Boracay is just an indication of the long-overdue need to rationalize, in a holistic and sustainable manner, the utilization, management, and development of our lands,” he stressed.
The Chief Executive also urged local government units to proactively enforce the country’s environmental laws and not wait for the national agencies to swoop down on their areas just to do their duties.
To help safeguard the present and the future generations, Duterte said there’s a need to earnestly undertake initiatives to reduce the country’s vulnerabilities to natural hazards, and bolster its resilience to the impact of natural disasters and climate change.
He said his Cabinet has approved for immediate endorsement to Congress the passage of a law creating the Department of Disaster Management, an inter-agency like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the United States.
“An inter-agency crafted and a high-priority measure aimed at genuinely strengthening our country’s capacity for [resilience] to natural disasters. I fervently appeal to Congress to pass this bill with utmost urgency. Our people’s safety requirements cannot wait,” he said.
President Duterte also wants Congress to prioritize legislation that will ensure rice sufficiency in the country through a quota system on rice importation.
The government will issue subsidies to the vulnerable and will address hoarding, he said noting his government is also working on long-term solutions.
“We need to switch from the current quota system in importing rice to a tariff system where rice can be imported more freely. This will give us additional resources for our farmers, reduce the price of rice by up to 7 pesos per kilo, and lower inflation significantly. I ask Congress to prioritize this crucial reform, which I have certified as urgent today,” the President said.
Also part of the President’s priority list is the passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Package 2.
Package 2 will lower corporate income taxes, especially for the small businesses, which means more money for investment and job creation.
More than 99 percent of businesses are micro, small, or medium enterprises (MSME) employing around 65 percent of the country’s workers. The enactment of the Package 2 is what stands between today and millions of jobs in the near future, according to the President.
“I hope to sign Package 2 before the year ends. I urge Congress to pass it in a form that satisfies our goals and serves the interests of the many, not just the wealthy few,” he said.
The President expects that all five packages of his tax reform will be submitted to Congress by the end of July 2018.
To improve the health care system in the country, he urged Congress for the speedy passage of the Universal Health Care Bill authored by former Representative and now Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
The government is currently institutionalizing the unified implementation of the “No Balance Billing Policy” through which the government and private healthcare providers can work out an effective billing system, the President said.
The government is also working with the local government units to implement a National Health Workforce Support System. ###PND