Duterte seeks Congress nod for laws to improve Filipinos' lives
A comfortable life for all the Filipinos is the goal of President Rodrigo Duterte for the next three years of his administration.
During his one hour and thirty minute State of the Nation Address, Duterte sought the help of around 3,000 members of Congress in implementing laws that will help in improving lives of Filipinos.
Duterte first mentioned the passage of the Trabaho (Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-Quality Opportunities) Bill, which is the economic managers' second tranche on tax reforms.
The measure seeks to bring down corporate income tax to 20 percent from the current 30 percent.
“It will energize our MSMEs ( micro, small and medium enterprises) and encourage them to expand their business and hopefully generate, hopefully, (1.4) million jobs in the coming years” said Duterte.
He also asked Congress to pass other revenue measures, including the sin tax reform bill.
"I'm also asking Congress to pass the remaining packages of my administration’s tax reform program and the bills that will further raise excise tax on tobacco and alchohol," Duterte said.
He also urged them to pass a new Salary Standardization Law (SSL) to increase pay of government workers, including public school teachers and public hospital nurses.
“To the teachers who toil and work tirelessly to educate our young, the one you are requesting is already included here. Not bigger but it will tide you over,” Duterte said.
Public school teachers have been asking Duterte for a pay hike after the approval of a big increase in base pay of military and other uniformed personnel last year.
He then implored Congress to study “very carefully” the postponement of the May 2020 elections which include Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan to October 2022.
“To provide them with the ample time to finish their programs and projects, I suggest Congress should also enact the Magna Carta for Barangays,” he said.
Duterte also urged lawmakers to create measures that will help in addressing water shortage, fire protection and disaster resilience.
"Disasters are poverty creators that is why we have to hasten the establishment of the Department of Disaster Resilience so that this department focuses on natural hazards and climate change," Duterte said.
"I urge Congress to fast-track the passage of the administration version of this bill," he added.
He also acknowledged the extent of damage in the agriculture sector due to the El Niño phenomenon and urged agencies concerned with delivery of water services to immediately improve their operations.
“We need to pass a bill creating the Department of Water Resources and the Water Regulatory Commission,” he said.
Duterte also called on Congress to pass a law mandating a fire protection modernization program.
"We have to do better than this. There are other cities that are utterly without the tools to respond the challenges of fire. At this age, it would be a shame if you cannot put out a fire in two days, three days," Duterte said.
"This will equip the Bureau of Fire Protection with tools to respond the challenge,” he said, asking Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez to provide a budget for the program.
Duterte also asked Congress to urgently pass the National Land Use Act this year.
He said this is one of their priority legislation to resolve land use conflicts, mandate formulation of land use plans at the national and local levels and for the country to meet demands of new investors.
"A science-based National Land Use Plan would serve as basis for the LGUs in crafting respective development plans and help disperse economic activities to the countryside, the dispersion of the economic and business activities to Visayas and Mindanao," he said.
"It's not just a campaign promise, it is an economic imperative and a key to our country's sustainable and equitable development. We will encourage investors to develop rural areas and Metro Manila and other mega urban areas," he added.
Also included is the passage of the National Defense Act and revive the mandatory ROTC, which he called “very important” measures to strengthen the country’s defense system.
“We expect support to the legislative initiatives that are aimed at strengthening defense-related systems such as the proposed National Defense Act and Uniformed Separation (and) Retirement Pension Bill and (the) revival of mandatory ROTC (for) Grades 11 and 12. Very important,” said Duterte.
At the end of his speech, Duterte said he will push harder on the programs he started and will not stop until he reaches the finish line.
“Though we cannot change the past, we will not squander the future. I will push harder in the pursuit of programs that we have started but always within the parameters of the law,” he said.
“I will not merely coast along or while away my time during the remaining years of my administration. It ain't my style. But I will not stop until I reach the finish line. Then and only then shall I call it a day,” he added.
Duterte said he dreams of a better Philippines.
“Our goal for the next three years is clear: A comfortable life for everybody, all Filipinos. We have made significant strides and accomplishment, milestones as a nation in the past three years. These momentum must continue with greater fervor,” he said.
“I dream of glowing days ahead for every Filipino. I dream of a Philippines better than the one I grew up with. This is my pledge and commitment for just three years, if I can. If I cannot, I am sorry,” Duterte added. Ella Dionisio/DMS