President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will fully support a measure establishing a special economic zone and freeport adjacent to the proposed airport city in Bulacan province once the Congress “corrects” provisions that pose substantial fiscal risks to the country, Malacañang said Monday.
“He does say he is fully supportive of this. And so in fact this is — it is his commitment to sharpen the law so that when this is indeed passed, then he can fully support it,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in her first regular Palace press briefing.
She made this remark after Senator Imee Marcos expressed alarm that the move of her brother to veto the bill might drive away foreign investors.
“We understand their feelings of disappointment but this is the stand of the President. Let’s fix this now so we don’t wait for it to be challenged later on,” Cruz-Angeles said.
She reiterated that the measure needs to be “sharpened”, warning that the implementation of the measure could face “further delays” had Marcos not vetoed the bill.
“Well, the Palace merely says that the law has to be sharpened. We have to make anticipations of possible constitutional challenges on this one. It will cause further delays if the law is challenged and invalidated. So, this is the best way to address the problems, the innate problems of the House bill, and it gives an opportunity for the legislature to make those corrections,” she added.
Asked if Marcos will certify the bill as urgent, Cruz-Angeles did not give a direct answer but again said he wanted provisions sharpened.
“There’s no indication of such certification, but the importance is evident in the explanation of the veto that he merely wants these things to be sharpened. An approval of this law might result in a delay of its implementation because it might be challenged. So, that’s how important it is for him that a law is more finely crafted in relation to those matters that he has raised. So, that is how he articulates the importance of this bill,” she said.
Imee, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs in the 18th Congress, sponsored the passage of House Bill (HB) 7575 or the proposed Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Act.
She earlier expressed concern that the vote might force foreign investors to think twice about investing in the Philippines.
However, she said she recognizes the President’s authority to veto any proposed law.
In his veto message, Marcos rejected HB 7575 because of its provisions that “pose substantial fiscal risks to the country” and its “infringement on or conflict with other agencies’ mandates and authorities”.
“At the foreground, fiscal prudence must be exercised particularly at times when resources are scarce and needs are abundant. While this administration recognizes the objective of the proposed measure to accelerate economic growth in its locality, I cannot support the bill,” he said in a letter dated July 1 and addressed to the Senate President and House Speaker.
Marcos said the enrolled bill “lacks coherence with existing laws, rules, and regulations”, noting that it has no provisions for an audit by the Commission on Audit, procedures for expropriation of lands awarded to agrarian reform beneficiaries, and a master plan for the specific boundaries of the economic zone.
He added that the proposed measure grants the proposed economic zone authority “rule-making powers relative to environmental protection that is not found in the charter of other economic zones,” as well as “blanket powers to handle technical airport operations in contravention of existing aeronautical laws”.
Marcos said the proposed economic zone is located “in close proximity” to the Clark Special Economic Zone, which is “against the government’s policy on creating special economic zones in strategic locations”. (PNA)