MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is hoping that Congress will soon ratify the country's participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), just as he thanked lawmakers for the swift progress of other measures he prioritized.
In a statement, the Presidential Communications Office said the RCEP is among "those being pushed by the Palace based on the President’s directives."
The Philippines has yet to ratify its participation in RCEP after Filipino lawmakers deferred their decision on the matter. The partnership is a free trade deal among the 10 ASEAN members as well as Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The free trade deal will also allow more agricultural products from other countries to enter the Philippines with zero tariffs.
Marcos, Jr. last year said RCEP should be reexamined to ensure that it won't diminish the competitiveness of local farmers and the agriculture sector.
"The only stumbling block there is that it is all very well to trade if you are in a competitive position. I do not know that our agriculture sector is sufficiently robust to take on the competition that the opening of markets will cost," he had said.
Meanwhile, the Palace said 10 of the 19 priority legislative bills the President laid out during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) have been passed by the House and already transmitted to the Senate.
Among those are the following:
- Tax Package 4: Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA)
- Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) Bill
- Tax Package 3: Real Property Valuation and Assessment Reform Act (HB No. 6558)
- Internet Transaction Act or the E-Commerce Law and Condonation of Unpaid Amortization and Interests of Loans of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries.
The following, meanwhile, are supposedly bills that Marcos certified as urgent and other measures being prioritized by the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) passed by the House and still pending in the Senate.
- New Passport Law
- Leyte Ecological Zone
- Waste Treatment Technology
- Free Legal Assistance for Military and Uniformed Personnel
- Eastern Visayas Development Authority
- Revised National Apprenticeship Program and the Magna Carta of Barangay Health Workers.