Vetoed Bulacan economic zone bill refiled in Congress

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2022 05:59 PM

MANILA — A vetoed bill that seeks to create the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone has been refiled in the House of Representatives.

The 18th Congress approved the bill but President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, vetoed it on July 1, 2022.

In his explanatory note, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said the fresh version of the bill would address the reasons for its veto. He provided a summary of the safeguards the new bill has:

• Specific metes and bounds for the territorial coverage of the ecozone
• Governance mechanisms consistent with other ecozone laws
• Limiting rule-making to functions of the ecozone
• Defining the relationship between government agencies and the ecozone
• Cost-sharing on the defense and security of the ecozone, to address fiscal sustainability concerns
• Consistency of fiscal incentives framework with the Tax Code
• Changes in provisions on capitalization to ensure fiscal sustainability and protect the public interest
• Changes in the composition of the governing board, to ensure the primacy of public interest
• General qualifications that the provisions of the charter are subject to existing laws, rules, and regulations
• Audit mechanisms consistent with existing law, and protecting the authority of the Commission on Audit and the Government Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations
• Protecting the mandate of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation with respect to games and amusements
• Protections against conflict of interest
• Protections against abuse of investors' visa
• Protections for agrarian reform beneficiaries

Salceda said that he is confident that the proposed safeguards address the concerns that Marcos Jr. manifested to Congress in his veto message.

"In fact, the proposed safeguards and amendments, go beyond the concerns cited in the veto message, to ensure that the ecozone, while created to encourage private investment, is pursued ultimately for the public interest," Salceda said.

Marcos vetoed the measure due to "fiscal risks" and "lack of coherence" in the country's laws, saying that it "infringes" on the authority of government agencies.

The ecozone was supposed to be built inside the Bulacan airport complex, the franchise to operate of which was given to San Miguel Corp.

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