Marcos vetoes bill creating Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone

Job Manahan and Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 02 2022 01:19 PM | Updated as of Jul 02 2022 09:46 PM

Exterior design studies for San Miguel Corp.'s proposed New Manila International Airport project in Bulakan town, Bulacan. Handout
Exterior design studies for San Miguel Corp.'s proposed New Manila International Airport project in Bulakan town, Bulacan. Handout

MANILA (3RD UPDATE) – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has vetoed a proposed measure establishing the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone, citing "fiscal risks" and its "lack of coherence" in the country's laws.

Marcos' veto letter to the Senate was signed on July 1, his first day in office as the country’s new leader, but this was only made public by Malacañang on Saturday. 

In his message, Marcos said while the creation of the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport is seen to accelerate economic growth in its locality, he would not sign a measure that poses "substantial fiscal risks to the country." 

He added that House Bill No. 757 "infringes" on the authority of government agencies.

Marcos said the proposed law lacked auditing provisions for the Commission on Audit, did not explain how it would expropriate lands for agrarian reform beneficiaries, and gave "blanket powers" to the economic zone authority on technical airport operations and environmental protection "not found" in the Constitution. 

"The economic zone’s close proximity to the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga is against the government’s policy on creating special economic zones in strategic locations,” his message read. 

The National Economic and Development Authority and the Regional Development Council also “assert the need to thoroughly study and assess the costs to ensure that the establishment of the economic zone would be beneficial to the whole country.”

“Contrary to the government’s objective of developing a tax system with low rates and a broad tax base, the enrolled bill will significantly narrow our tax base with its mandated incentives applicable to registered entities,” he said.

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

The new P740-billion international airport would have a capacity of 100 million passengers every year, San Miguel earlier said.

San Miguel earlier said the project could generate "over a million" direct and indirect jobs.

'UNFORTUNATE'

While Sen. Migz Zubiri described the veto as "unfortunate", he said he respects the president's decision. 

He noted, however, that the bill abides by the provisions of the CREATE law. 

"The Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone is envisioned to complement the construction of one of the largest airports in the region and to make it not just a transportation hub but a manufacturing hub as well, in the hope of bringing in much-needed investments and thousands of jobs for the people of Central Luzon," Zubiri said. 

"The veto is unfortunate but it is the president's prerogative." 

Rep. Joey Salceda said Congress will abide by Marcos' decision and "seek to address his concern" in the current Congress. 

"Essentially, the concerns are that the Authority being created has extraordinary powers, the metes and bounds are undefined, and the costs and benefits of the proposal appear to not yet be clear in the determination of the executive branch. I acknowledge the wisdom in his concerns," Salceda said in a statement, adding that he will refile an "amended version." 

MEMO NO. 2 

Meanwhile, Malacañang has also issued Memorandum Circular No. 2, mandating strict compliance with the strengthened standards of complete staff work (CSW) for the processing and evaluation of requests for presidential issuances and other approvals

The order, signed by Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez on June 30, was to ensure compliance with such form and substance as will enable the Office of the President to "adequately and indicate approval or disapproval.”

“Any such request that fails to comply with the strengthened CSW requirements and standards shall be received without action or returned to the proponent,” the order read.

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