Duterte hopeful Congress swiftly passes priority measures

By Genalyn Kabiling 

The proposed 2020 national budget, tax and trade reforms, and return of the death penalty are among the administration measures President Duterte hopes the 18th Congress will swiftly pass.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN) Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Other measures seeking to create a department of disaster resilience as well as another department for the overseas Filipino workers will also be part of the President's legislative proposal to the next Congress, according to Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.

"Our priority is to provide a comfortable life for Filipinos," Panelo said in an interview with the Manila Bulletin ahead of the President's fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

In seeking the passage of the proposed 2020 budget, Panelo said the government hopes there will be no repeat of the reenacted budget early this year.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier announced that it intends to submit the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020 not later than the second week of August.

"We have experienced the impact of a reenacted budget as a result of a budget impasse and we hope that this would not happen again," Panelo said.

"The welfare of the Filipino people is our utmost priority and therefore we call on the members of the Congress to act immediately so that government services will not be hampered," he said.

Panelo also urged Congress to support the proposed revival of the death penalty in a bid to deter heinous crimes. He said the President, who has waged a relentless campaign against illegal drugs and criminality, has been pushing for capital punishment since day one in office.

"We have seem a decline on crime volume since 2016 but a passage of the death penalty bill will hopeful effect real change and ultimate decrease if not alleviate heinous crimes," he said.

"We hope that our allies in congress would consider this piece of legislation as it would provide a safer and more secure environment for all," he added.

To help sustain the country's inclusive growth and accelerate poverty reduction, Panelo also pushed for the congressional passage of other tax reform measures on corporate income tax, property valuation system, and capital income taxation.

The Palace has also backed the proposed amendments to the foreign investment act and retail trade liberalization act.

Panelo said they would also continue to call on Congress to immediately pass the bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) to take charge of the country's overall disaster prevention and response efforts.

"The President stresses the importance of the creation of a disaster department in order to address the country's emerging challenges to disaster residency," he said.

The proposed creation of a department catering to the needs of Filipinos abroad has also been endorsed by the President, according to Panelo.

Duterte earlier said he wanted the new OFW department ready by December as he sought to address illegal recruitment and other concerns affected Filipino workers abroad.