By Argyll Geducos
Malacañang said that President Duterte will convene the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) as soon as the Congress is done organizing their committees.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the statement two days after President Duterte delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).
In a text message, Nograles said that the Palace would still have to make the necessary arrangements before Duterte could convene the LEDAC for the swift passage of his priority bills.
The LEDAC usually convenes around August.
“PRRD will convene the LEDAC soon. We just have to find a schedule,” Nograles said in a text message.
“We still have to make the necessary arrangements,” he added.
The former lawmaker said the Congress should first organize their committees before the President convenes the LEDAC.
“They (Senate and the House of Representatives) haven’t fully organized yet in terms of electing Chairpersons, Vice Chairs, and members of the committees. So let’s give them some time first before PRRD convenes LEDAC,” Nograles said.
In his SONA, Duterte urged the Congress to reinstate death penalty for heinous crimes related to illegal drugs and plunder, saying nothing much has changed since he took oath.
The President also asked Congress to pass National Defense Act, Uniformed Personnel Separation Retirement Pension Bill, and the revival of the mandatory Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program for Senior High School students.
Duterte also called on Congress to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections from May 2020 to October 2022 to rectify the truncated terms of sitting barangay officials. He also urged the legislature to work on the Magna Carta for Barangays which aims to declare officials as regular government officials.
The President also expressed his desire for a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers. Early this month, Duterte said that he wants the new department by December this year. The President also wants to establish a Department of Disaster Resilience, Department of Water Resources, and Water Regulatory Commission.
Like in his SONA in 2018, Duterte renewed his call for Congress to pass the second tranche of the administration’s tax reform programs. The TRAIN 2 or Trabaho bill aims to reduce corporate income tax rate to 20 percent, broaden the tax base, and rationalize tax incentives to businesses.
The President also appealed to Congress to pass a new Salary Standardization Law (SSL) and include a pay raise for public school teachers and nurses.
Duterte also sought the help of the Congress anew to review and pass a government rightsizing bill to reconfigure bureaucracy and streamline government systems to deliver services without delay over a short period of time.
The President also asked Congress to pass a Fire Modernization Program, and the National Land Use Act within the year.
He is also looking into the urgent utilization of coconut levy fund for farmers. In February this year, Duterte vetoed a bill concerning the coco levy fund, saying the House version would put the fund in the hands of private individuals and would compromise Executive Branch actions.