Marcos will 'fully support' Bulacan ecozone bill after Congress remedies 'defects'

Published July 4, 2022, 1:10 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will fully support the bill to create the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport once Congress fixes the “defects” in the proposed measure, Malacañang said.

Communications Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles (PTV/RTVM Screenshot)

Communications Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles made this statement after Senator Imee Marcos expressed disappointment about her brother’s veto and expressed concern about its possible chilling effect on local and foreign investors.

In her first press briefing, Angeles said they understood the disappointment of the Presidential Sister and the other legislators but reiterated the stand of the President on the issue.

“We understand the feelings of disappointment, but this is the stand of the President. Let’s fix this now, so we don’t wait for it to be challenged later on,” she said Monday, July 4.

“He does say he is fully supportive of this. In fact, it is his commitment to sharpen the law, so when this is indeed passed, then he can fully support it,” she added.

Angeles further explained that the law’s implementation would just face delays had President Marcos not vetoed the proposed bill.

“We have to make anticipations of possible constitutional challenges on this one. It will cause further delays if the law is challenged and invalidated,” she said.

“This is the best way to address the innate problems of the House Bill, and it gives an opportunity for the legislature to make these corrections,” she added.

On July 3, Angeles said Marcos’s decision to veto House Bill (HB) No. 7575 was the “fastest way” to cure the bill’s defects before it lapsed into law on July 4.

However, the Palace official said the construction of the international airport in Bulacan is not affected by the veto and will push through as the San Miguel franchise to operate the airport was approved by both the Senate and House in October 2020.

San Miguel Corporation, one of the country’s biggest conglomerates, is investing P740 billion to turn a 2,500-hectare property in Bulacan into an aerotropolis featuring a world-class gateway capable of handling 100 million passengers annually, plus an adjacent urban and industrial hub.

In his veto message, Marcos said, “fiscal prudence must be exercised particularly at times when resources are scarce, and needs are abundant.”

“l cannot support the bill considering the provisions that pose substantial fiscal risks to the country and its infringement on or conflict with other agencies’ mandates and authorities,” he wrote.

He added that since the system would be rendered incapable of generating a yield sufficient to sustain the country’s social and economic infrastructure, the Government would be forced to seek new sources of revenue through additional taxes or borrowings in the future.

“In the end, it is the taxpayers who will ultimately bear the brunt of the burden,” President Marcos said.

Angeles said the proposed measure lacks coherence with existing laws, rules, and regulations by failing to provide audit provisions for the Commission on Audit (COA), procedures for the expropriation of lands awarded to agrarian reform beneficiaries, and a master plan for the specific metes and bounds of the economic zone.

She added the bill did not provide procedures for expropriation of lands awarded to agrarian reform beneficiaries and granted “blanket powers” to the economic zone authority to handle technical airport operations, which would violate aeronautical laws.

She also pointed out that the proposed ecozone would be located near the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga province that borders Bulacan, which runs against government policy on creating special economic zones in strategic locations.

 
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