President Rodrigo Duterte takes a bow before the legislators and other guests before delivering his Fourth State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 22, 2019.
Alfred Frias/Presidential Photo
Nograles says LEDAC to convene soon
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - July 24, 2019 - 9:04pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council would convene soon to discuss the priority bills enumerated by President Rodrigo Duterte during his fourth State of the Nation Address, Malacañang said Wednesday. 

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the council would meet after the House of Representatives and the Senate fill in key leadership posts. He noted that LEDAC usually convenes in August. 

"PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) 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. Remember, the House and the Senate have just started organizing. And they 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," he added. 

READ: 32 things Duterte said in his 4th SONA

During his fourth SONA last Monday, Duterte asked Congress to pass more than a dozen bills including measures intended to generate additional revenues and strengthen security efforts. 

They include the restoration of death penalty; the tax reform packages; creation of departments for overseas Filipino workers, disaster resilience, water resources; the mandatory Reserved Officers Training Corps for senior high school students, a new salary standardization law; government rightsizing bill, National Defense Act, amendments to the Human Security Act, postponement of barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls, Magna Carta for Barangays, fire protection modernization program, trust fund for coco levy, the National Land Use Act, National Valuation of Property Act and the creation of a national academy for sports.

READ: Where senators stand on reimposition of death penalty

Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco has urged Duterte to convene the LEDAC so lawmakers could work on the passage of his legislative agenda. 

Only nine of the 17 bills certified as urgent by Duterte became laws under the 17th Congress.

They are the rice tariffication law, the universal health care law, Bangsamoro Organic Law, the joint resolution authorizing the increase in the base pay of military and uniformed personnel, the first package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion, the bill postponing the 2017 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections and the 2017, 2018 and 2019.

'Tax reform packages to be passed this year'

In a related development, finance officials Wednesday expressed optimism that all tax reform packages would be passed within the year. 

The remaining tax reform packages pending in Congress are the bills on corporate income tax and incentives reform; alcohol and e-cigarette excise taxes; property valuation; and passive income and financial taxes. 

"We’re targeting all of these by this year," Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua.

READ: Outspoken Duterte silent on 2 key policies in his 4th SONA 

Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino II said the passage of all tax reform packages this year is the "marching order" of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez. 

"We believe it can be done," Lambino said. 

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said lawmakers support most of the tax reform bills.

"The only one that will be discussed again is the additional tax on alcohol and tobacco. So I think, it's achievable," Villafuerte said. 

Villafuerte said constant communication between lawmakers and economic managers are needed to ensure the passage of the bills. 

Chua said finance officials are also conducting weekly meetings with lawmakers to discuss the fiscal measures.

4TH SONA RODRIGO DUTERTE
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