Palace to Congress: 'Fix' Bulacan airport ecozone bill so Marcos can support it

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Palace to Congress: 'Fix' Bulacan airport ecozone bill so Marcos can support it
The photo displays an artist's rendition of the Bulacan airport project.
Department of Transportation

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday urged lawmakers to fix the defects of the vetoed Bulacan economic zone bill and to anticipate possible legal challenges to the measure.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said while President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. fully supports the measure, it has to be sharpened to include the necessary audit provisions for the Commission on Audit, the procedures for expropriating lands that had been awarded to agrarian reform beneficiaries and a masterplan with metes and bounds of the full scope of the economic zone.

She also cited the need to address why there is a rule-making power given to the economic zone for environmental issues, something that is not given to other economic zones.

"We have to make anticipations of possible constitutional challenges on this one. It will cause further delays if the law is challenged and invalidated. So this is the best way to address the problems, the innate problems of the House bill. And it gives an opportunity for the legislature to make those corrections," Cruz-Angeles said at a press briefing.

"So we understand their (lawmakers) 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 added.

Asked whether Marcos is committed to signing the measure into law should its deficiencies be addressed, Trixie-Angeles said: "I don’t think it's a fair question to ask the president to commit. He does say he is fully supportive of this and so — in fact, it is his commitment to sharpen the law so that when this is indeed passed, then we can fully support it."

Marcos vetoed the measure seeking to establish the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone, saying it poses "substantial fiscal risks" and lacks coherence with existing laws. The president said the bill would significantly narrow the tax base with its mandated incentives applicable to registered enterprises. Had Marcos not vetoed the bill, it would have lapsed into law.

The economic zone would have covered San Miguel Corp.’s P740-billion New Manila International Airport, which is eyed as an alternative to the Philippines' main gateway, Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Cruz-Angeles has said the construction of the airport would not be affected by the veto since the San Miguel franchise to operate it was approved by Congress in 2020. The franchise bill lapsed into law in January.

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