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Gov't to address matters not mentioned in Marcos' first SONA — Palace

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Gov't to address matters not mentioned in Marcos' first SONA â Palace
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr delivers his first State of the Nation address at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 25, 2022.
Aaron Favila via AFP / pool

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Wednesday parried criticisms against President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s first state of the nation address (SONA), saying the government is addressing concerns that were not mentioned in the speech.  

Minority senators have scored Marcos' first SONA, saying it excluded a number of key issues.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros has said she was expecting the president to deliver a more explicit statement on fighting corruption. She has also questioned Marcos' claim that the state of the nation is "sound," saying a lot of people are experiencing poverty and hunger. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III has said the majority of Marcos' priority bills should have focused on food production and should have included measures related to federalism, labor contractualization and teachers' salaries.

"You know, the president has laid out his priorities. It doesn’t mean that he is not going to pay attention to other concerns," Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said at a press briefing.

"This is just the roadmap for his administration. But the day-to-day and ongoing activities are considered still part of the program, particularly those related to continuity. So, just because it wasn’t mentioned, doesn’t mean it isn’t in there," she added.

Cruz-Angeles also defended the government's plan to impose value-added tax (VAT) on digital service providers, which was also mentioned by Marcos during his first SONA.

"I think that might (be) quibbling a little in our — how do you call this, it’s too fine a point. The VAT is not a new tax," the press secretary said when a reporter mentioned Marcos' campaign promise that he won't impose taxes that would add to the burden of consumers.

"We are just looking at the possibility that these industries have not been subjected to such a VAT before and that they should be. So, it’s like social media and so on must be subjected to income tax if there is income that is earned and the same goes for those that are subject to VAT," she added.

Marcos enumerated 19 priority bills during his first SONA namely the national government rightsizing program, budget modernization bill, tax package 3 or the valuation reform bill, tax package 4 or the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act, E-government Act, Internet Transaction Act, government financial institutions unified initiatives to distressed enterprises for economic recovery, Medical Reserve Corps Act, national disease prevention management authority bill, the bill creating the Virology Institute of the Philippines, Department of Water Resources act, unified system of separation, retirement and pension, E-governance Act, National Land Use Act, amendments to the National Defense Act, the bill on mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps, enabling law for the natural gas industry, amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act and aAmendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer Law. 

PRESIDENT FERDINAND MARCOS JR.

SONA 2022

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