By Azer Parrocha
MANILA – The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) on Monday expressed commitment to push for the ratification of the Philippines’ participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) mega free trade deal.
In a press release, Malacañang said Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, who joined President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in his five-day official trip to Tokyo, and Senator Loren Legarda expressed commitment to jointly defend the ratification of RCEP on the Senate floor.
The Senate is currently deliberating on the RCEP, with hearings currently at the sub-committee level.
Zubiri earlier said the Senate aims to ratify the RCEP trade agreement within the first quarter of the year.
Marcos earlier RCEP would be good for the country because of the increased trade that it will bring to different member economies.
The RCEP is a free trade agreement between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN and its five FTA partners namely Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
It was signed by the Philippines in November 2020.
The RCEP entered into force for other signatory countries on Jan. 1, 2022 but remains unimplemented without the ratification of the Senate.
10 priority bills
Meanwhile, the Palace and Congress also agreed to push for the passage of the Maharlika bill, and nine other priority bills by June 2 or during the sine die adjournment for the first regular session of the 19th Congress.
Among the priority measures to be passed are amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer Law/Public-Private Partnership bill, Medical Reserve Corps, Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control, creation of the Virology Institute of the Philippines, and Mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps and National Service Training Program.
Aside from the Maharlika bill, other measures slated for passage by June are the Condonation of Unpaid Amortization and Interests of Loans of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries, Internet Transactions Act/E-Commerce Law, Attrition law/AFP Fixed Term and the Salt Industry Development Bill,
The LEDAC meeting was presided over by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin at the Premier Guest House in Malacañan Palace.
Also present were LEDAC members Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
Executive branch officials who attended the meeting include Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Lagdameo Jr., Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, Department of Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Secretary Mark Llandro Mendoza, Department of Finance Assistant Secretary Valery Brio, and Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Juan Victor Llamas.
Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Representative Sandro Marcos, Senate President Pro Tempore Legarda, Senator Sonny Angara, Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto, Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe, Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan, and Representative Stella Luz Quimbo were also present to represent the legislative branch.
Created through Republic Act No. 7640, LEDAC serves as a consultative and advisory body to the President, chair of the National Economic and Development Authority Board, on certain programs and policies essential to the realization of the goals of the national economy. (PNA)