MANILA– The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) discussed anti-corruption measures, the resurrection of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), and other priority bills during its meeting on Wednesday.
President Rodrigo Duterte presided over the meeting of the 20-member LEDAC which convened for the third time at the Aguinaldo State Dining Room at Malacanang.
“Corruption puts a heavy toll on the government and the services it provides to the public,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, the head of the National Economic and Development Authority and the LEDAC secretariat, told the Council.
The LEDAC is a widely represented consultative and advisory body to the President on economic and development matters, aiming the integration of the legislative agenda with the national development plan.
Secretary Pernia shared anti-corruption measures discussed in the Philippine Development Plan 2017–2022, the country’s blueprint for development. Chief among them is the upgrading of anti-corruption agencies in the government like the Office of the Ombudsman, Department of Justice, and Anti-Money Laundering Council.
He further highlighted the importance of “drastically reducing bureaucratic red tape by simplifying regulations and making them more transparent to minimize the opportunities for corruption.” He also emphasized that one of the major determinants to ensure success in implementing corruption reform measures is “strong leadership and management.”
Aside from the measures identified by Pernia, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno added that there should also be “respect for the judiciary.”
The LEDAC agreed to put greater focus on curbing corruption in the procurement process. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez updated the body that he had discussions with Secretary Diokno on how to move forward with the amendments to the Government Procurement Reform Act (GPRA). They had agreed that the Government Procurement Policy Board shall soon submit to the legislature the necessary amendments to the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the GPRA.
Alvarez added that the House of Representatives will no longer pursue deliberations on the pending bills proposing to amend the GPRA if the amendments to the IRR would be sufficient.
The LEDAC likewise took up the proposed BBL which seeks to create a new autonomous political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Mindanao.
The body agreed to consider the new BBL as drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Committee which was transmitted by the Office of the President to both Houses of Congress last August 14, 2017, for authorship. Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon said the Senate minority will support the BBL.
On tax reform, meanwhile, Finance Secretary Carlos Garcia Dominguez III asked the Senate to consider adopting the House version of the tax reform bill, or House Bill 5636 on Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), which is expected to yield the government’s revenue target.
Based on the DOF’s initial computation, the Senate committee version yields only at least PHP55 billion. According to Secretary Dominguez, “this is far, far from the target revenues under HB 5636 which is PHP133.8 billion.”
He added that this computed shortfall may be higher when they factor in value-added taxes (VAT), which at this time cannot be done yet due to changes in the VAT.
Secretary Dominguez asked President Duterte to certify the adoption of the House version of the TRAIN bill in the Senate as urgent, to which the President agreed.
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