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Marcos pushing for Senate ratification of RCEP

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is pushing for the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in the Senate, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said on Wednesday.

According to the PCO, those being pushed by the Palace based on the President’s directives include the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Regulatory Functions, Amendment to Republic Act No. 8172 or ASIN Law Amendment, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) for Senate ratification, and the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.

The RCEP is a free trade agreement first floated in August 2012, covering members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its partners Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.

To recall, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said in November that the President's economic managers have not formally endorsed yet the RCEP to the Senate for its concurrence.

In December of last year, Senator Imee Marcos, the President's sister, called for the establishment of a technical working group in order to produce a committee report on the ratification of the RCEP.

According to the ASEAN, the RCEP has the potential to deliver significant opportunities for businesses in the East Asia region, given the fact that the 16 RCEP participating countries account for almost half of the world’s population; contribute about 30% of global GDP and over a quarter of world exports.

Priority measures passed by House of Representatives

Meanwhile, citing the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO), the PCO said ten out of the 20 priority legislative measures mentioned by the President during his State of the Nation Address have been passed by the House of Representatives and transmitted to the Senate as of January 18.

These measures include the Tax Package 4: Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA), Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) Bill, Tax Package 3: Real Property Valuation and Assessment Reform Act (HB No. 6558), Internet Transaction Act or the E-Commerce Law and Condonation of Unpaid Amortization and Interests of Loans of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries.

The creation of the Medical Reserve Corps, the Philippine Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the Virology Institute of the Philippines and an amendment to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law are also among the priority legislations.

The other SONA priority bills are at the level of the committees in both houses of Congress. These include the Department of Water Resources (DWR), E-Government/Governance Act, Government Rightsizing Program (GRP), National Land Use Act, Budget Modernization, Natural Gas Industry Enabling Law, EPIRA (RA 9136) Amendments, MUP Pension Reform, and the National Defense Act. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News