What I’d like to see in 2018
It’s been 18 months since President Duterte assumed office, and people, particularly foreigners, are still not quite sure of what they’ve got.
What they’ve got is a maverick President who bucks the normal trend, one whose actions at first seem capricious, even whimsical, until later sense emerges.
What’s important is that we are seeing a President that gets things done. In my column last week I listed the fulfillment of his promises to our modern-day heroes, the overseas Filipino workers. Over the past year and a half we saw a President that immediately issued an executive order on freedom of information (FOI) and backed a tax measure that reduces the income tax of more than 90 percent of employees and increases taxes elsewhere that will be instrumental in implementing his social service and infrastructure projects. He has raised the social security pension, passed laws on free college education, approved infrastructure projects that will benefit regions nationwide, and so on.
It’s the same action-oriented style that endears him to the public, as shown by his high popularity and trust ratings.
But much remains to be done. In a number of items he needs the support of the coequal branches of government—the legislature and the judiciary—which he’s getting in a desultory manner.
So here are a few things that I want to see accomplished in the next 12 months, in random order:
Congress to stop holding inquiries in aid of legislation, without legislation following.
The Senate and House of Representatives working together on the same bills at the same time and focusing on key pieces of legislation — e.g., opening of public utilities to foreign investment, traffic emergency powers, etc.
Frequent meetings by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council, at least bimonthly.
The Supreme Court acting as a collegial body; obeying the Constitution and concluding cases within two years (it is not recommendatory); and accepting only cases involving the Constitution or precedent-setting.
All courts refusing to accept petitions for temporary restraining orders, especially on major infrastructure projects.
Immediate release of all persons held in jail on bailable and nonbailable offenses who have been there longer than the term if convicted.
Security of tenure canceled, so as to encourage workers to be productive and compete with the rest of the world.
Right of eminent domain enforced, but pay land owners 1.5 times of fair market value.
Ninoy Aquino International Airport enlarged with a second runway.
Successful bidding of airport projects in Bohol, Bacolod, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro and Davao.
Cancellation of the requirement for awarding contracts to the lowest bidder, and passing the proposed FOI Act for full transparency in all transactions.
Privatizing maintenance of all government assets.
Working 24/7 on all national roads and bridges, with budget specified in the contract.
Institution of a national ID that replaces all other government cards and permits, except the passport.
Complete review of the Constitution by yearend, to present to the people in the 2019 midterm elections.
Edsa cleared of the 40 percent of “colorum” buses, and a Bus Rapid Transit system installed in the middle lanes.
MRT 3 given back to Metro Rail Transit Corp. provided it hires Sumitomo to conduct maintenance.
PhilHealth expanded to all and to cover long-term and critical illnesses, without limit.
A policy of food security, not rice self-sufficiency.
The four other packages of tax reform completed, to take effect in 2019.
A well-thought-out Fiscal Incentives Rationalization bill that raises additional revenues for the government and makes the Philippines a competitive investment hub in Asia.
Congress withdrawing the proposed House and Senate bills that impose limits on drug prices.
Local government units that are more cooperative in the government’s objective of streamlining business registration systems.
Honoring of contracts that the past administration failed to (MWSS concession, toll roads, etc.),
This is by no means a comprehensive list. I encourage you to elevate the quality of discussion on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and add to the list. Let’s help President Duterte come up with additional action points and encourage him and his secretaries, lawmakers and the courts to do them.
A prosperous 2018 to all!
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