The significance of Ledac | Inquirer Opinion
Commentary

The significance of Ledac

/ 04:25 AM September 28, 2022

The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac), created through Republic Act No. 7640 during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos (FVR), was meant to serve as a consultative body to the President. Here, lawmakers and Cabinet members are expected to discuss priority policies and government programs that would improve the country’s socioeconomic conditions.

Under the law, the Ledac is comprised of the President as chair; the Vice President; the Senate President, and Speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR); seven members of the Cabinet as determined by the President; three members of the HoR to be designated by the Speaker; a representative from the minority, and other government and nongovernment representatives as assigned by the President, e.g., from the local government units, youth, business, cooperatives, agriculture, or labor sectors. The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) is assigned as the principal secretariat to the Ledac.

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According to Section 5 of RA 7640, Ledac should meet at least once every quarter, but special meetings can be convened as necessary.

During his term, FVR met with Ledac almost weekly for a breakfast meeting when Congress was in session. Other presidents also utilized Ledac, but not as often as FVR did. The closest to FVR’s record is that of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who convened Ledac 23 times from 2001 to 2009.

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FVR credited their frequent Ledac meetings for the passage of 239 bills during his term, including 71 laws passed in the 10th Congress alone. “The beauty of that mechanism, which is not enjoyed by other countries that have a presidential system with separate, co-equal branches of government, is that there is a recognition of the priorities that the president wants, and which Congress acts upon, and it’s done,” FVR once said in an interview.

I was fortunate to have been regularly invited to those meetings to assist in the preparation, deliberation, and passage of the economic and fiscal-related reform bills that were part of Ledac’s priorities, despite being a member of the opposition at the time. Some of these bills which were passed during the Ramos administration were the build-operate-transfer law of 1994, the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, the New Central Bank Act, the Tax Reform Act of 1997, and RA 7721 or “An Act Liberalizing the Entry and Scope of Operations of Foreign Banks in the Philippines.”

The quality and wisdom of the discussions with my Ledac colleagues, and the opportunity to be part of the passage of key economic reform laws, were professionally rewarding. It was also refreshing to witness the strong political will of a president like FVR, who made sure that key reforms are passed promptly.

Ledac should lead the way. Today, Ledac would be very useful for President Marcos Jr. given that he has so far been shown to be a consensus-builder. The regular interaction between the executive and legislative branches through Ledac will further strengthen consensus-building in the government.

With growing socioeconomic concerns and the need for urgent reforms, we would like to recommend:

The President convening Ledac at least once or twice a month, to ensure that issues of national importance are discussed, and priority measures are passed swiftly.

The President presiding over every Ledac meeting, as his physical presence gives emphasis on the urgency of different priority measures.

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Ledac focusing on the priority concerns and issues of Filipinos. Some good references are the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia surveys. In Pulse Asia’s June 2022 poll, the respondents said their top concerns were inflation (57 percent), income (46 percent), poverty (33 percent), and jobs (29 percent). Of the 19 priority bills of this administration, the closest to addressing such concerns are the remaining tax reform packages: the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery to help micro, small, and medium enterprises, and amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act to ease the burden of increasing power costs.

Providing the public a summary of the results and actions taken in every Ledac meeting for transparency and information sharing.

Using Ledac to also monitor the completion according to the schedule of the implementing rules and regulations of enacted laws, such as the amendments to the Public Service Act and the approval of the proposed 2023 national budget.

For Ledac to set quarterly and yearly targets to ensure that priority reforms would be passed by the end of Mr. Marcos’ term.

We look forward to the results of the Ledac meeting yesterday (Sept. 27), and hope that the President will continue to utilize this advisory council to speed up the passage of reforms and programs that will help improve the lives of millions of Filipinos.

Gary B. Teves served as finance secretary under the Arroyo administration.

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TAGS: Fidel Ramos, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Ledac
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