Summary of the 2022 SONA: The Marcos Administration’s Priority Bills
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Summary of the 2022 SONA: The Marcos Administration’s Priority Bills

Summary of the 2022 SONA: The Marcos Administration’s Priority Bills

Current Events | July 26, 2022
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From tax reforms to laws on e-commerce, utilities, and more, we list highlights from this year’s State of the Nation Address.

The State of the Nation Address (SONA) is an annual address by the president to the Congress of the Philippines—one that informs the nation about its present economic, political, and social condition. Moreover, it acts as a vehicle for the current president to lay out a summary of the administration’s accomplishments and plans.

Usually set to take place every fourth Monday of July, this year’s speech was delivered on July 25 at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City. And for current President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the 2022 SONA will be his first in his six-year term in office.

“We live in difficult times brought about by some forces of our own making, but certainly, also by forces that are beyond our control,” begins President Marcos Jr. in his 2022 SONA. “But we have, and we will continue to find solutions. And these are some of them.”

19 Priority Bills from the 2022 SONA

1. National Government Rightsizing Program (NGRP)

Described as a “reform mechanism that seeks to enhance the government’s institutional capacity to perform its mandate and provide better services”, the goal of the NGRP is to efficiently use resources while strategically reviewing the functions, programs, and projects that will cut across various agencies.

“Compared to previous government reorganization efforts, the NGRP will entail a comprehensive strategic review of the functions, operations, organization, systems, and processes of the different agencies, and massive and transformational initiatives in [the] agencies concerned,” President Marcos Jr. explains in his speech. These include mergers, consolidation, splitting, transfer, and even abolishing some offices.

2. Budget Modernization Bill 

With President Marcos Jr. starting his term in a post-pandemic era, response and recovery plans take center stage. The Budget Modernization Bill—which falls under Executive Order No. 91, Series 2019—aims to institutionalize the Cash-based Budgeting System (CBS). It is a method used by developed countries in order to promote better discipline and accountability in using the country’s funds.

This will, in the President’s words, “strengthen fiscal discipline in the allocation and use of budget resources by ensuring that every peso budgeted by the government would lead to the actual delivery of programs and projects.”

3. Tax Package 3: Valuation Reform Bill

Following the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic—which resulted in ballooning debt, price inflation, and more—there have been talks about adding more taxes to offset the country’s rising expenses. With that in mind, tax reforms and plans were shared in the 2022 SONA.

In this case, the Valuation Reform Bill includes establishing real property values, as well as a standardized valuation system. Moreover, a Real Property Information System will be developed, which acts as a database of all real property transactions and declarations in the Philippines.

4. Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA)

Passive income refers to “money from activities where you have no active or direct involvement.” These refer to investments like rent, dividends, or even royalties. Thus, the PIFITA, another tax act mentioned in the 2022 SONA, aims to redesign the taxation of capital income and financial services on said passive income.

How? By making the taxation system “into [a] simpler, fairer, more efficient, and a revenue-neutral tax system” and adopting a regionally-competitive tax system.

5. E-Government Act

Modernization and the global pandemic have caused many of us to turn to online services for our day-to-day needs. Thus, the government has adopted this by introducing e-government services and processes—from filing tax returns to renewing a driver’s license or even applying for a pet license.

For all these and more, the current administration plans on establishing an E-Government Master Plan. A legacy from the former administration, this objective of the 2022 Master Plan is “to develop and flourish through innovation and constant development of information and communications technologies (ICT) in the pursuit of a progressive, safe, secured, contented and happy Filipino nation.”

6. Internet Transaction Act or E-Commerce Law

Lately, many online businesses have sprouted, as many have relied on them since the pandemic hit. From Instagram and Facebook shops to online selling platforms like Shopee, Lazada, and Carousell, online shopping has certainly boomed, both in supply and demand.

Set to “establish an effective regulation of commercial activities through the internet or electronic means,” the law serves to govern online transactions while also ensuring that the consumer’s rights and data privacy are protected. “Innovation is encouraged, fair advertising practices and competition are promoted, online transactions are secured, intellectual property rights are protected, and product standards and safety are observed,” says the President. 

7. Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE)

It’s no secret—the pandemic has wreaked havoc on many businesses. With many still struggling to recover from the aftermath, the current administration mentions plans of aiding them during the 2022 SONA.

“This seeks to provide financial assistance to distressed enterprises critical to economic recovery through programs and initiatives to be implemented by the Land Bank of the Philippines, the Development Bank of the Philippines, and the Philippine Guarantee Corporation for purposes of addressing liquidity or solvency problems of MSMEs and strategically important industries, to encourage their continued operations and maintain employment,” the President says, earning him a round of applause from the audience.

8. The Establishment of a Medical Reserve Corps

The COVID-19 pandemic is a learning lesson on staying prepared and anticipating any health-related crises that may affect the country. Thus, one of the topics in the 2022 SONA includes the establishment of a Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) under the Health and Emergency Management Bureau (HEMB) of the Department of Health (DOH).

“The MRC shall be composed of licensed physicians, medical students who have completed their four (4) years of medical course, graduates of medicine, registered nurses, and licensed allied health professionals,” he explains. 

9. National Disease Prevention Management Authority

Another health-related agenda that was discussed in the 2022 SONA, this bill seeks to “create the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), [which will be] attached to the DOH.”

10. Creation of the Virology Institute of the Philippines

In the 2022 SONA, President Marcos Jr. talks about establishing the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) as an attached agency of the DOST. And with that, “all offices and units under the DOST with functions related to virology shall now be transferred to the Virology Institute of the Philippines.”

11. Department of Water Resources

With plans on establishing offices to regulate and govern various aspects of the country, the current administration plans on establishing the Department of Water Resources, which will use the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) as the strategic framework for national water management, policymaking, and planning.

The IWRM is defined as “a process that promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources in order to maximize economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.”

12. Unified System of Separation, Retirement, and Pension

Retirement and pension are funds given to seniors and to the disabled, but the current administration plans to offer more than just that. In the 2022 SONA speech, the President says that a monthly disability pension—”in lieu of disability benefits provided under existing laws”—will be provided for military and uniformed personnel (MUPs) retired by reasons of disability.

13. E-Governance Act

A straightforward act that “promotes [the] use of internet, intranet, and other ICT to provide opportunities for citizens”. 

14. National Land Use Act

The Philippines is rich in land and water resources, and when used right, they can benefit the country in many ways. Through the National Land Use Act, it will provide a “rational and holistic management and development of our country’s land and water resources.” These include holding owners accountable for making these lands productive and sustainable, as well as strengthening the LGU to manage ecological balance within its jurisdiction.

“It also provides for Land Use and Physical Planning or Framework as a mechanism in determining policies and principles to implement this legislative measure,” the President adds.

15. National Defense Act

The National Defense Act has been around since 1935 and the current administration intends to update its antiquated policies. Thus, the new act will, in the President’s words, “provide for a change in the military structure of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that is more responsive to current and future non-conventional security threats to the country’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty.”

16. Mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and National Service Training Program (NSTP)

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) provides military education and training to students in the hopes of mobilizing them for national defense preparedness during emergencies. While in the past, it was a mandatory class that senior high school students had to take, but in recent years, it had fallen out of practice.

Many lawmakers have clamored for its return, since it will, in Senator Francis Tolentino’s words, “instill discipline, a sense of leadership, teamwork, and patriotism among the youth” and based on the 2022 SONA, we can expect its comeback.

“This seeks to reinstitute the ROTC program as a mandatory component of senior high school programs (Grades 11 and 12) in all public and private tertiary-level educational institutions,” President Marcos Jr. says. “The aim is to motivate, train, organize and mobilize the students for national defense preparedness, including disaster preparedness and capacity building for risk-related situations.”

17. Enactment of an Enabling Law for the Natural Gas Industry

In a move to strengthen Philippine energy security, the current administration plans on enacting a law for the Natural Gas Industry—one that “seeks to foster the development of the Midstream Natural Gas Industry.”

How? In the President’s words, that includes “diversifying the country’s primary sources of energy and promoting the role of natural gas as a complementary fuel to variable renewable energy.”

18. Amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA (Rep. Act No. 9136)

Another existing law that will be amended in order to improve its implementation, the new Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) will more effectively “address high cost of electricity, alleged market collusion, and insufficient power supply.”

“The bill seeks to restructure the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC) to foster accountability and improve the commission’s government system that would ensure consumer protection and in enhancing the competitive operation of the electricity market,” President Marcos Jr. supplies.

19Amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law 

Public Private Partnership (PPP) Program is defined as a “contractual agreement between the Government and a private firm targeted towards financing, designing, implementing and operating infrastructure facilities and services that were traditionally provided by the public sector.” Currently, there are many programs like that—one example being the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, which was developed by the Department of Public Works and Highways and San Miguel Corporation.

Through the current administration plans, the new PPP Program will be able to “direct the desired outputs and outcomes in line with the strategic development targets of the country.” Moreover, the amendments aim to:

  1. Address the ambiguities in the existing law; 
  2. Address the bottlenecks and challenges affecting the implementation of the PPP Program; and, 
  3. Foster a more competitive and enabling environment for PPPs. 

“We have assembled the best Filipino minds to help navigate us through this time of global crisis that we are now facing,” the President says as his speech draws to a close. “We will endure. Let our Filipino spirit ever remain undimmed.

“I know this in my mind, I know it in my heart, I know it in my very soul… the state of the nation is sound.”

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