PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will convene the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council for the first time next month or in October to speed up five priority bills aimed at improving critical industries and speeding up infrastructure-building, an official said Tuesday.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the five bills will be submitted to the Ledac, which he said had been “dormant in the previous administration.”
The five bills are about the following:
• the creation of an apex or super body for the water resources sector, which is proposed to be called the Water Resources Department or Authority;
• the creation of an independent economic and financial regulator for the water sector;
• the creation of a National Transport Policy, which will coordinate transport projects so that the movement across regions and provinces will be more systematic;
• the amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer or BOT Law and its implementing rules and regulations, which are aimed at hurdling right-of-way, procurement and implementation problems that tend to stymie the rapid processing and implementation of projects;
• the amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or Epira and to the Water Code of the Philippines.
Pernia said another important improvement to accelerate infrastructure development was the streamlining of foreign investment programming by launching an online database system and streamlining the project approval process.
Duterte wanted Congress to give priority to the creation of a Water Resources Authority “because we are not really secure in terms of our water needs,” Pernia said.
“You know, there are many areas that are waterless,” he said.
“We don’t appreciate the problem because we are watered every day, but there are many areas that are not watered, and [the people there] have to buy at expensive prices.”
The amendments to the Epira failed to push through in the 16th Congress after the House Committee on Energy abandoned it because of strong opposition from various sectors. The Philippines has the highest electricity rates in Southeast Asia and the 9th highest in the world.
Pernia said some kind of “informal gathering” among the legislative, executive and judicial bodies could be set up sometime in the future to ease up the tensions among those co-equal branches of government.
“We [can] draw in the justices and the well, especially the Supreme Court,” Pernia said.