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Congress to pass Maharlika bill, 9 others before June 2 — Palace

THE PROPOSED Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) is one of the 10 priority legislative measures to be approved by Congress by June, according to the Palace.

At the same time, Senate leaders also committed to push for the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

At a meeting in Malacañang on Monday, the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) identified the sovereign wealth fund and nine other priority bills to be approved by Congress before the end of its  first regular session on June 2.

The House of Representatives approved the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund in December, while a counterpart measure is pending in the Senate.

Other priority measures include the proposed Internet Transactions Act/E-Commerce Law; the Salt Industry Development bill; a bill condoning unpaid amortization and interest on loans of agrarian reform beneficiaries; and a bill amending the law granting a three-year fixed term for Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) top officials.

Other priority measures include changes to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law/Public-Private Partnership (PPP); as well as the bills creating a Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Medical Reserve Corps and Virology Institute of the Philippines.

Another priority measure is a bill establishing a mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps and National Service Training Program.

Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva said the Senate’s priority bills are similar to those identified by the LEDAC, with the inclusion of the RCEP ratification and a bill institutionalizing the National Educators’ Academy of the Philippines (NEAP).

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Sunday said that RCEP would provide more trade opportunities for the Philippines.

“If we are not part of the RCEP, we wouldn’t have access to their markets, (particularly) those supply chains available in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations),” he told reporters in Filipino while aboard a plane back to Manila from Tokyo.

Once part of RCEP, Mr. Marcos said the Philippines could access non-traditional suppliers of agricultural inputs and commodities.

The RCEP is a free trade agreement between member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Japan, China, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand. The Philippines is the only ASEAN country that has not ratified the RCEP.

Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri last month said the Senate is expected to ratify it this quarter.

Former President Rodrigo R. Duterte retified the RCEP in September 2021, but the previous Senate did not give its concurrence due to concerns over the free trade deal’s impact on the agriculture sector. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

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