MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE)—Senate President Franklin Drilon Monday called for a Senate that will enable the Philippines to have inclusive growth and leave no Filipino behind.
“We start by building on our gains. We may have achieved so much in three years, but there is more we can do,” Drilon said in his speech as the newly-elected Senate President.
“We must improve the economic landscape to spur investments and set off massive job creation. We must strengthen the manufacturing and agriculture sectors, which employ most of the people in the lower rung of the economic ladder,” he said.
Drilon said among the focus of their legislative agenda were The Rationalization of Fiscal Incentives; The Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime; Amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law; The Tax Incentives Monitoring and Transparency Act (TIMTA); and The Removal of Investment Restrictions in Specific Laws cited in the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL).
He also cited planned amendments to the Ombudsman Act and the Sandiganbayan Law “to ensure the speedy resolution of 2,600 cases currently pending with the anti-graft court” as priorities.
Drilon also cited the improvements of the Philippine economy in the past three years that has changed the country from being the “sick man of Asia” into the “darling of the international financial community.”
“But we have to make the glowing growth figures, investment grade status, and the rosy economic picture more meaningful to every Filipino man, woman and child,” he said. “No Filipino should be left behind.”
Drilon said that despite the economic growth, unemployment and underemployment remain high.
“We must address the cold hard facts of a non-inclusive growth. Notwithstanding the great strides we have made, particularly on our economy, the fact remains that as of April 2013, the unemployment rate is 7.5 percent, while underemployment is 19.2 percent,” Drilon said.
“Now, more than ever, we must transcend political differences and focus on these challenges,” he said. “Let us do our share in nation building. Our people expect more from us. Let us not fail them.”