Castro urges Marcos to focus on pro-people bills in 2nd year of office
MANILA, Philippines — Makabayan lawmaker and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro has urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to focus on pro-people legislation for his second year in office, noting that only two of several laws enacted during his first year would favor the masses.
Castro in a statement on Thursday claimed that out of the 3o-plus priority bills of the Marcos administration, people would only benefit the most from the proposed New Agrarian Emancipation Act and the Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers.
“Despite the urgent needs of the Filipino people, we see that out of the 31 priority legislations of President Marcos Jr., only two will directly benefit the marginalized […] However, the remaining 29 bills seem to cater to the interests of his cronies and serve to maintain the status quo,” Castro said.
“We urge President Marcos Jr. to focus on legislations that address the pressing concerns of the people, such as salary increases for workers, nurses, teachers, and government employees,” she added.
As of now, there is no report on whether or not Marcos had already signed the proposed New Agrarian Emancipation Act, which was ratified by both the House and the Senate last March 22. If enacted, the bill would condone the debts of 610,054 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), amounting to P57.55 billion.
Under the consolidated version, once the bill is signed into law and implemented, the individual loans of beneficiaries— including penalties and surcharges accumulated under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) — will be forgiven and written off.
The Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers on the other hand was passed by the House in December 2022.
Castro said that instead of the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund, the administration should have focused on putting six percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) into education.
“Additionally, the allocation of an equivalent of 6% of the GDP to education and the provision of free land to our farmers should be top priorities. These are the needs of the people, not new taxes or the Maharlika Investment Fund,” she said.
“It is crucial that President Marcos Jr. listens to the voices of the marginalized and works towards genuine socioeconomic reforms that uplift the lives of the majority. We call on him to reconsider his priorities and ensure that his policies and legislations genuinely address the pressing needs of the Filipino people,” she added.
According to House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, last May, three of the 42 Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) priority measures have been signed into law: the SIM Registration Act, the bill postponing the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, and amendments on the fixed term of the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff and other high-ranking officials.
Similar to the New Agrarian Emancipation Act, the bill containing the Maharlika Investment Fund is also awaiting the President’s signature.
The House also approved the said bills on the third reading:
- Magna Carta of Seafarers
- E-Governance Act
- Negros Island Region
- Virology Institute of the Philippines
- Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act
- National Disease Prevention Management Authority or Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- Medical Reserve Corps
- Philippine Passport Act
- Internet Transaction Act / E-Commerce Law
- Waste-to-Energy Bill
- Free Legal Assistance for Police and Soldiers
- Apprenticeship Act
- Build-Operate-Transfer Law
- Magna Carta of Barangay Health Workers
- Valuation Reform
- Eastern Visayas Development Authority
- Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone
- Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery
- National Citizens Service Training Program
- National Government Rightsizing
- Bureau of Immigration modernization
- Philippine Salt Industry Act
Castro meanwhile assured the public that those in the Makabayan bloc would continue to push for bills that will improve people’s lives.
“We, in the ACT Teachers Party-list, will continue to push for the enactment of laws that will address the needs of the marginalized and ensure that their voices are heard in the legislative process,” she added.
While Makabayan gave seemingly low scores to the President, administration allies in the House led by Romualdez said that Marcos did well for his first year on the job.
Marcos will mark his first year in office on Friday, June 30.