PGMA certifies 8 urgent bills

January 6, 2010 11:36 pm 

MANILA, Jan. 6 — Before stepping down in mid-2010, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo hopes to see the passage of eight bills, including one that will give better protection to inter-island sea passengers and one that will give amnesty to rebel returnees.

In a press briefing this morning, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the proposed Philippine Maritime Bill will result in the creation of the National Maritime Authority as “the sole authority to regulate the maritime industry of the country.”

Right now, shipping vessels and the rights of passengers are supervised by different government agencies, including the Maritime Industry Authority. In part because these agencies do not regularly coordinate with each other, shipping accidents such as the two that occurred during the Christmas season have become common.

The bill, which is still pending committee deliberations in both Houses of Congress, goes hand-in-hand with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) bill, which has already been approved by both Houses and is now ready for enrollment. Under this bill, the PCG will fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and Communications except in times of war when it will be attached to the Department of National Defense.

The seven other urgent measures being pushed by Malacanang are:

— LPG bill, which aims to supervise more closely the LPG industry;

— Disaster Risk Reduction and Management bill, which seeks to institutionalize an integrated and coordinated disaster management policy and goes hand-in-hand with the Climate Change Act signed by the President last October;

— Infant and Young Child Feeding bill, which seeks to promote breastfeeding and to protect the rights of mothers, one of the country’s commitments to the United Nations-sponsored Millennium Challenge up to the year 2015;

— Gun Control bill, which imposes stiffer penalties for crimes related to firearms and light weapons;

— Rationalization of Fiscal Incentives bill, which seeks to reduce tax exemptions given to corporations and, in the process, raise additional revenues for government;

— Simplified Net Income Taxation for Individuals Engaged in Trade/Business and/or Practice of Profession, which seeks to widen the country’s taxpaying base by making it easier to file BIR-mandated tax documents; and

— Amnesty Proclamation to Rebel Returnees, which seeks to help rebel returnees reintegrate into their communities. (PNA)

DCT/OPS/ssc

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