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Reviewing The Marawi Crisis: Legislative Updates:

Dutertismo: Misplaced Priorities Accomplishments and
The Presidents and Lessons Drawn Priorities in the
Commitments House of Representatives
and Vision and the Senate

Reviewing The Marawi Security Legislative

Dutertismo Crisis: Aspirations Priorities &
Misplaced at the Accomplishments
Priorities Shangri-La
& Lessons Dialogue

p.4 p.10 p.13 p.15


Credits to the following contributors:

Prof. Victor Andres Dindo Manhit,
Angelica Mangahas, Mark Davis
Pablo and Robin Garcia

Picture credits to the following: rappler.

com, news.abs-cbn.com, philstar.com,
gmanetwork.com, youtube.com,
japantimes.co and commons.
President Duterte has reached his one-year mark in office, and he is as popular as ever. In the past twelve
months, the president has succeeded at defining his leadershipwhat some call Dutertismoin the context
of this countrys challenges, old and new. People have come to trust in his leadership style, which is marked
most by the consistent exercise of his will, by his personal connection with constituents, and by his ability to
define some important and necessary visions for this country. The Philippines has not had a leader quite like
Duterte, and most Filipinos have opened their minds to him in optimism and trust.

In this issue of Politika, we address a few key areas of interest that have emerged this quarter. First, we look
at the qualities of Dutertismo; what have we learned about the presidents leadership and what these may
mean for the issues ahead. In relation to the presidents approaches, we take a look at the publics opinion
on the Duterte administration and its performance in the last quarter. Second, we delve into the Marawi crisis,
assessing some successes and lessons learned. Third, we take a step back and return to the subject of regional
stability and security. Finally, we give an update on developments in the legislature.


II. Reviewing Dutertismo

Dutertes Legitimacy Underpins The Publics Early Trust

In comparison with the trust ratings of previous leaders, President Dutertes first year is on strong footing.
Reading the trust ratings, which peaked at 91% in July 2016 (Pulse Asia), you can almost forget that he did not
win 91% of the vote. Nevertheless, the smooth conduct of the elections allowed the vast majority of us, his
voters and non-voters alike, to give President Duterte a measure of our optimism and trust. In contrast, Gloria
Arroyo, who entered Malacaang under highly irregular (2001) and scandal-ridden (2004) conditions, never won
close to the same level of support. This quarter, 82% of Filipinos surveyed by Pulse Asia said that they had big
trust in the president. 14% were undecided and 5% had small or little trust in him.

Table 1
Net Satisfaction Ratings of Presidents, Philippines
(May 1986 to June 2017)

Source: SWS

In the second quarter, President Duterte has maintained his base of support. The Social Weather Stations
survey conducted from June 23-26, 2017 showed that the president enjoys a net satisfaction rating of +66,
reflecting 78% of Filipinos satisfied with his performance, 10% undecided, and 12% dissatisfied. This is a minor
increase from the 75% he attained in March 2017 and 77% in December 2016. In the Pulse Asia survey conducted
from June 24-29, 2017, President Duterte attained an 82% approval rating, an increase from the 78% approval
rating he received in March 2017.

According to both SWS and Pulse Asia, the presidents rating was greatest in Visayas and Mindanao. In the
SWS survey, 83% in both regions reported they were satisfied with his performance. He recorded increases
in Visayas (+8) and the Balance of Luzon (+5 or 73%). While there was no significant change in his rating in
NCR (+1) he lodged a decrease in Mindanao (-6), where he has had the greatest level of support in previous
quarters. In the Pulse Asia survey, the president lodged an approval rating of 95% in Mindanao, attaining a
7-point increase from March of this year. He received an 84% approval rating in Visayas, a 75% rating in the
Balance of Luzon, and 80% in NCR.

In terms of socioeconomic class, the president recorded a minor decrease in Class ABC, from 67% satisfied
to 65% satisfied with his performance (-2) in the SWS survey. There was no significant change in Class D (+1).


The president continues to do well with the lowest class, this quarter reaching an 80% satisfaction rating from
Class E. These results were echoed in the Pulse Asia survey, where the president obtained an 84% approval
rating from Class E (+7), an 82% approval rating from Class D (+4), and, from Class ABC, an 86% approval
ratingor down seven points.

Table 2
Public Satisfaction with Rodrigo Duterte
(December 2016 to June 2017)

Source: SWS

Table 3
Public Satisfaction with Rodrigo Duterte
(December 2016 to June 2017)

Source: SWS



Figure 1
Net Satisfaction Ratings of Resident Rodrigo Duterte, by Area
(September 2016 to June 2017)

Source: SWS

Table 4
Awareness and Performance Ratings of Top National Officials
June 24-29, 2017/Philippines
(Row Percent)

Source: Pulse Asia


Table 5
Performance Ratings of Top National Officials
June 24-29, 2017/Philippines
(Row Percent)

Source: Pulse Asia

Table 6
Awareness and Trust Ratings of Top National Officials
June 24-29, 2017/Philippines
(Row Percent)

Source: Pulse Asia



Table 8
Comparative Trust Ratings of Top National Officials
March and June 2017/Philippines
(In Percent)

Source: Pulse Asia


The Presidents Commitments
In the last twelve months, the president has shown how he makes commitments and how
he follows through on them. He has drawn clear lines for the war on drugs and for the crisis in
Marawi. Even as we debated the lengths to which the president should go on these issues, none
of us doubted (or at least, not for long) that the president was willing to go the distance and see
his vision made reality. This attitude is clearest on any topic related to law and order, where the
president not only sets the terms of engagement (e.g. offering to talk in exchange for ceasefires),
but is also a stickler for seeing his conditions are met. Where they arent, he is willing take a
hardline approach.

This is not to say that the presidents decisions have been universally popular. His foreign
policy statements are often at odds with public sentiment, whether on the West Philippine Sea
specifically or, more broadly, in choosing this countrys partners. The discord is obvious when
comparing the countries that Filipinos trust and the countries that this administration is working
with the most. Nevertheless, the presidents willingness to swim against the tides of public
opinion and to take unpopular action shows another facet of leadership.

Duterte Maintains The Mayors Touch

In all this time, the President has not lost the mayors touch. He not only connects with
everyday Filipinos, but he is willing to lead from close to the front line. He visits wounded soldiers
and policemen, condoles widows, and meets overseas Filipinos on his trips. He might not be
fighting at the front line himself, but you can trust that he is not cocooned from the realities of
this country or from the consequences of his policies. This is not only the most personal brand of
his leadership, it may also be his most appealing characteristic from the eyes of our countrymen.

Finally, this administration has no shortage of ambition for this country. Its flagship projects,
such as the Build, Build, Build program, show our leaders willingness to think with large scopes
and with long-term scales about our countrys needs and its future. Our countrys infrastructure
deficit is so dire that this cause should be one that the entirety of our country can and has been
able to rally around. Whether we are talking about infrastructure or tax reform, and especially the
possibility of federalism, it is obvious that Duterte and his team are willing to think big and set
major reforms in action.

This administration has had its share of hits and misses, there is no getting past that. Yet, with
Duterte at the helm, we are in a unique time in Philippine politics. No matter your political color,
Dutertismo is a force to be understood and to be reckoned with.


III. The Marawi Crisis: Misplaced Priorities
and Lessons Drawn

The Marawi Crisis erupted when Philippine government forces clashed with ISIS-inspired Maute
terrorists on May 23 in a bid to capture the so-called Emir of ISIS in Southeast Asia, Isnilon Hapilon,
and prevent the latter from establishing an Islamic State wilayat (province) in Mindanao. The crisis
has dragged on for over a month, with no clear end in sight. According to a statement released by
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella on July 1, the standoff has so far claimed the lives of 82
government forces, 317 terrorists, and 39 civilians. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman
Brigadier General Restituto Padilla reported that as of June 29, government forces, local government
personnel, and civil society organizations have so far rescued a total of 1,713 civilians. He disclosed
that a total of 382 firearms have been recovered. Based on the latest available records of Joint Task
Force Marawi dated June 16, the remaining members of the terror group were holed up in four out of
96 barangays which are now the foci of military operations.

According to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao-Humanitarian Emergency Action Response

Team (ARMM-HEART), the local coordinating body on the humanitarian response, more than 290,000
people (or more than 58,000 families) have been displaced by the crisis. It has become less likely
that they will be able to return to their homes in the next three months due to the sheer scale of

President Duterte, through Administrative Order No. 3, established Task Force Bangon Marawi on
July 3. Headed by Defense Secretary Lorenzana and Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, the interagency
task force will handle the expedient recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi and nearby
affected towns. The president has pledged up to PHP 20 Billion (USD 400 Million) in initial funding.

Misplaced Priorities
As early as the pre-election season last year, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his concern that
some battle-hardened jihadists of the Islamic State (ISIS) have been moving out of their strongholds in
Syria and Iraq due to heightened military operations by US- and Russia-backed coalitions, and sailing
to Mindanao to radicalize segments of Filipinos and set up their first wilayat (province) in Southeast

Up until the Marawi Crisis, however, President Duterte anchored his battle cry of restoring public
order and saving the Republic from total disintegration primarily on the determination of his
administration to discipline the so-called three societal ills: petty criminals, drug lords, and corrupt
government officials. These had been portrayed as the main culprits for the countrys inability for
sustained economic takeoff.

In focusing on the War on Drugs, the whole of the defense and security, law enforcement, and
intelligence establishment may have underestimated the potentially existential threat posed by foreign
radical Islamist extremist groups. In Marawi, these groups have shown that they have local manpower,
new material and cyber technologies, strategies of asymmetric warfare, financial resources, and an
ideological base from which to radicalize and unify disenfranchised people. Among them are local
groups that do not subscribe to the peace process between the Philippine government and the
mainstream Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) groups.

In the meantime, local militants, such as the Maute Group, together with the Abu Sayyaf Group
(ASG) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), have been able to transcend their tribal
loyalties or ethnic affiliations, unify their forces under Hapilon, and, project themselves as having re-


aligned their political agenda with those of foreign jihadists under the self-proclaimed Caliph
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Black Flag of ISIS. This development should be a cause of serious
concerngiven the countrys relatively brief experience with transnational radicalism, violent
extremism could pose the most serious challenge to the Philippine governments control over the
archipelago, especially in long-neglected peripheral regions, such as Mindanao.

Lessons Drawn
The Marawi Crisis is a wake-up call to the Philippine government, in general, and the Duterte
administration, in particular, in terms of addressing the issues of basic security, law enforcement,
local governance, and socio-economic development that have hounded Mindanao.

First, in terms of security/law enforcement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), working
hand in hand with the Philippine National Police (PNP), ought to expedite their clearing operations
in the remaining barangays of Marawi City in order to restore public order, proceed with post-
conflict rehabilitation for the displaced citizens, and prevent the arrival of more local and foreign
jihadists in the conflict zone. The AFP and PNP should critically reexamine their current Doctrine,
Organization, Training, Materiel, Personnel, Leadership and Education, Facilities, and Policy
(DOTMPLF-P) on counterterrorism so as to adapt to the evolving nature of asymmetric warfare,
particularly in urbanized areas.

In this regard, the AFP and PNP may seek inspiration from and the material and technical
support of countries such as Israel and Singapore, which have skills and expertise in conducting
modern urban warfare and rapid response in urban areas. For the long term, the AFP should also
consider institutionalizing the recently implemented Trilateral Maritime Patrol (TMP) to boost
intelligence-sharing, communications, and joint interoperability for counterterrorist operations
between the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Second, in terms of local governance, it is time for Congress to review and then submit to the
Executive Branch, with the approval of the Judicial Branch, a more inclusive and more equitable
version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). A revised BBL is necessary to address the historical
grievances of the Moro Filipinos, provide them greater voice in their political affairs, as well as
greater responsibility and accountability to guard their ranks against ISIS-inspired radicalization
within their respective jurisdictions. The implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the
Bangsamoro is needed to reduce the appeal of violence and the sway of foreign groups.

In the transition process to greater autonomy, however, the Philippine government ought to
avoid repeating its mistakes since the 1996 Davao Consensus. Instead, it should be proactive in
strengthening the institutional capacities of the local government units (i.e. policing, taxation,
public education, administration of justice) within the Bangsamoro region to ensure public welfare
and facilitate political institutionalization.

Lastly, we welcome the decision of President Duterte to sign the Executive Order creating
Task Force Bangon Marawi, which allocates PHP 20 Billion for the rehabilitation of Marawi City.
For the long run, we urge the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department
of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Bases
Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), in coordination with Mindanao Development
Authority, to expeditiously implement the Duterte Infrastructure Plan for Mindanao. This should
be followed by close coordination between the Philippine government, the private/business
sector, and the governments of neighboring countries within the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia,
Philippines-East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) framework to boost the Mindanaos productivity
and create legitimate employment opportunities for the Bangsamoro people.


It is hoped that these short-, medium- and long-term initiatives across various elements of
state building would help to reinstall the overall sense of security, increase political participation,
improve the standards of living, and restore the sense of dignity of our Bangsamoro brethren.
Through such initiatives, we hope the government can increase the likelihood of success in
combating violent extremism in Mindanao and prevent another city in the south from becoming
the next Marawi.

Public Opinion On The Declaration Of Martial Law

In the immediate term, however, Filipinos are supportive of the presidents declaration of
Martial Law. The vast majority support the declaration of Martial Law in light of the Marawi
crisis, with over a majority of Filipinos (57%) supportive of the decision to declare it throughout
Mindanao. Nevertheless, a majority also believed that the president should not extend Martial
Law to either the Visayas (63%) or to Luzon (67%).

Figure 2
Opinion on President Dutertes Declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao: Philippines
(June 2017)

Source: SWS


Figure 3
Opinion on Whether Martial Should Be Expanded to Visayas and Luzon: Philippines
(June 2017)

Source: SWS

IV. Security Aspirations at the

Shangri-La Dialogue
The discussions that took place in the recently concluded IISS Shangri-La Dialogue said more
about many of the states aspirations for Asia than they did about the path to achieving them.
Taking from the speeches delivered that weekend, one encompassing goal had been to defend
the rules-based international order, a concept held up by a number of Asia-Pacific states as a
cornerstone for the conduct of their relations. On this point, however, the tone of the plenaries
stayed aspirational: despite the number of initiatives raised over the weekend, few, if any efforts
seemed directed at promoting or enshrining this order in the international system.


Allies And Their Doubts
A good portion of the challenge comes from the United States, ironically the traditional proponent
of the rules-based order. Although the Trump administration has been in place for several months
now, there are still several questions over how the US will approach the Asia-Pacific and engage
the countries in it. Some decisions, such as withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, have
made it more difficult to believe, despite assurances, that Asia is a priority region for the US at
this time. The best effort at the Dialogue came from US Defense Secretary James Mattis who, when
asked about whether the region could trust in the Trump administration and its America First
policy, had only this to offer: Bear with us, once weve exhausted all possible alternatives, the
Americans will do the right thing.

As many of the senior leaders at the Dialogue represent US allies, their comments on American
engagement in the region provided a peek into their concerns. Most speechesfrom Australian
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inadashared at least one
major theme: that the United States is important and should remain engaged. That this point
was reiterated across the allies showed just how the US has not managed to communicate Asias
importance. As in Prime Minister Turnbulls words, I am confident that this administration and
those that follow it will [i.e. has yet to] recognize as its predecessors have that the United States
own interests in the IndoPacific demand more US engagement, not less.

Nevertheless, US officials have made several visits to Asia and it may simply be a matter of time
for the administration to develop a clearer agenda. Taking from their approach to North Korea
(The end of strategic patience is over), their hasty dis-engagement from trade, and the slow
pace at which major diplomatic posts have been filled in the region and in Washington, however,
it appears that the US will for the meantime pursue a defense-led approach to Asia. In the short-
to-medium term, how this will manifest in areas closer to Southeast Asiasuch as in the South
China Seawill be anyones guess. Coming away from the Dialogue, the impression was that the
US may continue to be active, but that its engagement will not be as predictable as in the past.

Alternative Forms Of Cooperation

If the rules-based international order has an uncertain future, however, there was still plenty
for observers to take home on cooperative and competitive developments in the region. One
important developmentthe Sulu Sea patrols of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesiawas
repeatedly cited, together with the more established Malacca Straits patrol, as both a good step
forward and a promising model for future collaboration. This option, sometimes called a coalition
of the relevant, could be a way through which smaller states could join efforts to meet a clear
need without being over-burdened by the processes of the multilateral institutions that they are
a part of (e.g. ASEAN).

Away from the grand strategic themes of major powers, there were important efforts to get
work done even at the smallest areas of cooperation. In the South China Sea, Singapores plan
to prioritize CUES and promote confidence-building between ASEAN navies and China, as one
example, is a pragmatic way of reducing the odds of miscalculation. At this level, you could sense
the greatest level of interest from delegates in thinking about new approaches to and options for
avoiding conflict. While there are still blind spots to overcome (e.g. the differing assessments
from the Indonesian and Philippine representatives over the number of foreign fighters), the path
to overcoming these is more straightforward, even as it may still be difficult. Given the top-level
uncertainties still ahead for the Asia-Pacific, the best course may be for countries to coalesce
around efforts to mitigate risk.


V. Legislative Priorities and Accomplishments
On June 1, 2017 both Houses of Congress adjourned sine die, officially ending the First Regular
Session of the 17th Congress. The first 10 months of the 17th Congress were marked by the passage
of a number of landmark bills on public services, health and justice reforms.

Submitted To Malacaang
Before adjourning session last week, Congress jointly submitted six more bills to Malacaang for
President Dutertes signature. Among these bills were the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act,
which would provide free internet access in public places and government offices; Philippine Passport
Act, which would extend the validity of Philippine passports to 10 years; and the bill that strengthens
the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law, which would impose higher penalties on hospitals that refuse to
administer treatment to emergency patients. Also submitted to Malacaang were the Free Higher
Education for All Act, which would provide for full tuition subsidies to students in state universities
and colleges; amendments to the Revised Penal Code, which sought to adjust the amounts under the
87-year old Revised Penal Code to prevent cruel and excessive punishment; and the amendments to
the Anti-Money Laundering Act, which would expand the coverage of the AMLA to include casinos.

A measure extending the validity of drivers licenses to five years will also soon be submitted to the
Office of the President after the bicameral conference committee report was approved just before the
break, while an additional measure is pending at the bicameral committee; House Bill 64 and Senate
Bill 1317 or An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards and
Providing Penalties For Violations Thereof.

So far, only four measures have been enacted into law, these are: Republic Act 10923, postponing the
October 2016 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections; RA 10924 or the General Appropriations


Act of 2017; RA 10925, renewing for another 25 years the franchise granted to Republic Broadcasting System,
Inc., presently known as GMA Network, Inc.; and RA 10926, extending for another 25 years the franchise granted
to Smart Communications, Inc. (Formerly Smart Information Technologies, Inc.).

Philippine Senate
Since the 17th Congress began last July 25, 2016, senators had filed 1,499 bills which are now in various
stages of legislation. Of these, 33 have been approved on third and final reading. A number of these bills
focused on improving and expanding government services to various sectors, such as the Sagip Saka Bill, the
Tulong-Trabaho Bill, the Telecommuting Act of 2017, the Philippine Innovation Act.

They also included measures on improving the countrys health services such as the Mental Health Act of
2017 and the Expanded Maternity Leave Act of 2017. The following bills were included among the priorities at
the Committee on Health and Demography: the comprehensive HIV/AIDS policy bill, the anti-hospital deposit
act, the mental health bill and Philhealth coverage for people with disabilities (PWD) bill.

The Mental Health bill has been approved on third and final reading on May 2 as the session resumed.
Likewise, the Anti-Hospital Deposit Act was approved on third reading. As such, the bill is now ready to be
tackled at the bicameral conference between the House of Representatives and the Senate before it will be
transmitted to the President for approval. On the other hand, the comprehensive AIDS and HIV policy bill is up
for second reading. The Philhealth coverage for PWDs is also pending for second reading.

Meanwhile in the Committee on Public Services, a committee hearing was conducted on the management
and maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 and the purchase of new MRT coaches on May 23, 2017.
In the hearing, two issues were floated. First is the issue of payments where the government is paying big
fees for railroad and coach maintenance but that the companies are basically ineffective and inefficient. The
second issue relates to the awarding of maintenance contracts, where an accusation was hurled toward former
Secretary Abaya approving dubious and questionable contracts with companies, especially where there is
really no urgency to approve the contacts in the first place. Relatedly, the House Committee on Transportation
conducted a similar inquiry on the MRT maintenance issue last May 24, 2017. Another hearing in aid of
legislation is expected to be pursued after the break.

The Senate also adopted 51 resolutions out of 399 proposed resolutions that have been filed. The resolutions
included the accession of the Senate to treaties such as the Articles of Agreement of the Asian Infrastructure
Investment Bank, the RP-Japan Agreement on Social Security, and the landmark Paris Agreement.

As of sine die adjournment, forty-six bills remain pending on Second Reading, while 1,251 bills remain
pending in committees.


House of Representatives
Data from the House Committee on Rules showed that since the 17th Congress convened on July 25, 2016,
the House processed a total of 1,247 measures in just 97 session days. Of these, the House managed to
approve a total of 295 including 194 approved on third reading, 13 approved on second reading, and 67 adopted

Among the measures approved on third reading in the House of Representatives and are awaiting the passage
of a counterpart bill in the Senate are the An Act Imposing the Death Penalty On Certain Heinous Crimes;
and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Bill. Both are legislative priorities of the Duterte

The TRAIN serves as the first package of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) of the Department
of Finance. It passed with 246 votes in the affirmative, 9 negative and one abstention, just before the sine die
adjournment. Aside from the decreasing personal income tax (PIT) and imposing more taxes on automobile
and oil products, the bill also features a tax on sugar sweetened beverage and tax exemption for cooperatives.
Opponents including the Makabayan Bloc argue that these taxes would hurt the middle class. However, the tax
is seen to complement President Dutertes public investment and expenditure drive particularly in infrastructure
and social services.

Meanwhile, among the resolutions adopted by the House of Representatives are the report of the Committee
of the Whole on House Resolution 1050 which is Resolution Expressing The Full Support Of The House Of
Representatives To President Rodrigo Duterte As It Finds No Reason To Revoke Proclamation No. 216, Entitled
Declaring A State Of Martial Law And Suspending The Privilege Of The Writ Of Habeas Corpus In The Whole
Of Mindanao ; and one report on impeachment, which is Committee Report 257 on House Resolution 157
Resolution Dismissing The Verified Complaint For Impeachment And The Supplemental Complaint-Affidavit
Filed By Rep. Gary C. Alejano Against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

On health policy, among those that were enumerated as priorities at the Committee on Health at the House
of Representatives, the mental health bill and the comprehensive HIV/AIDS policy bill were approved by the
committee and are now ready to be debated at the plenary on second reading upon the resumption of the
session. Not listed among the committee priorities but likewise approved by the committee is the health
promotion and disease prevention act which shall, among others, establish a health promotion and disease
prevention commission. This will likewise be up for plenary debates upon the resumption of the session in
July. Moreover, both the Universal Health Care bill and the bill to strengthen nutritional programs for women in
different levels of their reproductive life the first 1000 days had already been approved at the committee level
and will be ready for debates on second reading. Meanwhile, the Anti-Hospital Deposit Act or House Bill 5159
was approved on Third reading at the House of Representatives.

Relatedly, the Quality Affordable Medicines Oversight Committee (QAMOC), composed of both Senate and
House members, held a second meeting at the Senate chaired by Rep. Ferjenel Biron and Senator Juan Miguel
Zubiri and co-chaired by Rep. Angelina Tan. The second meeting took off from the discussions on the first meeting
on February 8 regarding the status of the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008 (RA
9502). In the meeting, the Department of Health proposed two key amendments to the Cheaper Medicines Act.
First is generics-only prescribing by health care professionals both in the public and private sectors. Second is


the creation of the Drug Price Regulatory Board. Secretary Ubial reported that the current status of the proposed
amendments has been submitted to the oversight committee for review and deliberation.

The Committee on Trade and Industry at the House of Representatives included the bills on Ease of Doing
Business and several bills amending the Consumer Act as their priority. The Ease of Doing business bill has
been approved at the committee level. This bill consolidates four other previous versions designed to create a
national policy to ease business processes and to create a commission that will serve as a one-stop-shop for
all business-related permits, licenses, clearances and other pertinent documents. The bill is expected to be
tackled at the plenary on second reading.

Of national significance because of what some call a transportation crisis, the House Committee on
Transportation in a hearing on May 29 approved House Bill 4334 or the Traffic Crisis Bill. The bill is expected to
be referred to the Committee on Rules for its appropriate action. Among others, the bill seeks to reorganize
administrative agencies to be responsive to the issue of traffic such as appointing the Department of
Transportation as the Traffic Chief and creating a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee. Moreover, it seeks
to create a comprehensive traffic rule handbook and the formulation of the Decongestion and Transportation
Network Reform Plan.

Finally, the issue of labor-only contractualization has been prominently discussed in public again after
the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) department order anticipated to put a stop to the practice
came short of the expected output. As such, while the Committee on Labor and Employment at the House of
Representatives had not initially identified legislative priorities to be tackled, a meeting was held on May 31
between some of the committee members and labor groups on the more than twenty bills filed on the issue
of putting an end to the practice of labor-only contracting. Previously, the committee leadership met with
employer groups in aid of legislation. The Committee shared that the meeting was not open to the public.
President Duterte has recently promised to issue his own executive order on the matter.

Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) Priorities

The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC)s Executive Committee agreed on thirteen
priority legislative measures that they propose the LEDAC push for when sine die adjournment is concluded.
A few of these bills have already had substantial activity and are now at various stages of legislation because
they had been identified as priority measures before the adjournment.


Unified National Identification System Act
The proposal seeks to establish a universal identification system to aid both government and market
transactions of citizens. An important part of this bill is the issuance of an identification card that will unify all
other government issued identification cards. In the House of Representatives, the bill was deemed a priority
at the Committee on Population and Family Relations before the sine die adjournment on June 3.

Security of Tenure Bill (End of Endo or Contractualization)

In the House of Representatives, there are twenty-five (25) bills that were filed and pending approval at the
Committee on Labor and Employment. The bills have different perspectives on how to regulate the issue of
contractualization, with some bills proposing an outright ban. While this was not identified as a committee
priority prior to the sine die adjournment in June 3, the committee held several meetings with some labor
groups before the adjournment. A committee hearing with employer groups was held on May 17. Meanwhile,
the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resource Development has yet to approve bills with
a similar theme.

Utilization of the Coconut Levy Fund

This proposal seeks to issue guidelines for the recovery of the coconut levy assets as well as for its future
utilization. In the House of Representatives, the House Bill 5745 was approved at the Committee on Agriculture
and Food on May 29 before the sine die adjournment. Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Agriculture and
Food and the Committee on Finance had already approved a similar bill, Senate Bill 1233, last year in November.
Both bills are waiting to be taken up for plenary debates as well as to be voted on second reading. These bills
had not previously been identified as priority measures.

Transportation Crisis via National Transport Act

The proposals are envisioned to arrest the problem of traffic congestion in Metro Manila through the
expression of the urgency for the crisis to be solved, granting emergency powers to President Duterte or through
accelerating the implementation of various infrastructure projects. In the House of Representatives, around ten



(10) bills were filed last year and are all pending with the Committee on Transportation. So far,
the Senate Committee on Public Services has approved at the committee level in December last
year Senate Bill 1284 granting emergency power to the president to solve the traffic crisis.

Budget Reform Act

The bill seeks to institutionalize greater accountability in the Public Financial Management (PFM)
system particularly through adopting internationally-recognized standards in public finance. In
the House of Representatives, the bill was referred to the Committee on Appropriations and is
waiting committee action since May 16. Meanwhile, the counterpart bill at the Senate is awaiting
action at the Committee on Finance.

National Land Use Act

The Land Use Act refers to the enumeration of the guidelines and the principles that should
govern the use of various types of land in the Philippines. In the House of Representatives, House
Bill 5240 was approved on third and final reading on May 2 and the same was transmitted to the
Senate which was referred on first reading to the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural
Resources. Senate Bill 1144 is yet to be tackled by the committee.

Rightsizing of the National Government

The proposal is envisioned to make national government bureaucracy and institutions
more effective and efficient by removing redundancy, overlaps and duplicates on roles and
responsibilities. House Bill number 5707 has already been approved on second reading while
Senate Bill 1359 is pending voting on second reading but is already approved by the Senate
Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation.

Amendments to the Anti-Cybercrime Act

The proposals seek to enhance democracy and freedom of speech in the internet by relaxing
the provisions over what constitutes libelous speech. In the House of Representatives, the
Committee on Information and Communications Technology is yet to approve House Bill 2096
filed by Representatives Tinio and Castro. The Senate Committee on Science and Technology has
yet to hear several similar bills.

Amendments to the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996

The proposal seeks to lift the quantitative restrictions on the import of rice. No bills have been
filed yet at both houses. However, a resolution urging an inquiry into the matter is pending at the
House Committee on Agriculture and Food.


Amendments to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Charter to allow
for free irrigation
The bill envisions the free provision of irrigation services, particularly to small farmers. The
measure was already approved on third and final reading at the House of Representatives on May
29, 2017. The Senate has approved the bill on second reading and the bill will be up for approval
on third reading.

Amendment to Public Service Act

The measure aims to address the problem of costly and slow internet services in the
telecommunications sector by substantially strengthening the powers of the National
Telecommunications Commission (NTC). Two bills were filed at the House of Representatives, but
these are awaiting deliberation by the Committee on Information and Communications Technology.
No bills have been filed at the Senate yet.

Ease of Doing Business Act/Fast Business Permit Act

The measure seeks to promote efficient and effective business processes, particularly in
licensing and permits among others. Several proposals at the House of Representatives were
consolidated into a single bill and approved by the Committee on Trade and Industry. Meanwhile,
the equivalent bill at the Senate, also known as the Expanded Anti-Red Tape Act of 2017, has
already been approved by the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship. Both bills
are pending approval on second reading.

Government Procurement Reform Act Amendments

Finally, the proposal seeks to strengthen the government procurement system, to make it more
transparent, effective, incorruptible and efficient. At both the House of Representatives and the
Senate, the measures are pending at the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on
Finance, respectively.



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