Malacañang on Thursday, December 14, thanked Congress for ratifying two key measures that would provide sufficient funding for the administration’s priority programs aimed at creating real change in people’s lives.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. in a press briefing expressed gratitude to Congress for approving the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill.
Roque noted that the TRAIN bill, together with other complementary measures to be passed in early 2018, would yield more than P120 billion worth of revenues during its first year of implementation.
He said these added revenues are essential for the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” Program that aims to ramp up government’s infrastructure spending, with the end goal of easing congestion, spurring trade and investment, and reducing poverty.
The Spokesperson further said revenues collected from the new tax package would be used to fund various social protection programs on health, education, and housing.
“The administration is a government of ‘tapang at malasakit’. We will thus ensure that the benefits of tax reform will also be felt by the poor, vulnerable and marginalized,” he said.
The Palace also welcomed the decision of Congress to ratify the P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018, as it reiterated the President’s commitment to using the budget as a tool for change.
With the approval of the proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA), the Palace hopes to provide enough funds for the administration’s thrusts, which include reducing inequality, maintaining sustainable development, increasing the country’s growth potential, and enhancing the social fabric.
“The 2018 National Budget is a budget that seeks to reform and transform… we assure everyone that we will use people’s money to good use,” Roque said as he thanked government officials who worked diligently on the measure.
Roque also reiterated the President’s assurance that the problem of underspending during the previous administration will be addressed under his leadership. In the last Cabinet meeting, President Duterte directed the different departments to give reports on their spending levels, Roque announced.
Palace assures no repeat of 1972 ML in Mindanao
Meanwhile, the Cabinet official clarified that the extended martial law declaration in Mindanao is nothing similar to the 1972 martial law during the Marcos regime.
“That this is not the same martial law that we had in 1972. Courts remain functioning, Congress remains existing, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution is enforced,” Roque noted.
He added that there are no legal bases for concerns on the return of the Marcos-style dictatorial rule, and neither have there been any systematic or gross violation of human rights under today’s martial law.
“[N]o local government unit has actually complained even in Marawi that they fear that their mandates have been violated. Even in Marawi itself, the local government unit continues to exist and the local mayor himself takes the initiative on the rebuilding of Marawi,” Roque further said.
The Spokesperson restated that the President’s decision to extend martial law is based on reports that terrorist groups continue to operate in Mindanao and threaten public safety.
“I think the reality is with the halt of the peace talks, there will be more military encounters between the Armed Forces and the New People’s Army. So we need to be more vigilant,” he said.
“We’ll just need to be able to deal with threats as they happen… something that may not happen unless martial law is around,” he added. ###PCO-Content