MALACAÑANG —President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday, February 20, signed vital legislative measures that would improve the country’s health care, trade and investment system, and sports training.
“I am pleased to be with you today, in coordination with concerned agencies, in facilitating the passage of the key legislative measures which would further support this administration’s development agenda for inclusive growth where no one will be left behind,” President Duterte remarked at the Rizal Hall.
The Chief Executive first signed the much awaited Universal Healthcare Law, which guarantees equitable access to quality and affordable healthcare services for all Filipinos. It will also automatically enroll Filipino citizens into the National Health Insurance Program and expand PhilHealth coverage to include free medical consultations and laboratory tests.
The President also signed the Social Security Act of 2018, which would expand the investing capacity of the Social Security Commission to generate a better income for members and pensioners.
“These legislative measures will improve our existing healthcare and pension services which will benefit the poor and the vulnerable always the reason,” Duterte noted.
In the category of trade and investment, President Duterte inks the Revised Corporation Code. This seeks to simplify corporate governance standards and establish a more business-friendly environment that will enable corporations and other juridical entities to thrive.
On the other hand, the New Central Bank Act will strengthen the financial stability of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and granting it more flexibility in the exercise of its regulatory powers. In addition to this, the BSP also turned over to the national government P4 billion worth of partial dividends.
For our local athletes, President Duterte also signed the Philippine Sports Training Center Act, which would establish a center for athletic development to help maximize the potential and competitiveness of the Filipino athletes.
Another significant bill presented was the Act of Reapportioning the Province of Southern Leyte into Two Legislative Districts. Duterte noted that this is one of the “eventful measures” that were presented, adding that he hopes this would promote peace and order in the province.
“The passage of these laws attests to how much the government can achieve when the executive and legislative branches work hand in hand in achieving a common legislative agenda,” President Duterte said.
“I hope that Congress will continue to be our steadfast partner in enacting laws that will significantly improve the lives of our people, especially those who need it,” he added.
Duterte to Peter Lim: Better commit suicide than surrender alive
Meanwhile, after the signing ceremony, President Duterte entertained questions from the media. In a chance interview, he warned Peter Lim, the missing businessman and alleged drug lord, to better “commit suicide” instead of surrendering alive.
“Ikukulong ko siya ng 200 years. Eh di ako sa kanya magpakulong — mag-suicide na lang siya,” President Duterte said.
The President believes that Lim is still active either in or out of the country and that his network of illegal drugs and money laundering is “very much alive.”
In the same interview, the Chief Executive cited that he is in favor of the Department of the Interior and Local Government releasing its narco-list or list of personalities involved in illegal activities of the drug trade.
He also reiterated his anger to the illegal act and the substance, underlining the adverse effects that could lead to the destruction of the Philippines and noted that the war on drugs would be “harsher in the coming days.”
He, therefore, ordered the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police to be more “punitive” in conducting their operations against illicit drugs.
Duterte favors revoking scholarship to students espousing rebellion
When asked about his reaction to the proposition of National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairman Ronald Cardema in revoking the scholarships of students joining anti-state protests, the President said he is not keen on doing so unless these students support communist groups like the New Peoples Army or create a rebellion to overthrow the government through arm struggle.
“If you espouse to overthrow the government, then you are committing a crime of rebellion. Basta if you espouse…support the NPAs…espouse the destruction of government…I will consider you an enemy,” President Duterte said.
“Now [if] you become a part or member of the other larger groups… a loose federation or a grouping… then you become a member of that organized group. And that would be rebellion,” he continued.
The President also clarified that joining rallies is not a considerable activity for the students to lose their scholarship because such action is merely an “expression” and not rebellion.
“Well, those are just expression. I need more overt acts. Wala naman kung dissent lang. If you disagree with my move…you disagree…or you are not in…you do not find consonance in our decision,” he noted. ### PND