By Cong B. Corrales

PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino III would do well to act on his campaign promises promptly as he approaches his last 12 months in Malacañang.

In a letter to Aquino, the Philippine Business Groups and Joint Foreign Chambers (PBG-JFC) urged Aquino to assure the “swift passage” of important legislative measures, led no less by the Freedom of Information Act.

Apart from FOI, the business groups urged Aquino to see after the passage of amendments to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution (Resolution of Congress No. 1); the Public-Private Partnership Act (Build-Operate-Transfer Law Amendments) and the amendments to the Right-of-Way Act (Republic Act No. 8974); the Fair Competition Act; an Act creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology; the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act; and the Comprehensive Tax System Reform.

“It is our common position that the enactment and implementation of the above measures will accelerate the country toward the progressive nation we all aspire to become,” the PBG-JFC letter read in part.

All the legislative measures listed above are enrolled in Aquino’s “Social Contract with the Filipino People” but not one has been passed at all in the last five years of his presidency. His term ends on June 30, 2016, or in about 12 months.

The business groups also urged the Aquino government to push more vigorously “critical policy reforms aimed at ensuring inclusive growth through job generation, poverty reduction, and global competitiveness.”

After what it called a month-long discussion with members, the PBG-JFC asked the President to act on the following points which they said require prompt executive action:

* Immediate appointment of qualified, credible, and experienced public servants to the vacant posts in the Civil Service Commission, Department of Energy, and the Philippine National Police.

* Establishment of a public-private Energy Council composed of credible electricity experts who will formulate and regularly update a detailed energy security and price competitiveness roadmap.

* Establishment of the National Privacy Commission and the release of the implementing rules and regulations of the Data Privacy Act and the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

* Creation of agricultural trading centers that will provide farmers and fisherfolk the latest technology, as well as assistance in securing financing and marketing support.

* Reduction of the number of steps in establishing a business to the minimum across the country, taking into account the need to expand the ease of doing business efforts of the National Competitiveness Council.

* Revision of the Foreign Investment Negative List to reduce the list of industries where foreign participation remains limited.

* Intensify efforts to implement with minimum delay critical land, air, and sea transportation projects.

* Early resolution of the Maguindanao massacre trial and the plunder cases against the senators accused in the pork barrel scam and former President Arroyo, as well as provision of additional resources to the judiciary.

The PBG-JFC is a coalition of 18 local and foreign business groups.

Its roster of members includes the Management Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Alyansa Agrikultura, Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, American Chamber of Commerce, Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, European Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Korean Chamber of Commerce, Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters. – PCIJ, May 2015

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