By THE PILIPINO MOVEMENT FOR
TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP (PMTL)
The Reform Agenda is drawn from a 10-page document that contains a broad array of reform issues covering food security, job creation, governance, regulation, decentralization, agrarian reform, mass transport/ housing, indigenous peoples’ rights, education and the environment. They are among the broad topics that need to be addressed to promote inclusive growth and sustainable development. They remain as areas of reform. However for strategic and tactical reasons, the following reform areas have been prioritized and categorized into three (3) main issues. Under each category are specific action areas that are expected to galvanize a broad based support because these will affect the largest sectors of society.
I. GOOD GOVERNANCE
Good governance by honest, competent, strong-willed, competent servant- leaders is a crucial factor.
1) Anti-Dynasty Law
2) Freedom of Information (FOI) Law
3) Strengthen and expand the COA, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan, to help curb corruption in government and promote swift justice.
4) Pursue Charter Change to overhaul the country’s political, social and economic life and put the country on the path of genuine democracy, peace and inclusive economic growth and prosperity.
5) Strict and full implementation of RA 7160 Local Government Code. It encourages the private sector participation in public governance (People’s Councils) among local government units, particularly in the delivery of basic services and ensures the viability of local autonomy as an alternative strategy for sustainable development. It addresses regional concerns like the “Bangsamoro”.
6) Amend the Civil Service Law to institutionalize meritocracy, professionalism, accountability, and increase salaries to levels competitive with the private sector. We need a competent and highly efficient bureaucracy, free of political patronage
7) Law and measures on Anti-Monopolistic and Anti-Oligarchic control of our economy. We must review and improve our existing laws, as well as our implementation policies and practices, in this area, including the recently passed law on Anti-Monopoly.
8) Foreign Policy: China & West Philippine Sea
a. Stand up to China and pursue claims before the international tribunal and other legal, peaceful avenues
b. Develop and/or strengthen defense alliances, either bilateral or multi-country, with our countries in the world, especially in Southeast Asia region
c. Modernize and strengthen the military, air force and naval defense capabilities of our country
II. POVERTY REDUCTION & FOOD SECURITY FOR ALL
Reduce poverty by promoting income opportunities and other policies in the basic sectors of our economy, as follows:
1) Agrarian Reforms – Develop the agricultural sector where around sixty percent (60%) of labor force work. Develop and strengthen the key areas of our agriculture in a manner that would create more jobs and income opportunities for our farmers and fisher folks. Improve the design and implementation of the CARL, providing funds for adequate support services such as irrigation, farm to market roads, ports and shipping, marketing, credit, crop insurance. Ideally attaining 75% – 80% domestic production output towards food stability without over dependence on imports.
2) Reform the Department of Agriculture and NFA. Develop the basic sectors of our agriculture to make the growth inclusive to the small farmers and farm workers. Cut corruption by removing NFA’s monopoly on food importation and increasing transparency. Rethinking the narrow interpretation of food security from “no importation to strategic importation”. Redirect uncompetitive farmers and support them to produce high value crops e.g. cacao, etc.
3) Establish a Coconut Trust Fund for the coconut levy funds (now estimated to be in excess of P71B), to be managed and operated by suitable farmer representatives together with qualified government representatives. The Fund will be used to revive and develop the coconut industry in our country. Grow coconut trees but also process and market the many different products from the coconut, aptly called the Tree of Life. This will directly benefit the 25 million-odd individuals in the coconut industry, instead of the middlemen and foreign manufacturers, which is now the case.
4) Protect the coconut trees and coconut farmers from dangerous pesticides like nicotinamide, etc. following the Organic Agricultural Act of 2010 (Republic At No. 10068), implementing Presidential Proclamation of 2003, to use natural and organic products.
5) Develop the country’s blue economy and maritime sector, by pursuing reforms to improve the productivity of fisheries and the marine-based economic sectors, while ensuring sustainable development. Similar to agriculture, boost the competitiveness of processing and manufacturing as well as its connectivity to small-scale fisher folk on the one hand and export markets on the other. Ensure strong and equitably shared benefits from value-adding activities.
III: JOB CREATION
Filipinos have demonstrated their capability and industry in many areas of endeavor given the opportunity here and abroad. Today we have a labor force of 40 million with an additional 1 million youth every year.
1) Create a Department of Industry separate from a Department of Trade. This Department will focus on the development of industry and the manufacturing sector, as a basic ingredient for economic growth, the creation of high value jobs, with concomitant high wages and salaries. This could also promote a strong industrialization strategy that builds further on the country’s present new industrial policy.
2) Simplify business registration procedures and requirements by reducing bureaucratic red tape at both the national and local levels for the registration of business and shorten the negative list of areas where foreign investors can establish enterprises in order to increase the flow of foreign direct investment and create jobs.
3) Responsible Mining- the development of mineral resources will contribute to the industrialization of the country with the concomitant processing of these minerals. Ensure the protection of the environment and the people in the area and at the same time make the sharing of profits more equitable for both the mining companies and the Government
4) Revive the steel industry with our available mineral resources. Today we have a very high dependence on imported semi-processed and finished steel products. The backbone of modern industry is steel.
5) Protect and promote the welfare and development of labor. Use all means to remedy contractualization, including engaging in social dialogue with employers and agents/contractors in order to promote job security and opportunities for promotion.
6) Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). The current dearth of regular well-paying jobs, and the effects of globalization, has caused around 12 million Filipinos to seek overseas employment in pursuit of a better life. Ensure that recruitment and placement agencies are legitimate, and not fronts for human trafficking. Provide adequate consular support to our OFWs. Empower OFWs by strengthening the absentee voting law. Assist them in reintegrating into Filipino society after their work stint abroad.
7) Reduce power rates, by supporting the development of renewable and non-traditional energy sources, so that domestic producers of both goods and services will become globally competitive.
8) Transportation- The development of a mass transport system for both people and cargo will reduce traffic congestion which has a negative impact on productivity and reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. We need to develop our railway system by revitalizing and rehabilitating the Philippine National Railways (PNR) in its southern and northern routes, and the development of the Mindanao route. Expand commuter trains in Metro Manila, and introduce these to highly urbanized centers, such as Metro Cebu and Metro Davao. Improve and expand our nascent ship building industry, as a country of many islands highly dependent on sea transport. This will enable our shipping industry to replace its aging domestic vessels with new and modern ones, incorporating the latest safety features.
9) Foreign Policy: Develop New Markets
a. Develop and/strengthen new markets from other countries for Philippine products, especially in the light of conflict with China on the West Philippine Sea
b. Develop and/strengthen new markets from other countries for our OFWs, especially in countries with higher pay and more humane working and labor conditions
IV: TAX REFORMS
The lifeblood of a country comes from the taxes of its citizens which in turn, is being used by the government to provide the needs of the society. By making reforms on the Philippine taxation system, we can engage the different sectors of the society in contributing to the further development of the country.
1) Article 6, Section 28 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states “The rule of taxation shall be uniform and equitable. The Congress shall evolve a progressive system of taxation.” Taxation must be revised, rationalized and made more equitable to such level that would encourage the business sector and the consumers to effectively participate in the National Development Program of the government.