• Straight path spells ‘success’ – Belmonte

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    The daang matuwid [straight path]taken by the Aquino administration has resulted in “resounding success” because of passage of groundbreaking laws.

    Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. made the pronouncement in his speech during the opening of the Third Regular Session of the 16th Congress on Monday that was held ahead of President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s sixth and last State of the Nation Address (SONA).

    Belmonte cited the law clipping excessive bonuses for officials of government-owned and controlled corporations, sin tax law (increased alcohol and liquor taxes), Reproductive Health law (universal access to natural and artificial family planning methods), compensation law for human rights victims under the Marcos regime, law increasing the cap of tax-free 13th month pay to P82,000 from P30,000, Philhealth for all senior citizens and fair competition law (anti-monopoly).

    “When the President called for a No wang wang [sirens]policy, it wasn’t meant to be [just]a symbolic gesture. It highlighted the government’s commitment of doing away with the pomp and privilege of power, and high position…became our collective mission to restore decency to public service…ending long-standing practices of preferences, exemptions and abuse. By these standards, we can all proudly and resoundingly say that daang matuwid has been a resounding success,” the Speaker said.

    “The Aquino administration and the Congress of the Philippines are credible to the people,” Belmonte added.

    He, however, conceded that there is much to be done with the proposed law for the
    creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region still pending before Congress.

    The proposed law on the Bangsamoro provides that the Bangsamoro Region will enjoy fiscal autonomy and be governed by the Bangsamoro Parliament elected by the Bangsamoro Region’s inhabitants.

    In addition, the Bangsamoro Region will receive an annual block grant which is 2.4 percent of the national tax collection, a Special Development Fund worth P17 billion (P7 billion initially and P2 billion for the next five years) and a P1-billion transition fund for infrastructure construction and rehabilitation.

    “To the end of achieving peace, we are also committed to passing the Bangsamoro law. For far too long, the conflicts in the Bangsamoro have taken on different forms, rooted in passions that feed on discrimination and deprivations that are fueled by poverty. We must address the long-standing grievances of the Bangsamoro people by empowering them for development,” Belmonte said.

    “But this has to be complemented by clear and decisive legislative language to accommodate and empower not just the new majority of the Muslims in the Bangsamoro, but also for all other groups whose lives, family and work are located in these regionally autonomous areas of the Bangsamoro,” he added.

    The Speaker recognized that elections are nearing but urged his colleagues to work double time in the homestretch instead of indulging political talk.

    “Next year, we will see a transfer of power. But today, we must recognize that there remains a last window of opportunity to make a greater difference in the lives of our people. Let us get to work as we near the end of our three-year mandate and earn a righteous and honored place in our country’s history,” Belmonte said.

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