Sans veto, the expansion bill ‘ripens’

By Herbert Vego

THIS corner has received many queries from residents of the municipalities affected by the franchise expansion of MORE Electric and Power Corp, Iloilo City’s distribution utility operating a 25-year franchise under Republic Act 11212.

“Has former President Rodrigo Duterte,” they ask, “signed the bill expanding MORE Power’s franchise to 15 towns and a component city of Iloilo province?”

Their concern stems from the “prohibitive rates” being imposed by the Iloilo Electric Cooperative (ILECO) in the province.

The last time I talked to MORE Power’s legal counsel, Atty. Alyana Babayen-on, she was yet to receive confirmation from Malacañang Palace. She added though that non-action by the former President would mean the amended bill would turn into law within 30 days.

Moreover, under Executive Order no. 200 dated June 18, 1987, new laws would only take effect 15 days after publication either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

Simply put, a bill may be vetoed by the President, but Congress may overturn a presidential veto by garnering a two-thirds vote. If the President does not act on a proposed law submitted by Congress, to reiterate, it will lapse into law after 30 days of receipt by his office.

We may assume that by July 30 of this year, the 30-day period would have elapsed.

However, what if the new President, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has either approved or vetoed the law enacted by the 18th Congress? Would the present 19th Congress be in the position to react?

While I, a non-lawyer, am not in the position to opine on that hypothetical legal issue, I see no reason why Marcos would frustrate the people who had urged congressman Mike Gorriceta (2nd District, Iloilo) and former congressman Braden John Biron (4th Dist.) to file House Bill 10271, amending RA 11212.

As this corner has repeatedly said, the amendment would expand the MORE franchise from Iloilo City to Passi City and 15 municipalities including Alimodian, Leganes, Leon, New Lucena, Pavia, San Miguel, Santa Barbara and Zarraga, all in the Second District; and Anilao, Banate, Barotac Nuevo, Dingle, Duenas, Dumangas and San Enrique, all in the Fourth District of Iloilo.

In two and a half years after taking over the Iloilo franchise from Panay Electric Company (PECO), MORE Power has already expanded from 63,000 customers to around 91,000 happy customers today.

-oOo-

A ‘PROMISING’ PRESIDENT

THE State of the Nation Address (SONA) of the new President, Ferdinand “BBM” Marcos Jr., seemed to resonate the “promising” personality of his dictator father, who is remembered for having shouted in his own first SONA, “This nation can be great again.”

We had thought BBM would push his intention to bring down prices of rice to at least ₱20 per kilo.  But he did not, in effect confirming that campaign promises are made to be broken.

Anyway, he did promise to lessen the hunger of the poor through reduction of the poverty rate to single digits by 2028, and to invigorate the economy through greater tax collection.

He vowed to accelerate the growth of the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as 8 percent annually over his six-year term in office.

As reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the poverty incidence of the nation in the year 2021 had hit 23.7 percent of the population.

His tax challenge could have broken our boredom had he vowed to pay the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) ₱203 billion in overdue estate taxes incurred by the Marcos family.

The opposition had raised his tax liability as a documented issue during the campaign period. It could have hit him hard, but he surprisingly ended up winning 31 million votes kuno against Leni Robredo’s 15 million. VP Leni had bested him in the 2016 vice-presidential race.

He vowed to adopt the “independent foreign policy” of his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, stressing he would be “a friend to all, an enemy to none.”

Not a square inch of Philippine territory would be given up.

How could we believe that when China has repeatedly encroached Philippine territories in defiance of the July 12, 2016 ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal? The ruling junked China’s “nine-dash-line” claim over the Spratly Islands and other territories within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone at the West Philippine Sea.

Rather than assuring us of ways and means to bring down prices through respite from payment of excise taxes, he blamed inflation on the pandemic and global fallout from the Russian-Ukraine war.

Since action speaks louder than words, let us watch BBM reverse the image of the Philippines as one of the worst performing economies within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

As to why he made no mention of human rights, ano siya hilo? He would have succeeded in turning back the hands of time to atrocities committed during his dad’s martial-law regime.

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