“We at the House of Representatives guided by the priorities of President Duterte and under the leadership of Speaker Alvarez, we shall prioritize charter change for new year 2017 and other socio-economic reforms. We foresee the fastest ever Philippine economic growth ranging from 7.5% to 8% a year for the coming 5 years due to more massive new infrastructure projects and other reforms” 1-Pacman Partylist Congressman Mikee Romero said at the December 13 non-partisan “Pandesal Forum” of 77-year-old, artisanal Kamuning Bakery Café in Quezon City. Romero was accompanied by his partymates Congressman Eric Pineda and Pampanga Congressman Dong Gonzales.
At the free-wheeling Pandesal Forum of Kamuning Bakery Café, Congressman Mikee Romero said that legislators now in Congress are different in terms of successful daily quorum in attendance and in the speed of passing priority bills such as the National Budget for 2017.
Cong. Romero foresees charter change towards federalism to move forward smoothly in 2017, with debates and public consultations for creating 12 new federal regions for the Philippines which shall hopefully improve political and economic democracy. Romero said if the charter change work moves on schedule, it is possible to hold a nationwide plebiscite in time for the 2019 mid-term elections.
On President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs, congressmen Romero, Pineda and Gonzales all expressed strong support, saying: “The war on illegal drugs is a war on ‘narco-politics’, this war will dramatically improve peace and order nationwide and thus lead to better Philippine economic growth. We support President Duterte’s sincere wish and goal of ensuring social peace for the next generation of the Filipino nation by ending the illegal drugs menacel.” They said 2017 will see accelerated debates and public consultations on such new priority bills as the re-imposition of the death penalty on heinous crimes and the lowering of the age for criminal liabilities because many drug dealers have been using young people as illegal drug couriers or accomplices.
Cong. Mikee Romero admitted that there is opposition to the death penalty bill by certain sectors, such as the Roman Catholic Church, but he said the legislators will hold debates and public consultations before making their final vote on this proposal. Romero also stressed that it is not true that the proposed death penalty will be unfair to poor offenders of heinous crimes since rich convicts tend to hire better lawyers, he stressed that laws apply to all rich or poor and what we should ensure is improvement of efficiency and fairness of the criminal justice system.
Congressmen Mike Romero, Eric Pineda and Dong Gonzales also announced the good news for 2017 of the proposed new “Department of Sports”, this bill they had filed. They also shared the good news that President Duterte is giving government budget of P3 billion pesos for the construction of the new “Philippine Olympic Training Center” on 50 hectares of land in Clark, Pampanga. The legislators hope reforms can help make the Philippines become more competitive in international sports competitions, no longer a laggard in Asean or Asia.
Congressmen Romero, Pineda and Gonzales lauded the good leadership and reforms by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman Butch Ramirez, while severely criticizing the “failed leadership” of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Jr. who just recently won his fourth term. Congressman Mikee Romero also publicly called for former Congressman Peping Cojuangco to resign from the POC, to give way to new vigor and new reforms in Philippine sports.
Cong. Mikee Romero also appealed to Transportation Secretary Art Tugade to speed up reforms to solve what he described as “the horrible traffic mess in Metro Manila which people have been suffering daily for years”, and he lamented that DOTC has “not yet shown any positive results in the past six months”.
Congressman Eric Pineda also made a public appeal for improvement of the country’s telecommunications services and the construction of more cell sites as among his legislative priorities for 2017.