President Duterte’s consultative committee (Con-com) is bent on recommending changes in the issuance of business permits and licenses as part of the shift to a federal system of government.
Arthur N. Aguilar, chairman of the Con-com Subcommittee on Economic Reforms and Fiscal Administration, told the BusinessMirror that there is a growing consensus among subcommittee members that business permits and licenses should be issued at regional offices.
“The subcommittee’s growing consensus is that, as much as possible, all permits and licenses should be issued at the level of the regions. As much as possible, but all of these are subject to federal standards,” said Aguilar, a management executive with political science and economics background.
He noted that with the current setup, putting up a business in Davao would require entrepreneurs to go to Manila to get most of the permits.
Aguilar said he is optimistic that businesses would welcome this important proposal. The committee is set to decide on this in their third subcommittee meeting on March 15. Susan Ubalde-Ordinario, vice chairman of the subcommittee, said “ease of doing business is really one of the major desires of the business community.”
“I think that stems from the perception of the business community that there has to be an easier way of doing business. So, actually, if we are going to regionalize, we have to give that right to the regions that they can enter into contracts, permits, licenses and franchises, but, of course, this has to be within the limits of the Constitution itself,” Ubalde-Ordinario said.
Aguilar recognized that there are some regions that will not have the capabilities to implement that immediately.
“There are some regions that are yet to be developed, so there will be a transition period for the regions to acquire institutional capability to issue permits and licenses,” he said.
Aguilar added that they are also proposing to have a comprehensive land-use code, which will set out the federal policy on the use of land applicable to all regions.
“We want them to be guided on the land-use code. There, you will give classification of lands, taxation of idle lands, if the regions want to continue agrarian reform, it will already be there,” he said, adding that many of the guidelines have been set already.
“It’s just to put it in one comprehensive code that would guide the regions since we are devolving the economic powers to the region, or we are proposing to do so,” he added.
Con-com’s intention, Aguilar said, is to liberalize economic policies as much as possible, but noted that they still have to look into some areas that are restricted, such as land, media, educational institutions and profession.
The Con-com is also set to vote on the new provisions on political dynasties early next week in an en banc session. Its members had a consensus to include in the proposed revised constitution a “self-executing provision” that will regulate political dynasties, that no relative of an incumbent official up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity shall be allowed to run simultaneously and to succeed the incumbent official for positions of governor, mayor, or district representative and other local officials, according to Julio Teehankee, chairman of the Subcommittee on Political Reforms and Leveling the Playing Field.
“What we are trying to avoid is monopoly of power and perpetuity, which will result in an unhealthy political system, because the very lifeblood of a working democracy is a circulation of candidates and winners in the election,” said Teehankee, former College of Liberal Arts dean at De La Salle University.
The Con-com has also agreed that the president and vice president will be elected as a team, according to University of Santo Tomas Political Science Professor Edmund Tayao, chairman of the Subcommittee on Creation and Structure of States and Subnational Governments.
On Tuesday the committee has also agreed that the country will still have a bicameral Congress.