Palace says vetoed Bulacan airport ecozone bill needs to be 'sharpened,' questions blanket powers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 4) — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. vetoed the bill seeking the creation of a special economic zone adjacent to the upcoming Bulacan Airport because it needs to be refined to avoid possible legal impediments that could delay its implementation, the Palace said Monday.

Reiterating a portion of the veto message to the Senate, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said that among the contentious provisions of the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Bill is the special powers granted to the proposed economic zone authority that do not exist in other economic zones.

"It needs to address why there is a rule-making power given to the economic zone to this particular economic zone for environmental issues for environmental concerns. This has not been given to other economic zones," she said in a media briefing.

The presidential veto message on July 2 cited fiscal prudence, the bill’s supposed lack of coherence with laws, and the need for a thorough review to make sure its benefits outweigh the costs. He also said the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act already provides tax perks to registered businesses without the need to create new special economic zones.

Angeles said the bill, which was supposed to lapse into law on Monday, has provisions that might be contrary to some technical operations in relation to transportation laws. She earlier said the "blanket powers" granted to the economic zone authority will violate aeronautical laws.

She also said the law needs to be sharpened to include audit provisions for the Commission on Audit, procedures for expropriating lands that had been awarded to Agrarian Reform beneficiaries, and a master plan with metes and bounds of the full scope of the economic zone

The official added that the bill should be able to state that the zone will be significant to the entire nation, not only to nearby residents.

While lawmakers have committed to refiling the measure to factor in the president's concerns, is there a possibility that a new version of the bill would obtain certification from Malacañang?

"There is no indication of such certification but the importance is evident in the explanation of the veto, that he merely wants these things to be sharpened. Approval of this law might result in the delay of its implementation because it might be challenged," Angeles said.

The administration said the veto will not affect the construction of the airport, which is seen to help decongest the main gateway Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City.