PROBABLY careful that the enrolled bill would lapse into law without presidential action, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vetoed the bill creating the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport in his first full day in office last July 1.
PBBM's veto message to the Senate and the House explained why he is ditching House Bill 7575 or the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Act.
The newly elected President said: “At the foreground, fiscal prudence must be exercised particularly when resources are scarce and needs are abundant."
“While this administration recognizes the objective of the proposed measure to accelerate economic growth in its locality, I cannot support the bill considering the provisions that pose fiscal risks to the country and its infringement on or conflict with other agencies’ mandates and authorities,” he added.
Marcos said the proposed measure would “significantly narrow the tax base with its mandated incentives applicable to registered enterprises.”
When HB 7575 was passed in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Imee Marcos, most everybody expressed hope and approval for this measure, considering that 21 senators voted to approve it. The bill was approved in the House in September, 2020.
The proposed Bulacan special economic zone would have included the area covering the proposed New Manila International Airport, the Airport City to be constructed beside the airport, and other lands adjacent to Airport City as may be determined later.
The bill would also create the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority to manage the operations within the economic zone. In addition, the measure would grant fiscal incentives to registered enterprises operating within the Bulacan economic zone.
The new President said HB 7575 “lacks coherence with existing laws, rules, and regulations” and noted that the proposed law has no provisions for an audit by the Commission on Audit, the process for the expropriation of land awarded to agrarian reform beneficiaries, and a master plan that sets the boundaries of the proposed economic zone.
PBBM noted that the bill gives the proposed economic zone authority “rule-making powers relative to environmental protection that is not found in the charter of other economic zones” and also “blanket powers to handle technical airport operations in contravention of existing aeronautical laws.”
Marcos also said that the Bulacan airport city is near the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga, “which is against the government’s policy on creating special economic zones in strategic locations.”
The President's first use of his presidential power of veto, this time on the Bulacan Airport City SEZ shows President Bongbong's independent mind and concern for the whole country, not just a particular area or sector. Also, a law full of holes would not pass even if it is sponsored by his senator-sister.
As a consolation, the San Miguel group can always try to remedy thru another legislation the flaws cited by the President against HB 7575. We believe this is just a small setback for Ramon S. Ang and the Bulacan airport project.