PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has vetoed the bill for the establishment of the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport, the Malacañang announced Saturday, July 2, 2022.

In a letter to the Senate signed by Marcos on July 1, he said he cannot support a bill that “pose substantial fiscal risk to the country and its infringement on or conflict with other agencies’ mandates and authorities.”

Marcos cited Republic Act No. 11534 which allows eligible enterprises to apply for and avail of tax incentives without the need for a creation of new special economic zones.

He said tax incentives may be enjoyed longer if investments are located in less-developed areas.

“Aside from the abovementioned fiscal considerations, the proposed measure lacks coherence with existing laws, rules, and regulations by failing to provide audit provisions for the Commission on Audit, procedures for expropriation of lands awarded to agrarian reform beneficiaries, and a master plan for the specific metes and bounds of the economic zone,” said Marcos.

“Moreover, the enrolled bill grants the economic zone authority rule-making powers relative to environmental protection that is not found in the charter of other economic zones. It is also granted blanket powers to handle technical airport operations in contravention of existing aeronautical laws,” he added.

He said it is also not strategic to build an economic zone that is close to the Clark Special Economic Zone.

He said the National Economic Development Authority will further study and assess the matter to ensure that the establishment of the Bulacan Airport and Freeport Zone is beneficial to the whole country.

“Contrary to the Government's objective of developing a tax system with low rates and a broad tax base, the Enrolled Bill will significantly narrow our tax base with its mandated incentives applicable to registered enterprises,” said Marcos.

“As the system would be rendered incapable of generating a yield sufficient to sustain the country's social and economic infrastructure, the Government would be forced to seek new sources of revenue through additional taxes or borrowings in the future. In the end, it is the taxpayers who will ultimately bear the brunt of the burden,” he added.

With 21 affirmative votes, the Senate approved on May 26 the bill seeking the establishment of the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority.

The measure aims for the development of the areas into a decentralized, self-reliant and self-sustaining industrial, commercial, agro-industrial, tourist, banking and financial center.

Former Senator Richard Gordon, co-author and co-sponsor of the measure said it would attract more sustainable investments from both domestic and foreign sources, decongest Metro Manila, and bring much-needed economic relief and hope to the Philippines. (SunStar Philippines)