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MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and leaders of the 19th Congress agreed on Wednesday, September 20, to pass by year’s end legislation that would define and declare the country’s maritime zones.
Marcos met with the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) in Malacañang to approve the inclusion of several measures to the Common Legislative Agenda of the 19th Congress.
The council approved the inclusion of the following proposed legislation, which Marcos also indicated as his priorities in his State of the Nation Address:
- Amendments to the Government Procurement Reform Act
- Excise Tax on Single-Use Plastics
- Amendments to the Cooperative Code
- Amendments to the Fisheries Code
- New Government Auditing Code
- Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime
Aside from the Philippine Maritime Zones Act, the council also agreed to pass the following by December 2023, or before Congress’ holiday break:
- Open Access in Data Transmission Act
- Amendments to the Right-of-Way Act
LEDAC is a “consultative and advisory body” to the President on “certain programs and policies essential to the realization of the goals of the national economy.” It is headed by the President and counts as members economic managers, and ranking House and Senate officials.
The Senate recent created a Special Committee on Philippine Maritime and Admiralty Zones, which was given jurisdiction over legislation or legislative probes related to the country’s maritime and admiralty zones.
That the LEDAC considers maritime zones a priority comes amid heightened tensions in the West Philippine Sea.
The West Philippine Sea is the Philippine term for parts of the South China Sea within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.
China claims practically the entire South China Sea as its own, despite a 2016 arbitral award that said it has no basis.
The West Philippine Sea is rich in marine resources, as well as potential reserves of oil and natural gas. It’s also key in the global economy – trillions in goods pass through it yearly. – Rappler.com