Press Release
October 16, 2020

Explanation of Vote for SB 1844: An Act authorizing the President to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses and certifications

Mr. President, my dear colleagues:

Defeating red tape, it should be obvious by now, is bureaucracy's Holy Grail.

This is the latest legislation we have passed on how to shorten the requirements and speed up the process in securing government permits.

On top of such laws are the performance guarantees which form part of an agency's deliverables in the annual budget.

As if these were not enough, red tape is among the favorite presidential talking points, whether he is out in the field, or inside Malacañang addressing officials.

In fact, he may have skipped many items in his four SONAs, but there is one constant in each - his exasperation about red tape, which he delivers with his signature theatrical fare.

Since Day One of his term, he has threatened those who sit on applications, often with every torture method imaginable.

Yet, despite the combination of presidential incentives�and invectives�the speed by which permits move in the bureaucratic maze is as fast as EDSA traffic.

So, Mr. President, the only thing left for us, legislation wise, is to grant him emergency powers.

This bill is the nuclear option. Kung wala pa ring mangyayari, baka hindi sa mga panuntunan ang problema, baka doon sa mga kawaning magpapatupad nito.

Laws are only as good as the people who will implement it, which is one of the lessons in Lawmaking 101.

This bill, Mr. President, grants enough leeway for the President to cut the Gordian knot that chokes the permits for projects the country and the consumers need.

It gives wide elbow room but not unli powers such as those given to kings during the Dark Ages.

It will still be rules-based, so its exercise will be guided by wisdom and not by whims.

The bottomline is that it will allow the President to increase the velocity of the application and approval of permits. It grants him the power to set the minimum speed.

Based on my reading of the bill, the power to accelerate does not cover the power to run roughshod over the health of the people, of the environment, or acts that will put the lives of citizens in jeopardy.

For example: It may expedite the construction of cellphone towers, but not one beside the Rizal Monument.

It may put a reclamation project on fast track, but not without clearance from the DENR that no wildlife habitat will be sacrificed.

It may hasten the creation of a landfill, provided it will not be in the middle of the city, or near the spring where that city draws its drinking water.

It does not give the government power to barge into your property and without due process expropriate it for the State's use, Soviet style.

Again, let me reiterate, the spirit is to increase the velocity of granting permits and licenses without cancelling the vital requisites.

On this note, Mr. President, and trusting that the powers conveyed will be exercised judiciously, I vote yes.

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