Press Release
September 5, 2021

Investment hub in Central Luzon to cushion COVID-19 economic impact - Gordon

Senator Richard J. Gordon underscored the urgency to create new opportunities and attract more investments to expedite the country's swift economic recovery from the negative consequences of the protracted COVID-19 pandemic.

Gordon, who chairs the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises, renewed his call for the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1549, or the Regional Investment and Infrastructure Coordinating Hub (RICH) of Central Luzon.

"Sa gitna ng patuloy na pagtaas ng kaso ng COVID-19 dahil sa Delta variant, patuloy na lumalalim ang ating kahirapan. In this bill, we are aiming high again for the country sa gitna ng pandemya. Sabi nga, out of every crisis, there is opportunity. We need a quick start," he said at the recent public hearing in the Senate.

SB 1549, also referred to as the RICH Bill, seeks to take advantage of the strategic infrastructures in Central Luzon as international transportation centers that connect the expansive areas in the region to attract more foreign direct investments.

The measure would serve as an economic engine of growth as well as promote and encourage entrepreneurships and create various jobs and business opportunities for the Filipino people.

Based on April 2021 Labor Force Survey, the Philippines experiences slow fiscal progress while the unemployment rate stood at 8.7 percent, rendering 4.11 million workers jobless. Poverty incidence is also stuck at 21 percent, it added.

"Ano'ng ibig sabihin nito? Lumiliit ang oportunidad ng mga tao. No jobs, no earnings. Kahit na gusto at kayang magtrabaho ng mga tao, hindi nila magawa dahil walang mapasukan, walang ma-applyan. And so, massive hunger stalks the country," he said.

To cushion the negative impact of the pandemic, Gordon pointed out that the passage of his measure presents a "golden opportunity" for the government to bring in more investments because China has started to lose foreign investors.

"Kailangan nating gumawa ng bagong oportunidad para sa mga mamamayan para makahanap sila ng sariling kabuhayan at umunlad gamit ang sariling kakayahan. I have always advocated for this my whole life: work, save, invest and prosper," he said.

"It is better to know where we are going than not know how," he added.

In the 17th Congress, Senate and House leaders had approved the RICH bill but President Rodrigo Roa Duterte vetoed it.

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