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By Miguel R. Camus, Inquirer Business

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has vetoed a bill proposing the creation of a special economic zone and freeport in conglomerate San Miguel Corp.’s $15 billion airport city in Bulacan over “substantial fiscal risks to the country.”

The letter, addressed to members of Congress, was dated July 1, meaning it was one of the first official acts of President Marcos, who was sworn into office on June 30.

“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 entities,” he said.

“In view of these considerations, I am constrained to veto the above-mentioned enrolled bill,” he added.

The proposed House Bill 7575 was titled “An Act Establishing the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport, Province of Bulacan and Appropriating Funds Therefor.”

Apart from fiscal risks, Marcos said the bill was in conflict with existing mandates of other government agencies and lacked “coherence with existing laws, rules and regulations by failing to provide audit provisions for the Commission on Audit, procedures for the expropriation of lands awarded to agrarian beneficiaries, and a master plan for the specific metes and bounds of the economic zone.”

Marcos also said the National Economic and Development Authority and the Regional Development Council III called for further study on the cost of establishing the special economic zone.

San Miguel is one of the country’s largest companies with businesses spanning food, beverage, power, energy and infrastructure.

SMC’s Bulacan airport city, during the Duterte Administration, won the support of lawmakers and was granted a 50-year franchise to build and operate the facility in exchange for tax breaks and a revenue sharing scheme.

It would rise on a 2,500 hectare property in Bulakan, Bulacan and was designed serve up to 100 million passengers annually—three times the size of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the country’s primary gateway.

Fisherfolk in the area, however, had opposed the project, saying their livelihoods would be affected, while conservation organization Oceana said the airport violated environmental laws.

The Supreme Court last January dismissed the writ of kalikasan petition filed by Oceana for lacking sufficient form and substance.

PHOTO: Exterior design of San Miguel Corporation’s P740-billion New Manila International Airport in Bulakan, Bulacan.

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