THE Cabinet presented on Tuesday its plans to execute President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s instructions delivered during the State of the Nation Address (SONA), which included the reclaiming and clearing of public roads in Metro Manila to ease congestion, the coordination of water supply and conservation efforts, and the more rapid issuance of permits.

In a post-SONA news conference in Quezon City Tuesday morning, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año said he was scheduled to meet with local officials on how to implement the Ease of Doing Business Law and how to address road congestion in Metro Manila.

Nakita natin dito sa Metro Manila, may mga roads na ginagawang tyanggihan, ginawang tindahan ng vendors, at ginawang parking areas. So we will change that katulad sa ginagawa sa Manila ni Mayor Isko Moreno” (We can see in Metro Manila roads that have been taken over by vendors and by people parking their cars. So we will change that, following the lead of Manila Mayor Francisco Moreno Domagoso),” he said.

He added, “Gusto rin natin magkaroon ng kasunduan sa mga gated subdivisions na during rush hours na may kalsada d’yan na pwedeng bigyan ng access ang public para naman makatulong, gawin nating secondary or alternate roads. (We also want to reach agreements with gated subdivisions to allow access to their roads during rush hour, so they can help by providing alternate roads).”

Transportation Undersecretary for Administration and Finance Garry V. De Guzman said: “Unang una ang ginagawa po naming intervention is ’yong rehabilitation ng MRT-3 para po mapagaan natin ’yong traffic sa EDSA… ’Yong mga rail replacements dumating na po galing sa Japan, kumpleto na po ’yan 100%. (Our leading intervention is the rehabilitation of the MRT-3 commuter rail line to ease congestion on EDSA. The replacement rails from Japan are all here.”

Kukumpletuhin pa po namin ay ’yong mga various infrastructure projects lalo na ‘yong mga rail projects, namely ’yong Tutuban to Clark, MRT-7 na almost 50% complete na, ’yong subway natin magsisimula po ang actual excavation n’yan fourth quarter of this year, and we are targeting partial operability of three stations from Mindanao Avenue, North Avenue, at Tandang Sora by fourth quarter of 2021.” (We will complete various infrastructure projects especially rail, namely Tutuban to Clark. The MRT-7 is also almost 50% complete. Excavation for the subway will start in the fourth quarter and we are targeting partial operability of three stations from Mindanao Avenue, North Avenue and Tandang Sora by the fourth quarter of 2021), he said.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said an executive order integrating all government efforts pertaining to the management of water resources “will be issued soon” in preparation for the creation of the Department of Water Resources and Water Regulatory Commission.

“This is in preparation for our Department of Water and the Water Regulatory Body that will be, hopefully, passed by Congress,” he said.

Mr. Nograles said the government will “soon” be convening the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) for the 18th Congress “para pag-usapan lahat ng direktiba ni Pangulo (to discuss all the President’s directives) with regard to his legislative agenda.”

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said his agency is currently completing the Socioeconomic Report which compares the administration’s performance in 2018 relative to the 2017-2022 Development Plan.

“This Socioeconomic Report looks at the accomplishments, the hits and the misses of the administration vis-a-vis the targets in the development plan in 2018. On the basis of this analysis, we are going to update the Philippine Development Plan, midterm update,” he said.

He added that the report will be coming out “at the end of the month or early next month.”

He said the update of the development plan is due by November. “So that we will have a fresh start in terms of the second half of the administration… So that we will be able to do better in terms of the misses and do better still in terms of the hits that were made in the 2018 for the second half of the President’s term. These accomplishments will pertain to investments in human capital, education, health, and nutrition, in terms of the employment matrix and in terms of the poverty matrix. These will be the bases (for evaluating) to what extent our efforts will be exerted so that the targets for 2022 can be achieved. Besides that, we are also going to look at the infrastructure projects that need to be pushed harder, to be accelerated, so that as many as possible of the infrastructure projects will be accomplished… at the end of the term of the President…” Mr. Pernia explained.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr. said the government will “strengthen” the country’s position in the West Philippine Sea.

“We will conduct more marine scientific research, put up lighthouses and use technology to take care of our maritime domain. We will use unmanned aerial vehicles and satellite imaging to take care of our maritime domain. That will therefore involve and strengthen our fisheries or fishing activities,” he added.

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Joselito D. Bautista said his department, along with other agencies, will start drafting the implementing rules and regulations of the Magna Carta of the Poor, the institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, a cash transfer program for the poor, and the designation of Social Welfare Attachés for overseas Filipino workers.

He said he hopes to “ensure that by next year, we can conduct the necessary interventions with regards to the enactment of these laws.”

Separately, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said it submitted last week a draft of the bill that will establish the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III told reporters Tuesday that the Palace has directed to prepare a bill establishing the OFW department.

“We have been (assigned) by the Cabinet to come up with a bill on the creation of the proposed OFW department and we have done that,” he said, adding that DoLE submitted the draft on Friday.

He declined to discuss further details on the draft bill, but Mr. Bello said that all current agencies dealing with OFWs will be absorbed by the proposed OFW Department.

“We’re going to put them under one department: POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration), OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Adminsitration), NRCO (National Reintegration Center for OFWs), ILAB (International Labor Affairs Bureau), CFO (Commission on Filipinos Overseas) of the Office of the President, and OMWA (Office of Migrant Workers Affairs) of the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs). ’Yun ang kukunin (Those will be put) under one department,” he said.

On Monday, Mr. Duterte said that he will create the proposed department. He called on his former aide, Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go, to file a bill in the Senate.

Mr. Bello said that he and Mr. Go plan to discuss the establishment of the department. — Arjay L. Balinbin and Gillian M. Cortez