The proposed Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Act has reached second reading in the Senate and has been certified as an urgent legislative measure by President Aquino.

In the Senate, the PPP bill began its second reading last Tuesday, December 15. Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., chair of the Senate Public Works Committee, and co-sponsor Sen. Ralph G. Recto gave their sponsorship speeches, with the period of interpellation to be held in January.

In the House of Representatives, the Public Works Committee submitted the consolidated PPP bill on Monday, December 14, after the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing to approve its budget-related provisions. The consolidated bill replaced the numerous versions filed by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II, Public Works Chair Ronald M. Cosalan, Ways and Means Chair Romero S. Quimbo, Rep. Romeo M. Acop, and Rep. Jesus N. Sacdalan.

On Wednesday, December 16, the President certified that the immediate enactment of the PPP bill was necessary for the expeditious implementation of vital infrastructure projects in order to address the urgent needs of calamity-stricken areas and sustain the long-term growth of the Philippine economy.

The PPP bill, entitled “An Act Institutionalizing and Strengthening Public-Private Partnerships, and Appropriating Funds Therefor,” seeks to strengthen the legal framework for undertaking public infrastructure projects through PPP and to institutionalize the reforms begun in 2010 with the implementation of the Philippine PPP Program. Among its provisions include a prohibition on trial courts from issuing temporary restraining orders for PPP projects; an exemption from real property tax for projects of national significance from real property tax; and the institutionalization of the Project Development and Monitoring Facility, PPP Center and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in PPP contracts.

Last March, the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines, Makati Business Club and Management Association of the Philippines were calling for the swift ratification of the PPP Act through a letter sent to Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan, chair of the House Public Works Committee.

The Philippines has been recognized as the most improved country in Asia-Pacific for PPP readiness in the The Economist Intelligence Unit report last April. It recorded the most-improved regulatory and institutional frameworks, which is the result of significant regulatory reform in recent years, new bidding and selection procedures, and better dispute resolution mechanisms.

The government has issued various PPP policies to make sure environment for private sector participation is quite attractive. Due to these different improvements, it moved up from an emerging PPP market to a developed PPP market alongside countries like Republic of Korea, Japan, and India.