Veto of key bills traced to Palace, Congress disconnect

Cabinet secretaries and other officials in the Executive branch should make clear the President’s positions on proposed bills even before these measures get congressional approval, lawmakers said Thursday.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. of Quezon City, Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao and Rep. Milagros Magsaysay of Zambales reacted to President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s vetoing of the Magna Carta for the Poor, Centenarians Bill and the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Act of 2013.

In a span of two months, the three measures were rejected by the President who questioned their feasibility.

“Of course, there is a need for better coordination. Cabinet secretaries should make their positions clear during the hearings at the House or Senate, and not at the President’s level, or after the bills are passed by Congress,” Belmonte, who is also the vice chairman of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), said in a text message.

President Aquino vetoed the Magna Carta for the Poor because the government would need P2 trillion to provide just the housing needs for the poor.

The Magna Carta mandates the state to ensure the poor’s right to food, employment and livelihood, quality education, shelter and basic health services and medicines. The Aquino administration’s budget for each year is pegged at around P2 trillon.

The centenarians bill gives Filipinos who are 100 years old a 75-percent discount on sales of goods and services to centenarians, but it does not provide any tax credit or deduction so establishments can recoup the huge discount.
On May 29, the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Act of 2013 was also rebuffed by the President because it expands the power of the Commission on Human Rights, from being an investigative body to an entity that identifies the damages suffered and compensation due the IDPs.

Giving additional powers to the CHR, the Palace said, is tantamount to usurping the powers of the Judiciary.

 “There really should be better convergence of efforts between the executive and legislative on passing landmark bills like the Magna Carta and IDP bills,” Baguilat said in his own text message.
 For opposition lawmaker Magsaysay, the disconnect between the Executive and Legislative all boils down to the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO).
“It is due to the failure of the PLLO. They failed to brief Malacañang concerning such measures, as well as the rationale behind them,” Magsaysay pointed out.
Datumanong said the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council should be convened regularly for coherent efforts of passing vital bills into law.

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