No ‘veto spree’ in BBM’s first month in office, says Palace

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles

August 3, 2022

Malacañang on Wednesday denied that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. had a “veto spree” in his first month in office, saying that only five measures were vetoed while 41 bills lapsed into law.

In a Malacañang press briefing, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles explained that Marcos Jr. only wanted the lawmakers to ensure that the vetoed bills were attuned to his administration’s agenda.

“Hindi po nagkaroon ng veto spree ang ating Pangulo. It’s not a spree, itinotono lang naman ng ating Pangulo doon sa mga sistema ‘yung mga batas natin — lalong-lalo na ‘yung mga batas that involve tax breaks or tax benefits, itinotono sa ating tax reform policies,” Angeles said.

A month after assuming the presidency, Marcos Jr. vetoed bills proposing the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone, a new charter for the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC), the franchise of the Davao Light and Power Company, the establishment of the Philippine Transportation Safety Board Act (PTSB) and the income tax exemption of poll workers’ honoraria, allowances and other financial benefits.

Angeles pointed out that Marcos is a “newly sworn president”, while these bills “might have been in synch with the previous administration.”

“So there is really an adjustment period. We welcome the LEDAC (Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council) and other ways to fine-tune the bills to the vision of the President, and his legislative agenda with that of the Congress (House of Representatives) and the Senate.”

 

In his veto messages, Marcos Jr. noted that four of the vetoed bills posed substantial fiscal risks and inessential government expenses.

On his first day in office, Marcos Jr. nixed the bill proposing the creation of the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport because he said it “narrows the tax base with the incentives to be given to businesses in the special economic zone.”

Marcos also vetoed the strengthening of the OGCC based on the bill’s “excessive remuneration” and benefits for the office’s lawyers, which he said “violates the principles of equity and standardization”.

Angeles noted that the proposed OGCC bill makes the government corporate counsel “equal” to the office’s superior, the Justice Secretary, as it seeks to provide them equal salaries.

The President also vetoed the establishment of the PTSB as its proposed functions are said to be already being undertaken by various agencies under the Department of Transportation, the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation.

The grant of income tax exemption to poll workers, meanwhile, would run counter to the simplification of the country’s tax system, Marcos Jr. said. He cautioned against the creation of a new tax category, noting that this would open the structure to leakage, confusion and red tape.

Despite the veto of the tax exemption, Marcos Jr. said his administration would still provide support to poll workers through targeted budgetary spending.

Among the bills that have lapsed into law are the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse of Exploitation Materials Act, the Separate Facility for Heinous Crimes Act, the Philippine Digital Workforce Competitiveness Act, the bill on Increasing the Social Pension of Indigent Senior Citizens, and the Permanent Validity of the Certificates of Live Birth, Death and Marriage Act.

The controversial vape bill lowering the age of individuals to buy and use e-cigarettes from 21 to 18 is also one of the measures that have lapsed into law, despite strong opposition by the Department of Health and the Department of Education.

Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez said the bill, which seeks to regulate the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use and communication of vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products and novel tobacco products, was allowed by the President to lapse into law.


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