Senate may override Aquino veto of Magna Carta of Poor
BAGUIO CITY—Reelectionist Sen. Francis Escudero on said senators are discussing a possible “Senate override” to overturn President Benigno Aquino III’s recent vetoes of certain bills, including the proposed “Magna Carta of the Poor,” that the senators apparently consider important.
Escudero said the proposed Senate override could also benefit other local measures, such as the Baguio City charter amendment bill.
The senator was reacting to complaints that the President had snubbed vital measures affecting the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera, such as the magna carta and the Baguio charter amendment bill, and his purportedly lukewarm response to a third attempt to create a Cordillera Autonomous Region.
“We have been discussing a Senate override of the President’s veto when Congress resumes in June. When we convene, we can test our convictions regarding those bills,” Escudero said.
But he cautioned against misinterpreting the President. “He is just too honest and is a straight talker,” Escudero said, to explain why Mr. Aquino cited insufficient funds as the reason for vetoing the magna carta.
“Even if the truth is harsh, he will state it because he is honest and trustworthy. The President knew he couldn’t enforce it and his enemies may try to use the law against him. He probably did not want to give the poor false hopes, at least according to his perspective,” he said.
Mr. Aquino announced the veto on March 25, saying House Bill No. 4484 and its counterpart, Senate Bill No. 3309, were phrased in such a way as to require the government to quickly finance new poverty alleviation projects at a cost of P3 trillion, money which the government did not have.
The proposed Magna Carta for the Poor obliges the government to undertake programs that improve the living standards of the poor, who are guaranteed the rights to food, employment and livelihood, quality education, shelter and basic health services.
The President said he would have preferred that the magna carta pursue these programs gradually. He said he had directed Palace officials to develop a financially sound version of the magna carta.
But Escudero said what the President wanted was a “chicken and egg proposition”.
“What will they do if there’s no money to finance the bill? And yet, what will they do when money is finally available but there’s no law?” he asked.
“That’s why I voted for the magna carta now despite the fund limitations. Can we fund it with 20 percent this year, add more money next year, just so we can improve our services to the poor today?” he said.
Mr. Aquino vetoed the Baguio charter bill (House Bill No. 121 that was renamed HB 3759 in the bicameral conference committee last year) last January. The bill proposes to update Baguio’s 1909 American-designed charter but the President said the bill carried provisions that would impact on national land use policies.
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