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55 local bills with flaws vetoed

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 06:31 AM June 01, 2013

PLLO chief Manuel Mamba PHOTO FROM CONGRESS.GOV.PH

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III recently vetoed at least 55 flawed local bills, rebuffing some lawmakers who insisted on the approval of their pet bills despite their infirmities.

The 55 local bills vetoed sought to convert municipal, city and provincial roads into national roads that duplicate existing roads, merely interconnect barangays, municipalities and cities within their areas, or merely serve the needs of local traffic, Secretary Manuel Mamba said.

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Mamba, the chief of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) said that apart from lacking justification, the roads’ conversion would further strain the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways, which maintains national roads.

A senator had pushed for the passage of these bills as part of his commitment to congressional representatives despite being told that these would likely be vetoed by the President for failing to meet the criteria, Mamba said.

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“They probably thought that the President was bluffing,” he said in an interview.

The President has been very meticulous with measures, from the time they’re filed until they are brought to him for his signature, and proof of this is that he asks for inputs from a concerned department once a billed is enrolled, Mamba said.

“He hates the idea of a bill lapsing into law; he really studies them before he signs them,” he said.

Mr. Aquino recently vetoed the proposed Centenarian Act which provides incentives to the estimated 7,000 centenarians, and the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Act of 2013 which protects the rights of internal refugees, and last month, the proposed Magna Carta of the Poor, because of their inherent flaws.

The first offers a 75-percent discount on goods and services for centenarians, but these are not tax deductible for business owners. The second grants powers to the Commission on Human Rights that belong to the judiciary. The third requires a P3-trillion budget.

Mr. Aquino, however, signed into law more than 20 bills converting local roads into national roads after meeting the criteria.

The veto should serve as a lesson to all, said Mamba.

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“This is a learning experience for everyone. There should be collaboration and engagement,” he said, pointing out that lawmakers have the final say on the approval of a bill, regardless of the views of officials from the executive department. “This would improve legislation.”

PLLO has 40 staff members who work in clusters, and liaison with lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives in monitoring the deliberation of 3,000 and 60,000 bills, respectively, at a given time, Mamba explained.

The PLLO’s pointmen at the committee hearings are the department legislative liaison officers, who are often rotated so they don’t gain enough expertise in handling certain bills. That’s why even Mr. Aquino wants secretaries or assistant secretaries to perform this role, he said.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Local Bills, Manuel Mamba, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office
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