Aug 262014
Officials of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) on Tuesday received a scolding from the Senate committee on finance following the huge number of bills vetoed by President Benigno Aquino III during the 15th Congress.

The PLLO, an attached agency in the Palace, is tasked to promote the legislative agenda of the executive department.

“Alam ninyo mahabang proseso po ang ginugugol ng both houses of Congress sa pagpapasa ng mga bill na yan, tapos in the end mave-veto lang pala,” committee member Sen. Nancy Binay said before the officials of the PLLO during the hearing of the agency’s P38.4-million proposed budget for 2015.

During the hearing, PLLO Undersecretary Antonio Gallardo admitted that 78 bills were vetoed by Aquino during the 15th Congress, but was quick to add that 56 of those were just bills pertaining to road conversions.

“Most of them are road conversions. They were basically vetoed because the technical descriptions were wrong,” Gallardo explained.

But committee chairman Sen. Francis Escudero did not buy Gallardo’s reasoning.

“This is the first time that this is happening. In the past kapag sinabi ng Palasyo na hindi namin aaprobahan yan, hindi na itutuloy ng Kongreso,” Escudero said.

“And with Senator Franklin Drilon as Senate President and with Rep. Sonny Belmonte as House Speaker, there should be no hardship dealing with either chamber of Congress,” Escudero said. “Maybe the problem is the lack of coordination of the PLLO with us and with the concerned government agencies.”

Both Drilon and Belmonte are members of the administration’s Liberal Party (LP).

PNoy ‘put in a bad light’

Escudero said that by vetoing measures approved by Congress, especially the pro-poor ones, Aquino is being made to look bad.

Escudero cited as example the Magna Carta for the Poor and the bill extending the power of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to issue Notices of Coverage for the distribution of lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Both bills were vetoed by Aquino last year, citing unrealistic provisions.

“My problem with this is, it puts the President in a bad light. Siya yung nabibilad na may ayaw. When in fact may mga loopholes pa pala or the concerned government agencies still have conflicting stand,” Escudero said.

One reason cited by PLLO Usec. Bernardino Sayo for the mismatch of some of the bills approved by Congress than what the executive wanted was the lack of input from the concerned government agencies.

“The problem really is the time we consume for the concerned agencies to submit position papers. There are times that the position paper expressing reservations in certain bills are received on the very last day of deliberation in the bi-cam [bicameral] level,” Sayo said.

“In a lot of instances, the papers containing the objections or the reservations on the bills sa palasyo na dumarating, and that’s not part of the legislative process anymore so we can’t do anything about it,” he added.

Binay, meanwhile, challenged the PLLO to be more proactive in coordinating with the government agencies.

“Pano namin ipra-prioritize ang isang bill kung walang binibigay yung executive for us to work around. And that’s part of the job of PLLO,” she said.

Sayo said that with the start of the 16th Congress the PLLO has become stricter in monitoring the progress of important measures pending before each chamber of Congress.

“The PLLO is now notifying the concerned agencies of the bills filed in either chamber of Congress so that they will be aware that they should be reacting already to certain legislation filed in either chamber,” Sayo said.

Gallardo meanwhile said that in the next few weeks, the PLLO is also set to meet with the chief of staff of the senators and committees to discuss certain bills.

In the end, the finance committee approved the proposed 2015 budget of PLLO for deliberations in the plenary. The committee also approved swiftly the proposed budgets of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) as well as the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). — BM, GMA News

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