PNoy: Magna Carta for Poor needs tweaking

Posted at 03/26/13 6:12 PM

MANILA - President Aquino rebuffed Tuesday a lawmaker who criticized his veto of the proposed Magna Carta for the Poor.

Alagad party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta reportedly said Aquino could have just struck down specific provisions of the bill that he found objectionable instead of vetoing the entire measure.

When told about Marcoleta’s comment, Aquino threw the book at the lawmaker.

“Maganda sana kung puwede iyon. Pero ayon  sa Saligang Batas na dapat sana alam ni Congressman Marcoleta, kung sinabi nga niya iyon ano dahil miyembro siya ng lehislatura, third-termer na siya. Article 6, legislative department, Section 27 deals with 'yung how a bill gets passed into law. Section 27 subsection 2 and I quote: "The President shall have the power to veto any particular item or items in an appropriation, revenue, or tariff bill. But the veto shall not affect the item or items to which he does not object.”

Aquino said the proposed bill is not covered by the provision that allows a line-item veto of a measure.

"So klaro, appropriation measure pwedeng line item. Revenue measure pwedeng line item veto, tariff measure pwedeng line item din. And it doesn't fall in any of the three so we cannot line item veto. So I did ask in a previous measure 'pag ganoon, and Section 1 basically says 'yung sign it into law or you veto it in its entirety, explain it to Congress why you veto under Section 1 of Article 6 Section 27."

Aquino yesterday said that he has asked the social cluster of his Cabinet to work on remedial legislation.

While legislation is a congressional act, the executive may propose bills through its allies.

Aquino is confident a new version of the bill may be produced by the next Congress, with improvements.

"Kumbaga halos hinog na hinog na itong batas na ito. Mayroong fine-tuning. For instance, [Philippine Charity Sweepstakes [Office] objected na may provision kasi diyan na 55 percent of all of their earnings from lottery operations. Sagot ng PCSO 55 percent of what they take in, they pay out as prizes. So how can they give 50 percent towards this fund. Iyong DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform] naman funded noong sequestered properties at saka 'yung proceeds. May batas na nagsasabi na…na nagbigay sa Agrarian Reform nitong funding na ito."

The President earlier said he vetoed the bill because it did not allow for a staggered or progressive realization of the benefits it will grant people below the poverty line in terms of food, health, education, shelter and employment.

Aquino said the government simply doesn't have the funding for such massive spending.

"Basta, in short, ang hinahabol lang natin --- kanina nakausap ko rin si Secretary Abad --- assuming three trillion doon sa five at ina-assume lang natin itong current projects na ito will suffice to give the rights on the five categories. Iyong three trillion, sorry, also has a 10 percent parang administrative fee. Iyong pupuntahan ka ng tao para mag-process ng application para doon sa bahay, iyong magsu-supervise ng construction ng bahay, iyong magdi-distribute noong pagkain, etcetera. So roughly mga 10 percent, para maipatupad 'yung mga programang iyan. So three trillion [pesos] plus roughly about three hundred billion [pesos] just to administer. Tapos mabalik tayo, ang budget natin is two trillion."

Aquino yesterday risked the possibility that government officials might be held liable for failing to grant the benefits of the law due to lack of funding.

Aquino, who is a 3-time congressman and former senator before becoming president, pointed out that Congress usually expedites the passage of bills that were already approved by previous congresses but failed to get the executive's nod.