MANILA, Philippines – The leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate will work on a “zero veto” of bills passed in the 18th Congress, its leaders said on Tuesday, August 6.
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said he and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano planned to meet regularly with Cabinet members and their Senate counterparts to achieve a “zero veto” scenario in the next 3 years.
“We are eyeing zero veto for all bills to be approved by the Senate and the House. Hopefully, we can avoid any possibility of a presidential veto by working closely with Cabinet members and Senate officials,” Romualdez, who represents the 1st District of Leyte, said on Tuesday.
He said House leaders will “exhaust all means possible” to ensure that Malacañang and Congress are in sync in their efforts to push for Duterte’s pet measures.
The President vetoed 7 measures in his first 3 years in office. He vetoed the security of tenure or anti-endo bill nearly a month into the second half of his term, on July 26.
“We were informed by Palace officials that the President was not against the approval of most of the bills. The executive department has issues only with certain provisions which Congress could have accommodated with proper representation and coordination,” Romualdez said.
Congress leaders already kicked off their regular meeting with the Cabinet on Monday, August 5, to discuss the priority bills that the President mentioned in his 4th State of the Nation Address.
Present in the meeting presided by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea were Romualdez, Cayetano, Senate President Vicente “Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senator Sonny Angara, Albay 2nd Distirct Joey Salceda, Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Luis Raymund Villafuerte, and Davao City 3rd District Representative Isidro Ungab.
Other Cabinet officials at the meeting were Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Acting Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, Presidential Adviser on Legislative Affairs Secretary Adelino Sitoy, and Budget Undersecretary Janet Abuel, who was acting budget chief prior to Avisado’s appointment.
Zubiri told reporters they also planned to submit regular reports on the bills to the Cabinet.
The officials already agreed to fasttrack the passage of the following priority measures:
- Proposed national budget for 2020
- Department of Overseas Filipino Workers
- Amending the Public Service Act
- Higher excise tax rates on alcohol
- Institutionalization of Malasakit Centers
- Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-Quality Opportunities bill
Zubiri said the Senate and the House will still come up with their respective lists of priority measures on August 27.
“We do not want to waste the people’s money. A well-crafted legislative measure, discussed thoroughly with Cabinet members and other stakeholders, will ensure that government resources are spent wisely and prudently,” said Romualdez. – With reports from Aika Rey/Rappler.com
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