‘Bill grabber’ senator blamed for veto of Centenarian bill

Carmela Fonbuena

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Sen Francis Pangilinan maintains that Rep Edcel Lagman agreed to the provision that prompted President Aquino to veto the bill

VETOED: Centenarians have to wait for their legislated benefits. Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Outgoing Albay Rep Edcel Lagman is blaming Sen Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan for the veto of the “Centenarian bill” that will benefit about 7,000 Filipinos, based on Lagman’s estimates. He called the senator a “bill grabber,” a move which Pangilinan lamented as “name-calling.”

The measure sought to grant Filipinos who reach 100 years old various rewards and incentives, including a cash gift of P100,000 from Malacañang and a birthday letter from the President. (READ: When is your 100th birthday? You may get 100,000!)

Lagman said President Benigno Aquino III vetoed the bill because of a provision that was added by Pangilinan last minute — to increase to 75% the discount of the sale of goods and services to centenarians. Pangilinan maintained Lagman agreed to it. 

The President’s veto message reads: “The 75-percent discount exceeds the usual mark-up rate of most businesses and will obliterate profit margins and result in capital loss” because “the proposed measure does not provide for a tax deduction to recover the said discount.” 

The House version proposed a 50-percent discount for centenarians. 

“Bill grabbers are sometimes the bane of legislation because instead of assuring the enactment of a measure into law, they prejudice the final approval of a bill by the President,” Lagman said in a statement on Tuesday, May 28.

Pangilinan said it had the backing of Lagman. “The record will show that he agreed to adopt the proposal and now with the veto he flip flops and does a 180 degree turn and resorts to finger pointing and namecalling,” Pangilinan told Rappler.

“I expected better from a seasoned legislator. That’s most unfortunate,” Pangilinan added.

Lagman claimed they were forced to accept the Senate amendment because there was no time to reconcile the conflicting versions of the House and Senate. The Senate approved its version shortly before Congress adjourned for the campaign.

The original House bill provided for only 50% discount as an “exception from the value-added tax (VAT), if applicable”, and as an amendment to the various Senior Citizens Acts but without removing the tax credit or deduction in favor of concerned establishments so that they will not incur business losses,” Lagman’s statement reads.

“Since there was no more time to harmonize the difference between the House and Senate bills through a bicameral conference, the House of Representatives was constrained to concur with the Senate amendment,” Lagman said. 

Lagman said his son and namesake Edcel Lagman Jr – who was elected to take his seat in Congress – will re-file the bill.

“Meanwhile, more centenarians will be gone without getting the legislated benefits.” – Rappler.com

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