Duterte vetoes bill strengthening SolGen’s office

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 15 2019 11:03 AM | Updated as of Mar 15 2019 11:18 AM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed a bill that seeks to expand the powers and capabilities of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), citing issues in granting additional benefits to the agency’s employees.

In his veto message, a copy of which was obtained by ABS-CBN News, Duterte said while he supports the strengthening of the OSG, he must also consider the bill's "impact on the entire government bureaucracy."

The reconciled version of the proposed measure would have allowed the OSG to hire more lawyers and augment its employee benefits.

The President said he was "apprehensive" that the provisions granting benefits “beyond the current compensation framework for other government offices may prove too onerous to the government.”

He said the new benefits granted in addition to the benefits enjoyed by other government offices “would erode the national government’s thrust to standardize and rational the current compensation framework in the bureaucracy.”

He also noted that granting additional benefits “will create too much disparity and inequality among the public servants in the executive branch.”

“It will undermine the principle of ‘equal pay for work of equal value’. I thus once again urge Congress to prioritize reviewing this measure once again so that our shared objective of strengthening the OSG would be realized without undermining other equally vital fiscal and policy considerations,” Duterte said.

The House version of the bill had attracted criticism as it sought to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency tasked to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his allies. The bill had also sought to abolish the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel.

The Senate version of the bill, which retained the PCGG and OGCC, however, prevailed over the House’s at the bicameral conference committee.