5 against 41: Palace disputes ‘bill vetoing spree’ insinuations

Malacañang on Tuesday disputed insinuations that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. had resorted to a “bill vetoing spree” by disclosing there were only five bills that were vetoed as against 41 others that have lapsed into law.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles issued the clarification on Wednesday, days after Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said the President may have opted to veto measures approved by the previous Congress, the latest of which was the exemption of honoraria for teachers doing poll duties.

“Gusto ko lang linawin ‘no. Hindi po nagkaroon ng ‘veto spree’ ang ating Pangulo. 41 bills lapsed into law and only five were vetoed, hindi kasama doon sa 41. So it’s not a spree,” Cruz-Angeles told reporters in a news briefing.

“Tinutono lang naman ng Pangulo doon sa mga sistema iyong mga batas natin, lalung-lalo na iyong mga batas that involved some kind of tax break or tax benefits, itutono mo doon sa ating polisiya of tax reform,” she added.

Cruz-Angeles said the President vetoed the measure granting tax breaks to the honoraria and travel allowances of poll workers as a matter of “good housekeeping.”

Instead of giving tax breaks, Cruz-Angeles said the government would give subsidies to poll workers.

“Sa dami dati ng binibigyan ng ganoon, medyo magulo na iyong sistema, hindi natin alam kung sino iyong mga nagbi-benefit dito at kung makatarungan nga na so many people are exempt or have tax breaks or tax benefits. So, inayos natin iyan under the tax reform laws. So, iyong mga ganitong proposal ay parang binabalik tayo doon sa dating sistema na marami na naman tayong exemptions at benepisyo na binibigay na nakaka-cause ng confusion sa ating sistema,” she said.

“Imbes na ganito, ang sinasabi ng ating Pangulo, magbigay tayo ng form of ayuda sa ating mga poll workers. Imbes na iyong benepisyo ay gagawin natin sa pamamaraan ng pagtatanggal ng pagbubuwis; in that way, maayos iyong pangungolekta natin, iyong sistema ng pangungolekta ng buwis, pero matutulungan pa rin natin sila. So iyon po iyong konteksto noon,” she added.

Other measures earlier vetoed by President Marcos include the following bills: creation of the Bulacan Airport Special Economic Zone, strengthening the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel Charter, granting the franchise of Davao Light and Power Company Inc., and creating the Philippine Transportation Safety Board Act.

Newly designated officials

Meanwhile, Malacañang also announced that President Marcos, Jr. has appointed new officials under his administration, including the Chief Executive’s lead physician Dr. Samuel Zacate who will serve as chief of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Cruz-Angeles said Zacate, a public health advocate with years of expertise in medicine and medical consultancy, met all the qualifications to head FDA.

Other newly designated officials include Carlo Dimayuga as acting chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Retired Brig. Gen. Roman Felix as Secretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs (Opama), Retired Major General Ariel Caculitan and Retired General Isagani Perez as undersecretaries of Opama and Atty. Nesauro Firme as member of the Judicial Bar and Council representing the academe.

State funeral for FVR

Malacañang also said a state funeral would be held for former President Fidel V. Ramos on August 9.

“The state funeral is a right of the family of a deceased President, so yes, he will be accorded a state funeral with full military honors,” Cruz-Angeles said.

However, Malacañang did not give any details on whether the President will be visiting the wake of the late former President.

On Monday, President Marcos declared a 10-day period of national mourning from July 31 to August 9 following the death of FVR.