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August 19, 2019

Post-SONA Scorecard: 27 Laws Adopted, 9 Vetoed

Post-SONA Scorecard: 27 Laws Adopted, 9 Vetoed Workers hold a rally in Mendiola, Manila on July 29, 2019 to press for the passage of the security of tenure bill. Photo by KJ Rosales, The Philippine STAR

While Congress is dominated by President Duterte's allies, Malacañang and Congress seemed to have failed to meet eye-to-eye on some bills, resulting in the veto of some key measures, including the security of tenure (SOT) bill, a key campaign promise of the Chief Executive. 

Aside from SOT bill, which would have banned labor-only contracting, other bills that were vetoed include the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Trust Fund Act and the bill strengthening the Philippine Coconut Authority, twin measures that the President said were prone to corruption; the anti-corporal punishment bill, which he claimed would breach the privacy of families; and the bill expanding the powers of the Office of the Solicitor General that supposedly offered excessive compensation and benefits.

Also vetoed were the bill seeking to grant survivorship benefits to dependents of deceased retired officials of constitutional offices, whose provisions on benefits were deemed “too onerous” to the government; the measure creating a Regional Investment and Infrastructure Coordinating Hub for Central Luzon, whose incentives were seen as too risky to the country’s fiscal position; the bill elevating a Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) campus in Calauan, Laguna to a state-funded university; and the bill declaring December 9 as a special working holiday in Dinagat Islands in commemoration of the birth anniversary of the late mayor and religious leader Ruben Ecleo Sr.

Lack of coordination between the executive and legislative branches has been blamed for the rejection of the nine bills – a problem that the Cabinet seeks to address by meeting more frequently with lawmakers.

The President, however, has been on a law-signing spree after delivering his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 22, wherein he also bared his legislative wish list before members of the 18th Congress.

Data from the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office showed that the President has affixed his signature on 27 measures since July 25, triple the number of bills he vetoed since assuming office in 2016.

Eleven of the bills were signed on July 25, three on July 31, one on Aug. 7 and 12 on Aug. 8.

Signed into law after Duterte’s fourth SONA were the following:

Republic Act (R.A.) No. 11346 increasing the excise tax on tobacco products.

The measure raises tobacco excise tax rates and imposes taxes on heated tobacco and vapor products to raise funds for the government’s health care program.

A man lights a cigarette in Manila on May 29, 2019. Photo by Russell Palma, The Philippine STAR

RA 11350: National Commission of Senior Citizens Act

The law creates a commission that will formulate policies to protect the rights of senior citizens and ensure the implementation of programs designed for their benefit.

RA 11358: National Vision Screening Act

The measure establishes a national vision screening program for kindergarten pupils to help those with eye ailments.

RA 11360:  Law requiring establishments to distribute in full to their employees the service charges collected.

A restaurant on Taft Avenue offers roses made of bacon in time for Valentine’s Day. Photo by Edd Gumban, The Philippine STAR, Feb. 12, 2017

The measure amends Article 96 of the Labor Code, which stated that 85 percent of service charges collected by establishments shall be distributed to employees. 

RA 11361: Anti-Obstruction of Power Lines Act

The law enumerates and seeks to punish acts that will interrupt the transmission and distribution of electricity.

RA 11362: Community Service Act

The measure seeks to promote restorative justice and decongest jails by allowing courts to require community service in lieu of imprisonment for offenses punishable by up to six months in prison.

RA 11363: Philippine Space Act

The law creates the Philippine Space Agency, which will create, develop and implement the country’s space program.

RA 11364: Cooperative Development Authority Charter of 2019

The law aims to strengthen and reorganize the Cooperative Development Authority, which is mandated to develop and formulate regulations, standards and rules to ensure the effective operation of cooperatives.

RA 11369:  National Students’ Day Act

The law declares Nov. 17 of every year as National Students’ Day to recognize the contribution of student activism to the country’s democracy.

RA 11371: Murang Kuryente Act

The law seeks to reduce electricity rates by allotting a portion of the net national government share from the Malampaya Natural Gas Project for the payment of stranded contract costs and stranded debts.

Manila Electric Co. linemen fix an electric post in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan on May 3, 2019. Photo by Michael Varcas, The Philippine STAR

RA 11370: An act declaring Sept. 8 of every year a special working holiday in commemoration of the feast of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

RA 11372: Philippine Coast Guard General Hospital Act

The law seeks to promote the well-being and provide the medical needs of active and retired coast guard personnel and their dependents.

RA 11357: Solar Para sa Bayan Corp. franchise

The measure grants a 25-year franchise to a solar company controlled by Leandro Leviste, son of Antique Rep. Loren Legarda.

RA 11347, 11348: Laws establishing PUP campuses in Quezon City and San Juan

RA 11349: Law creating three additional branches of the Regional Trial Court in Macabebe, Pampanga

RA 11351: An act upgrading the sub-district engineering office in Carmona, Cavite into a regular district engineering office

RA 11352: Law granting a franchise to Bohol Chronicle Radio Corp. and laws renewing the franchises of Mountain Province Broadcasting Corp. (RA 11353), Southern Broadcasting Network Inc. (RA 11354), Radioworld Broadcasting Corp. (RA 11355), Beacon Communications Systems Inc. (RA 11356), Radio Audience Developers Integrated Organization Inc. (RA 11368), Mareco Broadcasting Network (RA 11367) and Solidnorth Broadcasting System (RA 11366).

RA 11359: An act increasing the bed capacity of Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga from 500 to 1,000

RA 11365: An act declaring the Balanga Wetland and Nature Park in Bataan as a responsible and community-based ecotourism zone

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