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Wednesday, March 27, 2019
MANILA

Duterte vetoes bill strengthening Solicitor General's office

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed a measure expanding the powers and capabilities of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), considering its potentially negative impact on the "entire government bureaucracy."

Duterte transmitted his letter dated March 7 to the Senate and the House of Representatives, informing them of his decision to veto a bill seeking to further strengthen the OSG's office by increasing its powers and functions and augmenting its employees' benefits.

"While I support the strengthening of the Office of the Solicitor General and value the work of the men and women in the OSG, as head of the Executive branch, I am duty-bound to consider the subject bill not just in terms of the possible favorable effects on the OSG and its personnel, but also its impact on the entire government bureaucracy," Duterte said in his veto message.

The bill ratified by Congress seeks to expand the OSG's authority by allowing the agency to institute intensive training of its personnel, modernize its office, and hire foreign counsel who could best represent the country's interests.

The measure also mandates competitive retirement perks and other benefits for OSG lawyers to make them stay in the agency and help recruit new lawyers.

Among the new perks that will attract more lawyers to the OSG include retirement benefits equivalent to those received by the National prosecution Service; lump sum gratuities; and death benefits for Solicitor General, Assistant Solicitor Generals, and State Solicitors.

Duterte said that after thorough scrutiny of bill, he was "apprehensive" that the provisions grating benefits beyond the current compensation framework for other government offices "may prove to be too onerous to the government."

"The new benefits granted in addition to the benefits enjoyed by other government offices would erode the National Government's thrust to standardize and rationalize the current compensation framework in the bureaucracy," the President explained.

"It will create too much disparity and inequality among the public servants in the Executive Branch, and it will undermine the principle of 'equal pay for work of equal value,'" he added.

The Chief Executive, nevertheless, asked Congress to take a second look at the measure.

He was hopeful that the Senate and the House of Representatives would come up with an acceptable measure.

"I thus 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. (SunStar Philippines)


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