Lately, the President has vetoed two bills filled during the 15th Congress. They are the Centenarians Bill and the Internally Displaced Persons bill. The former— because the palace argued (and rightly so!) that a 75% discount without any benefit to business was grossly unfair. The latter, hailed as an important piece of legislation that no less than the United Nations lauds its passage.


The President has argued had constitutional flaws in the Internally Displaced Persons bill that gave the Commission on Human Rights more power than it should have. Of course, Congress could fix this by going into session and with two-thirds voting separately make it into law. Congress of course isn’t in session, since we just had an election. So yes, no chance to fix the Internally Displaced Persons bill.

Another bill also opposed by the President and his men— the establishment of the Department of Information and Communications Technology on austerity grounds. That bill passed before the Senate and the House never made it to the President’s desk for a proper veto. Instead it has languished in the netherworld. A bill that made it through both houses of Congress, a bill that spent gazillions of hours and winds up as dead before it was even born.

Also two laws passed during the 15th Congress have pending questions before the Supreme Court. The unconstitutionality of both the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the Reproductive Health Law are being challenged. The former, by more than 15 petitions challenging 29 provisions of the law to be unconstitutional, which really means the law, if ever the Supreme Court strikes down all 29 means, what else is left other than words strung together to form some cohesive, but ultimately worthless sentences. On the latter, challenged before the Supreme Court by hardline conservatives led by the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines who seemingly forgot to learn some reading, and some comprehension in school.

My point in bringing all this up that the 15th Congress doesn’t seem to have a good track record of bringing out decent bills. We really can’t blame coordination between the palace and the Congress. For one thing, I happen to like the fact that the President vetoes bills he thinks shouldn’t become the law of the land. How I wished he did this for the idiotic Cybercrime Prevention Act, but that’s what we have the Supreme Court for, and why we live in a democracy. It is nice to know that no one is sleeping in the Palace. It is also nice to know that Congress, while being a close ally of this President, isn’t merely a rubber stamp Congress. That they do write laws. Sometimes laws that may not sit well with the administration.

It is embarrassing that legislation like the Centenarians Bill gets passed– an extremely populist bill by the way it gives a 75% discount, and let businesses shoulder the cost that no one seem to have bothered to oppose it. Or maybe it just wasn’t so newsworthy that no one knew about it. Why wasn’t there a hardline opposition to it during deliberations. Surely, Congress would have asked the executive for some opinion? Right?

And what about the Department of Information and Communications Technology? At a time when the nation needs better policy on ICT, and to implement that roadmap it goes away for budgetary reasons. On the surface, it seem like a fair way to assess it. We do have a nation that can hardly afford anything. Why wasn’t there a greater debate on the matter? If the bill wasn’t ready why did it get passed?

I think the problem here is the leadership in both houses of Congress. It has to be smarter than this. If a bill like the Internally Displaced Persons bill is highly important— why isn’t the Congress fighting tooth and nail to get it passed? Again, they would have known when this bill would find itself on the President’s desk. So why did it fail? What then does this speak to us about the current leadership in Congress? What does this mean, moving forward? Is it really an independent body? Where is the fire in the belly, is all I am asking, especially in the Senate. Maybe old hats need to take it easy and give the younger boys and girls a seat at the table.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • UPnnGrd

    The Malakanyang’s disinterest (did not even send representatives) is a serious matter, too.


    Bishop Colin Bagaforo, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Cotabato who attended the commemoration, appealed to the national government to expedite the trial of the killers so that justice could be served fast.

    “We in the Church are joining all sectors in calling for justice for the victims,” Bagaforo said.

    Student journalists in Southern Luzon also joined the call for justice for the massacre victims.

    “Three years have passed and yet not one among the masterminds had been convicted. Our call is to our national government to speed up the resolution of this case,” said Michael Alegre, secretary general of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines in Southern Tagalog.

    The student journalists were from the University of the Philippines Los Baños and the Laguna College of Business and Arts in Calamba City, both in Laguna; the University of Rizal System in Morong, Rizal; Cavite State University; and the Southern Luzon State University and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines-Lucban and the Lopez campuses in Quezon province.

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  • Good assessment. Great, actually. It is comforting and discomforting to know that the President’s legal staff has to ride herd on the legislature’s raggedly written rules. The legislature keeps churning out lumpy camels when the Philippines needs sleek horses. I think the President missed on the Cybercrime Bill because he was feeling a few dings from the social media and could relate to having some libel tools to deal with it . . . rather than seeing that extreme views offset, balance out, and provoke new thought whilst the engagement takes place.For example, Vice did an extreme joke on rape, and the balancing uproar will make the nation more sensitive to abuse of women. Not that I am advocating extreme views . . . of course . . .