MANILA, Philippines – As far as Malacañang is concerned, no one should be blamed for President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to veto the security of tenure or "anti-endo" bill, saying it's part of the process of policy-making.
"Yung finger-pointing, huwag na natin gawin 'yun. Palagi tayong maging bukas. Kung sa tingin natin nagkulang tayo, eh di punuan natin (Let's stop finger-pointing. Let's always be open. If we think we had shortcomings, let's make up for them)," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a news briefing on Thursday, August 1.
Duterte is the least to blame over the debacle, Panelo said, even after senators themselves pointed out the President's contradictory actions on the bill – certifying it as urgent in September 2018, only to veto the bill in July this year.
"Kahit cinertify mo pa as urgent, kung dumating 'yung bill na hindi yung gusto mong maipasa, siyempre ive-veto mo," said Panelo, even if the bill Duterte had certified was the same bill submitted for his signature.
(Even if you certified it as urgent, if the bill gets to you in the form you would not like passed, of course you will veto it.)
For Malacañang, the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) should also not be blamed for the mishap.
"Not necessarily because no matter your coordination, even if you tell them what you want and the senators want something else, what can you do?" said the Duterte spokesman.
He even said it was a good thing the bill was vetoed by Duterte.
"Mas mabuti nga na vineto para nagkaalaman kung ano talaga ang isang pananaw ni Presidente (It's good it was vetoed so that we would know what the President's views are), making a balancing act, weighing the interest of the management and the working class," said Panelo.
Yet there are processes in lawmaking meant to reduce the likelihood of a presidential veto, an act that could put to waste hours of public hearings and congressional hearings.
Chances of a veto are also supposed to be less likely when the bill in question is part of the President's legislative priorities. Duterte's certification as urgent of the anti-endo bill made lawmakers think it was a priority.
Still, Panelo stuck to his kumbaya tone, saying he believed no time and resources were wasted.
"Nothing is wasted in any discussion in the House of Representatives or the Senate because you tackle what can be and cannot be," he said.
Senator Franklin Drilon had urged the Duterte government to "get its act together" and clarify its policy on labor-only contractualization.
In his veto message, Duterte said the bill did not adequately protect the rights of employers and management. In the days leading to his decision, influential business groups asked him to veto the measure even as ending labor-only contracting was his main promise to Filipino workers. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.