By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Richard Gordon on Sunday expressed his dismay over President Rodrigo Duterte’s vetoing of the proposed bill strengthening the Office of the Solicitor General, saying it was just a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Gordon, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said the measure would have ensured that the benefits received by the solicitor general and the OSG lawyers would be at par with their counterparts in the judiciary, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman.
“It was a waste of time, a waste of taxpayer’s money. We worked so hard for this bill. It was an administration bill,” Gordon said in a statement.
“I had no plans of filing such bill but they lobbied for it. They vetoed themselves,” Gordon stressed.
The President vetoed last week enrolled bill Senate Bill No. 1823 /House Bill No. 7376 due to fears that the provisions of the proposed measure granting benefits beyond the current compensation framework for other government offices may prove to be too onerous to the government.
Duterte explained that approving the measure would create too much disparity and inequality among the public servants in the Executive Branch, among others.
“They asked for their salaries to be the same as others. We complied and we even debated it for them,” said Gordon, chair of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
During the deliberations of the bill, the senator underscored the need to strengthen the OSG by adjusting the salaries and providing more benefits in order to attract and hire more lawyers.
Under the enrolled copy of the bill, the OSG would take over the functions of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
PCGG is tasked to recover the alleged ill-gotten wealth of former president Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies.
The proposed law would have also allowed the OSG to hire more lawyers and augment its employee benefits.