By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
President Duterte has vetoed the bill seeking the grant of survivorship benefits to the children of officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Commission on Audit (COA), Civil Service Commission (CSC) and Office of the Ombudsman, Senate President Vicente Sotto III bared Saturday.
Sotto, in a radio interview, said he received Friday night Duterte’s message rejecting the enrolled bill on the survivorship grants for these constitutional offices.
“Pinadala kagabi sa akin ng Pangulo, nasa akin na ‘yong sulat niya, vineveto niya ‘yong survivorship benefit bill. Sa Comelec, sa COA, saka sa CSC na survivorship benefits,” Sotto told radio DWIZ.
(The President sent me his message last night, I have his letter, he is vetoing the survivorship benefit bill. The Comelec, COA, and CSC survivorship benefits.)
According to Sotto, Duterte cited the possible effects of the measure to current programs on the benefits of government employees.
“Makakagulo daw doon sa salary standardization, sa pension programs ng gobyerno (He said it will disrupt the salary standardization, and the pension programs of the government),” the Senate chief said.
Sotto was referring to the enrolled copy of the Senate Bill 1917 and House Bill 7820, which Congress transmitted last March 14.
In the veto message sent by Sotto to the Manila Bulletin, Duterte said he supports the passage of the measure, and “admire the work of the men and women in these Constitutional offices.”
But the President said he feared that the provisions granting the survivorship benefits might be “onerous to the government,” citing two reasons.
Duterte said the new benefits granted in addition to those enjoyed by other government offices “would erode” the national government’s efforts to “standardize and rationalize the current compensation framework in the bureaucracy.”
He added that the proposal “will create too much disparity and inequality in compensation among public servants”.
“In view of these considerations, I am constrained to veto the above-mentioned bill,” Duterte said in his letter.
SB 1917 and HB 7820 sought to amend the Republic Act 10084 and extend the survivorship benefits to the dependent children of a retired government official who is a solo parent and died without issues.
Under the bill, dependents would be entitled to receive, on a monthly basis, all the retirement benefits that the deceased retiree was receiving at the time of his or her death.
At present, RA 10084 provides benefits to the surviving legitimate spouses of the deceased retired officials of the COA, Comelec, CSC, and Office of the Ombudsman.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who sponsored the measure in Senate, said the law does not recognize the situation of deceased officials who may be unmarried or a solo parent.