Duterte vetoed enrolled PCA bill to avoid corruption ? Palace
President Rodrigo Duterte wants Congress to pass a new bill on the Philippine Coconut Authority that is not prone to corruption, Malacanang said.
This was after Duterte vetoed the enrolled bill, "An Act to Further Strengthen the PCA, amending Presidential Decree No. 1468, otherwise known as Revised Coconut Industry Code, as amended, and Appropriating Funds Thereof."
While Duterte recognized and commended the efforts of both Houses for passing the measure, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Saturday that it was "with a heavy heart that he exercises his veto power pursuant to Article 6, Section 27, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution over the said bill, with the thought and confidence that the lawmakers can re-craft one that will provide more safeguards to protect the taxpayers' money and shield the levy funds from irregular and unlawful use, as well as guarantee its proper management."
He said Congress “pooled their minds and painstakingly” legislated Senate Bill 1976 and House Bill 8522 as a reply to Duterte’s call to craft a law that will ensure the equitable distribution of the social benefits to the coconut planters and farmers sourced from the coconut levy funds long denied them.
However, Panelo said upon the review of the enrolled bill, the Palace thought that the P10-billion annual appropriation for the development of an industry whose implementation is placed on an agency not required to seek approval from the Executive Branch is "susceptible to corruption akin to creating pork barrel funds."
He said the oversight functions over the PCA is placed only with Congress, which specifically exclude the Executive Branch, and the bill mentioned of an oversight to be exercised by the Coconut Farmers and the Industry Oversight Committee.
He also noted that a reconstituted PCA was given various functions including but not limited to the sale, disposition, or dissolution of coco levy assets without checks and balances.
He said such condition will diminish the ability of the Department of Justice, through the Office of the Solicitor-General in coordination with the Presidential Commission on Good Government, to act on cases relating to coco levy assets.
"(T)he composition of the reconstituted 15-member PCA Board under the PCA Bill includes seven members coming from the private sector. A receipt of PhP10-Billion by the board from taxpayers' money therefore translates to permitting private persons to influence the disbursement of public funds,” the presidential spokesperson said.
Panelo also likened the PCA is set up to the Road Board which is heavily criticized for allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds.
“The PCA Board, like the Road Board which disburses the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge, is given full authority to disburse PhP10-Billion every year in perpetuity without a terminal date, and subject only to review by Congress after six years,” he said.
Panelo said the veto of the bill will give Congress more time and opportunity to improve the formulation of the PCA and the distribution of coco levy funds.
“The veto by PRRD (Duterte) of the legislative measure is a reflection of the principled stand of this Administration in promoting good governance and public accountability,” he said. Ella Dionisio/DMS