Resolution on SSS veto override pushed in Senate

Marvin Sy - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Francis Escudero has initiated an effort to help accomplish the congressional override of President Aquino’s veto of the P2,000 increase in monthly pension of Social Security System (SSS) retirees.

A resolution drafted by Escudero was circulated yesterday among senators, the intention of which is to express the sense of the Senate that Congress should override the veto.

Escudero said that he would come out with details of the resolution once all the senators have reviewed it.

As of yesterday, Escudero said 11 senators had signed the resolution.

However, Senate President Franklin Drilon has rejected the initiative, which he said was part of political maneuvering meant to isolate the President.

“Political season is here. That smacks of politics. We all know that the initiative to override must come from the chamber where the proposed law originated and in this case, the SSS bill came from the House,” Drilon said.

“Any effort to override must come from the House. So here in the Senate, we will just wait for the action of the House. That kind of move is dictated by the politics of 2016, and I think is designed to isolate the President,” he added.

Even if moves to override the veto gain any traction, Drilon said it would be difficult to get the vote of two-thirds of the Senate or 16 senators, when merely mustering a quorum has lately become a challenge.

As far as Drilon is concerned, the resolution of Escudero will have no legal effect whatsoever.

“What is the effect of the resolution? The resolution has no legal effect because the override must come from the House first,” Drilon said.

Escudero clarified that the resolution, being a sense of the Senate only, would merely state the chamber’s opinion on the issue.

He said that it was just like the resolution adopted by the Senate expressing its sense that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States must be sent to the Senate for its concurrence.

When the EDCA resolution was approved, the Supreme Court had not yet ruled on the legality of the document.

Escudero aired his surprise at the stance being taken by Drilon when he was one of the senators who voted in favor of the bill to raise the pension of SSS retirees by P2,000.

“What Senate President Drilon should be answering is why he voted in favor of this before and now he’s against it?” Escudero said.

“And if he didn’t want the President to be isolated, then he should have communicated to us, as Senate President and party mate of President Aquino, the stand of the President so that the Senate did not have to waste all that time and money for a bill that was going to be vetoed anyway,” he added.

Escudero said that it should not be too difficult for the House to get the necessary votes to override the veto, considering that its approval of the original bill was near unanimous.

In the Senate, he expressed confidence that all 15 senators who voted for the bill would support the override of the veto and that getting one more vote would not be too difficult.

“If it was unanimous there (House) and we have 15 here, then there is no reason why the House can’t override this and there is also no reason why we won’t be able to override it too,” Escudero said.

“And isn’t it that our standards should be based on: my loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins,” he added.

Malacañang has reiterated its stand against the P2,000 hike in the monthly pension of SSS retirees, defending anew President Aquino’s veto of the bill.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the public must look at the “bigger picture,” where 33 million active SSS members obviously outnumber the 2.15 million pensioners.

Giving the pensioners additional benefits would not only be unfair to the current membership but it would also jeopardize the stability of the government financing institution, as this might deplete the SSS funds leading to eventual bankruptcy.– With Delon Porcalla, Perseus Echeminada












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