By Beatrice Pinlac, July 23, 2022; Philippine Daily Inquirer

Manila, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has rejected a bill seeking to strengthen the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC), citing his disagreement with several provisions for being inequitable, such as the grant of excessive pays and incentives to employees and hired lawyers.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said on Saturday that Marcos vetoed Senate Bill 2490 and House Bill 9088, or the proposed Act Strengthening the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel By Rationalizing and Further Professionalizing Its Organization, Upgrading Positions and Appropriating Funds Therefor.

The OGCC, under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice, has “control and supervision over the legal departments of government corporations, and has the authority to allow the hiring of private lawyers by the government corporations.

In a statement, Cruz-Angeles said Marcos cited the following reasons for his decision: the excessive remuneration to be given the OGCC lawyers; the grant of supervision and control over legal departments of government corporations, the distortion of the relationship with the Secretary of Justice (SOJ), and the possible violation of the One Trust Fund policy of government.

Marcos further detailed his reasons for rejecting the proposed measure in a letter addressed to the speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR).

“While I concur the necessity to strengthen the existing structure and complement of the OGCC to make it more responsive to the legal assistance needed by government corporations, I find many of its provisions overbearing, specifically the excessive grant of renumeration, incentives, benefits, allowances, and honoraria that violates the principles of equity and standardization,” he said.

Marcos likewise pointed out that increase in the salary grade of the OGCC from 30 to 31, which effectively puts it on the same level with that of the SOJ, would “distort the supervisor-subordinate relationship between the said officials.”

He listed more provisions of the bill which he deemed “overbearing” — the grant of Attorney’s Fees and Special Assessments that is not similarly given to other lawyers of different executive agencies, the control and supervision over the legal departments of all government corporations, which may be prone to an unbridled abuse of authority, and the trust in the name of the OGCC, which is against the principle of the government’s one-fund policy.

“Having examined the bill in its entirety and considering the strong opposition of the Cabinet economic managers due to the inequity in compensation and substantial fiscal risks it may bring to the country, I am not persuaded,” Marcos said.

Following the President’s decision, the measure will be brought back to the Congress, who has the power to override the veto if at least two-thirds of each chamber will vote to do so.

This is Marcos’ second vetoed bill, just weeks after he rejected a measure that would have granted tax perks to a proposed special economic zone backed by a key campaign supporter.