By Vanne Terrazola
Senate President Vicente Sotto III is blaming the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) for President Duterte’s recent rejection of at least two Congress-approved bills.
Sotto, in a series of text message to reporters on Monday afternoon, reiterated the need to “upgrade” the PLLO for its repeated failure to communicate with them the Executive Branch’s reservations on some measures that the two Houses of Congress pass.
Duterte vetoed the enrolled bills on the proposed Coconut Farmer and Industry Trust Fund, and the strengthening of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).
He also rejected some provisions in the newly-signed Republic Act No. 11213, or the Tax Amnesty Act of 2019, which grants amnesty to those who failed to pay correct taxes in 2017 and in prior years.
“This is again another testament that we need to revitalize or even upgrade the PLLO. This is the nth time that we do not know what the Executive department wants from us,” Sotto said.
“Like all the other bills vetoed, we could have addressed the provisions that the executive department does not want to execute. The legislative department does not consult a crystal ball to know,” he lamented.
The PLLO, in its website, said it is mandated to “promote the presidential legislative initiatives and other Administration-sponsored priority policy reforms and development programs through a strategic information dissemination campaign and sustained day-to-day collaboration with the two Chambers of Congress as well as with other interest groups.”
The PLLO is currently headed by Presidential Adviser on Legislative Affairs Adelino Sitoy.
But Sotto questioned whether or not the office has been doing its functions.
“Huh! Meron palang PLLO?” the Senate chief said in jest.
Sotto however, clarified that he was not necessarily appealing to have Sitoy sacked since this decision will still be up to Duterte.
“If we want to keep on wasting time, not to mention money, on vetoed bills then let’s just sit and relax,” he said.
In October last year, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri floated the appeal for Sitoy’s resignation, after they were warned by Cabinet secretaries that Duterte might veto the coco levy bill due to some provisions.
The warning had prompted them to recall the enrolled bill from the Palace, and make necessary amendments in the congressional bicameral committee to avert the rejection.
Zubiri said they were not informed by the PLLO about the contention of the executive on the coco levy bill.
He also admitted that some senators and congressman did not even know Sitoy, as they have instead seen his undersecretaries more often.