By Jeffrey Damicog
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is not opposed to the improvement of the salary and benefits of the officials and lawyers of Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra made this assurance after Sen. Richard Gordon showed dismay over the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to veto enrolled bill Senate Bill No. 1823/House Bill No. 7376 which proposes the strengthening of the OSG.
The OSG is an agency attached under the DOJ.
Though it was the OSG which pushed hard for the passage of the bill, Guevarra recounted that Congress also sought comment from the DOJ about the bill.
“Last year the DOJ submitted its comments on certain provisions, such as our reservations on the OSG’s engagement of private counsel for foreign arbitration and litigation cases,” Guevarra noted.
“But we did not touch upon the matter of proposed OSG benefits such as retirement and survivorship benefits,” he stated.
On the other hand, Guevarra believes there should be improved communications between the Office of the President and Congress to avoid the veto of bills.
“There should be a better liaison between congress and the office of the president to minimize potential veto situations,” he said.
Gordon, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said the measure would have ensured that the benefits received by the OSG would be at par with their counterparts in the judiciary, the DOJ, and the Office of the Ombudsman.
“It was a waste of time, a waste of taxpayer’s money. We worked so hard for this bill. It was an administration bill,” Gordon said.
“I had no plans of filing such bill but they lobbied for it. They vetoed themselves,” he added.
Duterte explained that approving the measure would create too much disparity and inequality among the public servants in the Executive Branch, among others.