GOCC bill constitutionally infirm — Joker

Published by rudy Date posted on May 31, 2011

Issues of constitutional infirmities hound the administration-backed government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) reform bill, Sen. Joker Arroyo yesterday said, even as President Aquino’s key ally in the Senate expressed confidence the newly-approved legislation can withstand constitutional scrutiny.

“Certain provisions of the bill suffer from constitutional infirmity,” Arroyo said on the floor following the of the reconciled version of the bill, to be known as GOCC Governance Act of 2011, by Sen. Franklin Drilon.

Arroyo cast the lone “no” vote during the ratification of the bicameral conference committee report on the legislation that will pave the way for the creation of the Governance Commission for GOCC (GCG), a body that will supervise the operations of the 157 existing GOCCs.

The measure was introduced to put a stop to the practice of providing excessive salaries, allowances and other perks to most GOCC executives.

“I voted ‘no’ to GOCC bill (Senate bill No. 2640) on third and final reading (before). I reiterate my ‘no’ vote to the bicameral conference report for the following reasons: This is actually a patronage bill under the guise of reforming the scandalous emoluments in some GOCCs; It is a blanket authority for the mass lay-offs of 157 CEOs (chief executive officers) and 1,570 directors in the 157 GOCCs,” Arroyo said in the plenary.

The affected CEOs and directors do not have to be informed or removed, the senator said, pointing out that all that needs to be done is appoint their successors, and immediately, they are automatically removed.

“The GOCC bill is not a respecter of the charters of GOCCs which defines its powers and purposes. The GOCC bill allows it to disregard the tenure and other provisions of the charters of the various GOCCs,” he said.

The GCG, which will effectively be the implementor of bill, will be composed of the Budget Secretary as chairman, the Secretary of Finance, the Director-General of Neda and two others to be chosen by the three said officials.

“The composition betrays the ‘tayo tayo’ character of this ultra-powerful Commission. The Commission (GCG) would recommend a short-list of replacements to the President who perforce must limit his choice only to those on the list of the GCG.

“In effect, the GCG has the power akin to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) in relation to appointments in the judiciary. The President cannot appoint anyone outside of the list of the JBC. However, that limitation emanates from the Constitution.

“The circumscribed appointing power of the President made under the GOCC bill emanates only from the law,” Arroyo said.

The senator further pointed out that under the rules of statutory construction, a general law cannot amend a special law and this again raises a constitutional issue.

“I believe I believe this measure can stand constitutional scrutiny,” Drilon retorted, even citing the reason that under the provisions of the Administrative Code, the congressional authority to reorganize GOCCs can be delegated.  –Angie M. Rosales, Daily Tribune

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