Veto Power: What Happens When PH President Rejects a Bill?

Marcos vetoes bill on Bulacan Airport Ecozone
Photo/s: Facebook/Bongbong Marcos

In one of his first official acts as the new chief executive, President Bongbong Marcos vetoed the bill that sought to establish a special economic zone in San Miguel Corp's Bulacan Airport City, noting its "substantial fiscal risks".

The proposed law, which was seen to provide alternative areas for investment outside Metro Manila, infringes on other agencies' mandates and narrows the tax base with the incentives to be given to businesses in the special economic zone, Marcos said in his veto message.

As the head of the government's executive branch, the president of the Philippines is granted under the 1987 Constitution the power to veto measures that he or she objects to.

"Every bill passed by the Congress shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President. If he approves the same, he shall sign it; otherwise, he shall veto it," Section 27 of the 1987 Constitution read.

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READ: The Powers of the Philippine President, Explained

How the president's veto power works

The president may enter his or her objections to an enrolled bill in two ways: by vetoing the entire bill or only certain lines or portions of the measure.

The 1987 Constitution provides that vetoing line items is only applicable in measures concerning "appropriation, revenue, or tariff," and the veto "shall not affect the item or items to which he does not object."

Former President Rodrigo Duterte, for example, directly vetoed four items in the 2022 General Appropriations Act, which outlined how the government's programs and projects will be funded for this year, as they have no specific appropriations.

These items are the special provisions on:

  • State Universities and Colleges for the exclusion of the lands they owned or occupied from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform;
  • Department of Agriculture's use of thrift banks and universal or commercial banks;
  • Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Inspection System and Gender Responsive Restroom Program; and
  • Commission on Human Rights for the establishment of the Human Rights Institute.
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The vetoed items did not affect the 2022 GAA as a whole, and was still enacted into law before 2021 ended.

Other than measures concerning appropriations, revenue or tariff, the president may veto the enrolled bill as a whole, such as the one that sought to require the registration of SIM cards as a way to curb criminal activities. Malacañang cited the need to further study the inclusion of social media providers.

What happens when a bill is vetoed?

According to the 1987 Constitution, a vetoed bill should be returned to the chamber of Congress where it originated for reconsideration. The president should communicate his reasons for the veto to the originating chamber within 30 days upon receipt of the measure.

If two-thirds of the members of the originating chamber agree to pass the bill, the vetoed measure will be sent to the other chamber for its reconsideration. If it gets the approval of two-thirds of all members of the other chamber, the bill then becomes a law.

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How does the government reduce instances of veto?

The Presidential Legislative Liaison Office has been established to ensure a harmonious relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government, to promote the legislative agenda of the president.

The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council was also created to serve as an advisory body to the president, who also serves as chairperson of the National Economic and Development Authority Board, on programs and policies that concern the economy.

During the State of the Nation Address, the president also typically endorses his priority legislative measures to lawmakers, which would give them the idea of what bills they should focus on for the next regular session.


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