Romualdez to Belmonte: Revive special panel improve checks and balances

  • July 10, 2014
  • Written by Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
  • Published in Top Stories

THE House independent minority bloc underscored yesterday the importance of reviving the congressional oversight committee to further improve the checks and balances in the government following a Supreme Court (SC) ruling declaring the key provisions of Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the bloc leader, urged Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. to revive the special panel aimed at further promoting accountability and transparency in the government.

Romualdez recalled that his group filed House Resolution (HR) No. 268 last September after Congress decided to scrap the P25.24 billion priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel under this year’s P2.265 trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA).

“We hope the leadership will consider the revival of the oversight committee that will focus on scrutinizing DAP, lawmakers’ abolished pork barrel and other financial disbursements under the national budget because it has a very wide scope,” Romualdez pointed out in an interview.

“The most important thing is we are trying to provide focus to the congressional functions. The people would not want their representatives to be remised in their duties. We will focus on efficiencies and transparencies in the releases of public funds,” Romualdez said.

He said the oversight committee will also ensure that performance of different government agencies are monitored, especially in meeting revenue targets to further promoting transparency and accountability in the government.

Buhay Hayaang Yumabong party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, a member of the bloc, said their call for the revival of congressional oversight panel is part of “our continuing effort to reform the system, structure, and the functions of major departments, judiciary and cleanse the real sources of corruption.”

“This is the most effective way of creating a very healthy relationship between the Legislative and Executive, seeing to it that the funds approved in the national budget are spent properly,” Atienza stressed in a separate interview.

In a text message, Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, another member of the bloc, proposed that all departments should submit quarterly reports to Congress for transparency and accountability.

“Part of reviving [the oversight committee] is also to require all government agencies to give quarterly reports to Congress on their performance and the use of funds given to them by way of national budget,” de la Cruz said.

“To be fair to the oversight committee in the 14th Congress, there were red flags that were already imposed on certain projects, including some of the government agencies that were mentioned in the COA (Commission on Audit) report, on the issue of fertilizer,” de la Cruz added.

In reviving the congressional oversight committee, Romualdez led the filing of HR No. 268 to ensure that performance of different government agencies are monitored, especially in meeting revenue targets to further promote transparency and accountability in the government.

Romualdez said the Committee on Oversight “shall exercise the duties and powers of a standing committee and shall have jurisdiction over all matters directly relating to transparency and accountability in government operations, including those manifested in audit reports of COA, referred complaints by civil society organizations and other executive oversight instrumentalities.”

It will be recalled that the standing Committee on Oversight was constituted in the 12th to 14th Congresses and was given the jurisdiction on “all matters directly and principally relating to the coordination of executive development planning and congressional action specifically the review of the execution and effectiveness of laws pursued through the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), and the corresponding implementing rules and regulations thereof.”

The panel, whose main function was to evaluate the performance of all government agencies, was abolished during the 15th Congress due to its supposed “redundancy.”

The resolution was also introduced by former president and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Macapagal-Arroyo, Atienza, dela Cruz, Lanao del Norte Abdullah Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte Rep. Imelda Dimaporo, La Union Rep. Victor Ortega, Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip Pichay, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla and Quezon Rep. Aleta Suarez.

Over the weekend, Romualdez urged the House leadership to summon Budget Sec. Florencio “Butch” Abad Jr. to a question hour to shed light on the many undisclosed and confusing details regarding the controversial utilization of P157 billion DAP.


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