Senators leave decision on panels hanging



Senate leaders are leaving it to the next batch of senators in the 16th Congress to decide whether or not to trim the present 35 oversight committees that have duplicate functions.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile noted that the upper chamber had three session days remaining between Monday and Wednesday.

“Once the new senators are here, they would be the ones to face that issue. We only have three days to legislate,” he said in a radio interview Sunday.

Enrile would not say, however, which oversight panels he thought the Senate could do away with.

Senate finance chair Franklin Drilon also cited the “reality” of the chamber’s tight schedule, given the pressure to approve within the next three days urgent measures such as the Anti-Money Laundering Act (Amla).

“Whatever action that can be done would have to be done in the next Congress,” he said in a separate interview, noting the need to trim the number of oversight committees.

The issue of Senate oversight committees surfaced after some members raised a furor over Enrile’s distribution of additional maintenance and other operating expenditures (MOOE) to only 18 senators.

Enrile said those who did not receive additional MOOE were already chairs of Senate committees—some of them oversight—and were members of the minority.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III has filed a resolution calling for a review of the “creation and budgeting” of oversight committees “to rationalize the process and… save taxpayer money.”

Pimentel noted that the 35 Senate oversight committees had annual budgets ranging from P5 million to P38 million.

Enrile and Drilon noted separately that while the Senate can pass a new resolution dissolving an oversight committee created through a resolution, it would take an act of Congress to dissolve an oversight committee created by law.

“Some of (these committees) are mandated by law and it would require more than Senate action to do away with them,” Drilon said.

Enrile noted that the number and the budgets of oversight committees in the Senate had “more than doubled since 2010” as new laws were passed that also created new oversight committees.

These included the oversight committee on agrarian reform, oversight committee on disaster risk reduction and management act, oversight committee on tourism, oversight committee on public expenditure and oversight committee on overseas workers affairs.

Oversight committees created through Senate resolutions during the same period included the select oversight committee on intelligence funds and the oversight committee on local government.

“I am well aware of concerns raised over the disparity in the budgets of the oversight committees. Some oversight committees have bigger budgets than regular committees. This is due to the scope of their work and the fact that even the budgetary allocations of some oversight committees are mandated by law, meaning the laws creating such committees specify how much allocation each committee gets each year,” Enrile said.

The Senate President has ordered Drilon and Senate accounts chairmen Panfilo Lacson to head the review of the oversight committees.

Pimentel suggested that the functions of an oversight committee be integrated with those of the regular or permanent Senate committee whose functions are related and whose chairs are more often the same individual.

“Even an increase of a modest amount in the standard budget of a regular committee in order to accommodate the additional oversight function will still save taxpayers money,” Pimentel said.

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  • vaporub123

    35 oversight committees + 25 plus ad hoc committees = 500 million+ of taxpayers money which are not liquidated. WOW!!!  101% for sure, these incoming new senators will never ever reduce these committees.they will even add some more.after seeing their parents ( dynasties ) and actors,militaries  having these privelages, it will never change.the only way for these to be eradicated are for the voters to wisely elect persons with good moral character which is ” sad to say cannot be found in the present candidates “

  • Fred

    Ano ba ang purpose ng oversight committee, bukod sa MOOE? Meron ba?
    May accomplishment ba, bukod sa paglustay ng MOOE?

  • Jef

    Oversight committees only purpose squandered peoples money 

    • Loggnat

      The top senators in the totem pole also use the committees to reward senators that they can control and penalized those that they can’t. Those that are favorites of the senate leaders gets the committees with huge budgets and the non-favorites gets those committees with peanuts for budget. :)))

  • speaksoftlylove

    Teka nga muna, may liliwanagin lang ako. Akala ko ba sabi ni Trillanes noong January 16, 2013 ay dalawang Linggo na lang ipamamalagi ni Enrila as Senate president. Pebrero na pero anong nangyari at tahimik yata ang “always a failure coup plotter?”  Sumuobra siguro ang`hiya ni kumag at nagtatago sa lungga niya.

    At ito pa ang pangalawang bagay na dahilan kaya nagtatago si Trillanes. COA has come up with a report from their senate audit that Trillanes is the biggest senator spender in 2012. The first time he completed his one year service dahil nakakulong siya noon, he spent 55 million in expenses including the committee which he shares. Pangalawa lang si Jinggoy who spent 52.5 million pero di ikaila na mas malaki ang hinahawakan ni Jinggoy na mga opisina dahil Speaker Pre Tempore si Jinggoy. At di pa nagsawa ang higad na Trillanes, gusto pang humirit sa cash gift. Trillanes lumabas ka dyan at magsalita ka. Ang yabang mong maganunsiyo na papalitan na si Enrile. Asan na yang kasinungalingan mo, perwisyo sa lipunan?

  • kilabot

    as usual, matahari trillones is the senate’s biggest spender. 
    expect his justification to be his back channel trips everywhere, including brazil. 

    joker is consistent kuripot when it comes to taxpayer money. what ph really need. no junkets too unlike noykapon the extravagant showoff.

  • joshua kings

    35 committees with conflicting/overlapping functions and duties?
    look at how these senators have decided how to divide the spoils like the pirates of the caribbean….
    for each chairmanship, the senator receives mukti-million pesos for his perusal….

  • larry

    overlapping, redundancy, duplication … sakit na ng gobyerno yan noon pa, kaya parang watusi kung magtrabaho – ibaibang derection

  • Albert

    It is a shame that so much time has been wasted delivering privileged speeches instead of legislating. Now the real work is being back heeled at the eleventh hour.

  • boldyak

    i am beginning to like Pimentel…just keep it up…

  • Charles Lynel F. Joven

    what a waste of public funds on these really over na “oversight committees. ….

  • malek_abdul

    Kung hindi sana nagbangayan ng ilang linggo ang mga senatong na mga ito tapos na sana ang amla bill na yan. Ngayon may gana pa silang magsabi na tight ang schedule. Ang sabihin niyo sinadya niyong wag ipasa ang AMLA bill kasi kayo mismo ay guilty of money laundering. Sino sa inyong mga senatong ang hindi multi millionaire? Ung iba nga sa inyo billionaire na. Saan galing ang mga kayamanan niyo? Mayaman na ba kayo dati bago pumasok sa pulitika?

  • opinyonlangpo

    Guaranteed additional income for the senators.

  • jocken

    THIS WAS CREATED FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF YOUR OWN POCKET NOT FOR  ANYTHING ELSE. huwag ninyo nang bilogin ang ulo ng mga mamayan. . .  PUSOY NA KAYO . ..

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