Arroyo backs House minority bloc’s scrutiny of admin underspending
Updated (4:23 p.m.)
House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo supports the minority bloc’s move to scrutinize the Duterte administration’s underspending, saying it has “very good intention.”
“Of course the other congressmen, they have their own point of view and if their oversight wants to look into underspending that’s a very good function. That’s a very good intention,” Arroyo said during a lunch meeting with reporters on Monday when asked about the move of Minority Leader Danilo Suarez and his group to look into the reported P975 billion in unspent public funds in the first two years of the Duterte administration.
The Pampanga 2nd District congresswoman also said she personally agrees with the initiative of the Suarez-led group.
“So we’d like to find out what are the reasons why (behind underspending) and how can we help alone to address those reasons. The whole idea is to help,” Arroyo said.
The bloc’s plan to invite Budget Chief Benjamin Diokno to a question hour at the plenary session was “their call,” the House leader further said.
“What I tell the congressmen, this is free assembly with freedom of thought and freedom of action as long as you stay with the parliamentary rules… It’s a free country… If they want to have a question hour it’s their call,” she said.
Earlier, Arroyo said the chamber would focus on its oversight function and look into the executive branch’s implementation of key legislation and President Rodrigo Duterte’s top legislative agenda.
“There will always be room for making new policy and legislation. But on the whole, I think it is time to pivot from mere policies to implementation. We must harvest the results during the final 3-1/2 years of President Duterte’s term,” she said in a speech before the lunch.
“For the remaining months of the 17th Congress, the House is prepared to give the implementing departments and agencies the support that they may need, to the extent that they make this pivot from policy to action, such as by way of House resolutions from the elected representatives of the people, or through the helpful exercise of House oversight functions,” she added.
On November 15, the House reactivated its congressional oversight committee after Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. named Quezon 3rd District Rep. Danilo Suarez as the panel chair.
Suarez said they would summon Diokno in a question hour to clarify issues on the past years’ budget, as well as the budget for 2019, and the underspending of the Duterte administration, which was said to surpass the Aquino administration’s recorded unspent public funds in six years. /ee
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