Senate to focus probe on graft-ridden gov’t agencies
MANILA, Philippines — Senate investigations in the remaining months of the 18th Congress will zero in on government agencies that have raised red flags of corruption, including the Departments of Health, Public Works and Highways, Agriculture and Social Welfare and Development, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Monday.
Sotto said the remaining year of the legislative calendar would not only aim for the passage of legislative measures, but would also exercise its power of oversight on government spending, in order “to provide the forum to debate on public issues and promote the public welfare.”
“We will continuously seek to expose corruption in public service and direct the searchlight of one of our committees toward the dark corners of our bureaucracy where corruption and injustice thrive unnoticed,” he said during the opening of the third regular session of the 18th Congress.
“We will also unceasingly address the usual concerns of the common man for food, shelter, education and medical help,” Sotto added.
Sotto made the statement at the opening of the third regular session of the 18th Congress, wherein he outlined the focus of the Senate in its remaining 11 months.
“I think that is where my colleagues in the Senate would dig into. I’m just talking [on top of my head] here. I’m just basing it on issues that have been raised earlier—allegations?” he said.
He was alluding to allegations of overpricing in the purchase of vaccines and other equipment as well as the supposedly irregularities in the purchase of medicines by the Department of Health; the alleged presence of a cartel within the Department of Agriculture that has supposedly been manipulating the importation of agricultural products; the alleged duplicate funding of public works projects implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways; and the supposed irregularities surrounding the distribution of cash aid by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
According to Sotto, the Senate will push measures to make the country’s population “COVID-19-resistant,” including the reported shortage in the vaccine supply.
“To the best of our ability, the Senate will continue to allocate funds for all programs in the fight against COVID-19,” he said.
The Senate will also seek to assist families, industries or sectors that generate income, as they reel from the impacts of the pandemic, mainly from the health; education; manufacturing and retail; and entertainment and lifestyle sectors, Sotto said.
He said the Senate would also complete the passage of a law creating the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos, including the provision of additional benefits for Filipinos abroad.
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