By Charissa M. Luci-Atienza
Lawmakers have described as “timely” the House leadership’s revival of the House Committee on Oversight that would keep an eye on the performance of various government agencies.
Citizens Battle against Corruption (CIBAC) partylist Rep. Sherwin Tugna, AKO BICOL Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe, former Speaker and Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr., and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon lauded Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for breathing life into the panel, which was abolished during the previous administration.
“This is very timely. CIBAC Party List lauds this. This is aligned with good management of government funds and resources,” Tugna said after House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez has been named as the chairman of the newly-revived committee.
For his part, Batocabe said, “I commend the House leadership under Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for reviving this committee. The power of oversight is an inherent power of Congress but it is sparingly used and more often than not, only during budget deliberations which is only done annually.”
“With this committee, there will be checks and balance on government spending, both over and under. Too bad, it has only been revived when the 17th Congress is already on its sunset months,” the president of the House partylist coalition bloc said.
Belmonte also rallied behind the creation of the oversight panel, even as he sought the inclusion of other parties in the committee membership.
“I agree with the creation of the oversight committee. As Minority Floor Leader, he [Suarez] is a logical choice, but other parties should also be represented,” he said.
For his part, Leachon also cited the importance of the panel following the slow disbursement of government agencies.
“I must agree [that the creation of the panel is timely] because delays in public spending affect our economy,” he said.
On late Wednesday afternoon, House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. disclosed the election of Suarez as chairman of the oversight panel.
Suarez, former chairman of the oversight committee during the 14th Congress, earlier filed House Resolution 2074 urging the Lower Chamber to look into the possibility of reviving the oversight panel.
He said the separation of powers in the government as provided for by the 1987 Constitution “is not absolute and does not intend to keep the three branches of the government absolutely unrestrained and independent.”
“The principle of checks and balances is embedded in our Constitution to ensure that there will be no abuse of power and to correct mistakes or excesses committed by the other branches of the government,” he stressed.
The House leader noted that during the 16th Congress, a resolution was filed by the House Independent Bloc, led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez proposing the reconstitution of the committee.
He said House Resolution 268 “was not acted upon until the end of the 16th Congress.”
Suarez said the Oversight Committee is tasked to monitor and evaluate the performance of government agencies and instrumentalities and ensure “that agencies are relevantly and fully utilising their resources in accordance with their mandate.”
“This shall coincide with the thrust of this administration against corruption, the improvement of the absorptive capacity of all government agencies, provision of basic services, and economic, social and infrastructure development in the country,” he said.