Enrile calls for moratorium on creation of oversight committees

February 1, 2013 10:54 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Feb. 1 — Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Friday urged both houses of Congress to seriously consider moratorium on the creation of oversight committees to allow the review of the budget allotted to every panel.

”A moratorium on the creation of more oversight committees in the future may be appropriate while the review is being undertaken,” Enrile said.

Enrile said the number of oversight committees has increased to 35 over the years aside from the 37 regular committees assigned to every senator.

He also confirmed that the budget being allocated to every oversight committee has doubled since 2010 largely due to the new laws that were created with oversight committee or by virtue of a resolution.

“Now, I am being blamed for this proliferation of oversight committees and the huge total budgetary allocation for them. We have to set the record straight,” Enrile said.

Enrile said Congress should consider amending the resolution and laws that created oversight committees by providing either ‘sunset provision’, reduce excessive budget or abolish the irrelevant committee.

”This has been a festering issue especially for me as Senate President because to equalize everyone is close to impossible under these circumstances,” Enrile said.

Enrile is under attack for uneven distribution of additional P1.6 million maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) to the 23 senators.

The Senate President explained he did not include minority senators led by minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano “because they hold oversight committees which have bigger budget.”

Aside from the minority leader, senators Pia Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV and Miriam Defensor-Santiago did not receive the additional P1.6 million MOOE.

Based on Senate records, Santiago chairs oversight committees on absentee voting act and automatic elections act which have P10 million budget allocation each.

Senate minority leader Cayetano holds two oversight committees which have a total P16 million budget while his sister has one with P10 million annual budget and Trillanes got oversight committee on government procurement with P15 million budget for 2013.

Some senators have no oversight committee including Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senator Joker Arroyo, the only minority member who received P1.6 million additional MOOE.

The four senators who did not get additional P1.6 million MOOE questioned Enrile’s authority to use Senate savings.

Due to controversy, the Senate rescinded a concurrent resolution which allows members of Congress to submit mere certification in liquidating funds.

The Commission on Audit has already started reviewing the Senate funds at least for the last three years. (PNA)

DSP/JFM

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