MANILA, Philippines - Aside from the P200-million pork barrel fund for each senator in the 2011 national budget, lawmakers who were appointed to chair the 34 oversight and ad hoc committees in the Senate will get millions of pesos in additional funds.
The Senate has submitted a request for a P2.936-billion annual budget for next year, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has recommended a P2.275-billion budget.
The Senate budget is divided into two sections – programs and operations for general administration, support services and operations, and the so-called locally funded projects.
In 2010, a total of P254.176 million was allocated for the operations of the oversight committees out of the Senate’s approved P2.757-billion budget.
For 2011, the proposed budget for the oversight committees worth P234.48 million is reflected in the “locally-funded projects” of the Senate budget. The oversight committees are different from the 37 permanent committees of the Senate.
Operational requirements for the Congressional Commission on Agricultural Modernization are pegged at P32.879 million; Congressional Committee on Labor and Employment, P27.464 million; Joint Congressional Power Commission, P21.048 million; Congressional Oversight Committee on E-Commerce, P5.5 million; Legislative Oversight Committee to monitor and oversee the implementation of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement, P7.529 million; Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Ecological Solid Waste Management, P9.54 million; Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Clean Air Act, P9.542 million; Comprehensive Oversight Committee on the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, P6.8 million; and Congressional Committee on Absentee Voting Act, P8.5 million; Congressional Oversight Committee on Anti-Money Laundering, P7.724 million; on the Dangerous Drugs Act, P9.790 million; on the Philippine Clean Water Act, P9.422 million; on the Optical Media Board, P2.5 million; on the Biofuels Act, P2.5 million; on Official Development Assistance, P5 million; on Science and Technology and Engineering, P26 million; on Civil Aviation, P10 million; and on Credit and Information System, P2.7-million.
The congressional committees on Automated Election System, Climate Change, Human Security Act, and Affordable Medicine; Senate oversight committee on economic affairs, joint congressional committee on Agrarian Reform, and the joint congressional committee on cooperatives have proposed budgets ranging from P9 million to P10 million but the DBM had slashed the proposed appropriations.
There is also a proposed budget of P30 million for preparatory activities and study for the construction of the planned Senate building.
Out of the total P406.437-million budget submitted by the Senate for operational funds of the oversight committees, the DBM cut the amount to almost half, leaving the subtotal for all mentioned oversight committees at P234.480 million.
The Senate has recently nominated the chairmen and members to the 34 oversight committees.
The appointments came after senators lobbied for key Senate committee chairmanships.
Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada heads the congressional oversight committee on labor employment as chair of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resource department.
The congressional oversight committee on E-commerce, pursuant to Section 35 of Republic Act 8792, had designated Sens. Manuel Villar, Edgardo Angara and Franklin Drilon as chairmen of the Senate panel.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri heads that Senate panel as chair of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. Members include Sens. Ramon Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, Loren Legarda and Pia Cayetano.
Sen. Pia Cayetano heads the Senate panel to the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Clean Water Act while Zubiri heads the Senate panel as chair to the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Clean Air Act.
Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, as chairman of the Senate committee on energy, is head of the Joint Congressional Power Commission.
Sen. Legarda chairs the Legislative Oversight Committee on the Visiting Forces Agreement, Sen. Teofisto Guingona the Congressional Oversight Committee on Anti-Money Laundering Law, while Sen. Francis Pangilinan heads the Congressional Oversight Committee on Cultural and Fisheries Modernization.
Sen. Gregorio Honasan, as chairman of the Senate committee on public order and illegal drugs, represents the Senate panel to the Congressional Oversight Committee on Dangerous Drugs.
Sen. Ralph Recto, chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means, is the head of the Senate panel to the Congressional Oversight Committee on the proper implementation of the National Internal Revenue Code.
Recto also handles the Congressional Oversight committee on the Official Development Assistance (PDA) law.
The other oversight committees in the Senate are: on ARMM organic Act, Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Government Procurement Act, on the Special Purpose Vehicle Act, on Overseas Voting Act of 2003, on the Chainsaw Act, on the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, on Lateral Attrition Act of 2005, on the Automated Election System; on the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines; on the Commission on Science and Technology and Engineering; on Climate Change, on the Quality Affordable Medicines, Socialized and Low-cost Housing Condonation Act, Credit Information System, Special oversight committee on economic affairs, on Cooperatives, on the Human Security Act, on Biofuels, Agrarian Reform, and on Tourism.
The Select Oversight Committee on Intelligence Funds, Programs and Activities is led by Sen. Francis Escudero, and the Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures is chaired by Senate finance chairman Sen. Franklin Drilon. These are the new oversight committees created in the current 15th Congress.
Christina Mendez, Philippine Star