Aug 052013
The Senate has agreed to cut spending on oversight committees following controversies on the use of the government funds involving some senators.

In a statement on Tuesday, Senate President Franklin Drilon said he and his colleagues have reached a consensus to trim down the number of oversight committees.

“We will rationalize the oversight committees so that we will be able to save funds by the end of the year,” Drilon said.

However, he noted that the Senate has yet to decide which of its 35 oversight panels will be removed and retained.

Oversight committees are created to check the implementation of specific laws. Some existing oversight panels include those tasked to monitor the Clean Air Act, the Overseas Voting Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Law.

Drilon said scrapping of some of these ad hoc panels will save the Senate up to P500 million annually.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto earlier said the Senate leadership may trim down the number of oversight panels down to 20.

The Senate made this decision after controversies involving some senators and the use of government funds over the past months.

Last month, the Philippine Daily Inquirer ran a series of reports detailing how fake groups supposedly used the “pork barrel” of some senators and House members to fund ghost projects worth P10 billion.

Earlier this year, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile was also accused of irregular disbursement of maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) to some senators.

Based on the proposed 2014 budget, the Senate is set to receive P2.9 billion next year, much lower than the P3.2 billion the chamber received this year. – VVP, GMA News

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