Monday, August 15, 2016

Albay lawmaker pushes reactivation of 'committee on oversight' in the House of Representatives
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 15 (PNA)--Albay Rep. Joey Salceda (2nd District) said the House of Representatives must reactivate the committee on oversight as a “working group” that would “monitor, measure and rate” the performance of the executive branch in achieving the targets set in President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

He said the oversight committee will help the President achieve the goals of his vital programs as articulated in his SONA.

Salceda said the congressional committee will focus on the government agencies which have been instructed and assigned by President Duterte to attain the SONA targets.

“Generally, oversight exists to support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the government for the benefit of the people,” he explained.

He said that through periodic monitoring and constant “engagement” of these agencies, “Congress similarly shines upon emerging and evolving trends in public needs, public sentiment and marketplace.”

Salceda said Congress must abandon its traditional adversarial approach on how it relates with the executive branch.

“Instead, it should be more affirming by holding the hands of executive agencies in their effort to achieve the targets both in terms of quantity, quality and timeliness,” he said.

He said the mid-term “course corrections” may be formulated that would result in revised targets that use the insights derived from periodic performance evaluation.

Salceda initiated the formation of the Congressional Oversight system in 2001 and even chaired the committee which he said was left in the “backburner” in 2010.

He said the oversight system was not reinstated in the 15th and 16th Congress.

Salceda said that based on an analysis of the transcripts of the President’s first SONA, Congress was able to identify 60 commitments.

He said these 60 commitments have quantifiable targets to fulfill with 12 commitments requiring legislation.

Salceda said “federalism topped the priorities.”

“While the SONA did not set specific targets for each, three have clear timelines,” he said.

Salceda said the first is the “war on drugs,” which has a target of three to six months.

The second, he added is federalism, while the third commitment made in the Sona is to push the anti-colorum campaign.

“The other 11 legislations are presumed to be approved in the 17th Congress,” Salceda said.

He said the “congressional scorecard” on the SONA commitments has been designed to allow for the periodic updating of performance.

Salceda said this in turn would allow “recommendations for adjustments” when still possible but “not when it is already dead at deadline.”

He observed the President has started his “compact of change” with the people “with a bang” as shown by his 91 percent trust rating and that Mr. Duterte has “virtually no negative rating.”

Salceda cited that the new President has the full support of Congress, which has gathered a “historic supermajority” for Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

The Albay lawmaker added that the President could also muster support from a “workaholic team of pragmatists in the Cabinet.”

He said aside from congressional monitoring and affirmative engagement, Congress should exercise self-regulation and adopt the “pay-as-you-go” principle.

Salceda said this principle is the mechanism that would ensure funding support for existing unfunded laws which he said “in the last estimates would require PHP477 billion to get them going.”

He said Duterte’s first SONA could be summed up through the theme: “social revolution through national discipline.”

Salceda who is currently affiliated with the administration party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, more commonly known as PDP-Laban, compared such theme of the new government with the theme of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He said Mrs. Arroyo had focused on a “strong republic,” “super regions,” and “strong economy.”

Salceda said the credibility and efficacy of future SONAs as an instrument of the state for social, economic and other public policies will be shaped by “its achievements in prompting positive consequences in the lives of the ordinary people.(PNA) FPV/GVR/RBB/CBD