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Bill seeks to institutionalize budget oversight committee


OPPOSITION lawmakers have filed several bills to create Congressional oversight committees for the national budget and confidential funds given to various offices.  

“With our large annual budget, there must be an oversight committee investigating where is it allotted and whether it’s spent appropriately,” Deputy Minority Leader France L. Castro said in a statement on Tuesday.  

The three-person Makabayan bloc, composed of Ms. Castro, Assistant Minority Leader Arlene D. Brosas, and Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Danniel A. Manuel are authors of the measures.  

If enacted into law, Ms. Castro said the oversight panel will have members from both the upper and lower chambers who are not allies of the current administration.  

She added that a separate oversight must be created for confidential and intelligence funds because “this is made the presidential and vice-presidential pork barrel,” the ACT Teachers party-list representative said in Filipino.   

The 2023 national budget contains confidential funds worth P2.25 billion for the Office of the President, P500 million for the vice-president, and P150 million for the Education department, which is currently headed by the vice-president. The president’s office was also given a P2.31 billion intelligence fund.   

Ms. Castro said, “If indeed that the Marcos administration is for transparency then it would be best for it to support these bills and certify them as urgent.”  

Under the Budget department’s general provisions, there is an existing joint congressional oversight committee on public expenditures.  

Ms. Castro, however, said in Filipino in a Viber chat: “How many times was this (joint committee) called? It is better to have a specific law on this that is not tied to the whims of the executive.” — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz 

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