By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman urged members of the joint legislative oversight committee for President Rodrigo Duterte’s emergency powers not to metamorphose into a mere rubber stamp panel controlled by the executive.
According to Lagman, if the joint panel created under Republic Act No. 11469 or “Bayanihan Act of 2020” does not metamorphose into a partisan paper tiger, any wayward exercise by the President of special authorities under the said law can be reviewed and revoked by the panel.
Lagman stressed that his pronouncement “may be wishful thinking because the membership of the oversight committee is controlled by the supermajority coalition in both Chambers allied with the President,” although everyone has the innate capacity to rise above political loyalties and transcend constrictive boundaries
While the panel members of the Senate have already been appointed, namely Senators Pia Cayetano, Panfilo Lacson, Christopher “Bong” Go and Franklin Drilon, the members of the House contingent are not yet known.
Mr. Duterte exercise of extraordinary budgetary powers is subject to the determination by the oversight committee whether it is compliant with the limitations and restrictions imposed by the Bayanihan Act.
Lagman stressed the unprecedented congressional power to review and reject the President’s excessive actions can be rendered nugatory and cosmetic if the joint oversight committee becomes the President’s rubberstamp because of partisan affinity.
Under Section 5 of RA 11469, “The President, during Monday of every week, shall submit a weekly report to Congress of all acts performed pursuant to this Act during the immediately preceding week.
“The report shall likewise include the amount and corresponding utilization of the funds used, augmented, reprogrammed, reallocated and realigned pursuant to this Act.”
Under the subject provisions, the President is obligated to render a weekly Monday report disclosing the specific amounts and respective utilization of funds under the 2019 and 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) which he has augmented, reprogrammed, reallocated and realigned to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Congress under RA 11469 is mandated to “establish a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee composed of four (4) members of each house to be appointed by the Senate President and the House Speaker, respectively.”
The joint panel shall determine whether such acts, orders, rules and regulations are within the restrictions provided herein.”