Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said that the members of the Senate would exhaust all efforts to find a “reasonable middle ground” with their counterparts from the House of Representatives in order to restore funding for three government agencies that were given a budget of 1,000 pesos each: the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
“I understand that our colleagues in the House have their concerns and issues with these agencies, but we have to ask ourselves if the best way to address this is by radically reducing their budgets to the point that they are de facto abolished. This may be akin to throwing out the baby with the bath water,” said the Senate chief.
Pimentel stressed that a distinction must be made between agencies that are redundant and serve no purpose from government instrumentalities that have important functions but have issues when it comes to their performance.
“In the case of useless agencies like the Road Board, for example, malinaw na sayang lang ang pondo sa kanila (it’s clear that the funds that are allotted for them are a waste) because there are existing agencies that can perform their functions, like the DPWH. This is why the Speaker and I agree that the Road Board should be abolished,” explained Pimentel.
“But in the cases of the CHR, ERC, and the NCIP, they perform critical tasks. These agencies are supposed to help guarantee the rights of our people: human rights, consumer rights, and indigenous peoples’ rights. If these agencies cannot function, who will fulfill their mandates?”
According to Pimentel, “our people should not be penalized for the failure of the ERC and NCIP to perform their tasks.”
“If the issue is the mismanagement of the ERC and NCIP, then let us ask their heads to step down and request the President to replace their respective heads with individuals who are clean and competent.”
In the case of the CHR, Pimentel reiterated that the CHR “deserves around 600 million pesos” and that members of the Senate would push for the funds when it discusses the budget with the House contingent during the bicameral conference.
“At the end of the day, I believe that reason and compassion will prevail and that the Legislature will do what is best for our people.”