The 16th Congress opens its second regular session on Monday hours before President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives are facing the challenge of rebuilding accountability and trust from Filipinos amid the multi-million Pork Barrel Fund (PDAF) scam.
“Congress holds the power of the purse – otherwise known as the power to appropriate, and its twin, the power of legislative oversight. We must now exercise these in order to strengthen accountability mechanisms and ensure the proper and lawful allocation and utilization of public funds,” House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said in an opening statement.
“The eyes of the people are upon us again as we open the second regular session of the 16th Congress. I view this day as our opportunity to recover the people’s faith in their Senate, regain their trust and revive their confidence,” Senate President Franklin Drilon said.
Drilon urged the senators to “combat falsehoods concocted by cowardly minds who spread their lies through proxy voices and pens; to speak up for the Senate even when it may seem to be more politically convenient and safer for us to be silent, to just wait for the tempest to pass.”
“The Senate as an institution remains a constitutional body entitled to respect, even if some of its members may have been found to have erred through their individual acts,” Drilon emphasized.