Press Release
October 1, 2006

Drilon urges Malacañang to respect
autonomy of constitutional commissions

Senate Committee Chairman Sen. Franklin M. Drilon today urged Malacañang and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to respect the fiscal autonomy of constitutional commissions to allow them to function independently according to the mandate assigned them by the charter.

Drilon, who is also Liberal Party president, deplored that constitutional commissions such as the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) were having a hard time securing the respective budgets from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and were allegedly being subjected to the dictates of Malacañang .

"They should observe the provisions of the Constitution, insofar as fiscal autonomy of the constitutional offices is concerned. Under our Constitution, constitutional offices are given fiscal autonomy. The amounts appropriated for them should be automatically released," Drilon said.

"From the testimony of the heads of these agencies, it would appear that they would have to beg for the releases of their funds from the DBM, which does not augur well for their independence," Drilon added, referring to the testimonies of COA Chairman Guillermo Carague and Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos during the Senate hearing on their respective proposed budgets last week.

"We should not tolerate this practice. We urge DBM and Malacañang to follow the letter of the Constitution, which is also reiterated in the general provisions of the General Appropriations Act," Drilon said.

Drilon cited Section 5, Article IX of the Constitution: "The Commission shall enjoy fiscal autonomy. Their approved annual appropriations shall be automatically and regularly released."

"This provision is designed to maintain the independence of the Constitutional Commissions; the Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission and the Commission on Elections," Drilon said

Drilon also said that the Constitution provides for fiscal autonomy of constitutional offices like the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Human Rights.

"These agencies are supposed to be independent. The framers of our Constitution deemed it proper that to enhance this independence and give meaning to the independence of these Constitutional agencies, they should enjoy fiscal autonomy," Drilon said.

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