A very productive five years in the committee on finance

Posted by watchmen
June 4, 2024
Posted in Better Days, OPINION

By Sonny Angara

Recent events have unfolded in the Senate that led to a surprise change in its leadership. Being part of the majority bloc and since I was merely elected as chairman of both the finance and youth committees, I saw it fit to resign from these positions in order to give the new leadership a free hand to elect new heads of the standing committees.

Such is the way things go in Congress. For all intents and purposes, Congress is a political body and such occurrences are not all that uncommon. What is important is that our work is uninterrupted and we continue to perform our duties for the people and the nation as a whole.

We were elected as chairman of the committee on finance at the start of the 18th Congress in 2019. It was a big challenge considering the tremendous responsibility that goes with it since the committee takes the lead in scrutinizing the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) or our government’s national budget. It entails finding ways to meet endless needs when you only have finite resources.

Such an undertaking clearly cannot be done by the chairman of the committee alone, which is why during my tenure, I saw to it that my colleagues who were members of the panel were actively involved as vice chairpersons. This ensured that the work was distributed, each agency’s budget was examined with a fine-toothed comb, and the budget was approved on time. I thank them all for the hard work they put in all those years to ensure that our government operated on a new budget at the start of every year.

Our work in the committee on finance would have been a lot harder and complicated if not for the presence of the Senate’s Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO), an institution in itself within the chamber because of its work in crafting the GAA. The men and women of the LBRMO and our staff all had to endure sleepless nights to ensure that the budgetary process was complete. This is truly sacrifice “Para sa Bayan.”

In those five years as chairman of the committee on finance, I am proud to have shepherded the passage, not only of the annual GAA, but some important pieces of legislation that have made an impact and will continue to make a difference in the development of the country and the lives of our people.

The start of my tenure as chairman of the committee on finance was rather tumultuous. Just a few months into my assumption, a black swan event took place that affected the lives of every individual around the world and set back economies big and small. This was of course the COVID-19 pandemic that completely disrupted everything that we were doing. Our focus then shifted from the regular budgetary process to coming up with a response to the public health emergency.

The result was the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1) that outlined the government’s response to the spread of the virus and the assistance it would provide to all the sectors affected by the pandemic. This was followed by Bayanihan 2, which now included the next steps towards the country’s recovery from the pandemic.

The committee also worked on the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 and the Public Health Emergency Benefits and Allowances for Health Care Workers Act. These laws ensured that our population was provided with protection from COVID and that the people who put their lives at risk to care for those who were ill were given the recognition that they deserved through compensation for their sacrifices.

In 2022, we sponsored the long-awaited Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act. This measure helped to provide closure to the residents of Marawi whose homes were destroyed during the Maute Group’s clash with the Philippine military in 2017 by helping them rebuild their homes and regain a sense of normality in their lives.

For the current 19th Congress, apart from approving the 2024 GAA early, we were able to pass the New Government Procurement Act or the measure replacing the 21-year-old Government Procurement Reform Act, which serves as the bible for all transactions undertaken by the public sector. The bill is now up for signing by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and once enacted, it will help bring about greater efficiency in the government procurement process and plug loopholes that have emerged over the years.

Finally, there is the Tatak Pinoy or Proudly Filipino Act, an advocacy of ours that we introduced in 2019 and is now a law. What started out as a concept on how to grow our economy by helping our industries to level up their game became a bill in order to ensure that all the efforts of the government and private sector would be aligned towards a common goal of industrialization and prosperity.

In a way, this is a nice bookend to our journey in the committee on finance — we started with the idea of Tatak Pinoy and ended it with the Tatak Pinoy Act. This is not the end of our work, we are just beginning and a lot more has to be done in the coming years.


Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 20 years—9 years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and 11 as Senator. He has authored, co-authoredand sponsored more than 330 laws. He is currently serving his second term in the Senate.


Email: sensonnyangara@yahoo.com| Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara/WDJ

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