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Cayetano wants Blue Ribbon committee

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
Cayetano wants Blue Ribbon committee
Returning senator Alan Peter Cayetano disclosed on Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri – who is expected to be elected as Senate president when the 19th Congress opens on July 25 – has invited him to join the majority bloc.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines —  Returning senator Alan Peter Cayetano is rattling the reorganization of the Senate for the 19th Congress after he sought to chair the Blue Ribbon committee which had already been designated for incumbent Sen. Francis Tolentino.

Cayetano disclosed on Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri – who is expected to be elected as Senate president when the 19th Congress opens on July 25 – has invited him to join the majority bloc.

He, however, said he would want to be a “fiscalizer” in the chamber, and the most effective way to be one is to chair the panel formally called the committee on accountability of public officers and investigations.

“If you’re going to give me the Blue Ribbon committee (chairmanship), then I may have a reason to be with the majority because I will be able to do my job. But if you’re going to give me another committee, even if it’s a very nice one, if no one will fiscalize or very few will do so, or the ones fiscalizing this administration, that would be difficult,” he said.

It was not clear when Zubiri invited Cayetano to join the majority but it appeared to have happened after many committee chairmanships had already been given to senators in exchange for supporting Zubiri’s bid to lead the chamber.

Zubiri yesterday said that Tolentino has accepted the offer to chair the Blue Ribbon committee, even as Cayetano’s declaration would have to be consulted with members of the majority bloc.

“I would need to consult the majority on the request of my friend, Senator Alan Cayetano. We have already discussed this with Senator Tolentino and he had already accepted the chairmanship of the Blue Ribbon committee so it’s not my decision to make at this moment,” Zubiri said.

Tolentino, in radio interviews since Thursday, implied his acceptance of the post, saying the rights of resource persons and witnesses invited in the committee investigations would be respected.

Sen. Richard Gordon, outgoing chairman of the Blue Ribbon committee, said whoever will chair the panel must be “independent-minded.”

“If you think you cannot do it (act independently) because the president is involved or the administration is involved, don’t accept it (chairmanship),” Gordon said in Filipino.

Digital payments

Senators are pushing for the widespread adoption of digital payments in government financial transactions as well as in the private sector to curb corruption and promote efficiency.

The Senate committee on banks and financial institutions, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, submitted for approval in plenary Senate Bill 2524 or the proposed “Use of Digital Payments Act” before the 18th Congress adjourned last week. The bill was authored by Senators Sonny Angara, Sherwin Gatchalian and Poe.

The measure aims to promote the universal use of safe, affordable and efficient digital payments in financial transactions of the government and the general public. It is expected to complement Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

Under the Senate bill, all government entities are mandated to use safe and efficient digital disbursement in the payment of goods, services and other disbursements.

They shall be allowed to disburse funds directly into the recipient’s or beneficiary’s transaction account in government or private financial institutions, without the need for special arrangements.

All government entities are also mandated to offer digital collection as a mode for the collection of taxes, fees, tolls, imposts and other revenues, including non-income collections and receipts.

The bill also mandates the establishment of a government payment gateway.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO

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