Press Release
May 27, 2011


The Joint Congressional Power Commission is in danger of infringing on the power of the executive in its exercise of its oversight functions, argued Senator Edgardo J. Angara in response to the proposal to extend the commission's life for another 10 years.

The Power Commission was created to oversee the implementation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). It is tasked with endorsing the privatization plan of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation, and ensuring transparency in the privatization of the National Power Corporation's generation and transmission assets, among others.

Angara believes that the Power Commission is walking the fine line between oversight and intrusion. He cited the Supreme Court's 2008 decision on Abakada Guro Party List vs Cesar Purisima as Secretary of Finance regarding the implementation of the Attrition Act. The Supreme Court struck down the creation of a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee to approve the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law as unconstitutional.

Angara is concerned that the Power Commission is setting out to do the same thing. He also questioned why it expanded its powers to include oversight over the Renewable Energy Law.

He further explained the Supreme Court's delineation of congressional oversight. "The first is scrutiny, to inspect the action of the administrative bodies of executive institutions. Second is congressional investigation, which is part and parcel of drafting of laws. Finally, there is legislative supervision which allows Congress to examine the actions taken by the executive," he explained.

Angara said the Power Commission is overstepping its authority beyond these functions. "The structure is such that it can overreach. When an oversight body looks into the action that is yet to be done by the executive or the administrative body, that is no longer oversight," he stressed.

The veteran lawmaker -- a reputable law practitioner early in his career -- suggested that the landmark Supreme Court decision be considered in the formation of oversight bodies. "We must take care not be accused of being too obtrusive into matters that are not primarily legislative in nature."

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