A ranking opposition lawmaker has proposed the grant of additional special allowances for members of the Constitutional Commissions and the Ombudsman under HB 3332.
“This should be treated as financial incentive to entice and attract capable men and women of proven probity, integrity, loyalty, efficiency and independence to serve in such sensitive offices,” author Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez (1st District, Leyte) stressed.
Romualdez said that his bill was inspired by the motivation behind the enactment of Republic Act 9227 which granted additional compensation in the form of special allowances to all justices and judges in the judiciary.
“HB 3332, in effect, extends to the Chairmen and Commissioners of the three (3) constitutional Commissions and the Ombudsman the same benefits enjoyed by the judiciary,” Romualdez explained.
The three (3) independent constitutional commissions as provided in the 1987 Constitution are concerned with specialized areas of governance – administration of the electoral process (Commission on Elections), administration of the civil service (Civil Service Commission), as well as the administration of fiscal controls of the government (Commission on Audit) – and hence, are designed as specialized agencies of government.
The three commissions, Romualdez pointed out, play the role of countervailing institutions by providing an independent check to the three (3) branches of government (Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary) in respect to their respective areas of concern and competence.
“In real sense, given the nature of their responsibilities as well as the unique role that they play in the scheme of things, they virtually constitute the fourth (4th) branch of government that is perceived as co-equal and co-important with the other branches, including the Judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court,” the author noted.
The Ombudsman, he added, likewise an independent constitutional body, enjoys the same rank and salary as that of the Chairmen of the Constitutional Commissions and plays a vital role as the constitutional mechanism for enforcement of accountability of all public officers.
Romualdez further recalled that before the enactment of R.A. 9227, the salary levels and retirement benefits of the members of the constitutional commissions and the Ombudsman were at par with and in the same category as that of the justices of the Supreme Court.
“This bill is thus in recognition of its necessity and aims to standardize the compensation structure and retirement benefits amongst Supreme Court Justices, members of the Constitutional Commissions and the Ombudsman,” Romualdez concluded.
HB 3332 is now up for consideration by the House Committee on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Isidro T. Ungab (1st District, Davao City).PNA