President Aquino Pitches for Drilon’s GOCC Reform Bill

President Benigno Aquino III rallied behind Senator Franklin Drilon’s initiative to reform the structure and operations of state-owned enterprises, a move that enables a swift congressional action.

Mr. Aquino, speaking on Friday on the occasion of the Government-owned or Controlled Corporation (GOCC) Governance Day in Malacañang, said the administration will “work closely” with the passage of a measure that promotes the administration’s reform tack in government.

“We are undertaking reforms to GOCCs that will enhance your ability to act as stewards of the people’s resources. Our GOCCs have long faced challenges—weak board governance, lack of transparency and disclosure practices, poor oversight and multiple and conflicting mandates. With the help of our allies in the Senate and in Congress, we are determined to address all these challenges,” Mr. Aquino said.

“With the help of our partners in the Senate and in the House, we will conduct a thorough review of all GOCCs… Senator Drilon has already led the way with his GOCC Governance Act of 2011. We expect to work with him closely in reforming our GOCCs,” the President said, referring to Senate Bill No. 2640 that Drilon had already endorsed in plenary last week.

Drilon lauded Mr. Aquino’s support for the measure, saying: “We are setting in motion a major piece of legislation that seeks to break the continuing abuses of GOCCs, which operate like independent republics and have become a burden on meager public resources. We are happy to note that the Aquino administration is one with us in this undertaking.”

Drilon had taken concrete steps to improve the operations of state firms, starting at exposing the unconscionable perks received by directors, trustees and employees of GOCCs and finding ways to instill transparency and discipline among state enterprises.

As such, President Aquino recognized Drilon’s effort, saying the administration will pursue a policy of doing things not shrouded in secrecy, prone to abuse and lacking in accountability. “We are now working under the broad light of day as a transparent, accountable government, worthy of the people’s trust,” said Mr. Aquino.

And as a result of the inquiry initiated by the Senate Finance Committee headed by Drilon, the President said that the government is currently “working on a process” that will require GOCC directors to sign a performance contract with the Office of the President and their Supervising Secretaries and non-performance of a material obligation will be a cause for removal from the Board.”

SB 2640 provides for the creation of a Governing Commission for GOCCs, will have a sweeping mandate of setting a new compensation scheme for and reorganizing the governing boards of all GOCCs.

“The need has never been more apparent than now to address the issue of such excessive and unwarranted monetary remuneration including benefits and perks accruing to the board of directors and top officials of GOCCs. We must exact transparency and accountability from our public officials, who have not faithfully discharged their duties as managers of public enterprises designed to contribute to national progress,” Drilon stated.

The Finance and Budget departments and the National Economic and Development Authority have backed the proposed legislation.