Quantcast
Latest Stories

Santiago: It’s more fun to be a senator

By

Ever wonder why many are dying to become senators?

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago posed this question during an interview with Radyo Inquirer Wednesday after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile reportedly played Santa Claus last Christmas, giving gifts using so-called “savings” that she said had become the “grandmama of all scandals.”

She then proceeded to outline why nothing beats being a senator.

Imagine a yearly pork barrel of P200 million, P2.2 million monthly for staff salaries and office expenses, a P500,000 annual travel allowance and an honorarium that ranges between P30,000 to P60,000 a month as chair of a Senate committee.

And don’t forget the regular monthly salary of P75,000.

An unscrupulous senator can simply make it appear that he or she is using all these perks legitimately and then pocket these.  Here is where Santiago wants the Commission on Audit (COA) to come in.

Santiago asked COA Chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan to instruct auditors assigned to the Senate and the House of Representatives to examine and audit so-called “savings” or “secret funds” available to the Senate President, House Speaker, and other heads of offices, to ensure transparency.

Santiago’s revelations followed Enrile’s supposedly selective release of a total of P1.618 million in two tranches as additional “maintenance and other operating expenditures” (MOOE) to each of her 18 colleagues from “savings” of the chamber in 2012. Four other senators Enrile wasn’t exactly fond of—Santiago included—got P250,000 each.

Nat’l scandal

“The so-called savings of each public office have turned into a national scandal, the grandmama of all scandals.  The Constitution allows savings to be used by the office at the end of the year.  But in reality, the head of office manipulates the books and creates so-called savings by refusing to fill up vacancies, or refusing to buy essential office supplies or services, or capital equipment.  These so-called ‘enforced savings’ are then distributed among the highest officials, in the guise of Christmas bonuses,” Santiago explained.

In many cases, the COA auditor usually accommodates the “enforced savings” ordered by the head of office, because COA auditors are often afraid of politicians, or the COA auditors themselves share in the “enforced savings,” she said.

“I challenge the COA to reveal to the public the total income annually of every senator and every representative.  This total income should include basic salary, Christmas and other bonuses, monthly honoraria for committee work, monthly appropriation to be spent at the senator’s discretion for staff salaries and for MOOE, appropriations for consultants, foreign travel funds, etc.,” she said.

Members of each Senate committee are  also given an allowance, but she did not give a specific amount.

“That’s why some of my colleagues become members of so many committees,” she noted.  “This amount is given whether or not you attend the hearings conducted by the committee.”

The same policy holds true for the P500,000 travel allowance. “We are given that every year, whether we use it or not.  It is for official trips such as those to international conferences. But even if you don’t leave, you still get that,” she said.

 

Biggest perk

 

The biggest perk, however, remains the P200 million pork barrel, or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Santiago recalled that when she was still a newbie senator in 1995, she was approached by a contractor who guaranteed her a “clean” 10-percent kickback from her pork-funded infrastructure projects.

She calculated that during a six-year term, a senator can earn P120 million from kickbacks, enough to jumpstart a reelection bid.

“One who wants big money should run for senator,” Santiago said.

As for Enrile’s “gift,” Santiago said she sent it back to the Senate President because he had returned her gift of biscuits to him.

“You don’t like my biscuit, I also don’t like your money,” was how she explained it. With a report from Fe Zamora


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Government , Juan Ponce Enrile , Miriam Defensor-Santiago , Politics , Senate , State budget




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  2. Chinese lawyers say they were tortured by police
  3. Hair salon’s Kim Jong Un poster riles embassy
  4. Why college grads end up in the PNP
  5. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  6. Town, DENR play tug-of-war over crocodile
  7. Five men from Cavite found dead in jeep in Batangas
  8. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  9. Siquijor ‘healer’: For every cure, there’s a plant
  10. Motorcycle race ends in shooting; 1 killed, 6 hurt
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. Massage attendant arrested on rape complaint filed by Japanese tourist
  3. ‘Tell no one’ Makati bettor won P250M lotto
  4. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  5. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  6. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  7. North Korea uses flamethrower to execute official
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  10. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
Advertisement

News

  • Supremacist faces murder charges in Kansas deaths
  • Luzon grid power reserve ‘enough’ for Holy Week
  • Pimentel proposes incentives for companies that will hire ex-convicts
  • State seeks guilty verdict for Abalos
  • SBMA execs, 2 others face graft raps
  • Sports

  • My ideal weight is 140, declares Pacquiao
  • Freddie Roach: I’m satisfied; Manny Pacquiao did well
  • New-look Azkals tie Qatari side
  • San Miguel Beermen eye No. 2 slot, battle Air21 Express
  • Filipinos yield to Iraqis anew Asian club volley
  • Lifestyle

  • Celebrate Easter Sunday at Buddha-Bar Manila
  • Moriones feast: A slow, steady transformation
  • Weaving ‘palaspas’ a tradition kept alive in Tayabas City
  • Finalists announced for best translated books
  • Summer treat for your aspiring astronomers
  • Entertainment

  • Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels US concert
  • Otaku Summer Jam 2014: Summer’s hottest J-rock/Cosplay event
  • 2NE1 returns to Manila with “All Or Nothing” Tour
  • Gary Valenciano just keeps moving
  • Noisy celeb spews venom, backs off when confronted
  • Business

  • Longer TRO sought on rate hike
  • Make a stylish statement with the all-new Yaris
  • Hearing set in Olarte case
  • BOC sues steel importers
  • BIR continues to miss collection target
  • Technology

  • Tech company: change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Another reason to quit social media this Holy Week: your safety
  • Philippines may watch ‘blood moon’ online
  • Opinion

  • We may never know
  • Couple of things
  • Mommy D’s magic
  • Stop bizarre and bloody Good Friday rituals
  • Holy Week taboos
  • Global Nation

  • No travel restrictions to Middle East amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Measures set against entry of MERS-CoV
  • Japan backs PH in case before UN
  • Las Vegas union starts pickets over wages, benefits
  • Fil-Am Daly City councilor has eye on Superior Court seat
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement