MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Panfilo Lacson wants graft charges filed against senators found to have misused Senate funds including the millions of pesos in maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) for their respective offices and staff.
Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on accounts, has proposed a full audit by the Commission on Audit (COA) on how the Senate and all the senators disburse and use their regular as well as additional MOOE.
“The desired end state of my proposal is to file graft charges against the senator/s concerned if the evidence warrants. Incidentally, these documents are all in the records of the Senate,” Lacson said in a text message.
He said the chamber had in its records documents indicating the use of Senate funds by a senator to pay rent and for repairs of “his/her satellite office” which is located in “his/her own building.”
Lacson also mentioned the inclusion of the senator’s household helpers in “his/her office payroll” and disbursing MOOE as “grocery allowance of his [wife]/her husband or son.”
He made the remarks in the wake of his own verbal exchange through the media with Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who had criticized Lacson for supposedly defending Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s yearend release of P1.6-million in additional MOOE.
COA full audit
“The logical conclusion of all the accusations hurled by Senator Santiago against the Senate as an institution and all the senators must be a full audit by COA on how the Senate and all the senators disburse and use our regular as well as additional MOOE,” Lacson said.
“[This is] with the end view of looking into possible abuse committed by individual senators in the use of those monies,” he added.
Lacson’s proposal, however, came after Enrile’s and Santiago’s tirade against each other in the media appeared to have subsided after Santiago’s media staff announced that she had suffered from a mild stroke.
Santiago’s personal cardiologist was quoted as saying that Santiago’s “political enemies might be dancing on her grave if she continues to fight them single-handedly.”
To which, Lacson said, “Nobody in his right mind will dance on somebody else’s grave even if the person under the ground dug her own grave.”
Earlier this week, Lacson called Santiago “a crusading crook” after she supposedly undermined the integrity of senators when she questioned Enrile’s release of additional MOOE when Senate offices were about to wind down for the end of 2012.
“Senator Miriam Santiago is what we may call a ‘crusading crook.’ She pretends to be clean when she is not,” Lacson said.
‘Hypocrite par excellence’
Lacson added that Santiago was a “hypocrite par excellence” without “a single shred of integrity in her veins and moral ascendancy over any mortal on earth.”
“Ask people who have fallen victim to her verbal threats and assaults and they will tell you how much they shelled out [for her to stop],” he added.
In a television interview earlier this week, Santiago lambasted a senator for defending Enrile and what she called the irregular release of MOOE at yearend.