Senate sets measures to curb spending


Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Senate is set to take steps to change the way the chamber uses its billions annually following the controversy over the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) of senators.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile is proposing a review of Senate oversight committees with multimillion-peso allocations and the abolition of those that have become irrelevant.

In pushing for the review, Enrile said, “The disparities in the budgets of these committees, and the chairmanships/co-chairmanships which are mostly mandated by law to be given to the chairmen of the relevant permanent committees of the Senate and House naturally result in unequal distribution of these committees and their budgets among the senators.”

“Some are chairing only one oversight committee, others, two or even three, but that is largely due to their chairmanship of the permanent committees. This has been a festering issue especially for me as Senate President because to equalize everyone is close to impossible under these circumstances,” Enrile said.

Enrile said the Senate has 37 permanent committees but the number of oversight committees had swelled to 33 over the years.

“Now, I am being blamed for this proliferation of oversight committees and the huge total budgetary allocation for them. We have to set the record straight.”

Enrile said the increase in the number and budgets of oversight committees in the Senate had more than doubled since 2010 largely because “new laws were passed which also created new oversight committees.”

In a statement on Friday, Enrile  said that both the Senate and the House of Representatives should seriously consider a review of the budgets of the oversight committees and if necessary to “reduce their budgets if found excessive, or even to abolish those that are no longer relevant or needed.”

Enrile also wants a moratorium on the creation of more oversight committees while the review is being undertaken.

“After all, the matter of the proper implementation of the laws we pass rests on the executive branch,” Enrile said.

Enrile made the proposal after the Inquirer reported that the Senate’s funding for the MOOE of oversight committees more than doubled to P450 million since President Aquino took office in 2010.

Through Concurrent Resolution No. 10 passed by both houses, the amount could be liquidated through mere certifications signed by lawmakers without need of presenting receipts.

Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte earlier this week also agreed with Commission on Audit chair Grace Pulido-Tan to do away with Congress’ practice of liquidating its millions of pesos in MOOE through certifications signed by lawmakers without the submission of supporting receipts and other documents.

But Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Wednesday that Congress had done away with its practice of liquidating millions of pesos for MOOE through certifications.

Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on accounts, made the disclosure following the meeting on Wednesday between congressional leaders and the COA chair.

Enrile, Belmonte and An-Waray party-list Rep. Florencio Noel, chair of the House accounts panel, also attended the meeting.

“(We) agreed to submit ourselves to the disposition of COA and COA explicitly expressed that it would no longer accept liquidation by certification, at least prospectively, starting 2013,” Lacson said.

The development came in the wake of the Senate funds controversy triggered by Enrile’s release in December of P1.6 million in additional MOOE to each of 18 senators and his grant of P250,000 each to all his colleagues from his office’s savings.

Enrile has stood by the regularity of the fund releases, saying they were public funds that the senators  know should be spent for a public purpose.

Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, who engaged Enrile in a bitter exchange in the Senate plenary over the use of Senate funds, acknowledged that the decision to follow COA’s strict rules on liquidation of expenses “was a good first step.”

Cayetano, nonetheless, said the COA should hold accountable those who may have violated laws in the course of using the Senate’s funds.

“We cannot sweep this under the rug,” Cayetano said in a telephone interview. “The Senate President and the Senate should clear its name or claim responsibility. So let’s sue whoever needs to be punished.”

Cayetano wants to know how much of the Senate’s P2 billion budget in 2012 was liquidated through certification and how the P250,000 per senator released in December was reported as an expense.

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  • barada69

    Permanent Kumita or Oversight Kumita, Kumita pa rin. The Senate has become irrelevant to the public perception, it became a platform for politicking to advance their own selfish interest. Senatongs are only good for grandstanding, showmanship that rivals Oscar award performances !

  • Ari Putan

    Another diversionary tactics of the HORRIBLE Senatongs….
    ABOLISH PORK BARREL and we will believe you.

    • mapicchu

       i second the motion.

  • Hellomr

    Isang senator sa states noon nag resigned or na inpeach dahil sa pag gamit ng unused fund na galing sa nabakanteng puwesto dati ni President Obama…. Pero sa Pilipinas million pesos ipinamigay sa mga senador bilang Christmas Gift…. Galing sa public funds. Grave Ito at baliwala lang Ito. Walang kaso… Pero ang mga maliliit katulad ng mga pulis nangongotong lang ng 200 500 pesos lang pero kapag nahuli

  • tower_of_power

    Increase the budget …. curb spending = more savings for distribution as fat bonuses for senators and their …. whoever they can include in their expenses that can be certified … hahahaha!!!

    So many oversight committees …. pero mga BULAG SA OVERSIGHTS NILA!!!

  • boybakal

    Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile is proposing a review of Senate oversight committees with multimillion-peso allocations…

    Good Job Mr. Senate President.
    Enough of this complaint, complaint of small allocation by senators.
    Binigyan na angal pa.
    Ibigay na lang sa tao…
    This is what we call Kahoy allocation….barter or in kind.

  • opinyonlangpo

    There will be more savings. Uhummmm.

  • boybakal

    Enrile should give the Senators a choice of their MOEE to avoid oversight.

    Kuarta o Kahoy…

  • bogli_anakdami

    yung bonus, nakaws at kotongs should be under different appropriations… name the appropriations to something with “GOD” in it…

    flip gung gongs do not question expenditures with GODly intentions, di ba?

  • Jane Tan

    Wouldn’t need oversight committees if you screw-ups wouldn’t abuse the law.

  • LegalJustice

    Now Senate President Enrile you are now talking.

    By your expose of the fund surplus – that makes the filipino people more aware what you have been doing with the MOOE and I hope you”ve learned a lesson from this expose – not to abuse the system.

    And I hope you keep behaving properly and professionallyon the floor.

    Remember: We Tax Payer Filipino People are WATCHING !

    • bogli_anakdami

      …”hope you keep behaving properly and professionally”…

      “hope” lang? … walang legal charges sa kanyang pagnanakaw?…

      walang kalaboso??? walang wala pala eh

      kaya naman pala ang mga hindot eh walang takot magnakaw ng pondo eh..

  • captainramius


    • pioanonuevo

      I like that comment, say some more kung ano ano ang iniisip na pagkakakitaan.

  • garapata

    Abolish Pork Barrel, reduce allowances of committees and MOOE. Report your expenses to the public. This is what WE demand from Congress and Senate.

  • Lucky Luciano

    Parang utang na loob pa ng bayan.

  • Joe U.

    Is this really the once notorious Johnny Enrile? The martial law architect? Marcos’ hatchet man, bag man  and political bully who once had a teenage son who was equally abusive and a bully named Jackie? Has decency finally come into his being to propose changes in the Senate to  change its tainted image which he had and still dominates? I wonder.

  • disqusted0fu

    MOOE of oversight committees more than doubled to P450 million since President Aquino took office in 2010. – And that’s because all the attention is redirected to the previous administration that they forgot to check on what this present administration is doing. 

  • pioanonuevo

    Tahimik talaga ang mga senador ano? tsek, tsek, tsek, pera na madidiskaril pa yata sabi nila. Pati si Senator Joker natamimi yata walang comment sa eskandalong ito Ang nagagawa nga naman ng million.

    Nasaan na ba si senator Santiago para marami pa tayong malaman.

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