Latest Stories

Santiago blows lid off Senate perks


Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Why do senators covet leadership posts and committees?

In a speech before members of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said that Senate officers Juan Ponce Enrile (President), Jinggoy Estrada (Pro-tempore), Vicente Sotto III (Majority Leader) and Alan Peter Cayetano (Minority Leader) enjoyed a premium of between 21 percent and 166 percent over the average P43 million in “personal income” received annually by regular senators.

Santiago said that based on a 2011 Commission on Audit report, the top four Senate officers got the four biggest spending budgets among the 23 senators—Enrile, with a total of P118 million, Estrada with P62 million, Sotto with P56 million and Cayetano with P55 million—due to the honorarium reserved for their positions.

Salary boost

Santiago said the officers’ salaries were further boosted by their memberships in regular committees, oversight committees and the Commission on Appointment (additional P50,000 each per month).

“A senator’s annual gross salary is some P1 million. But on the average, a senator is a member of seven oversight committees. Thus, he receives P2.5 million annually in so-called extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses or EME. The EME that he receives is more than double his salary, which is not equitable,” said Santiago, who proposed that the extra income for membership in committees should be capped at P500,000 a year.

Aside from receiving nearly triple what the average senator received, Santiago said that Enrile as Senate President also controlled 50 percent of the Senate’s budget.

“Immediate past experience shows us that the amount known as ‘additional MOOE’ (maintenance and other operating expenses) becomes the personal pork barrel of the Senate President. In the hands of a corrupt Senate President, this discretionary power over the additional MOOE becomes a tool not only of corruption, but also of oppression and of ugly politics,” said Santiago, who was among four senators who did not receive a P1.6 million cash gift from Enrile last year.

Santiago proposed that the power to control the Senate budget should be transferred from the Senate President to the entire body. She said the Senate President should also give up his powers to reallocate the savings of the Senate to his chosen senators.

“Just because one senator has left his office is no reason to avail of the monies allocated for his office as additional MOOE. It makes the additional MOOE the personal pork barrel of the Senate President,” said Santiago.

Return savings

“Savings, which were previously realigned as additional MOOE, should be returned to the Senate. I did this in good faith during my first year as senator, but was roundly attacked by my colleagues who resented what I did, because it showed how much they kept for themselves,” she said.

Santiago added she would push for the imposition of a more stringent liquidation system using receipts and other official documents.

“The Senate is rethinking the previous policy of Mr. Enrile, that certain amounts received by a senator could be liquidated by simply signing a certification that the money had been spent. The new Senate that opens this July will have the power to retain or to reform the system. This will need the majority vote of the senators from the current policy of mere certification,” said Santiago.

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: Juan Ponce Enrile , Miriam Defensor-Santiago , Philippines , Senate , senators

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
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Opinions split on Napoles turning state witness
  3. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  4. Plunder complaint filed vs PNP chief, firearms office head over license delivery deal
  5. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  6. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  7. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  10. Boy ‘sexually assaulted’ at Indonesia international school
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima


  • PNP chief on plunder raps: ‘Amateurish’
  • Makati readies 12-month traffic plan for Skyway 3
  • Heard on Radyo Inquirer 990AM
  • Did you know
  • HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces, force do-or-die tiff
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Banks allowed to use ‘cloud’
  • SMIC to issue P15-B bonds
  • Honda upgrades PH plant
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • 19 Ukrainians, Russians, Filipinas rescued in bar raid
  • Filipinos coming home from Mideast must obtain MERS clearance – DOH
  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • Marketplace