Joker calls Trillanes 'a mosquito'

Posted at 01/12/11 3:51 PM

After Trillanes dubbed Joker  'laziest senator'

MANILA, Philippines - A word war has erupted between Sen. Joker Arroyo and Sen. Antonio Trillanes over the latter's expenditures.

Arroyo fired the first salvo against Trillanes after the Commission on Audit (COA) revealed that the latter spent P21.136 million in 2009 despite being detained at Camp Crame for rebellion charges.

The expenses made Trillanes the 4th biggest spender in the Senate, behind Sen. Jinggoy Estrada (P21.7 million), Sen. Gregorio Honasan ((P21.6 million) and former senator and now President Benigno Aquino (P21.5 million).

In contrast, Arroyo spent only P14,611,455.95 in 2009, earning him the title of thriftiest senator for the 9th straight year. “I attend sessions regularly, but I didn’t spend that much,” he said in an earlier report.

On Wednesday Trillanes said most of his expenses went to salaries for his staff of 44 while Arroyo only had a staff of 3. He said his staff helped file 347 bills while Arroyo has filed none.

"I have 44 employees. This is well within the quota provided by the Senate. They gave us a quota, we maxed it out. Now in terms of performance, we filed 347 bills, 18 were passed into law. Compare that with the performance of Joker Arroyo who failed to file a single bill. In all his 18 years as a legislator, he has failed to file a bill," he said.

Asked if failure to file a bill is bad for a senator, he said: "I believe so. That would make him at least the laziest. We have to put him to task here. He spent nearly P15 million but failed to file a single bill. Now he has to account, he has to present to the people, where did he spend that?"

Trillanes said that for the past 9 years, Senator Arroyo had lawyered for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the Upper House. "That would make him the most expensive lawyer. We have to put things into context," he said.

Arroyo, meanwhile, was unfazed by Trillanes's statements. "Why should I be bothered by a mosquito?" he said.

Why Joker is the thriftiest

Arroyo’s frugality with the legislative budget started when he was in the House of Representatives where he had no staff, except for a driver and a utility man. He carried his work ethic to the Senate when he was elected in 2001 and has, up to this day, a skeletal staff of three.

Senator Arroyo had chaired the powerful Blue Ribbon committee, the public services committee and the justice and human rights committee in the 12th and 13th Congress.

Arroyo opted not to chair any committee in the 14th and the present 15th Congress.

Most traveled

Even though he is the thriftiest overall, Arroyo seemed to have spent much on travel expenses, with P544,000 spent under the senators’ budget when almost all senators averaged at P259,776.

The travel expenses of Arroyo’s staff amounted to P832,000, still low compared to that of other senators.

Loren Legarda’s staff incurred P4.5 million in “local travel expenses”, followed by Manny Villar’s staff who incurred P3.3 million, then the staff of Gregorio Honasan at P3.291 million.

Francis Pangilinan’s staff was next with P2.5 million, Alan Cayetano’s staff with P2.496 million, followed by his sister Pia’s staff with P2.376 million, Miriam Defensor Santiago’s staff with P2.371 million, and Estrada’s with P2.371 million.

The staff of actor-turned-politician Bong Revilla posted P2.066 million in local travel expenses.

The local travel expenses of the staff members of Edgardo Angara, Juan Ponce Enrile, Francis Escudero, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Jamby Madrigal, Mar Roxas, Antonio Trillanes, Juan Miguel Zubiri and Aquino ranged from P1.2 million to P1.9 million.

Trillanes reported only P65,894 in travel expenses for himself, a big contrast to his audit report in 2008 that reflected his expenses of P247,404 for local travel while his staff incurred P878,496 and P253,810 in local and foreign travel, respectively, in 2008.

In 2009, Trillanes’ staff incurred P1.896 million for “local travel.” With a report from Philippine Star