Palace welcomes Senate 'ceasefire'
MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Tuesday welcomed news that senators have agreed to a "ceasefire" and comply with a request from the Commission on Audit (COA) to have the chamber's expenses audited.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the decision of senators to set aside their differences after a bruising word war is a welcome development.
"We welcome the decision of the senators to set aside their personal differences and to concentrate on the pending bills," she said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday said senators have agreed to put an end to the word war and open the Senate's books for an audit. Senators also agreed to begin to liquidate their maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) through receipts and not just certifications.
One of those absent in the Senate closed-door meeting was Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who criticized Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile for his distribution of the Senate’s savings allegedly as cash gifts to senators, and against whom Lacson plans to file a case for misuse of Senate funds.
Lacson said the Senate has no choice but to comply with COA’s request, which was made through a letter by its chairperson, Ma. Gracia M. Pulido Tan.
In the letter, Tan cited COA’s constitutional mandate to audit the expenses of all government agencies.
“We seek your assistance in making available to us, in the soonest possible time, all papers, documents and information in your possession or care as Chairman of the Committee on Accounts, particularly those bearing on the augmentation and realignment of Senate funds, as well as the use/s to which the MOOE given to members of the Senate have been devoted, so that we can forthwith carry out a ‘no-holds barred’ audit of the Senate finances,” she wrote.
Lacson, who chairs the accounts committee, said the required documents have been prepared.
The initial batch of documents that will be submitted to COA covers the years 2010 to 2012, while those dating back to 2007 will also be released at a later time.
In deciding to change the way they liquidate their MOOE, Lacson said senators “effectively repealed” Concurrent Resolution 10, which allows lawmakers to account for their expenses only through a certification that says the money was used properly without the need to present receipts. But they would have to inform members of the House, he added.
“We can also formalize the rescission of the concurrent resolution by way of another resolution,” he said. With Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News