COA bares senators' expenditures for 2012

Posted at 02/17/14 8:40 AM

MANILA - Amid the controversy over the excessive bonuses given by former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile to Senate employees and executives in 2012, he incurred about P63.717 million in maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) amounting to about half of his total expenses for that year, a report of the Commission on Audit (COA) showed.

But the COA notably did not raise any red flags on the senator’s miscellaneous expenses.

At the time Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Alan Peter Cayetano and his sister Pia, and Antonio Trillanes IV attacked Enrile and some members of the then majority bloc in the Senate about the supposed unnecessary bonuses given in December 2012.

Enrile explained these were not bonuses but allocations for additional MOOE.

The COA’s itemized list of amounts paid to and expenses incurred for each senator and member of the House of Representatives published yesterday showed that Enrile had the highest in terms of additional MOOE, which was pegged at a total of P63.717 million, broken down into other MOOE of the office of the senator at P9.479 million; permanent committee - P4.679 million and then as officer (Senate president) - P 46,559,250.

As officers of the Senate, Sen. Vicente Sotto’s combined other MOOE was pegged at P25.415 million, followed by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada with P22.425 million and P22.171 million, all in 2012.

Santiago, who has been raising a howl that senators get benefits beyond what is due them under their salary grades, got as much as P21 million under other MOOE, broken down as P10.062 million under office of the senator and P11.004 million under permanent committee.

The other senators who went over the P20 million mark include Joker Arroyo (P22.8 million); Lito Lapid (P24 million); Teofisto Guingona III (P21.1 million); Panfilo Lacson (P21.3 million); Gregorio Honasan (P19.2 million), and Ralph Recto (18.5 million).

Officials said senators get extra compensation as member or head of committees.

A senator with one or more committees is likely to get the same compensation as member of just one major committee. However, the amount varies in terms of additional allowances if one is a member or chairman.

Office rentals and consultancy

Based on COA report, Senators Enrile, Edgardo Angara, Estrada, Lacson, Loren Legarda, Aquilino Pimentel III, Sotto and Trillanes were the only senators who hired consultancy services.

Enrile incurred the highest expenses under the bracket on professional/consultancy fee at P1.340 million, followed by Estrada with P720,000; Sotto, 636,000; Lacson, P600,000; Pimentel, P470,344.83; Trillanes, P300,000 and Legarda, P17,241.38.

The subtotal for professional fee/consultancy was pegged at P4.926 million.

For the expenses on rental or office space/equipment, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had the highest expenses with P2.439 million, followed by Angara with P1.09 million.

Santiago, whom Lacson accused of renting from her family-owned building, charged to the government P840,000 for that year. Meanwhile, Sen. Sergio Osmeña’s rental expenses reached P803,606.60.

Guingona’s rental expenses were pegged at P330,000; Lacson, P117,227.88; Sen. Francis Escudero, P188,534.08; Pia Cayetano, P60,098.65 and Estrada, P7,234.14.

Trillanes still highest spender

But Trillanes remained the highest spender among the 23 senators in 2012.

Trillanes spent a total of P61.297 million from January 1 to Dec. 31, 2012, broken down to P31.759 million as his expenses as senator and P29.537 million as permanent committee member.

Bulk of Trillanes’ expenses went to salaries and benefits of staff members amounting to P20.829 million as senator; and P17.7 million under permanent member category.

On the other hand, Arroyo retained his record as the thriftiest senator in 2012, spending a total of P34.927 million.

Arroyo’s expenses for salaries and benefits were recorded at P3.612 million (Office of the Senator) and P1.8 million (permanent committee).

He has held on to his “Scrooge of the Year” title for the past 21 years in Congress.

Apart from that, Arroyo had not availed of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) during his career as congressman and senator.

The expenditures are grouped according to the senator’s salaries, local and foreign travels, salaries and benefits of staff members, meetings and conferences, professional/consultancy fees, supplies and materials, office rental and equipment, extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses, capital outlay and other expenses.

Among officers, Enrile, at the time Senate president, understandably incurred the biggest expenses among four executives – including Estrada; Sotto who was the former majority leader, and Alan Peter Cayetano as minority leader.

Enrile spent P123.457 million, followed by Estrada with P67.57 million; Sotto with P61.33 million and Alan Cayetano with P 59.788 million.

Subtracting their expenses as officers of the Senate, Enrile spent about P52.1 million; Estrada, P57.2 million, followed by Sotto with P50.9 million and then Cayetano with P46.60 million.

Joining Trillanes in the top 10 biggest spenders were: Estrada (P57.2 million); Pimentel (P53.875 million); Sen. Bong Revilla (53.634 million); Escudero (P53.47 million); Enrile (P52.1 million); Sotto (P50.9 million); Marcos (P50 million), Sen. Gregorio Honasan (P49.684 million) and Sen. Francis Pangilinan (P49.623 million).

Angara spent (P48.521 million); Legarda (P47.287 million); Alan Cayetano (P46.6 million); Lacson (P46.509 million); Recto (P46.235 million); Pia Cayetano (P45.353 million); Lapid (P45.041 million); Guingona (43.667 million); Manny Villar (P43.083 million); Santiago (P42.619 million); Osmeña (P41.489 million); Franklin Drilon (P38.230 million), and Arroyo (P34.927 million).

Mar Lipana, resident COA auditor of the Senate, recorded the total Senate expenses for 2012 at P1.202 billion.

House spends P2.8 B for salaries, MOOE

Meanwhile, the COA report showed that the House of Representatives spent over P2.8 billion for salaries, supplies, maintenance and other operating expenses in 2012.

The COA report said a total of P4,087,152,784.67 was disbursed for various expenses of lawmakers and their committees.

The report said the House spent P2,880,238,019 for salaries, foreign and local travels, allocation for staff in district and central offices, contractuals, research, communication expenses, supplies, public affairs, equipment, and for other MOOE.

Salaries for the 287 House members totaled P316,407,952 with each lawmaker receiving a total of P1.117 million each from January to December that year.

Expenses for foreign travels reached P13,494,534 but not all lawmakers tapped the budget appropriation for this expense as not everyone went on official trips in 2012.

“Consultative local travel” expenses of the chamber totaled P233,533,628 while disbursements on research was at P152,895,682. Each congressional office was allocated a uniform P540,000 for the expense that year.

The chamber disbursed P287,717,114 for district staff with each office allocated P1.01 million for salaries and MOOE.

For central office staff, the House spent P891,796,771 but expenses for each congressional office vary, depending on the position of the lawmaker and the number of committees he handles.

Expenditures for contractuals and consultants totaled P263,761,083 while public affairs fund disbursement was at P141,683,332.

Spending for communications and supplies reached P53,907,050 and P51,164,752, respectively.– With Paolo Romero