‘Joker’ Still Mr. Thrift

For the 20th consecutive year, Senator Joker Arroyo remains the thriftiest senator in the year 2010 as far as expenditures are concerned while Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada and Sen. Antonio Trillanes were the biggest spenders in the same year.

As if being thriftiest were not enough, Arroyo has the distinction, alongside Sen. Panfilo Lacson, as the two senators who do not avail of their pork barrel allocation or Philippine Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Based on the belated Commission on Audit (COA) annual report, Sen. Arroyo spent only a total of P16,653,932.01 for the whole year of 2010 in the disbursements of office expenditures, including their staff salaries and benefits.

Arroyo's expenses were way below the expenses of Sen. Estrada with P24,607,452.53 and Trillanes with P24,482,966.75, the COA report showed.

Although the COA report lists 29 senators altogether, actually they belong to two categories. Those who served for the full year and those who served for only six months in 2010.

Incidentally, President Benigno S. Aquino III, who served only for six months in 2010 after being elected as President was the second biggest spender in the second category (those who served only six months).

COA reports revealed that then Sen. Aquino spent P11,891,961.51 in just six months of 2010, second only to former Sen. Rodolfo Biazon whose expenditures for the same period reached P12,120,619.66.

With the COA report, Arroyo maintained his being the "Scrooge of Congress" among the 23 senators in 2010 in the disbursement of office expenditures.

The COA report showed that the itemized list of expenses of the 29 senators for 2010 totaled P472,120,032.86.

In the lower expenditures category, Arroyo was followed by Sen. Edgardo J. Angara who spent only P18,385,972.83, Sen. Manny Villar (P19,373,051.99), Sen. Loren Legarda (P19,951,148.73), and Sen. Lito Lapid (P19,976,501.68).

On the other hand Estrada and Trillanes were followed in the biggest spenders category by Senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla (P23,656,691.680), Francis Pangilinan (P23,417,631.60), Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (P23,117,430.40), Francis Escudero (P21,668,584.58), Gregorio B. Honasan II (P21,450,406.98), and Juan Miguel Zubiri (P21,188,733.51).

In the so-called P20-million category were Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago (P20,380,625.67), Allan Peter Cayetano (P20,468,536.97), and Pia S. Cayetano (20,920,312.30).

Arroyo was known for his frugality even when he was in the Lower House where he had no staff, except for a driver and a utility man.

And when he was elected as Senator in 2001 and until now, he maintains a skeletal staff of a few persons.

Arroyo is also the only senator who has no media affairs relations officer (MARO) who deals with reporters covering the Senate beat.

Arroyo, instead of hiring a PR man or writer, issues his own statement whenever it is necessary.

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