In the Philippines, it's more fun to be a senator

  • Filipino killed, five wounded in Libya attack: security source

    Filipino killed, five wounded in Libya attack: security source

    AFP News
    Filipino killed, five wounded in Libya attack: security source

    A Filipino oil worker has been killed and five others wounded in a rocket attack on a coastal town west of the Libya capital, a Libyan security source said on Monday. "Our embassy in Tripoli confirmed that one Filipino died in (a) bombing in Zawiya," spokesman Charles Jose said in a text message to AFP. Libya has been wracked by conflict since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival militias and governments battling for its oil wealth. The …

  • Philippine troops end offensive they say killed 139 rebels

    Philippine troops end offensive they say killed 139 rebels

    Associated Press
    Philippine troops end offensive they say killed 139 rebels

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A monthlong Philippine offensive against hard-line Muslim rebels ended Monday after 139 insurgents were killed, 12 others were captured and bomb-making strongholds were seized by troops, the military chief said. …

  • Philippines hits back at Beijing over South China Sea

    Philippines hits back at Beijing over South China Sea

    AFP News
    Philippines hits back at Beijing over South China Sea

    The Philippines on Saturday shot back at Beijing's criticism of its activities in the South China Sea, saying they were "in no way comparable to China's massive reclamation activities" in the waters. It also said accusations that Manila was being "hypocritical" would not distract people from Beijing's own actions which were raising regional tensions. "The Philippines' possible undertaking of necessary maintenance and repairs on its existing facilities in the West Philippine Sea... is in no …

  • Clinton advisers traveling to New Hampshire, Iowa

    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign manager-in-waiting is traveling to the early voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa this week for meetings with Democratic activists as the former secretary of state prepares for a likely presidential campaign. …

  • Tampons Can Screen for Leaking Sewage

    Tampons Can Screen for Leaking Sewage

    LiveScience.com
    Tampons Can Screen for Leaking Sewage

    Ordinary tampons can detect sewage pollution, a new study shows. "It's cheap, it's easy and it does the detective work," said study co-author David Lerner, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. But study author Dave Chandler, the Sheffield graduate student who came up with the tampon test, needed a cheap way to monitor stream pollution, Lerner said. Chandler realized that tampons could absorb optical brighteners, which are additives in …

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Ever wonder why many are dying to become senators?

Philippine Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago posed this question during an interview with Radyo Inquirer Wednesday after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile reportedly played Santa Claus last Christmas, giving gifts using so-called "savings" that she said had become the "grandmama of all scandals."

She then proceeded to outline why nothing beats being a senator.

Related story: Enrile: Cash gifts were 'lambing' not bribe

Imagine a yearly pork barrel of 200 million pesos (US$4.9 million), 2.2 million pesos monthly for staff salaries and office expenses, a 500,000 pesos annual travel allowance and an honorarium that ranges between 30,000 to 60,000 pesos a month as chair of a Senate committee.

And don't forget the regular monthly salary of 75,000 pesos.

An unscrupulous senator can simply make it appear that he or she is using all these perks legitimately and then pocket these. Here is where Santiago wants the Commission on Audit (COA) to come in.

Also read: Like senators, House members got more funds last Christmas

Santiago asked COA Chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan to instruct auditors assigned to the Senate and the House of Representatives to examine and audit so-called "savings" or "secret funds" available to the Senate President, House Speaker, and other heads of offices, to ensure transparency.

Santiago's revelations followed Enrile's supposedly selective release of a total of 1.618 million pesos in two tranches as additional "maintenance and other operating expenditures" (MOOE) to each of her 18 colleagues from "savings" of the chamber in 2012. Four other senators Enrile wasn't exactly fond of-Santiago included-got 250,000 pesos each.

Nat'l scandal


"The so-called savings of each public office have turned into a national scandal, the grandmama of all scandals. The Constitution allows savings to be used by the office at the end of the year. But in reality, the head of office manipulates the books and creates so-called savings by refusing to fill up vacancies, or refusing to buy essential office supplies or services, or capital equipment. These so-called 'enforced savings' are then distributed among the highest officials, in the guise of Christmas bonuses," Santiago explained.

In many cases, the COA auditor usually accommodates the "enforced savings" ordered by the head of office, because COA auditors are often afraid of politicians, or the COA auditors themselves share in the "enforced savings," she said.

In other news: Aquino rejects gun ban calls

"I challenge the COA to reveal to the public the total income annually of every senator and every representative. This total income should include basic salary, Christmas and other bonuses, monthly honoraria for committee work, monthly appropriation to be spent at the senator's discretion for staff salaries and for MOOE, appropriations for consultants, foreign travel funds, etc.," she said.

Members of each Senate committee are also given an allowance, but she did not give a specific amount.

"That's why some of my colleagues become members of so many committees," she noted. "This amount is given whether or not you attend the hearings conducted by the committee."

The same policy holds true for the 500,000 pesos travel allowance. "We are given that every year, whether we use it or not. It is for official trips such as those to international conferences. But even if you don't leave, you still get that," she said.

Biggest perk

The biggest perk, however, remains the 200 million pesos pork barrel, or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Santiago recalled that when she was still a newbie senator in 1995, she was approached by a contractor who guaranteed her a "clean" 10-percent kickback from her pork-funded infrastructure projects.

Also read: President Aquino Predicted To Fall

She calculated that during a six-year term, a senator can earn 120 million pesos from kickbacks, enough to jumpstart a reelection bid.

"One who wants big money should run for senator," Santiago said.

As for Enrile's "gift," Santiago said she sent it back to the Senate President because he had returned her gift of biscuits to him.

"You don't like my biscuit, I also don't like your money," was how she explained it. With a report from Fe Zamora

*US$1=40.7 pesos

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers
    Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers

    President Aquino has signed a joint congressional resolution raising the daily subsistence allowance for both members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino signed last March 27 the merged Joint Resolution 2 of the Senate and Joint Resolution 26 of the House of Representatives. Speaking to reporters, Lacierda yesterday said the daily allowances of police officers and soldiers were raised from P90 …

  • Oil firms raise gas prices today
    Oil firms raise gas prices today

    This year’s Holy Week break will be accompanied by an increase in local pump prices after oil companies announced yesterday a P1.10 per liter hike for gasoline and P0.60 per liter for diesel effective today. “Phoenix Petroleum Philippines will increase the prices of gasoline by P1.10 per liter and diesel by P0.60 per liter effective 6 a.m. of March 31, 2015 to reflect the movements in the prices of refined petroleum products in the international market,” said Phoenix Petroleum, an independent …

  • DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah
    DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah

    The Philippines has never offered to drop its Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia’s support for Manila’s arbitration case against China over the West Philippine Sea issue, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday. “In the context of our friendly bilateral relations, our two countries have been for years exchanging ways on how to address the issue of the extended continental shelf (ECS) in the South China Sea,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in explaining the DFA’s …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options