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Senate leaders: Funds for oversight panels not ending up in senators’ pockets

Posted On 2014 Feb 27
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CELEBRATING THE SENATE’S 97th ANNIVERSARY. Senate President Franklin M. Drilon addresses Senate officials and employees during the Senate’s flag raising ceremony Monday, October 21. Drilon took the opportunity to thank everyone for what he calls a “selfless act” in deciding to forego plans to celebrate the annual Christmas Party in favor of donating the funds to the victims of recent calamities that struck Visayas and Mindanao. The Senate, which is also celebrating its 97th Anniversary, has also decided to allocate the budget for the anniversary to the victims of the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu. (MNS photo)

CELEBRATING THE SENATE’S 97th ANNIVERSARY. Senate President Franklin M. Drilon addresses Senate officials and employees during the Senate’s flag raising ceremony Monday, October 21. Drilon took the opportunity to thank everyone for what he calls a “selfless act” in deciding to forego plans to celebrate the annual Christmas Party in favor of donating the funds to the victims of recent calamities that struck Visayas and Mindanao. The Senate, which is also celebrating its 97th Anniversary, has also decided to allocate the budget for the anniversary to the victims of the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Millions of pesos being allocated to Senate oversight committees are not ending up in senators’ pockets, Senate leaders said Monday.

In a radio interview, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the annual budget for each of the chamber’s 24 oversight committees are all accounted for.

I can tell you, nagko-comply ang lahat ng mga senador. In fact, hirap na hirap mag-liquidate ng mga budget ng bawat komite,” Drilon said told radio dzRH.

He added that oversight committees are required to present receipts and certifications for all their fund releases.

A Philippine Star report published earlier in the day said the Commission on Audit (COA) recently sent a memorandum reminding senators on the proper use of funds for oversight committees.

Oversight committees are created to check the implementation of specific laws. Some existing oversight panels include those tasked to monitor the Clean Air Act, the Overseas Voting Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Law.

Audited, liquidated

The reported COA memorandum came out amid accusations that Senators Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada pocketed millions in their pork barrel funds. The three lawmakers have repeatedly denied these allegations.

In a separate statement, Senate secretary Oscar Yabes said that although he has not yet seen the COA memorandum, the issues being raised on the budget of oversight panels “have been addressed already.”

Yabes added that funds for these committees go to salaries of staff members and consultants, and not to the pockets of senators who chair the panels.

“The Senate is not exempt from government auditing procedures. The funds entrusted to us faithfully undergo liquidation processes and the expenses are supported by receipts and other documents evidencing the disbursements,” he said.

Last year, the Senate leadership reduced the number of standing oversight committees from 35 to 24. Each panel was also allocated a uniform budget of P20 million.

The Senate minority bloc opposed this move by Drilon’s leadership, saying it only subtracted funds from some oversight committees, and increased the allocations for others. (MNS)

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