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EDITORIAL - Yearend gifts

(The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2013 - 12:00am

As the internal feuding in the Senate degenerates into personal attacks, the nation must not lose sight of an issue raised by one of the principal protagonists: the propriety, if not legality, of using public funds classified as savings for gifts of P1.6 million each to senators in the final days of the year.

The cash gift has been reclassified as additional funds for maintenance and other operating expenses, with four senators getting only P250,000 each. Since the four have one thing in common – they are all critics of the source of the fund release, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile – there is suspicion that public funds had been used with a personal agenda in mind.

This incident should lead to better rules in the utilization of public funds by Congress. Lawmakers have long resisted calls for transparency in their finances, including their utilization of the pork barrel. President Aquino, a former congressman and senator, knows the system in both chambers and should have an idea of how to bring transparency and accoun-tability in the utilization of public funds by lawmakers. Transparency is demanded of the executive and judiciary; why not the legislature?

Enrile has hit back at his critics by raising questions about their utilization of millions of pesos allotted to their offices. Since the senators concerned are swapping accusations about questionable utilization of public money, government auditors may want to step in and fine-tune the rules on funding allotments and expenditures in Congress. The ongoing feud at the Senate can provide an opportunity for compelling fiscal prudence and accountability among lawmakers.

 

 

 

ENRILE FUNDS LAWMAKERS PRESIDENT AQUINO PUBLIC SENATE SENATE PRESIDENT JUAN PONCE ENRILE SENATORS TRANSPARENCY UTILIZATION
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