Saturday, September 1, 2007

Da Daily Donkey Goes to the Philippine Congress' System on Spending and Financial Accountability!

Da Daily Donkey
Found this interesting read from my kabayan, Alecks Pabico. Though published in July 2007, the post does contain surprising facts on the perks alloted to members of the Philippine Congress.

Days before the 14th Congress opened, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. humored neophyte members of the House of Representatives about the enviable perks enjoyed by lawmakers. "You have flexible time. Pwede kang pumasok, pwedeng hindi (You may or may not go to work) yet still get your salary.” Then, he warned them not to make the mistake of paying for meals and drinks at the Batasan Pambansa's South Lounge as it is their privilege to be served free food.

The A-Kid: I don't find it humorous at all, Mr. Andaya! Not one bit!


When Jose de Venecia Jr.'s turn came his turn to give the freshman legislators a briefing, he announced even more entitlements for members of the Lower House, i.e., an annual P1-million foreign travel allotment, and allocations for additional staff and maintenance of their respective district offices. There's even a new building in the works to house new offices for the congressmen.

The A-Kid: More entitlements? MAHIYA NAMAN KAYO! A new building in the works? How about building houses for the poor for a change? Or new schools, perhaps?


Did you know that each member of the Philippine Congress gets a monthly salary of P35,000, PLUS, annual pork-barrel allocations amounting to Php70 million (Php20 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Php50 million as congressional allocation for public works projects?

The A-Kid: Now, that is serious money!


And hey! Did you know about their other entitlements? Apart from salary and pork barrel? From the Commission on Audit's annual published itemized lists: expenses for district staff allocation, contractual consultants, research, consultative local travel, communication, supplies, and allocations for a public affairs fund, central office staff, equipment/furniture and fixtures, and other maintenance and operating expenses (MOE).

The A-Kid: I was breathless there for a whileI thought the list was an endless one!



COSTLY CONGRESSMEN
What the Public Spent for the Upkeep of Each Member
of the House of Representatives in 2005
EXPENSE ITEMS*
AMOUNT
Basic Salary
420,000.00
Foreign Travel
220,867.70
District Staff Allocation
650,000.04
Contractual Consultants
120,000.00
Research
396,000.00
Consultative Local Travel
788,763.71
Communication
129,600.00
Supplies
120,000.00
Public Affairs Fund
308,400.00
Central Office Staff
1,982,033.58
Equipment/Furniture and Fixtures
21,537.84
Other MOE
600,000.00
  • Source: Commission on Audit
    *Figures for Foreign Travel, Consultative Local Travel, Central Office Staff and Equipment/Furniture and Fixtures are average amounts. The rest are uniform for all congressmen.

The COA lists do not even include expenses of legislators as committee members and officers which, in 2005, amounted to over P92 million. In 2004, the House spent about P77 million on these expenses.


COSTLY CONGRESSMEN - 2
Annual and Monthly Upkeep of Each Member of the House of Representatives
YEAR
ANNUAL UPKEEP
MONTHLY UPKEEP
1994
2,830,608.48
235,884.04
1995
2,588,929.44
215,744.12
1996
3,235,886.71
269,657.23
1997
3,496,225.83
291,352.15
1998
2,827,975.56
235,664.63
1999
4,537,482.57
378,123.55
2000
4,562,446.31
380,203.86
2001
3,917,321.63
326,443.47
2002
5,155,221.54
429,601.79
2004
4,112,520.42
342,710.04
2005
5,770,564.32
480,880.36
  • Source: Commission on Audit

"Each House member's district staff allocation has been increased to P650,000 annually. MOE also ballooned to P600,000 in 2005 from the previous year's P411,000. Meanwhile, expenses on consultative local travel and central office staff were at their highest in the same year at over P788,000 and close to P2 million, respectively, per congressman."

The A-Kid: Now, that is giving the phrase, Big Spender, a run for its money!



COSTLY CONGRESSMEN - 3
Annual Average Amounts Paid to Foreign Travel of Members
of the House of Representatives
YEAR
AMOUNT
1994
98,444.80
1995
89,948.98
1996
187,176.33
1997
184,458.69
1998
156,475.83
1999
372,988.06
2000
432,950.16
2001
254,395.86
2002
316,201.67
2004
110,129.44
2005
220,867
  • Source: Commission on Audit"
  • Foreign travel expenses in 2005 also was double the 2004 amount at an average of P221,000 each House member. The total bill paid for by the government for the overseas trips of 170 congressmen was P59,413,412.82."

    The A-Kid: It's like going around the world in 80 days....80 times.


THE HOUSE JETSET*
Top 10 Spenders on Foreign Travel Among Members
of the House of Representatives in 2005
CONGRESSMAN
EXPENSES
Antonio Cuenco
1,294,058.05
Roque Ablan Jr.
1,014,006.90
Monico Puentevella
960,789.66
Emilio Espinosa Jr.
806,904.43
Ernesto Nieva
795,350.89
Juan Miguel Zubiri
787,582.99
Abdullah Dimaporo
777,886.88
Hermilando Mandanas
741,172.72
Arnulfo Fuentebella
733,777.65
Reylina Nicolas
731,196
  • Source: Commission on Audit
    * List does not declare the foreign travel expenses of House Speaker Jose de Venecia.

  • "Because maintenance, operating, and other expenses of House members are consolidated with their basic salary in the payroll and classified as "outright expenses," these are no longer subject to liquidation, which means that congressmen do not have to account for these funds."

    The A-Kid: No need to account for such funds? It's all simple math, kabayan! Besides, having a check-and-balance system is always better than none.

As reported in The Rulemakers:
  • They are not expected to submit a payroll of their district staff or report their function, salaries and withholding taxes. No one starts asking if they do not produce a report on the research their offices should supposedly undertake. There is no demand for them to produce the list of consultants they have hired, as well as the contracts they draw up for those whose services they need. As fas as the current (lack of) rules go, how the legislators spend their public affairs fund is their business and business alone.

    The A-Kid: But you're not private individuals anymore. That is why you're called public servants in the first place. You were elected by the people.


  • "The generous perks do not end there. The House Speaker is himself a source of funds with a vast discretionary largesse at his disposal. From this are mostly drawn the representatives' monthly allowances (which can range from P50,000 to P100,000), Christmas bonuses (P100,000 to 200,000), as well as the "payoffs" for votes during speakership contests and "appearance fees" (P50,000 as minimum) for attending plenary sessions to vote on crucial national bills."

The A-Kid: Merry Christmas, ser!



"Under de Venecia, who has won an unprecedented fifth term as Speaker, the 14th House is not likely to veer away from the usual practice. Isn't it high time that the public demanded greater financial accountability from their representatives?"

The A-Kid: Aba! Dapat lang! But come to think of it, House members should have the decency to do it even in the absence of public clamor. They are public officials; officials that have been elected by the people to look after the interests of the people and of the country. Thus, it goes without saying that financial accountability goes with the territory! And I kid you not!


"We hang the petty thieves
and appoint the great ones to public office."


"Add It All Up With the AnitoKid."

*Did you enjoy the post? Did you find it interesting?
You know what to do :)




22 comments:

Parisukat said...

That's a load of interesting info there bro! :) and yeah you were right about Andaya's sense of humor its not funny at all. These people arent supposed to be where they are right now to just play around with the govt's fund... or not take their responsibility seriously.

And perhaps the reason why de venecia's expenses wasnt shown is it exceeded the maximum possible budget which is not a joke. Anyway, he could always claim he spent fund out from his own pocket. But who are thy kidding now? All their pockets have holes in them so they could play with their balls and have fun while playing their fave game which is corruption.

TruBlue said...

These are the kinds of statistics
that every poor filipinos need to see for themselves. That way, they will be well-appraised of where their politicians pork-barrel
are being spent. Am sure da majority will be disappointed if they find out...cheers.

Richard said...

I miss you pare...and i kid you not!

Kyle & Svet Keeton said...

What I could do with just a little bit of that money. I think that our political system has gotten out of hand. Now I like the statement:"We hang the petty thieves
and appoint the great ones to public office." This statement is so true. Good Blog , I enjoyed my read and will be back to discover more treasures.

Kyle Keeton

Bill Bilig said...

Go Anitokid! Yes, these "honorables" are just out to enrich themselves. It makes me sick thinking of it.

Thanks for pointing out the COA website, I got a lot of "bloggable" info from the annual COA reports.

kegler747 said...

Sana habang ginagastos nila ang pera na galing sa kabangyaman eh iniisip nila na maraming tao ang 1 beses lang sa isang araw kumakain na noodles lang ang ulam.

THE ANiTOKiD said...

@Parisukat: I just love how you put your thoughts into words, kabayan! You took the words right out of my mouth! And I kid you not!
.

THE ANiTOKiD said...

@TrueBlue: Wouldn't it be great if our local news organization would do a segment on this on prime time television? It's feeding the minds of the people so that they may be enlightened in the end...
.

THE ANiTOKiD said...

@Richard:
And I miss you more pare. You and our friends. How was the entrance exam? I wish you the best. All of my friends there. Our blogs will bind us wherever we are. And I kid you not!
.

THE ANiTOKiD said...

@Kyle&Swet Keeton:
And the longer they stay in power, the more they think that the position was made for them, completely forgetting that they have been elected to look after the interests of the people, not their own.

I'm glad you liked the post, my friend.
.

THE ANiTOKiD said...

@Bill:

You're very much welcome, Bill! Sometimes, I am puzzled with man's greed. I really am. I mean, when is enough, enough?

They are all taking the Filipino people for a ride. A very long ride.
.

THE ANiTOKiD said...

@Kegler747: You are right, my friend. I remember when the fish "galunggong" used to be called the poor man's fish. They say that it was the only fish that the poor can afford to buy. But now, even the price of galunggong has sky rocketed because of mismanagement of the country's finances and affairs! And look who's left hanging the bowl full of noodles....Tsk.
.

The Penniless Fat Guy said...

It's unfortunate that nothing is being done against these. But all of these are legal. This means that our lawmakers have the right for such privileges. In this world, high risks deserve high rewards. Spending so much during an election necessitates huge returns. We are just unlucky that the rewards have to come from our pockets. This is legal robbery at its finest.

THE ANiTOKiD said...

@The Penniless Fat Guy: I love the way you put that into perspective, Sam! Legal robbery - now that's saying it right! And I kid you not!
.

Barrett Laurie said...

Holy smokes can that be right?! That seems almost criminal! het AnitoKid, why not run for office? looks like the pay and benefits package are great! LOL! Awesome post! Great research, well written great humor! Loved it! Take care!

dex said...

LESSSSS!!!!! i'll miss u, and our Saturday pigging out at the office! c",) Wish you all the best!

THE ANiTOKiD said...

@Barrett: Years ago, I wanted to run for Mayor (Muntinlupa City). My family advised me not to - personal reasons.

But who knows? Am still young (i think). And when that day comes, I'll do my very best to be a good example for all. And I kid you not!
.

THE ANiTOKiD said...

I will miss you too, Dex. Totoo. I like the way you manage people and all - equality for all!

Who knows, we might just cross paths again, my friend. Someday. Somehow. And it goes without saying, you're a great leader, Dex. And I kid you not!
.

Barrett Laurie said...

Anitokid-Didn't mean to pry! I think if you have ideas that will move your community forward you should take the leap and run! Good luck whatever you decide! take care friend!

THE ANiTOKiD said...

Much thanks for the support, Barrett! if ever that day comes, it will be a decision made by all members of my family, my friend. Thanks again!
.

Hairx said...

Hmm that's interesting:).

THE ANiTOKiD said...

Indeed, it is!
And I kid you not!

.

It's always a runout at The Runout TV!