Miriam: A senator can make P5M monthly

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 28 2013 04:08 PM | Updated as of Aug 29 2013 01:57 AM

MANILA (UPDATE) – Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said a senator can make as much as P5 million a month from sources other than the monthly official income.

Santiago said the P90,000 monthly income of senators is “misleading.”

“In truth, Congress has devised a labyrinthine method of paying individual senators and congressmen very much more than their salaries under the Salary Standardization Law. It is like the ancient Japanese capital cities which were designed with labyrinthine roads to prevent the enemy from penetrating the ultimate castle of the shogun,” she said during her keynote speech at the 30th Annual Convention of the Philippine Blood Coordinating Council on Wednesday.

Santiago enumerated the other sources of a senator's income, which includes chairmanship of an oversight committee, or membership in the Commission on Appointments.

She said if a senator is a chair of two oversight committees, the senator earns another P70,000.

If a senator is a member of seven oversight committees, the senator receives P210,000.

Another P200,000 will be given to a senator who is a member of the Commission on Appointments.

Santiago added that discretionary funds are also under the control of a senator amounting to at least P2 million to P4 million.

“If we add up all the sources of individual income, a senator could be making P600,000 to P5 million monthly. And this does not include the commission of 10% to 50% from the pork barrel,” Santiago said in her speech.

She also said that if the senator is elected as one of the Senate officials, “that senator gets even much more than his colleagues.”

“The 2011 COA report said that in addition to the personal income of a senator, the following officials received much more just being officers of the Senate: Enrile as Senate President P71.7 million; Estrada as Senate Pro-tempore P9.3 million; Sotto as Majority Floor Leader P9.3 million; and Cayetano as Minority Floor Leader P10.2 million,” she said.

Freedom of Information Act

Santiago plans to file two resolutions that should be included in the Freedom of Information Act.

One is a website that could be managed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that directs the citizen to any information concerning any government agency.

As an example, the website should provide information on the total approximate monthly income of every senator.

Second is that the government should have an IT dashboard to keep track of the money being spent by all agencies.

This would enable the tracking of pork barrel projects as they continue and track the discretionary funds of public officials.

Santiago also said the investigation of the Blue Ribbon Committee on the alleged abuse of pork barrel funds would be a conflict of interest.

The Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) is already taking the lead in the investigation and it would be improper for senators to investigate fellow senators.

She is likewise calling on all senators implicated in the pork barrel scam to take a leave of absence. -- With a report from Pinky Webb, ABS-CBN News