VACC files ethics rap vs senators over 'cash gifts'

By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2013 04:13 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2013 04:21 PM

MANILA - An anti-corruption group wants senators to return to the country's coffers the money they received from Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile last Christmas.

In an ethics complaint it filed against Enrile and all other senators on Monday, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) deplored as "unconscionable, immoral, and arbitrary" Enrile's distribution of the Senate's savings as cash gifts to senators.

The complaint says senators must voluntarily return the money they received, or if not, for Enrile to order them to do so. "The subject funds must be returned to the Treasury of the Government for proper reallocation," a part of the complaint reads.

The group pointed out that the funds Enrile distributed--billed as for additional maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE)--are taxpayers' money.

Dante Jimenez, VACC's founding chairman, said the funds should not be distributed as gifts even if it is legal and a part of the Senate's tradition.

"We hope that the good senators will examine their conscience," he told reporters. "What is tradition if it is immoral and unethical? Hindi naman po lahat ng mga legal ay moral at ethical."

Aside from asking senators to return the money, the VACC also asks the Senate committee on ethics and privileges to investigate the issue and craft laws regarding the proper use of savings in government offices.

Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, one of four senators who did not get P1.6 million in additional MOOE but got a P250,000 Christmas gift, chairs the ethics committee.