Alan to seek parallel audit of Senate finances

By Dharel Placido,

Posted at Jan 25 2013 06:32 PM | Updated as of Jan 26 2013 02:32 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday said he will file a resolution in Senate seeking for a parallel audit into the finances of the upper chamber.

"Monday I will have my staff file a resolution calling for a parallel audit with the COA (Commission on Audit). Pwedeng private audit will be under the COA or pwede ding tinatawag nating independent people's audit," Cayetano told reporters at a press conference in Senate.

Cayetano said the "people's audit" can be done when Enrile gives a go signal to release the Senate's finance documents.

"Hindi naman kailangan professionally i-audit ang bawat singko sa dalawang bilyong piso. Ang gusto lang makita ng tao, masilip ang dokumento ng Senate at tignan kung nasa ayos ito," he said.

"This can be aborted if senate president will show [the documents]."

The issue started early this month when Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago revealed Enrile's supposed release of some P1.6 million each in additional maintenance and other operating expenditures (MOOE) funds to 18 colleagues from "savings" of the chamber in 2012.

He also released P250,000 each to the Cayetano and his sister Pia, Santiago and Antonio Trillanes IV.

Cayetano earlier showed a December 5 memorandum from Enrile instructing the Senate secretary to disburse the additional MOOE “to all” senators. He showed, however, that his voucher remains unsigned, including those for senators Santiago and Antonio Trillanes IV.

'Double standard'

Cayetano criticized anew Enrile, this time accusing the 88-year-old senator of practicing double standard.

"Kapangyarihan daw niya kung sino ang 'di niya bibigyan. Bakit siya lang? Sabi niya: 'This is my sole discretion,'" he said.

"Bakit pag audit niya biglang kailangan lahat [ang consensus ng Senado]. Baligtad ata. Dapat kung magre-release ng pera, may consensus ng Senado."

Cayetano particularly noted the supposed power of Enrile to liquidate a chunk of the Senate's expenses by merely signing "certifications", a process he believes is opening avenues for people to doubt the Senate's integrity.

"Until now, ayaw nilang maglabas ng dokumento. Everyday na tuamatagal, there is a sneaking suspcison na may inaayos dyan," he said.

COA jurisdiction

Reacting to COA chairman Grace Pulido Tan's statement that the commission can never be taken out of the picture when it comes to looking into the Senate's finances, Cayetano said: "I never questioned the capability of COA. Paulit-ulit ako, pati sa integrity, as far as chairperson Grace Pulido Tan is concerned, bilib ako sa kanya.

"Never kong pinropose na alisin sa kanila na sila ang may duty mag-audit."

Cayetano, however, raised concerns over the alleged connivance between Enrile and the COA auditor assigned to the Senate.

"Ang totoo noon, 'nung bago siyang upo (Tan), tinry niyang palitan, nag-resist ang senate president," he said.

The senator said that there is no legal impediment to having a private firm independently audit a government agency or institution.

He also called for the COA to be as "bold" this time as it was during the impeachment trial of then Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

"Kung gaano kabold ang COA noon - nagbigay pa sila ng analysis ng income ni CJ Corona - bakit 'di pwedeng maglabas ng analysis at madalin ito? I'd like to let the COA know that the people are behind you," he said.

Meanwhile, Cayetano also tagged as mere propaganda the supposed news saying that the Senate employees' bonuses and benefits will be affected in case he proves that the Senate's money was misused.

"This is an effort to turn the employees against me," he said.