MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV debunked reports, which were based on audit records, that he is the Senate's biggest spender.
Trillanes held a press conference on Monday to clarify news stories that in 2011, his office spent a total of P54.96 million, making his expenses the highest in the chamber. This includes P27.62 million for office expenses and P27.34 for his regular committees.
He said the reports, based on records from the Commission on Audit (COA), are incomplete: they do not include senators' budget for their oversight committees.
"'Pag isinama ang oversight committee, siguradong ako ang pinakamababa," Trillanes told reporters.
Trillanes chairs only one oversight committee, the select oversight committee on government procurement, which has a budget of P15 million.
It may appear that he has the biggest expenses among senators, Trillanes explained, because he has the most number of employees. He said he maximized the Senate's quota by hiring 40 employees, leaving his office with no vacant positions.
In contrast, Trillanes said other senators who have many unfilled positions in their offices realign the money for other purposes, such as additional maintenance and other operating expenses.
The senator said he felt the need to explain himself because of insinuations that he may be pocketing his funds.
"Ano ang krimen na ginawa ko? Dahil nag-hire ako ng maraming empleyado?" Trillanes asked. "I find myself in a very awkward position trying to defend something that I believe is right."
Trillanes has openly called for the ouster of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who was recently embroiled in a controversy over the use of the Senate's funds.