Congress to liquidate funds through receipts-A A +A
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
MANILA -- Members of Congress will have to liquidate expenses through official receipts starting this year, abandoning the current practice of proving expenditures using mere certification.
The decision was reached following a meeting attended by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Commission on Audit Chairperson Grace Tan and Senator Panfilo Lacson, who relayed the development to reporters on Wednesday.
The scrapping of Concurrent Resolution No. 10 authored by Lacson himself stemmed from calls for transparency in the use of public funds by 18 senators who were recipients last month of additional money for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), which amounted to P1.6 million.
MOOE expenses are liquidated through simple certification, making it prone to corruption according to Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, one of the four senators who did not receive the extra funds for being critical of Enrile's leadership.
Data from the General Appropriations Act show that the Senate and the House of Representatives allotted roughly half of its 2013 budget or P1.577 billion and P3.216 billion, respectively, for MOOE.
The Senate earlier agreed to have its books open for scrutiny by COA despite a resolution filed by Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano calling for parallel audit to be conducted by a private firm.
Lacson, chair of the committee on accounts, said he also turned over to Tan in that meeting the documents pertaining to the use of Senate funds from 2009 to 2012.
"I'm sure they (COA) will again communicate with us to ask for additional documents," he said.
Earlier in the day, some 200 Senate employees used their lunch break to express their support to Enrile and his chief of staff who resigned last week over the alleged unfair distribution of funds to senators.
They brought placards with them which bear messages such as "Senate President, we love and support you all the way," "Atty. Gigi Reyes, please do not leave us! We love you!" as the employees recognized Enrile’s efforts to protect the welfare of the institution.
"Bilang pagtanaw ng utang na loob, ipinakikita namin, sinusuklian namin 'yong ipinakita niyang pagmamahal lalo na sa maliliit na empleyado," said lawyer Simeon Garcia, chief of staff of Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, who is a close ally of Enrile.
Present at the Senate grounds as well were employees detailed to the senators identified with Enrile like Gregorio Honasan II and Lacson. Garcia said the abrupt picket was not sanctioned by any senator.
Enrile's plan to resign last January 21 was nipped by 11 senators while Reyes filed an irrevocable resignation two days later when Cayetano accused her of co-running the affairs of the chamber with the Senate President.
It was Reyes who signed the memorandum that excluded Cayetano and three senators from the list of recipients of additional funds for MOOE. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)