Lacson faces raps for calling Santiago ‘crusading crook’-A A +A
Monday, January 28, 2013
CHARGES were filed Monday against Senator Panfilo Lacson before the Ombudsman and the Senate ethics committee for recently blasting Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on her opposition to the distribution of additional funds to senators last month.
The criminal and ethics charges stemmed from Lacson’s statement last January 17 when he called Santiago a “crusading crook” for using Senate funds for paying maids, groceries and repairs of her private building.
Because of this, Lozano said Lacson could be liable for violating Republic Act 6713 or Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards.
“The mal-intention of Senator Lacson in his ungentlemanly and unethical conduct is evidently to malign Senator Santiago in order to deter her legal actions against illegal disbursement of public funds. Senator Lacson could have simply pushed through a COA audit in accordance with due process without unnecessarily insulting Senator Santiago,” the complaint read.
Lozano said the complaint was filed in accordance with the Ombudsman law “pursuant to due process for all that hears before it condemns in order to preempt further trial by publicity and mutual recriminations that divert public focus on lawmaking and inquiry in aid of legislation.”
Meantime, Lacson said the COA will conduct an “extensive audit” of Senate funds from 2010 to 2012. He said documents coming from his committee of accounts will be forwarded to COA on Tuesday while data from the previous years until 2007 will be submitted in the next few days.
He said the initial audit will cover 2010 to 2012 since it was during these years when a concurrent resolution of Congress that allowed the issuance of a certification instead of receipts in the liquidation of funds allotted for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) took effect.
Lacson said the COA also rejected the call of Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano to conduct a parallel examination on how the chamber’s funds are spent. This will involve the tapping of private auditors.
“I agreed with COA because there was none in the general appropriation that allowed the Senate to contract with private auditing firm,” he said.
Last week, COA Chairperson Grace Tan reiterated that heads of government offices like Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile can realign their respective budgets. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)