Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Philippine Senate Has Lost Reputation

Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Sunday the Senate needs 'evisceration' to repair the damages brought by the controversy on the use of Senate funds.

"I think the Senate needs evisceration to really clean the toxin and apply necessary remedy," Lacson said in radio dzBB interview.

Lacson said one of the best remedies he can recommend is to open the Senate funds to audit specially the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and cash gifts released to the senators by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile last December.

"I think we have to open the Senate and our own offices for audit by the Commission on Audit," Lacson, who never availed his P200 million annual PDAF (priority development assistance fund) in his eight years of service as senator, said.

While he suggested to open themselves for audit, Lacson said he opposed Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano's suggestion for parallel audit by the COA and private or independent auditing firm.

"I have reservation on that suggestion because it has constitutional issues, it will have legal problem because the government auditor is COA," Lacson explained.

He said that if Cayetano would push for his call for parallel audit, Lacson said he would introduce amendment excluding private auditing firm to parallel audit.

Lacson clarified that he is not depending Enrile over the Senate funds issue but admitted that the institution which he served for last nine years also absorbed so much damage from the word war between Enrile and Cayetano and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.

He said the controversy has also affected the integrity of Enrile himself after the latter mentioned the alleged P37 million debt Cayetano's farther, the late senator Renato 'Companero' Cayetano.

"Honestly, he (Enrile) absorbed more damage in that exchange of words. It is not proper to revive issue involving dead person," Lacson said.

If the recent word war between Enrile and Cayetano would lead to change of leadership, Lacson said it can be done at the start of the next 16th Congress.

"We have only six days left (in the present 15th Congress). If we will change leadership now, more pending bills will be affected including AMLA amendments which President Aquino wanted for Congress to pass," Lacson said.

Lacson was one of the 11 senators who opposed the motion of Enrile to declare Senate presidency vacant.

Last Monday, Enrile vacated his post to allow anyone who is against him to takeover but his colleagues refused to allow the Senate President to quit his post.

The controversy on the use of Senate funds sparked early this month when Senator Santiago complained that she did not receive P1.6 million additional MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses).

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