Trillanes cannot escape being the big spender

DANDAN BANTUGAN COLUMN

The Senate ethics committee is reportedly investigating Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for using public funds to the tune of P1.63 million a month to pay his houseboy and family drivers, and to pay back donors who allegedly financed his senatorial campaign by hiring them as consultants.
A source said the use of public funds for his personal benefit is clearly unethical, immoral and a blatant abuse of his office. The taxpayers are paying for his household expense and his personal ‘debt.
The report said Trillanes violated COA Circular No. 85-55-A (Sept 8, 1985) section 3.2 which states:
“Unnecessary expenditures are those not supportive of the implementation of the objectives and mission of the agency relative to the nature of its operation. This would also include incurrence of expenditure not dictated by the demands of good government and those the utility of which cannot be ascertained at a specific time. An expenditure that is not essential or that which can be dispensed with without loss of damage to property is considered unnecessary. The mission and trust of the agency incurring the expenditures must be considered in determining whether or not an expenditure is necessary.”
The COA circular defined unnecessary expenditures as “expenditures which could not pass the test of prudence or the diligence of a good father of a family, thereby denoting non-responsiveness to the exigencies of the service.”
It now appears Senator Trillanes took the concept of the Senate as one of the two Houses of Congress literally. He apparently got his budget for his house from the Upper House, also known as the Senate.
One of the 63 consultants of Trillanes turned out to be his houseboy Eddie Ybanez, who was getting P3,500 a month.
According to media reports, the senator also listed as “consultants” his family drivers Bernard Allen Marzan and Jay-Ar Caro who were being paid P11,500 and P8,100 a month, respectively. Marzan and Caro and 14 other “consultants,” were members of the Magdalo.
Senate documents showed that more than half of the monthly budget allocation of P2.93 million for Trillanes’ office goes to the salaries of 63 consultants that include his houseboy, family drivers, media workers, campaign donors, ex-mutineer-friends, and a brother who was getting a hefty P71, 200 a month.
Senate President Franklin Drilon should stop defending Trillanes as Senate records now show that not all 63 consultants provided or provide confidential services in aid of Trillanes’ work as a legislator which the Senator earlier said was the reason he hired the consultants.
Trillanes had said that the work of his consultants is confidential in nature, and thus, he could not provide the Commission on Audit (COA) the resume of each consultant which COA was asking to determine their qualification.
Trillanes also said the accomplishment report which COA was also asking from the senator’s office to determine if the fees are justified by the work done cannot be submitted for the same reason: their work is confidential.
Drilon immediately defended Trillanes when it was reported that Trillanes had too many consultants and paid millions for their services monthly. Drilon said the senator can re-align his office budget if he deems it necessary.
The P1.63 million paid monthly to Trillanes’ 63 consultants is more than than triple the allowed P506,262 monthly budget allocation for consultancy services, COA said.
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