The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay on Monday alleged that Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th spends P1.63 million in public funds monthly to pay his household staff.
In a statement, Rico Quicho, Binay’s spokesman for political affairs, said the senator is paying his houseboys and family drivers using his budget for “consultants.”
Quicho added that Trillanes is using public funds “to pay back donors who allegedly financed his senatorial campaign by hiring them as consultants.”
“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,” he said.
Quicho said one of the 63 consultants of Trillanes is his houseboy, Eddie Ybanez, who is getting P3,500 a month.
According to reports, the senator also listed as “consultants” his family drivers, Bernard Allen Marzan and Jay-Ar Caro, who are 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.
“Pati houseboy sinama na nya as consultant. He should stop his moralizing and pontificating since the more he talks, the more he is exposed as a hypocrite. We are sure he will again blame the opposition for this expose. But we did not invent the Senate documents. The senator should explain before he complains,” Quicho said.
He urged Senate President Franklin Drilon to stop defending Trillanes since it has emerged that not all of the latter’s 63 consultants provided or provide confidential services.
Drilon earlier said Trillanes can realign his office budget if he deems it necessary.
“But now we know [that]based on Senate records that public funds were not used for the good of the public but for the personal interest of Senator Trillanes. How can a senator justify paying his drivers, houseboy, friends and campaign donors using the taxpayers’ money? What will the public benefit from this?” Quicho said.
The P1.63 million paid monthly to Trillanes’ 63 consultants is more than triple the allowed P506,262 monthly budget allocation for consultancy services.
From July to December 2014, Trillanes’ office budget for consultancy services should have been only P3.03 million.
But he paid his consultants some P9.77 million.
Robert Fong and Fabian Go were the highest paid consultants at P80,000 a month.
The two apparently contributed P500,000 in campaign funds in the 2013 elections, records from the Commission on Elections showed.
Fong and Go were paid P480,000 each in six months last year, according to the report.
Quicho said the other consultants of Trillanes are Segundino Orfiano Jr., Ian Lee Punongbayan and Jayme Torrato who received P71,200 a month; Sherwin Sanusie who is getting P71,100; Sonny Madarang who received P71,300 a month; columnist Herman Tiu Laurel who was getting P23,000 a month; and former journalist Christopher Cahilig who was getting P57,500 a month.
Orfiano, Punongbayan and Madarang allegedly belong to the Magdalo group.
The other consultants were getting P40,000, P50,000 and 60,000.
Trillanes also got his brother, Juan Antonio Trillanes, as a consultant and paid him P71,200 a month.
Earlier this year, COA asked Drilon to account for the Senate expenditures on consultants in 2014 that totaled P231.88 million.
COA supervising auditor Mario Lipana said several senators’ offices went “beyond the agency budgetary allocation” for consultancy services for 2014.
The COA report noted the consultancy expenses shot up because one senator hired more than 60 consultants while another senator paid consultants as much as P94,000 a month.
But Trillanes denied reports that he is using Senate funds to pay for his personal and household expenses and said the Binay camp could be behind the hatchet job.
Trillanes said the names mentioned in a newspaper report are legitimate consultants.
“This consultancy issue was already cleared by the Commission on Audit, and up to this day, it has not issued any notice of disallowance regarding the same,” he told reporters.
Trillanes said he is willing to answer the issue, stressing that he is not stealing government funds and not abusing his position.
WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA