The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay has challenged Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th to explain the expertise of Eddie Ybanez, one of the senator’s 63 consultants and apparently the lowest paid among them.
“Who is Eddie Ybanez, Mr. Senator? Teach our youth to follow the rules by example, Mr. Senator. The rules of the Commission on Audit require that resumes of your consultants be submitted to COA. Can we see Mr. Ybanez’ resume?” Rico Quicho, Binay’s spokesman on political affairs, said on Tuesday.
Quicho noted that Ybanez is getting only P3,500 per month while Trillanes’ brother Juan Antonio receives a hefty P71,200 monthly consultant’s fee.
“What kind of confidential consultancy service [does]Mr. Ybanez provide the senator for P3,500 a month? What is his line of expertise?” Quicho asked.
He cited Civil Service Commission (CSC) Resolution 000831 which defines a consultant as one “who provides professional advice on matters within the field of his special knowledge or training.”
The General Appropriations Act (GAA) allows consultancy service “when a consultant or expert is an acknowledged authority in his field of specialization” and “when the consultant or expert is hired to perform a specific activity or services that require technical skill and expertise which local labor force cannot provide, or if such expertise is available, the supply is limited.”
Quicho said a press statement from the senator’s office explained that some consultants were doing “auxiliary support services.”
“The senator’s so-called official reply raises more questions. The parameters of consultancy services are very clear. Consultants are experts, not support service suppliers,” he added.
According to Quicho, the term “auxiliary support services” are too vague and general that it could mean being a driver or performing janitorial and maintenance work.
“Imbes na sagutin ang isyu ng pagkuha ng dalawang drayber at isang houseboy bilang consultants, humarap si Senator Trillanes sa media na galit na galit. Sa halip na magpaliwanag, sinisi nya ang Office of the Vice President [Instead of answering the issue on getting two drivers and a houseboy as consultants, Sen. Trillanes faced the media angrily. Also instead of explaining, he blamed the Office of the Vice President],” the Binay spokesman said.
“First, the papers being referred to and quoted are COA and Senate documents, so to point finger at the camp of the Vice President is clearly evading the issue,” Quicho added.
“Also, we have to remind the gentleman from Caloocan [City] and Bicol [Region], also a former officer and gentleman, that he is the one being questioned by the COA–not the Vice President–and therefore all he has to do is explain the nature and work of some of his consultants,” he said.
“Huwag na s’yang magtago sa confidentiality clause o sa pantalon ni Senate President Drilon [He does not have to hide behind the confidentiality clause or the pants of Senate President Franklin Drilon]. He just needs to be transparent and honest,” Quicho added.
Aside from Ybanez, he said, the senator should also explain the individual expertise of Bernard Allen Marzan and Jay-Ar Caro and the nature of their work.
According to media reports, the senator also listed as “consultants” his family drivers Marzan and Caro, who were being paid P11,500 and P8,100 a month, respectively.
Quicho earlier said the Senate ethics committee should investigate Trillanes for using public funds to the tune of P1.63 million a month for consultancy fees for his houseboy and family drivers, and to pay back donors who allegedly financed his senatorial campaign.
“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 noted.
Trillanes also hired his brother Juan Antonio who turned out to be one of the most highly paid consultants of the 63 consultants, raking in P427,000 from July to December last year.
Quicho reminded Trillanes that it was the current Senate leadership who issued stricter guidelines for senators.
“Senators were barred from issuing mere ‘certifications’ for their Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE),” he noted.
Quicho also reminded Trillanes this new rule of the Senate itself came after Trillanes and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano questioned the alleged favoritism of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile when the latter authorized the release of different amounts to senators as Christmas bonuses in 2012.
“Now, he refuses to follow the rules,” he said.