MORE than half of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s monthly budget allocation of P2.93 million for his 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 P71,200 a month, Senate documents show.
Trillanes’ consultants were being paid a total of P1.63 million a month, official Senate documents show.
The amount was also more than triple the allowed P506,262 monthly budget allocation for consultancy services, according to the Commission on Audit (COA), citing Senate records.
Highly reliable sources furnished The Standard a complete set of Senate documents after Trillanes denied that he had more than 60 consultants.
The Standard previously reported that Trillanes only had 55 consultants that were being paid a total of P1.25 million a month.
But Senate records now show that Trillanes had 63 consultants, whose salaries totaled P1.63 million a month.
From July to December 2014, Trillanes paid his consultants some P9.77 million, which exceeded by more than P6.74 million the allowable amount for consultancy services of only P3.03 million.
Senate President Franklin Drilon defended Trillanes and said the senator was allowed to realign his office budget.
Trillanes also made his campaign donors—Robert Fong and Fabian Go—his highest paid consultants at P80,000 a month.
Commission on Elections records show Fong and Go each contributed P500,000 in campaign funds in the 2013 elections where Trillanes ran and won a Senate seat.
For six months last year, Fong and Go were paid a total of P480,000 each.
“Trillanes has passed on to taxpayers his personal and household expense,” said the Senate source, who requested anonymity.
“For P1.63 million a month, he has made the taxpayers shoulder his personal household expense, like payment for the salaries of his houseboy and family drivers, and pay back his campaign donors and friends for the favors they had given him in previous elections,” the Senate source added.
Senate sources said at least 16 of his 63 consultants were Trillanes’ former subordinates in the military service that joined him in mounting the Oakwood and Manila Peninsula mutinies in a bid to oust then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
All of them were also incarcerated and dismissed from the service, but just like Trillanes, were granted amnesty by President Benigno Aquino III.
Trillanes included in the payroll his houseboy Eddie Ybanez, who as a “consultant” was getting P3,500 a month.
The senator’s payroll documents show family drivers Bernard Allen Marzan and Jay-Ar Caro were being paid as consultants, at P11,500 and P8,100 a month, respectively.
Marzan and Caro and 14 other consultants, were members of the Magdalo.
Trillanes has also made his brother, Juan Antonio Trillanes, one of the highest paid consultants in the Senate, which the COA said resulted in overspending.
Juan Antonio raked in a total of P427,200 from July to December 2014, Senate documents show.
Trillanes has defended the hiring of his brother, saying it was a position of trust, and that he represented him in confidential meetings.
He added that senators were allowed to spend their budgets, as long as they did not pocket the money.
Earlier this year, the Commission on Audit asked Drilon to account for the Senate expenditures on consultants in 2014 that amounted to P231.88 million.
In an Audit Observation Memorandum to Drilon dated Feb. 5, 2015 and signed by COA supervising auditor Mario Lipana, the COA said several senators’ offices incurred consultancy services expenses for 2014 “beyond the agency budgetary allocation.”
The COA report added that one reason consultancy expenses were so high was that one senator’s office had hired more than 60 consultants, while another senator paid consultants as much as P94,000 a month.
Senate documents show Senator Alan Peter Cayetano paid his consultants as high as P94,000 a month.
Aside from Trillanes’ brother, three others were receiving P71,200 a month. These were Segundino Orfiano Jr., Ian Lee Punongbayan and Jayme Torrato.
Sherwin Sanusie was getting P71,100 while Sonny Madarang received P71,300 a month.
Orfiano, Punongbayan and Madarang belong to the Magdalo group.
Columnist Herman Tiu Laurel was getting P23,000 a month while former journalist Christopher Cahilig was getting P57,500 a month.
The others were getting P40,000, P50,000 and 60,000.
The COA said the consultancies did not come with accomplishment reports because the services were confidential in nature.
The audit agency also noted that none of the consultants submitted any resumes or documentary information to show their qualifications.
In an interview on dzMM, Trillanes said he diverts some of his allocated budget to pay consultants, which senators are allowed to do.
He added that he hires consultants to help him know more about issues in the different provinces.
He said the amount he spends on consultants was a reflection of his priorities.
Trillanes added that he can account for every consultant his office hires.
“The money was not pocketed,” he said. “They are real people.”
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