MANILA (Mabuhay) — Senator Antonio Trillanes admitted Wednesday that his brother is one of his consultants, but denied that his sibling is getting exorbitant salary.
“Yes, he’s one of my consultants. I designate him as my representative during confidential meetings,” he said, referring to Juan Antonio Trillanes.
“He is getting around P60,000 and that is definitely not high,” Trillanes added.
A spokesperson of Vice President Jejomar Binay has dared Trillanes to explain his alleged hiring of “overpriced” consultants, including his brother.
Lawyer Rico Quicho, Binay’s spokesperson for political affairs, cited Senate documents obtained by a newspaper which showed the senator hired 55 consultants and paid P7.5 million in fees which is P4.46 million more than the P3.04 million allotted for hiring consultants.
He said Trillanes’ brother gets P71,200 a month or almost half a million in six months last year.
From July to December 2014, the brother took home P427,000, said Quicho.
Quicho said Trillanes “should not be too onion-skinned if the people demand that he explain such exorbitant expense for his consultants.”
“Senators often blab that a public office is a public trust but when it comes to Senator Trillanes, he lacks transparency and accountability for his actions. Often, he hides from it. If the consultancy fees cannot be justified, then we cannot help but conclude his consultants were overpriced,” the lawyer added.
In May, the Commission on Audit sent a memorandum to Senate President Franklin Drilon asking him to account for the P231.88 million spent on Senate consultants in 2014.
In the memo, supervising auditor Mario Lipana noted that several senators spent more than the allotted amount for consultants’ fees.
“Analysis of subsidiary ledger account consultancy services which mostly consists of expenses for consultancy services of different offices of senators reveals that there were several senators’ offices that exceed the budgetary allocations,” COA said.
It also noted: “Further review of the accounts including the corresponding liquidation documents for the senators’ cash advances and the disbursements vouchers for the claims for consultancy services paid directly through check, disclosed that the reason for exceeding the budgetary allocation for the said account is due to hiring of many consultants wherein a Senator’s office hired more than 60 consultants and also of giving a consultants’ rate as high as P94,000 per month.”
The COA, meanwhile, did not mention names in the report.
Drilon said during that time lawmakers were free to hire consultants and the senator decides based on his or her need within the assigned budget.
“The matter of hiring consultants is a prerogative of each senator. The consultancy agreement and the number of consultants, and who these consultants are, are not cleared with my office. I do not sign any consultancy agreements,” he added.(MNS)