Press Release
January 12, 2010


"Are foreign consultants indispensable, more competent than their Filipino counterparts?" Sen. Edgardo Angara urged Congress to enact the Foreign Consultants' Disclosure Act and uphold the public's right to information on compensation levels of foreign consultants and contractors in the government.

Angara reminded the 2010 presidentiables of the basic right of Filipinos to be given priority on jobs in the government, as well as the private sector, especially that a new administration will take on leadership this year. "This is to give Filipinos equal grounds with foreign nationals in a competitive labor market, especially at the domestic level," said Angara, former Senate President.

He added that the proposed law is necessary for the to public know if the fees paid to [foreign] consultants are equal to the benefits the government gets from their services; or that only they are capable for such jobs.

Pursuant to the principle of transparency in public office, the bill seeks to regulate the activities of foreign consultants and to require registration and disclosure of the nature of their works and compensation and privileges. The disclosure requirement mandates that heads of all government agencies and subsidiaries publish the identity, terms of and tenure of contract in at least two major dailies at the start of each year.

There is currently an undisclosed number of foreign nationals working as consultants in various branches and agencies of the government. They usually receive relocation and housing packages aside from a hefty monthly base and are often given preferential treatment in or have stronger leverages for negotiations against their Filipino counterparts in the workplace.

"This bills ensure that Filipinos are given equal opportunities in not only the position itself but in the benefits of and professional growth that such positions or projects offer," Angara stressed. Angara is the father of laws promoting transparency in government, including the Ombudsman Law and the primary author of the Procurement Reform Act.

In 2005 the President's office hired the services of US-based Venable LLP for $75,000 a month, or $900,000 (P50.4 million) for 12 months as part of the President's initiatives to "reshape the government--into a parliamentary system." Government paid an hourly rate of at least $720.00 for professional services of Venable's senior associates.

Angara noted that "transparency, in all its forms, must have upper-hand in government. The public needs to know if we are really benefitting from the services of these experts at the expense of our own citizens not getting these jobs, and if only they are qualified to fill such positions. Otherwise, the expertise of our own highly-skilled and qualified citizens must be the priority--harnessed and compensated for."

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