Press Release
January 13, 2013

Cayetano on JPE's selective distribution of Senate Funds:
"This is not only about money, but an issue
of the integrity and independence of each Senator"

Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano expressed alarm over the possible implications of Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile's actions on the integrity and independence of the Senate.

He said this in response to reports that Senator Enrile gave additional maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) funds amounting to P1.6 million each for 18 senators and only P250,000 to the remaining four, including the Minority Leader.

"This is really a bad precedent. This Enrile precedent is the first time wherein regular funds for MOOE are given to senators based merely on whom the Senate President favors," he said.

"For me, this is more of an issue of how the majority sees the impact of this on the Senate as a whole rather than how the minority feels about receiving less funds," he added.

While the senator thanked the Senate President for the additional funds, he lamented the latter's move to single out senators with whom he has had disagreements with.

"It's not about the money. If it were, we wouldn't have returned over a hundred thousands in savings from our regular budget. But I thought in a 'tuwid na daan', there will be no more GMA tactics involved - if they like you, bigger funds; if not, less or worse, none at all," he said referring to how former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo allegedly pressured the opposition during her term.

He also refuted the Senate President's allegations that he is not acting like a member of the minority given that he voted for the administration-supported Sin Tax and Responsible Health (RH) bill as it was deliberated on the Senate floor - pieces of legislation that the latter was openly against.

"It's unfair of him to expect our allegiances instead of our personal convictions to dictate how we act as senators. Just because I backed administration-supported bills does not mean that I no longer act as a member of the minority. I support what I think is right and just because I am a member of the minority does not mean that I will reject good policies just because they are ideas of the majority," he said.

The minority leader explained that while as a member of the minority, he was always aware of the benefits that they as a group would not be privy to, he was still shocked to find out that committee chairmanships of minority members are now being hit by Senator Enrile.

"I was never aware of a rule that made committee chairmanships exclusive to majority members. During the senate presidency terms of Senator Manny Villar and Senator Franklin Drilon, minority members also chaired committees. Why then is this being questioned now?" he said in Filipino.

Cayetano also brought to light how Senate secretariat employees assigned to his office were pulled out without explanation in a manner similar to the treatment he got when he was first elected as minority leader.

"This isn't new to me. When I first assumed office as Minority Leader, instead of being given an office space allotted to me, the Senate President gave it to his staff to use," he said.

He further pointed out that it is shameful to see that personal vendettas are pulling the Senate's focus away from dealing with more pressing national issues such as giving aid to calamity-ravaged areas, passing the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, and settling the ongoing debate on the country's gun-control laws.

"With just two more weeks left for the 15th Congress, we should be forging unity. There are more important things that need our attention," he said.

However, he assured the public that he will continue to give the Senate President the respect he deserves and that this issue will have no effect on the operations of his office.

"We will continue to respect him and work with him. Our offices will operate normally. We will focus on getting all that we can done in this crucial time before the 15th Congress officially closes," he said.

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