Saturday, November 17, 2007

Arroyo, the frequent traveler and generous donor

So, how did Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo exactly spend public funds last year? GMANews.TV gives us a clue.

President spent millions on travels, ‘donations’ and consultants in ‘06
Source: GMANews.TV
Karen Tiongson-Mayrina
November 15, 2007

The Office of the President spent generously last year on salaries, bonuses and benefits of its employees and consultants, but even more generously, on multiple travels at home and overseas and on unspecified “donations" and “consultancy services."

A Commission on Audit report showed that in 2006, the Office of the President spent P40 million a month on average for traveling expenses, mostly of the President, and another P35 million a month on average for “donations." Already, the combined amount of traveling expenses and “donations" used up over a third or 39 percent of Malacanang’s total expenses in 2006.

On top of this, the presidency spent an average of P44 million a month to pay the salaries and benefits of its employees.

Curiously indeed, what may be classified as “incidental expenses" and lump-sum allocations ranked among the expense items for which the Palace spent big amounts of taxpayers’ money. These included, apart from travel, “donations," “consultancy services," confidential expenses, and the creation of new offices.

Read more here.

The press should ensure that this issue gets sustained coverage, that it does not completely fall off from newspaper pages and airtime--even though other dizzying number of controversies at present (Batasan blast, alleged Palace cash gifts, Mariannet Amper, etc.) consume most of the press space and airtime.

Arroyo should be held accountable for these expenses (and for a lot other issues, as her critics would say). She should explain to all, especially to the Mariannets out there, how these funds were spent.

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