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    Posted January 28, 2014 by

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    Philippine senator: Bare your income!

    PHILIPPINE Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, in one of her rare appearances in the Senate, dared her colleagues to bare not only their basic salary, but also the allowances and other sources of personal income.
    Santiago also called on all members of the upper house to support a legal provision making it mandatory for government to publish in a website, not only the personal income of all public officials, both elected and appointed.
    The lady senator issued the challenge while interpellating on the proposed Freedom of Information bill which is under the committee of Sen. Grace Poe.
    "The basic monthly salary of a senator is P90,000. But if you add all other legitimate sources of income such as allowances and honoraria, the total monthly income of a senator could be placed at some P1.4 million," she said.
    The senator said that this amount came from computations made by the Senate finance and administrative services department.
    Santiago said that if the proper information is published in a government website, the voters would know during election period whether they want to pay that much for the services of a person who might not even be a high school graduate.
    "There are some senators who did not finish high school or college. Do we really want to pay them this high a salary? That is a valid concern that voters might want to address, if they have access to information," the feisty senator said.
    Santiago also said that she wants the public to compare the monthly income of the highest paid public official, the President, with the income of the lowest paid janitor in the bureaucracy.
    "In the corporate world, there is an algorithm for determining how much should be the salary of the highest ranking officer, because it cannot be more than the salary of the lowest employee, when multiplied by a certain factor. That should also be the practice in the public sector," she said.
    The senator said that in the "new normal" of official transparency and good governance, there is no more room for the practice of giving out MOOE funds to individual officials.
    MOOE stands for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses which are disbursed to senators on a monthly basis.
    "It is long past overdue to dismantle the MOOE which is a secret source of additional income for every senator," Santiago said.
    "We should tear apart the veil of secrecy which covers total incomes of politicians. A public website should allow the citizens to access every senator's sources of income, including MOOE, chairmanship of certain committees, membership in the Commission on Appointments, or in the oversight committees," she said.
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