'Nor Count the Cost ...'; (Editor's Note: Taxpayers Also Pay for Conventions and Attendees' Baon as Noted by the Author.)

Manila Bulletin, April 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

'Nor Count the Cost ...'; (Editor's Note: Taxpayers Also Pay for Conventions and Attendees' Baon as Noted by the Author.)


Byline: Romeo V. Pefianco

IN the dry months of January to May national conferences or the so-called conventions in Manila are called for various purposes. There's a separate calendar for provincial governors, vice-governors, mayors, vice-mayors and ranking personnel of various line departments assigned in regions, provinces and cities.

Tax money again

Who pays for these conventions and travel expenses of attendees who literally live, not stay, in Metro Manila hotels for three to four days? Provincial, city and municipal elective officials will not spend personal funds to visit the convention hall and listen to "important speeches," with political undertones.

Public servants cannot afford to spend their pay in the face of food shortages.

Few items

Let's itemize/identify specific expenses: Travel expense by air, sea and land. A two-way plane fare from Mindanao to Manila would cost about R6,000 to R8,000. Hotel bill for three nights may cost R8,000 to R10,000. Food, etc. may not be expensive at R4,500 for three days.

To attend one such convention in Manila on "official business" (called OB by auditors and treasurers) it would mean a pocket money of at least R20,000 to R25,000 for one attendee or about R4,000,000 for 200 attendees.

1,500 mayors

So far there's no announcement yet of municipal mayors' convention and the attendance of about 1,500 members. This could bloat the convention budget to some R30 M chargeable against taxpayers.

For lack of a visible and strong party system national politicians don't meet anymore in one huge gathering to nominate candidates for national offices -- president, vice-president, and senator. In lieu of a convention some 20 to 40 of them meet at a hotel function room to nominate themselves or a few of them to fill important slots.

If among those present were incumbent officials of high standing there's "enough reason" to pay all expenses with tax money.

Shades of vote-buying

In RP candidates for national offices don't engage in fund-raising like Sen. Hillary of New York and Sen. Obama of Illinois whose campaign chests were filled by contributions from friends and party members. …

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