Miriam wants P500k wage per senator

Paterno Esmaquel II
Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago on their current P90,000 salary: 'Magpatuka na lang ako sa ahas'

HIGHER WAGE. Sen Miriam Defensor-Santiago says a higher salary will prevent the use of discretionary funds. File photo from Santiago's office

MANILA, Philippines – Sen Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Wednesday, September 4, proposed a uniform P500,000 salary per senator to avoid discretionary funds similar to the pork barrel, which is now the subject of protests due to alleged misuse.

Subject to deductions, Santiago told reporters, this salary will amount to around P200,000. “I would say P200,000 would be sufficient for a senator,” she said in a press conference.

She explained that senators have several sources of income – discretionary funds spent “according to how many staff you have,” among other things. “Para wala nang gulo, isang suweldo na lang,” Santiago said. (To avoid confusion, let’s impose a uniform salary.)

READ: Senators get from P600k to P5M a month

Santiago said senators get P90,000 monthly based on the law, but their take-home pay is only P60,000. (Watch more in the video below.)

Huwag naman P90,000, dahil ako, ayoko ng gano’n. I’m not going to work that hard, work myself to death, which I’ve done. I’ve worked myself sick. Huwag naman P90,000 – and I will go home only with P60,000. It’s not worth my time. Magpatuka na lang ako sa ahas,” she said. (Not P90,000, please… I’d rather have a snake bite me.)

Like the senators’ wages, the pork barrel is discretionary. Critics have moved to abolish it.

READ: Why rationalize bad practice: Abolish pork barrel

In her press conference, Santiago also proposed that salary increases of senators, as well as other officials like the President himself, should be tied to the wage hikes of minimum wage earners. “Every time we raise our salaries, those in the lowest ranks get raised, too,” Santiago proposed.

Santiago also said the Philippines should change its Constitution “so that only taxpayers will be allowed to vote.” 

She said this will prevent patronage politics, which thrives when politicians bribe the poorest Filipinos, many of whom do not pay taxes. “The taxpayers are being ruled by the choices of the non-taxpayers,” she explained. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.