Senate to probe Lozada’s security expenses The Senate has decided to look inward and investigate the funding and the persons responsible for the security of blue-ribbon committee witnesses Rodolfo Lozada Jr. and Dante Madriaga, who have been under the custody of the Senate.Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan said the Committee on Accounts, which he heads, would look into the expenses incurred for the security of Lozada and Madriaga, witnesses in the blue-ribbon inquiry on the national broadband scandal.The inquiry came after Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel expressed shock that the Senate had spent almost a million pesos since February in trying to safeguard the lives of Lozada and Madriaga.Pangilinan earlier estimated that the Senate might have spent about P500,000 while Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, blue-ribbon chairman, gave a higher figure of P1.2 million for Lozada alone.Pimentel said that while he appreciated the testimony of Lozada and Madriaga, he found it very difficult to justify the Senate expenses in protecting them. “I do not blame Mr. Lozada or Mr. Madriaga. I blame the Senate personnel handling this matter. I think we should investigate them because, otherwise, we waste the people’s money and in the process, abet wrongdoing in this country,” he said.He recalled that in the 13th Congress, the lady witness in the Senate inquiry on jueteng operations was even provided with a car while she was in Senate custody.“If we are going to allow such wanton misuse of the monies of the Senate intended for a good purpose but are being misused, then we have to account for that to our people,” Pimentel said.Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada batted for the continued grant of Senate security for Lozada and Madriaga, but considered the P1.2 million spent for them as “too much.”Lozada had stayed in the Senate only during the first few days before and after his first testimony. He had reserved 15 plates per meal during his stay in the Senate. Madriaga, on the other hand, has stayed at the Senate and all his meals, including those of his guests, are shouldered by the Senate.Meanwhile, Cayetano explained that the Senate was not spending for the trips of Lozada to the provinces, even if Lozada was under Senate protection.“The priests and nuns who had raised funds for him are the ones paying for his plane fares to the provinces. The Senate spends only for the security personnel assigned to him, mostly in overtime pay,” he said.Lozada had been going all over the country in trips arranged by the Black and White Movement and the religious for what he had billed as “search for truth.”Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile proposed that Lozada should restrict his movements while he is under the protective custody of the Senate, if it is true that there is threat to his life.
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