Former Diplomat:"P10B for senators’ new offices? Use the money to fortify our Spratly islands instead!" - News Galore

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Former Diplomat:"P10B for senators’ new offices? Use the money to fortify our Spratly islands instead!"

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“HAS our Senate, and maybe even our nation, gone mad?” – is what veteran columnist Rigoberto Tiglao exclaimed following the announcement that Senate is set to build its new headquarters.

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson has announced last week that Senate will construct its new opulent headquarters in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig.

The building’s design was by Los Angeles-based AECOM, which is one of the world’s top and expensive engineering and construction companies.

“With construction to start next year, to be completed by 2021, this monument to our political elite’s profligacy, will cost us P10 billion. The new building with 8.5 hectares of floor area will be built on a two-hectare lot to be sold by the Bases Conversion Development Authority, and will consist of a cluster of four state-of-the art glass-walled buildings, each 18 stories high, with a park at the center.” Tiglao wrote.

Reportedly, the land would cost around P1.8 billion, considering that the targeted location is the newest center of the Philippine economic elite as they say.

“My architect sources estimate that construction would cost at the very least another P8 billion, including the buildings’ top-of-the-line finishing, fixtures and other items the senators and their staffs would say they need. Do you think they’ll bring their old chairs, tables, and even computers to their brand-new offices? The Senate has allocated an initial P2 billion for the project, but hasn’t disclosed how much it will cost in total.” Tiglao said.

“Filipino taxpayers will be spending P10 billion to house the meeting place and offices of 24 wannabe presidents—in a location that is of course close to BGC’s posh hotels, restaurants, bars, luxury-goods shops, and luxury-car dealers.” He added.*

The project was said to be accelerated by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who also created the resolution in November last year.

“Gatchalian cited in his resolution as justification  for a new building was that the Senate has “claustrophobic halls and gloomy atmosphere” compared to that of the “Lower House of Congress” which has “sprawling and verdant view (sic).” The son of an ethnic Chinese tycoon, Gatchalian apparently wants his place of work to be as luxurious as his residences at Forbes Park and his penthouse overlooking the Manila Golf course.” Tiglao stated.

Tiglao also cited that Senate also voted last year to choose the project’s location. 

Senators Risa Hontiveros and Bam Aquino, on the other hand, voted against it – but only because of the location as they both wanted the headquarters to be situated in Antipolo City, closer to their residences.

Senator Lacson also sees the building design as “iconic” and would be comparable to others like the US Capitol, Germany’s Reichstag, and Great Britain’s Palace of Westminster.

“That idea is so absurd it borders on the hilarious. In the first place, the US Capitol houses 535 representatives and senators; the Reichstag 709 Bundestag members; and Westminster Palace 1,355 members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.” 
Tiglao pointed out, suggesting that Senate should just instead build a Senate wing like US Capitol has.*

The Philippine Senate has only 24 legislators, thus, it would be too extravagant to think of to build such expensive building to house them.

“Let’s be realistic. We’re at the very least a generation from being a US, a Germany, or a Great Britain. We’re still struggling to crawl out of our Third World status, we have tens of millions who are still poor, and our infrastructure remains one of the most undeveloped in Asia. The senators, with their new building, apparently want to feel as if they were legislators of the US, Germany and Great Britain.” Tiglao wrote.

Further, he also questioned what will happen to the building should the Constitution gets amended and abolish the Senate – something that the legislators should have considered.

“The Senate’s plan to build a P10 billion office for itself is like a factory worker planning to build a mansion in a posh village. In a sense, if the Senate ever gets to build its iconic headquarters, it would be such a glaring instance of unexplained wealth.” Tiglao reiterated.

The former diplomat also enumerated several much worthy projects for the government to fund with the money;

  1. the activation of the Bataan Nucle@r Power Plant;*
  2. a bigger scholarship program for poor science and engineering students with allowances;
  3. P200,000-houses for 50,000 government workers;
  4.  PGH-like hospitals for the poor in 10 of our major cities
  5. the complete clean-up of the cesspool that is the Pasig River
  6.  The takeover of Meralco by government to ensure lower electricity costs
  7. Make the MRT-3 one of the most efficient urban mass transit system in the world, and/or;
  8. that P10 billion should instead be used to fortify our facilities on the Kalayaan Island’s which have badly deteriorated.

“But given the fact that in recent years, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and especially China, have spent billions of dollars to transform their islands and atolls in the South China Sea into fortresses—while we have spent practically nothing so that our main Kalayaan Island’s facilities have badly deteriorated—that P10 billion should instead be used to fortify our properties there.” Tiglao said, noting that by doing so, PH claims on these islands would be strengthened as well.

"Ang Bagong Senado" artist design / photo from the Manila Times (ctto)

Source: Manila Times


  1. Use the money instead to explore and drill oil for our country.

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