Santo Domingo.- The use and destination of taxpayers’ money in the Social Assistance Fund received by the 32 senators in 2009 reveal several irregularities, and the lawmakers handle it at their discretion.
The senators’ report notes that in 2009 they spent RD$359.0 million from the Fund known as the Barrilito (little barrel), the monthly budget for their senatorial office and to pay their personnel.
Some senators spent the money to project their image by paying people and advertising companies for ads and hosted activities in hotels and restaurants, including some paid with high figure personal checks and to close friends.
In many cases the senators reveal discretionary use and lack of transparency in the handling of the public’s money assigned through the Senate.
Former ruling PLD party senator Francisco Radhamés Peña, from Valverde, spent RD$10.6 million from January to December 2009.
He paid RD$43,000 for a vehicle insurance; tabs in the restaurants El Meson and El Rancho from RD$8,000 to RD$23,900, and several checks in his name: one for RD$51,772 and another for RD$111,519. He also wrote several checks to Joel Lopez to allegedly help several people with cash.
Newspaper Hoy reports that it obtained the data from the Senate Free Access to Public Information Office in PDF and CDs, but don’t specify the beneficiaries’ ID numbers or addresses.
The report notes that the checks for high sums also went to individuals close to former ruling PLD party senator from San Pedro province Alejandro Williams, who paid a Mr. Leonardo Sanchez more than RD$2 million in less than two months, in separate disbursements of RD$150,000 to RD$250,000. A Mr. Rudy A. Peguero was also paid RD$250,000 and more than RD$3 million.
The opposition PRSC party senator Felix Vásquez (designated to form part of the Council to choose the Supreme Court’s justices) reports monthly fixed payments as high as RD$40,000 for several people and three personal checks for RD$100,000 .
San Cristóbal senator Tommy Galan paid RD$1,000, RD$2,000 and RD$3,000 to hundreds of people and sums of RD$300 to moto-taxi drivers and RD$500 to a shoeshine boy.
Puerto Plata senator Francis Vargas wrote several checks to Agripino Francisco of from RD$194,000 and paid for ads, including one on May 28, 2009 for RD$425,000.
Pedernales senator Dionis Sanchez paid to several restaurant tab and several checks for RD$150,000 and RD$314,000 to Gervacio Antonio González, and occasional aid for more than RD$50,000.
Espaillat Senator Luis René Canaán paid Marien Almánzar RD$178,551 on December 17, 2009, while his Peravia province colleague Wilton Guerrero paid incentives to his aides and security personnel, and made several payments for ads, a tendency also revealed by Monseñor Noel senator Felix Nova and Vásquez.
Jesus (Chu) Vásquez, ex senator of the opposition PRD party for Maria Trinidad Sanchez, wrote several checks in his name and also several monthly checks for RD$221,000 as fixed aid to John Rivas, who handled the then senator’s account
Former PRD senator from Espaillat province, Andres Batista, despite making many contributions to social organizations in his province, gave RD$250,000 to Cecilia Hiciano, as well as RD$270,000 to Frank Tereza.
Elías Piña province senator Adriano Sanchez Roa wrote several checks of RD$350,000, RD$250,000 and RD$115,000 to Jose Maria Lara, while his El Seibo colleague Roberto Rodriguez, did the same for Claudio Herrera, with monthly checks of RD$420,000 and RD$10,000.
Lots of gas money
In almost all cases a fixed monthly aid as high as RD$40,000 to one person is common, to be handed out to dozens of beneficiaries in amounts of RD$1,000 and RD$2,000 as fixed aid and to pay for fuel.