Press Release
May 25, 2006

Transcript of interview with Senate President Franklin M. Drilon

Q: Does the new anti-terrorism agreement between US and the Philippines require ratification by the Senate?

SPFMD: It depends really, if it calls for basing of troops in the country, it would require a treaty that must be approved by the Senate. I would like to see a copy of this security agreement before we can draw any conclusion that indeed, it is a basing agreement, which would require ratification by the Senate. We would request the submission of this document to the Senate.

Q: There was no advice from the foreign office of the defense department that the agreement was coming?

SPFMD: None to my office. I cannot speak for the Committee on Foreign Relations. But it could be a subject of a valid inquiry during the budget deliberations for the budget of the Department of National Defense later in the afternoon.

Q: Are we on track?

SPFMD: The budget debates are on track. Tomorrow, there is only one agency. I think it's the National Security Council, which is on deck. We will move everything to Monday and finish everything on Monday; rest tomorrow. But we are on track. All the agencies that were scheduled up to noontime today were all taken up. There are about four agencies for this afternoon, including the DND, Department of Tourism, the constitutional bodies such as the Ombudsman, the Comelec, and CHED. We will finish what is on schedule this afternoon. Tomorrow morning, there is only one agency, not even a department. We expect approval of the budget by Monday.

Q: Would you like to comment on the initial denial of AFP that they have the five Erap supporters?

SPFMD: We condemn these warrantless arrests and this continuing abuse of authority. In the first place, this is a police matter, why is the ISAFP now conducting operations of this nature here in the urban center? The Armed Forces is supposed to be on counter-insurgency. The agency on law and order is supposed to be the PNP. Suddenly, the AFP has taken a very active hand particularly the ISAFP. We condemn this abuse of authority.

Q: Sabi po ni Puno, suspect daw po iyon sa killing nila Kintanar, at NPA member daw po ang isa?

SPFMD: Nevertheless. The training of the PNP as a civilian agency to handle law and order is different from the outlook and training of the Armed Forces. It's a very dangerous practice where you have the Armed Forces perform police functions. Wala namang barilan dito. Why can't the PNP handle this? Why is the Armed Forces doing this?

I call on the CHR to be more active, I call on the military ombudsman to be more proactive and take up these matters. Legislative investigations can only do so much. At the end of the day, it would have to be concrete action on the part of constitutional agencies like the Commission on Human Rights and the Office of the Ombudsman. I challenge them, show that you are independent.

Q: Will you ask them about it during the budget deliberations?

SPFMD: It's the same thing, you ask them, they explain and then nothing happens. There must be some concrete action on the part of these agencies. Investigate and file cases where appropriate. We in the legislative branch cannot file cases. We can only refer to these agencies our findings. Like the Fertilizer Scam, we did all the investigation, we did all the gathering of documents. It is still with the Ombudsman. Up to now, not even a whimper. I don't even see any preliminary investigation being conducted. We have done our share. This is a challenge. Here, you have clearly a matter which needs inquiry by agencies like the CHR and the Ombudsman. Do your job.

Q: Senator Villar is proposing that the Senate take a break tomorrow, to catch up on paper work?

SPFMD: That's correct. Because there's only one agency scheduled tomorrow. The technical staff will start preparing the final report, which we will take up on Monday after we take up the other major agencies remaining like the DENR.

Q: The Senate is united with the P31 billion proposed cut in the budget? But in the bicam, you have to discuss it with the congressmen?

SPFMD: This is within the nature of the process. And it's good because then, you have to justify what each body is doing.

Q: Sa other measures, may konting delay

SPFMD: Sa other measures, may konting delay because of the budget debates. But we still have two weeks, starting Monday. If we can dispose of the budget early next week, which is Monday, we should be able to find time for the others. (end)

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