Press Release
August 9, 2006

Transcript of Liberal Party President
Sen. Franklin M. Drilon's press conference

Q: The OWWA administrator said he doubts the validity of sourcing P500 million from the OWWA funds

SFMD: During the caucus of the senators a few days ago, the consensus was that we should look at the OWWA funds as the source of the repatriation fund. In this consensus of the Senate, my understanding is that the administrator has expressed some doubts. The administrator should review the Migrant Workers' Act of 1995. Under Section 15, OWWA funds were already tapped as a repatriation fund. P100 million was taken out of OWWA and placed under the repatriation fund. There is a precedent insofar as this proposed sourcing of funds is concerned. Moreover, over the years, OWWA Board, has in fact, appropriated funds for the repatriation of workers. Even before or after the Migrant Workers' Act, funds were appropriated from the OWWA funds for the repatriation of workers. There is absolutely no basis for the apprehension that this may not be allowed. These are public funds. Certainly, Congress is the one who will authorize the disbursement of public funds has the authority to allocate certain funds as it has done in the past.

Q: He said there should be a national government counterpart fund. He said OWWA already spent P500 million so the next P500 million should come from the national government

SFMD: I dispute the statement that OWWA has spent P500 million. I don't think so. As far as I know, they have allocated and spent approximately $2.5 million or about P140 million.

Q: In any case, OWWA cannot impose on the national government to provide counterpart funding?

SFMD: That is the role of Congress, not of OWWA. The matter of which funds can be tapped is a primary role of Congress. The power of appropriation belongs to Congress.

Q: Do you have an understanding with Secretary Andaya because he said the P500 million will come from the national government?

SFMD: We haven't discussed it extensively yet because we have not focused our attention yet on the P500 million supplemental budget requested to augment the President's calamity fund.

Q: How soon do you expect the P500 million to be acted upon by the plenary?

SFMD: We will act on it as soon as possible. As of this time, I cannot give a timetable because it is still pending in the House. We cannot act on it until we receive it from the other chamber.

Q: What is your timetable upon submission by the House?

SFMD: As soon as we get it and as soon as senators have an opportunity to raise some questions on the OWWA administrator. We will immediately submit it to the chamber.

Q: One week is fine?

SFMD: One week is enough time from the time we receive it from the House.

Q: Mauuna muna ang OWWA sa supplemental budget?

SFMD: We do not know.

Q: Hindi ba iyon ang agreement sa caucus ninyo?

SFMD: The agreement in the caucus was that we will pass the supplemental budget on the repatriation as soon as possible. There was no consensus as to whether we do it together or one after the other.

Q: Since the cabinet members are in full attendance, should the Senate ease up on Malacañang ?

SFMD: I cannot speak for the entire Senate. I can only speak for the Committee on Finance. As you have noted, the entire cabinet, which was involved in the supplemental budget attended.

Q: Na-clarify ba ang mga discrepancies raised kanina?

SFMD: It was not totally clarified. Because of lack of time, we have requested the secretaries to submit to us a written explanation on the discrepancies. (end)

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