Press Release
August 14, 2006

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

Q: On the supplemental budget

SFMD: We should be able to finish the committee hearings on the proposed supplemental budget by Wednesday, August 16, after we receive the version of the House. We will be able to submit this for floor deliberation, probably on August 22.

As of now, the proposed P1.3 billion which is included in the supplemental budget for the DOTC as equity rental fee does not appear to me as urgent. This is a sizeable appropriation. We need further debates on this. This was not included in the 2006 National Expenditure Program. We do not see the urgency. We want to defer this item to 2007 and debate on it fully when the 2007 budget is debated on the floor. We will be awaiting the certification of the national treasurer of the availability of funds. But we are looking at the reduction immediately of the equity rental fee of P1.3 billion.

Insofar as the repatriation fund is concerned, there is right now, over P350 million already appropriated by OWWA for the repatriation of workers. This can respond to the immediate needs of the repatriation of our workers in Lebanon. There should be no further problem on the funding of the repatriation. The OWWA has informed me that they expect as of this time just about 800 evacuees more and P100 million is needed for these evacuees. In case there are additional evacuees, there are additional budget already provided for in the OWWA. As I said, they have right now a balance of P350 million in the OWWA repatriation fund. There should be no problem about the repatriation fund for the Lebanon workers.

Insofar as the Mayon evacuees are concerned, I understand that about P250 million is already available in the President's contingent fund. This is the situation. We will try to submit the supplemental budget to the Senate for debates by August 22.

Q: Are you saying that you are not too keen as far as the P500 million standby fund is concerned?

SFMD: There will be a stand by fund but how much will be sourced from OWWA and how much will be sourced from the national fund is something that we will be examining closely. But I emphasize that there is still P350 million available. Therefore, any slight delay in the appropriation should not cause any harm at this point as there are sufficient funds in the OWWA to answer for the immediate repatriation of our workers.

Q: There should be lesser expenses now that the ceasefire is in place?

SFMD: That's correct. We will be looking at that situation in the next several days as the situation may be changed if the ceasefire becomes effective.

Q: Kung iko-consolidate ng House and two bills, can the Senate still take this up?

SFMD: We will see how it looks like once we receive the House version.

Q: On the Comelec budget

SFMD: The Comelec is saying that maybe the more appropriate thing to do is remove from the supplemental budget the proposed P830 million for modernization and have the new law carry an appropriation item. We will be looking closely at why there is an additional P500 million that was included in the item for preparatory activities for the 2007 election. Originally, it was proposed in the supplemental budget that P250 million will be needed for the 2007 elections. Suddenly this was increased to P750 million. We will look at that very carefully.

Q: Paano iyong issues raised by Senators Arroyo and Santiago?

SFMD: We will review that carefully because as far as our review is concerned, most of the items were covered by the 2006 National Expenditure Program. But there are certain items, which indeed were not covered. For example, the additional equity rental of over a billion for the DOTC was not in the 2006 National Expenditure Program. We will review the figures. (end)

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