Press Release
August 15, 2006

Transcript of interview with Liberal Party President Sen. Franklin M. Drilon

Q: On the proposal to reopen the investigation on jueteng

SFMD: I will look into this. Certainly, I am open to the reopening of the jueteng investigations. I would like to have an opportunity to talk to the good bishop and find out initially what he has to present to the Senate. I haven't had an opportunity though, to review the records of the last jueteng investigation. I understand the records are very voluminous. I haven't had the time yet considering that as chair of the Committee on Finance, I had to look into the supplemental budget immediately.

Q: But there has to be a new witness before you would consider reopening the investigation?

SFMD: Certainly. I cannot just reopen if there are no new witnesses that will be presented. I think I would like to review what has been presented before. If indeed, there have been enough resource persons who have testified, remedial legislation can be introduced.

Q: You are not considering making an interim report out of the previous hearings because this have been pending for too long?

SFMD: I am being candid here, I haven't reviewed the proceedings in the hearings that were done previously as I am still busy preparing and conducting committee hearings on the Committee on Finance.

Q: There are reports na mismong police authorities ang nago-operate ng jueteng in some areas?

SFMD: This is indeed unfortunate. We deplore such activities. The problem is the campaign against jueteng is an-off-and-on-activity. That is why people start to lose confidence on the ability of our police to enforce the law.

Q: Is it possible na ang resurgence may kinalaman sa incoming elections?

SFMD: I don't want to make that conclusion at this point.

Q: The House has approved the P500 million standby repatriation fund, is there a consensus in the Committee on Finance on whether you will endorse the approval?

SFMD: In the caucus, in fact, of the senators last week there was a consensus that indeed, we should endorse the approval of this. However, we maybe looking at a bigger role for OWWA in terms of funding. We note that OWWA has already a budget of P500 million for the repatriation. We will be looking into this fund to augment the standby fund for repatriation.

Q: The standby fund should come from the OWWA fund?

SFMD: That is the consensus of the senators. Because in any case, OWWA has already allocated P500 million for the repatriation. There is a balance of over P350 million in that fund.

Q: But do you consider the opinion of Mr. Roque that you cannot get funding from OWWA without the approval of the Board of Trustees?

SFMD: I totally disagree. I don't think Administrator Roque is correct. He is wrong. Number 1; the Migrant Workers' Act under Section 15, previously appropriated P100 million out of OWWA funds. Number 2; the OWWA funds are public funds. This is a special purpose fund. We are looking into this fund to augment the funds from the National Treasury for the specific purpose of repatriating Filipino workers, which is consistent with the mandate for which the OWWA funds were established and that is to aid and assist Filipino overseas workers.

Q: Paano ang technicality noon, you will provide that the funds would come from OWWA?

SFMD: We will augment the standby fund from OWWA funds.

Q: There is also a suggestion that since the ceasefire may or may not hold, there should be a provision that the fund will be used for Mayon evacuation?

SFMD: The standby fund is part of the Contingent Fund of the President. Although the request is for the standby fund for the repatriation of overseas Filipinos, the reality is the appropriation is for the augmentation of the contingent fund of the President. And in fact, it provided under the proposed measure that it is subject to this position consistent with the provisions of the General Appropriations Act, particularly the portion under Contingent Fund.

Q: There is an apprehension na mabilis na naipasa ng House ang P500 million, baka daw po upuan lang dito sa Senado?

SFMD: Why don't we just await what the senators will do?

Q: You can get funds from OWWA to augment the President's Contingent Fund or vice versa?

SFMD: The OWWA funds will be used to augment the standby fund for repatriation.

Q: P500 million iyon, sir?

SFMD: The total standby fund is P500 million.

Q: It should come entirely from OWWA?

SFMD: Not entirely. Part of which can come from OWWA. Part of the standby fund can come from the National Treasury as appropriated under the proposed supplemental budget. (end)

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