Press Release
August 22, 2006

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

Q: On the supplemental budget

SFMD: The House will pass the supplemental budget on Monday, August 28, if it is not a holiday. Therefore, we cannot put it on the floor until we receive the copy of the supplemental budget officially transmitted to us. Assuming that August 28 is not a holiday, and they are able to pass it on August 28, it will be referred to the Committee on Finance only on August 29, a Tuesday. And we have to set one hearing. We will try to set it as early as we can. We will submit immediately a report. We already had two hearings. But those hearings are more in the nature of caucuses rather than formal hearings because the House has not yet approve the supplemental budget. So technically, it was not a hearing. We will have to have one hearing to see how the supplemental budget looks like after it is approved by the House. We expect to receive that at the earliest, August 29. Therefore, on that premise, we may hold one more hearing, probably the first working day of September. If transmitted to us on time, we may hold a hearing on August 30.

Q: Feasible pa ba ang supplemental budget if the President is going to submit already the budget?

SFMD: Yes, it is still feasible because we still have September, October, November, December, at least four months. For example, hiring of additional teachers, we still need those teachers. Salary adjustment, we still need that.

Q: Will there be a decrease in the supplemental budget?

SFMD: One thing that we will remove is the equity rental of over P1.3 billion in the MRT. Why are we removing this? Because in the 2006 National Expenditure Program, this was not included. Therefore, since this is merely a supplemental budget, how in the world did we suddenly need a supplement which was not included in the 2006 National Expenditure Program? So with certainty, we will remove P1.3 billion from the DOTC. Apart from that, we are looking at the other items. For example, hiring of new positions, why do we have to do this now? Why can't we wait for 2007? Except in the case of teachers. We want to support additional teachers.

Q: May figure na ba for the new positions that you might remove?

SFMD: I am referring to about 700 firemen and jail guards. The appropriation is about P750 million.

Q: The IOM has stopped the evacuation/repatriation, will you still act on the P500 million stand by fund for repatriation?

SFMD: We will still act on this but maybe it's not that amount that would be necessary since the IOM has already said there is no more repatriation. I assume this is a situation which is a reading of the situation on the ground; there is no more need for repatriation. We just have some standby fund. By the way, the OWWA would still have about P350 million standby funds.

Q: So you are looking at that figure?

SFMD: A little more than that, probably. Just as a stand by fund for repatriation.

Q: Sec. Bert Gonzales said the government is profiling media practitioners because we could be penetrated by communists?

SFMD: He is paranoid. That indicates the paranoia of these people. They cannot even distinguish straight reporting from ideology. (end)

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