Press Release
August 31, 2006

Transcript of Kapihan sa Senado
with Liberal Party President Sen. Franklin M. Drilon

Q: The House of Representatives passed the supplemental budget last night

SFMD: Per news accounts, the House approved on third reading the supplemental budget for 2006. We expect the said budget to be referred to the Senate today. We expect that by Monday, it will be formally referred to the Committee on Finance. We intend to work on it quickly because the 2007 budget has already been submitted to Congress by the President. The supplemental budget is P46.4 billion plus the P.5 billion standby fund for the Lebanon evacuees. This is a total of P46.9 billion. First, we intend to put this on the floor for debates not later than September 11, which is one week after this is formally referred to the Committee on Finance. We intend to sponsor it on the floor on or about the week of September 11. We intend to pass it that week. Hopefully, we should be able to finish the debates. We intend to remove the P2 billion allocated to the DOTC as what they call equity rental for the creditors of MRT. The reason why we are removing this is that it was not found in the 2006 National Expenditure Program and suddenly, it was inserted in the supplemental budget. We see no rhyme, no reason for this insertion. If this is a supplemental budget, as it is a supplemental budget, it is intended to enact items which were in the 2006 National Expenditure Program. The P2 billion so-called equity rental fee was not in the 2006 National Expenditure Program. And per testimony of MRT Head Lastimoso, this will be used to pay the creditors, holders of the bonds of MRT. We could not see the rationale for this. Therefore, we remove this P2 billion and put it to the Guimaras oil spill fund, which will be used for the oil spill operations so that funds are immediately available and more importantly, will be used for livelihood and other assistance to those who are adversely affected by the Guimaras oil spill. We also intend to augment the budget of the Department of Education in order to incorporate funds for a school building program. It was not included in the supplemental budget so we will be putting funds there in order to address the classroom shortage, which we face every year. These are the main amendments that we are going to incorporate in the budget.

Q: Sa supplemental budget wala talagang allocation for Guimaras?

SFMD: In the supplemental budget submitted by the President there was no allocation for Guimaras.

Q: How much for Deped?

SFMD: Anywhere from P500 million to P1 billion.

Q: Insofar as the Senate's position on the supplemental budget, we will see more realignments?

SFMD: Reviewing the figures, P1 billion for the school building fund for the Deped could be accommodated by realigning many of the items, especially those from the DOTC.

Q: Do you have the list of items where there will be realignment?

SFMD: The DOTC allocation under the supplemental budget is P3.248 billion. Out of that, the equity rental is P2.71 billion. We intend to realign this because while it is termed equity rental, it is actually to pay the MRT bonds, which were issued to fund the MRT system. But this was not included in the 2006 General Appropriations Bill. And this budget submitted now, which we are looking at, is merely supplemental. We will also realign the proposed P500 million for the Lebanon evacuees because obviously, it is no longer needed. P500 million is something that was premised on a massive evacuation, which is no longer the case. In any case, there is P350 million in the OWWA, which was appropriated by OWWA but still unused. We will realign the P500 million. Part of that, I think about P50 million, we will place as evacuation funds for the Mayon Volcano evacuees. Now, we are already in receipt of the 2007 budget. We are reviewing it right now. A principal feature is that the so-called Kilos Asenso Support Fund and the Kalayaan Barangay Fund, which is P8 billion, which is the source of conflict between the Senate and Malacañang in the 2006 budget, is no longer in the 2007 budget. One of the causes of the irritants between the Senate and Malacañang is no longer in the 2007 budget.

Q: Baka pinangalanan lang ng iba?

SFMD: We will examine it. But right now there is none.

Q: Ano kaya ang ibig sabihin nito? Sabi nila kailangan sa 2006, kung kailangan talaga, bakit wala sa 2007 budget?

SFMD: We will ask that during the budget hearings.

Q: Does this mean mas maagang maipapasa o depende pa rin sa bilis ng Kamara?

SFMD: Depende sa bilis ng Kamara. We can only act on this budget once the House would pass the same. For example, in this supplemental budget, we haven't even receive it as of today. Because they only passed it last night. So we could not act on it. For over a month, it was in the House. They had other activities like the impeachment so we could not act on the budget as it was still in the House. But the moment we receive it on Monday, we will fast track it. So that we will already put it aside before we tackle the 2007 budget.

Q: Kailangang ipasa ng Kamara ang 2007 budget

SFMD: Kung susundin po natin ang mga nakaraang taon, dapat nasa amin na ang budget sa first week of November 2006. Para sa buong Nobyembre, aming pagdedebatihan and 2007 budget at pupunta kami sa bicameral conference committee about first week of December.

Q: Doon sa ipinasang 2007 budget, is there allocation for the midterm elections next year?

SFMD: I haven't really looked at that in detail. But in the 2006 supplemental budget, there is an appropriation of over P700 million as for preparatory activities for the local and national elections in 2007. The Comelec is preparing for the 2007 elections. There is none for any plebiscite in this budget.

Q: Do you think there will be elections next year?

SFMD: There would be elections in my view. Because these present petitions to amend the Constitution would be basically flawed.

Q: The Comelec is set to rule on the squabble within the Liberal Party

SFMD: I will wait for the decision before we make a comment.

Q: If the Comelec rules in favor of the other side, what then?

SFMD: We will go to the Supreme Court.

Q: Can you tell us the scenario if the Comelec is going to rule on the people's initiative?

SFMD: If the Comelec will rule that they have jurisdiction over the petition, notwithstanding the injunction issued by the Supreme Court, then hopefully, they will now go into the verification process of the signature list with the oppositors given an opportunity to prove that some of the signatures are made in heaven. Dahil mga patay na ang mga pumirma. Although I would expect that if the Comelec would rule that they have jurisdiction to entertain the petition, the oppositors in the Comelec will go to the Supreme Court and question this resolution of the Comelec. On the hand, the Comelec may also outrightly dismiss the petition and say we are bound by the injunction of the Supreme Court. Therefore, we could not entertain the petition, including the supposed eight million signatures. In that case, I would expect the Sigaw ng Bayan to go to the Supreme Court. And hopefully, Sol. Gen. Nachura will not be their lawyer.

Q: Sigaw ng Bayan is pushing for the people's initiative. Ang grupo naman ni JDV, they are trying their best na makakuha ng 195 signatures.

SFMD: That only indicates that even Speaker de Venecia does not believe in people's initiative. Dahil kung siya po ay naniniwala sa people's initiative, hindi na siya magsusumikap na makakuha ng 195 pirma ng mga congressmen. But having said that, again, that process and that effort is futile. Because under our system, we have two houses of Congress. Precisely the reason why we have two houses of Congress is the principle of check and balance within the legislature. You cannot ignore the Senate. Kahit po pagpalit ng pangalan ng kalsada, dinadala po sa amin iyan at hinihingi ang aming concurrence. Pangalawa po, noong umpisa nitong taong ito ay ipinadala sa amin ng Kamara de Representante ang resolusyon na nagsasabing let us convene ourselves into a Constituent Assembly. By that act of the House of Representatives, they recognize that in a Constituent Assembly, you must have both the Senate and the House. Again, it indicates the futility of that effort of just convening the House for purposes of coming up with a Constituent Assembly. Ultimately it will reach the Supreme Court again.

Q: This question of voting separately or voting as one, do you see this also reaching the Supreme Court?

SFMD: May pinirmahang resolusyon ang buong Senado. This resolution was adopted by the entire Senate stating the position of the Senate that we must vote separately, including Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago.

Q: Iyong pag-init muli ng issue ng chacha, scenario din kaya ito para di matuloy ang eleksyon?

SFMD: Doon sa people's initiative, talagang walang halalan sa 2007 kung sila ang masusunod. Dahilan sa ang kanilang sinasabi, kapag naipasa iyong people's initiative, ang interim parliament ang siyang magpapasya kung kailan ang susunod na halalan.

Q: Are you confident the Comelec will dismiss the petition on people's initiative?

SFMD: I am confident that the Comelec will dismiss the petition. Because if the injunction. And if the Comelec, as I would expect will dismiss the petition, then Sol. Gen. Nachura will have to defend the position of the Comelec in the Supreme Court.

Q: If the Comelec dismisses the petition, ULAP and Sigaw ng Bayan will go to the Supreme Court and they will use the Roco law

SFMD: That is correct, they will go to the Supreme Court again. But the law of the case is Defensor Santiago versus Comelec.

Q: (inaudible)

SFMD: That only indicates that the Supreme Court would, in making a decision, look at precedent. They have decided on this. There must be an end to litigation, as we say. That is the principle that they applied. In this particular case, again, the precedent is, Defensor Santiago versus Comelec unless there is compelling reason, the court will adhere to that ruling in the past.

Q: May bearing ba sa batas natin ang decision ng international court on NAIA 3?

SFMD: The international arbitration court simply said follow the decision of the court and pay the P3 billion. Otherwise, leave the premises if you cannot pay. That is also the decision of the Supreme Court although there is a motion for reconsideration. (end)

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