Press Release
September 14, 2006

Transcript of interview with Liberal Party President
Sen. Franklin M. Drilon last night, September 13, 2006

Q: On the approval of the supplemental budget on third reading

SFMD: The Senate approved today the supplemental budget amounting to P46.9 billion, which will supplement the reenacted 2005 budget. The biggest winner in the supplemental budget is the education sector, both the Department of Education and the University of the Philippines. Both these education institutions got a total of over P10 billion out of the P46.9 billion appropriations.

The Senate approved a line-item budget for the first time, which indicates now the specific items of expense and the specific amount. This would now make monitoring of the expenses very transparent. We will continue this practice to the extent possible in the 2007 budget. Let me emphasize that Secretary Andaya is fully aware of this line-item budget that we made in the supplemental budget. And it meets the concurrence of the Department of Budget and Management.

We also want to place it of record that under this budget, we were able to realign and allocate P400 million to our teaching personnel whose past benefits were not paid because of lack of funds. Also, at least 500,000 members of the Government Service Insurance System will be benefited because P3.3 billion of the budget will be for payment of back premiums for the GSIS members because of the non-payment of the increased premiums under the GSIS Act of 1997.

We have also adopted the P1 billion School Building Fund as recommended by the House of Representatives. But we have provided that the construction of school buildings by NGOs, such as the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. should be encouraged as we have a very favorable experience with them. Under this proposal, P250 million is reserved for NGO participation, provided, the cost of the classroom is 50 percent less than that provided by the regular contractors of government.

This is a budget, which will favor our education sector, which has been neglected for the past several years.

We have also incorporated a Guimaras Oil Spill Fund of about P1.7 billion and for the rehabilitation of the areas affected of the Mayon Volcan eruption, P300 million. This is in response to the needs of Region 6, particularly Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental, affected by the oil spill. And the Bicol Region, especially those provinces affected by the eruption of Mayon Volcano.

Q: What happens to the P500 million standby fund?

SFMD: The P500 million standby fund was deleted, except for P50 million, which was made part of the repatriation fund under the Migrant Workers Act, augmented by a P350 million existing fund in the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. There is a standby fund of P400 million, although sourced from two sources, one; P50 million under the supplemental budget; and P350 million under the OWWA funds pursuant to the previous board resolutions passed by the OWWA board.

Q: That is separate from the P1.7 billion fund for Guimaras and Mayon?

SFMD: Yes.

Q: What happened to the P450 million?

SFMD: P450 million has been realigned to both the Guimaras Oil Spill Fund and the Mayon Volcano Rehabilitation Fund. Because obviously, the repatriation activities in Lebanon is no longer urgent at this point and in any case, there is a standby fund of P350 million in the OWWA funds.

Q: How much funds are realigned?

SFMD: The major realignments are as follows: the P2 billion from the MRT bonds allocation under the DOTC was deleted; the P450 million under the standby fund for the repatriation of workers. These amounts were realigned to the school building fund, the Mayon Volcano fund, Guimaras oil spill fund and the DOST Science Park.

Q: How soon can the bicam convene?

SFMD: Next week we should be able to convene. The Senate bicam contingent will be composed of myself and Sen. Roxas for the majority, and Sen. Osmea for the minority.

Q: Do you expect long debates in the bicam?

SFMD: We don't expect that. We did not reduce the budget suggested by Malacañang . We adopted the same amount, only that we realigned to a more rational manner, instead of one-line lump sum allocation, we allocated it to each expense class.

Q: You are passing only one measure?

SFMD: No, two measures. Because the House passed two measures.

Q: Sa second measure, P500 million pa rin?

SFMD: It's still P500 million but now it consists of several items.

Q: Is there a chance of getting the P3 billion there for PIATCO?

SFMD: There is nothing in the supplemental budget nor in the 2007 budget. (end)

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