Press Release
October 6, 2006

Transcript of interview with Sen. Franklin M. Drilon

Q: On chacha information drive

SFMD: From the budget hearing today of the budget of the Office of the Press Secretary, it is clear that Sigaw ng Bayan is being funded at least to the extent of P10 million as admitted by the OPS through various expenses for the advocacy of the chacha. Thus, the General Manager of Channel 4 asserted that they have spent already about P4.5 million in production cost. He intends to spend another P2 million next year for the chacha. Likewise, the PIA admitted that they have spent about P3 million for this advocacy of charter change. In the forefront of which, is the Sigaw ng Bayan. It is quite obvious that the Sigaw ng Bayan is funded, insofar as their information drive is concerned, as admitted by the OPS and its attached agencies, to the extent of about P10 million.

Q: This is the President's advocacy

SFMD: Precisely, when the framers of the Constitution included the people's initiative as a means of proposing amendments to the Constitution, it was contemplated that this is a people's initiative not a government initiative, not funded by the government but purely funded by people's organization and the people themselves. It is quite obvious, from the way the OPS and the attached; agencies explained their budget this morning, that at least P10 million is admitted to have been spent for chacha advocacy. In the forefront of the chacha advocacy, as being pushed, is the Sigaw ng Bayan, which is using as the basis for its petition in the Supreme Court, the draft crafted by the Presidential body formed to craft the amendment to the Constitution. In other words, the President formed this body to propose amendments to the Constitution, which included Attorneys Lambino and Bengzon. This body came up with a draft Constitution after spending people's money, which draft Constitution is now being advocated by Sigaw ng Bayan. It is quite clear that government funds are being used to advocate for the charter change as proposed by Sigaw ng Bayan. Precisely, we are saying what is improper here is the use of government funds to fund what is supposed to be a people's initiative. We are not touching here as to whether or not it is proper for liquidation. I leave that to the COA. But just as a concept, we do not believe that a people's initiative remains to be a people's initiative if you used government funds. In fact, it was also admitted by the DILG that the use of resources, which includes time, by the local government unit officials for chacha, is not proper.

Q: Is this illegal? Anong crime ito?

SFMD: That's the view of the DILG, you better ask them. Because insofar as the OPS is concerned, they are asserting that this is an advocacy of the President. Therefore, we can spend public funds.

Q: But as the finance committee chairman, what is yourview?

SFMD: To me, the expenditure of government funds for what is contemplated to be a purely people's initiative is unauthorized and improper.

Q: Ito po ba ay inyong haharangin o kakaltasin?

SFMD: Let the COA audit it. Because the reality is, the House of Representatives is also advocating for chacha. Kahit harangin mo dito, pagdating sa bicam, ipipilit din iyan. We can provide some safeguards but I am not very optimistic that we can push it through because the House is pushing for it, the President has a veto power. If we provide for special provisions, I am not very confident that it would be worth the exercise. But the least revelation, the Supreme Court should take note that government funds are being used for the advocacy of the Sigaw ng Bayan, which is supposed to be a people's initiative.

Q: On the budget of the National Printing Office

SFMD: We are withholding approval of the budget of the National Printing Office because of the cavalier attitude of the head of that office. There are receivables amounting to P124 million and the budget for this office for 2007 is P122 million. In other words, if he just exerts effort to recover these receivables, this could fund his budget for next year. But the cavalier attitude that he has shown would prompt this committee to withhold approval of this budget until he could submit a program for the collection of this P124 million in receivables for his office.

Q: Is that action you also intend to use to all other agencies?

SFMD: Yes, I am prepared to do that if I do not see any serious effort to collect these receivables and liquidate these advances. We are not saying that we will withhold approval if they cannot liquidate or collect. What we are just looking for is a serious effort to collect receivables and liquidate these advances.

Q: On travel expenses liquidation of Bureau of Broadcast Services

SFMD: Dante Cruz said these are unliquidated advances of about P3 million and he said they are imposing sanctions on those who failed to liquidate this. I accept that as a legitimate and sincere effort to collect these advances.

Q: On the acquisition of vehicles by OPS

SFMD: If they need it, we will consider it.

Q: On the RSBS

SFMD: They should jail all those who are responsible for this. It is totally unfair to our soldiers whose pensions are prejudiced by this crimes committed by the management of RSBS. I feel strongly about that. These are ordinary soldiers. Ito po ay mga pangkaraniwang sundalo na nagbigay ng pondo sa RSBS at winaldas ng mga opisyales. Ito po ay hindi tama. Dapat ikulong iyong mga nagkasala dito. Ito po ay kasalanan hindi lamang sa mga sundalo, pati na sa mga pamilya ng sundalo.

Q: Kasi daw kinakain na ng operating cost ang pension ng mga sundalo. Hihingi na lang daw sila ng panibagong batas para mag-create ng another agency.

SFMD: Operating expense includes huge allowances. We will look into how much these allowances are. I understand, there are news reports about fantastic allowances of these officials. That is part of the operating expenses. They must remember, they are holding here trust funds. Therefore, they must exercise the prudence of a good father of a family in handling these trust funds. That duty includes the duty to exercise prudence in the allowances that they get. Kung dambuhala ang mga allowances nila, may karapatang magalit ang pangkaraniwang sundalo. (end)

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