Press Release
December 19, 2006

Transcript of interview with Sen. Franklin M. Drilon
on the deadlock in the bicam

Q: On the bicam on budget

SFMD: There is some difficulty in closing the budget as we intended it today. Our original schedule was the bicam will close tonight. Pero hindi natuloy dahil sa hindi kami nagkasundo tungkol doon sa Food For School Program. Mayroon pong nakalaan na P4 bilyon para pambili ng bigas doon sa budget ng DepEd. Ngunit ang ginawa namin sa Senado ay inilagay namin ito sa classroom. Mayroong 20,000 kakulangan ang ating classroom. Ang nasa President's budget ay para lamang sa 12,000 classroom. Iyong 8,000, iyon ang kailangan para makumpleto ang classroom. Kaya ang P4 billion for rice ay inilagay namin doon. The same thing with the teachers. There was need for about 16,000 teachers. The President's budget only provided for 10,000. So we had authorized the hiring of 6,000 teachers more, drawing from this budget for Food for School. Because a number of senators raised an issue why are we are using the school to distribute rice. This is not a feeding program. Moreover, in this current year 2006, we discovered that the NFA purchased 88,000 tons of rice costing over P1.5 billion and distributed it to the schools allegedly as a feeding program even during the time where the students are not there. We thought that we can better utilize these funds to close the gap on the school building needs. Ang kailangan natin ay para sa silid-aralan at guro kaya aming ginamit itong P4 bilyon para makumpleto ang ating silid-aralan at ang ating kakulangan sa guro.

Ngayon, ang sinasabi ng House ay dapat para sa bigas. Doon kami hindi nagkakasundo. These are disagreements that are normal in a bicameral conference committee. We will continue to find ways and means by which we can come up to a compromise or an agreement to this. In any case, I don't think there is any serious prejudice. It is the only issue left. We are almost sure that before the end of January of next year, we should have a budget in place.

Q: January of next year?

SFMD: Yes. Reenacted budget for two weeks to one month will not harm us.

Q: Bakit malaki ang interes nila sa P4 bilyon?

SFMD: Galing iyon sa President's budget. Ayaw ng mga members ng House na ilagay sa school building, gusto nila doon pa rin sa bigas.

Q: Walang compromise doon?

SFMD: As I said, we can always meet and find out what compromise we can have. But we believe that we did right in the Senate that instead of buying rice, we put it in school buildings and teachers.

Q: On the intelligence funds

SFMD: Iyong intelligence funds, the amendment that we adopted in the Senate is that of Senator Biazon. The intelligence funds in the Office of the President, in the amount of about P400 million should be given directly to the various services of the Armed Forces, instead of the President distributing it.

Q: There is no more time?

SFMD: There is no more time to finish it before the year is over. The ratification, certainly, would no longer be possible. Hindi na po kayang ratipikahin dahil magtatapos na ang sesyon. We allow the Christmas break to come. We can always look for a solution to this.

Q: When are you meeting again?

SFMD: We are supposed to meet tonight but with the call of Joey Salceda, we said 'let's review our position, there is no need to meet tonight.' (end)

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