Press Release
November 24, 2011

Excerpts from Kapihan sa Senado with Sen. Franklin Drilon

On calling Chief Justice Renato Corona to inhibit himself from hearing GMA cases

Drilon: I am appealing to Chief Justice Renato Corona to inhibit himself from the cases involving former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. I am calling on him to inhibit for four reasons. One, Chief Justice Corona served as the Chief of Staff and spokesperson of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo before Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president. As Chief of Staff of then Vice President GMA, the now Chief Justice Corona had to take positions that required him to engage in partisan politics. Second reason, he was called a midnight appointee and when he was appointed by the former President as Supreme Court Chief Justice in May of 2010, this created a lot of controversy. Of course, this has been legally affirmed by the Supreme Court itself, but nevertheless, in the public perception, in the bar of public opinion, it cannot be denied that this appointment as Chief Justice in May 2010 would create the impression in the public mind that he is a favored Justice of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Third, the record of the Chief Justice as a member of the Supreme Court is untarnished by any vote against the policies of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He was, consistently without fail, supporting GMA in all the cases that came before the Supreme Court involving then President GMA during the tenure of the former President when cases came up before the Supreme Court. Fourth, of course again this perception that there is personal animosity and disappointment by Chief Justice Renato Corona when it was Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales who was asked to administer the oath of the President. Regardless of all the denials, tao lang naman si Chief Justice, syempre nasaktan 'yun when the President did not ask him to administer the oath. I submit that like Ceasar's wife, Supreme Court, as well as the Chief Justice must be beyond suspicion on its objectivity and impartiality. The voluntary inhibition of Chief Justice Renato Corona from all cases involving former President Arroyo will certainly erase all doubts about the impartiality of the Supreme Court, and will eventually strengthen the Supreme Court as one of the democratic institutions in our system of government. Public trust is to the strength of the Supreme Court as an institution of democracy. We cannot afford to have the courts, or to have a situation, where the trust in the court is eroded because of the perception of lack of impartiality. We cannot afford to have a situation where the confidence of the people on the court is eroded. This is a very frightening situation where the people will not believe that the court is impartial. It is for that reason, for the sake of the Supreme Court, for the sake of our democratic institutions, we call on Chief Justice Renato Corona to inhibit himself from the deliberations involving the cases of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Kami po ay nananawagan kay Chief Justice Corona, kung pupwede lang, siya po ay mag-inhibit dito s mga kaso ng Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, para po hindi mabawasan ang tiwala ng taong bayan sa Korte Suprema dahil po kritikal ang tiwala ng taong bayan sa impartiality ng Supreme Court.

Q: Isn't this eerily similar to the case of Sixto Brillantes who investigated Gloria Arroyo for election fraud in 2010 when he was the lawyer of Arroyo's opponent?

Drilon: Which opponent was this?


Drilon: First, Brillates was an advocate. He was lawyering. He was not in the staff of FPJ but, maybe in the future, he should also consider inhibiting himself.

Q: It goes true with De Lima who lawyered for Koko and Loren for a while.

Drilon: In so far as the cases were filed by the Comelec.

On asking Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona to inhibit based on public perception

Drilon: Well, it's not only public perception, he was a chief of staff of GMA. He was an appointee of GMA as Chief Justice which created a lot of controversy because it was attacked as being a midnight appointee. Certainly, public perception is a consideration in addressing the issue of inhibition by the Justice himself because of perceptions of partiality is a factor that you should consider in inhibiting yourself even if it is not true.

On if asking the Chief Justice to inhibit will create an impression of lack of trust to the institution

Drilon: This is a very trying time. We are citing the reasons why we are asking for his inhibition. If he does not listen to this appeal, we cannot do anything because inhibition is addressed to a personal decision of the Chief Justice. Certainly, it will not be well for the strengthening of the institution, of the Supreme Court.

On the 2012 Budget

Drilon: I would like to announce that we are now working hard on the budget in the bicam. Our technical working group is now threshing out the differences bet two versions. I expect to meet our counterparts in the House, Congressman Jun Abaya and his panel, tomorrow and through the weekend and we will exert every effort to finish and sign the bicameral conference committee report by Monday, Nov. 28. Certainly not later than Tuesday, we should have this bicameral report approved by both Houses. We are confident that we will be able to send the budget as approved by both Houses to the President about Dec. 14 and that would give the President and his Department of Budget enough time to go over it and sign it before the year is over.

It is important that we have a budget by Jan. 1, 2012 because this government has been criticized for its under spending and we have to take advantage of the summer months, immediately the first and the second quarters of next year, in order to fast track public works and infrastructure projects because these have very substantial effect on our Gross National Product. Government spending is a substantial component of our national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and therefore if we fail to execute the projects on time then that affects our GDP. We would want to put the General Appropriations Act of 2012 in place on Jan 1, 2012.

The Social Services Sector consisting of the Departments of Education, Health, Social Welfare and Development, would have the highest share in the budget, 31.7% of the budget or P575.8 billion compared to P521.4 billion in the current year. This is the sector that would directly address poverty.

Education would have the biggest share of the budget with P308.9 billion, which is 13.8% higher than the current 2011 level of P271.5 billion. This will mean hiring 13,000 more teachers at the budget of P2.9 billion plus there is another P8.9 billion in the MPBF (Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund) which can be used by the Department of Education should it be able to process the teachers' applications on time. We have also in the budget P17.4 billion for repair and construction of about 44,000 classrooms, desks and chairs, including a P5 billion allocation under the public/private partnership for the construction of classrooms. The MPBF is parang reserve fund that can be tapped.

For the Department of Health, the most significance contribution to poverty would be a P12 billion allocation for Phil Health as premium payments to enroll 5.2 million households at P2, 400 per year. This means that there will be an increase in the benefits of Phil Health beneficiaries. This means that the government will totally shoulder the premiums for the lowest 20% of our population. The DSWD would continue with its Conditional Cash Transfer program. We have supported the President's budget calling for an increase from P32 billion to P39 billion which will mean an increase in the beneficiaries from 2. 3 million to 3 million by the end of Dec, 2012. I must, however, emphasize that per our housing targeting system, there are no less than 5.2 million households who are eligible for cash transfers and, therefore, for 2012 we can only cover for three million of this poor sector.

On Job Creation Drilon: In terms of job creation, the infrastructure budget will respond to it. Our infrastructure budget would have substantial increases as infrastructure would have the greatest contribution to job generation.

Q: So, sir, sa Jan. wala na underspending considering tapos na yung budget by then?

Drilon: There will be more difficulties finding excuses because the budget is on time. This is the first budget crafted totally by the economic advisers of President Aquino and the early enactment of this budget would hasten the implementation of public works projects.

Q: Special provision ng debt cap which is 60% of the GDP, will the President veto it now?

Drilon: We will certainly fight for its inclusion in the budget. It is a matter that is within the President's prerogative and in our system of check and balance, he has the power to veto but whether he veto it or not is an issue addressed to his discretion.


Drilon: Let me clarify. The MPBF or the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund, in the previous budgets was a lump sum which will respond to retirement payments which you cannot predict at this point. What happened in the 2012 national expenditure program or the President's budget was that items funded for unfilled positions were included. If you recall the "pabaon" system in the Armed Forces, it was principally because of the excess personnel services budget which was not being utilized. In other words, when the Armed Forces would submit its budget, they would submit a budget on the basis on what you call troop's strength in their table of organization. In point of fact, however, this troop strength is actually higher than the actual ground troops. Because of this excess in budgeting, this item for personnel services was used for anomalous practices such as "pabaon." What the DBP did was to lump all budgets for unfilled positions into what you call the Miscellaneous Personnel Fund. The controversy arose because part of the budget for unfilled positions included the budget for the Judiciary which had 5,500 unfilled positions. This amounted to about P1.8 billion for the Supreme Court and the lower Courts and another P200 million for other courts like the Sandiganbayan, the Court of Appeals, the Court of Tax Appeals, etc.

The Judiciary and the Constitutional Office complained that under the Constitution you cannot do this for two reasons: 1) in the Judiciary, you cannot have a budget lower than the current year; and 2) they have fiscal autonomy, where the argument is that you cannot impose restrictions in the manner this budget is being used. So, what we have done in the Senate version of the budget was to concur with the House proposal that we move back to the Judiciary's budget P2 billion which will correspond to the budget of unfilled positions and, therefore, could be used for any purpose. Let me mention that right now there are a total of about 104 organized, authorized courts but which are totally vacant, meaning that there is no judge, there is no clerk, there is no sheriff, there is no researcher, and yet we are funding this year in and year out. For these unorganized courts, just on the personnel services, we are allocating P440.6 billion, which is not used for salary at all but for some other purpose.

Q: Parang incomplete reverse yung sa AFP. (Unclear) budget is based on what you said. Troop strength and the judiciary have disorganized courts. In the Department of Education, they keep on asking for money for teachers. DepEd continuously lack teachers.

Drilon: That is why we are allocating P2.9-billion for thirteen thousand more teachers already authorized to be hired. Now, there is an additional P8.9-billion in the MPBF which can also be tapped in addition to the P2.9-billin.

Q: Because you said the budget would boost the economy and job creation, have you considered the possibility na yung pag-roll out ng PPP projects would be? Would it also be coming late next year?

Drilon: When I mentioned about infrastructure projects it means separate and distinct from the PPP. These are budgets of the DPWH, the DOTC, which would not be involved in PPP projects.

Q: So the infrastructure budgets for these departments are enough to boost GDP and job creation?

Drilon: These will create jobs.

Q: Doon po sa sinabi ni Sen. Joker Arroyo na lump sum, P200-billion?

Drilon: No, that is not true and I cannot understand why this is being repeated constantly when it is not true. P150-billion in the previous budgets which are in lump sum are now disaggregated and in fact, being to the extent that the budget can do it, being remitted directly to the operating units. It is not true, and I hope that this is corrected.

Q: Mali yung information ni Sen. Arroyo?

Drilon: Yes, and he asked our technical staff, Dir. Yolly Doblon. This was explained to him.

Q: Marami bang ire-reconcile pa?

Drilon: Not that much. It is just a matter of each side explaining why they had a particular amendment on a particular item. I am certain that by Tuesday, November 29, we should be able to present the Bicameral Committee Report to the different chambers for approval.

Q: Basically, ano pong item ang magkakaroon ng discussion?

Drilon: As I said there is not that much difference. The major portion that may be a contentious issue is the provision in the House version which provides that the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund which pertains to the Judiciary and the Constitutional offices can be used only for salary. Any excess thereof should be returned to the National Treasury. We deleted this particular condition in the Senate version. That is one issue that could be discussed that could consume some time in the discussion, because what we have imposed in the Senate version is not a requirement that this be used only for salary because we deleted that, but we required that there be quarterly reporting to the Senate, to the House, and to the President on how these funds will be used. We also encouraged the court to use these excess funds for construction and maintenance of the halls of justice.

Q: How about the CCT and PAMANA Funds? Are these going to be scrutinized by the Bicam?

Drilon: The House has accepted our proposal that the PAMANA Fund be place in one fund for easier monitoring and that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) will be the monitoring agency.

Q: 'Yun pong National Heart center, Kidney Institute, these four special hospitals na P25-million of their budgets got realigned?

Drilon: No. The President's budget on the specialized hospitals was not cut. What happened was that the House of Representatives added so much. When we reviewed it, we reduced the increase. So, it may appear that there is a cut, but it is a cut in the additional amounts added by the House of Representatives. This is not a difficult item, you understand? We did not cut. What we cut was the increases imposed by the House of Representatives.

Q: So the same spending for medical care?

Drilon: Certainly, yes.

Q: (Unclear)

Drilon: Yes, I think this is the earliest that the budget will be sent to them although I have to confirm that. I know what happened on the exact date last year.

Q: Before you adjourn?

Drilon: We adjourn on December 17, if I am not mistaken.

Q: Kasi kung 14, the President has only three days to go over it and sign.

Drilon: Even if we adjourn, he can sign after adjournment.

On GMA being admitted to a government facility for her hospital arrest

Drilon: I am not Doctor Lambino so I cannot comment if there are sufficient facilities in the public hospitals. Assuming that there are, dapat nga sa public health institution because we want to know whether the state of health of former President Arroyo is a threat to her life or a threat to her itinerary.

On the Comelec-DOJ Panel

Drilon: In any case, one of the critical cases pending in the Supreme Court as we talk today is the issue of validity of the Comelec-DOJ Panel that is now being attacked. To me, this is really an act of desperation on the part of the lawyers of Gloria. Why? Because as early as 2004 and 2007, the Department of Justice of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also formed Comelec-DOJ panels to investigate 2004 and 2000 cases involving election fraud. So, this is not new. This information of the DOJ-Comelec panel finds basis in the case decided by the Supreme Court in 2009. The case of Banat Partylist vs Comelec decided on August 7, 2009 were the Supreme Court really said that a setup such as the DOJ-Comelec joint panel is consistent and can be sustained under the Omnibus Election Code and the Constitution because the power of the Comelec is not exclusive. In fact, the Omnibus Election Code authorizes the Comelec to deputize the prosecutors in the Department of Justice to conduct preliminary investigation. And I will repeat, the Supreme Court itself in 2009, ruled that it is perfectly valid. So, malakas po ang kaso ng Comelec dito noong sila'y nakipag-ugnayan sa Department of Justice para imbestigahin itong election sabotage case dahil ayon sa Korte Suprema, noong 2009 sa kaso ng Banat Partylist, ang Comelec ay may kapangyarihang isama at i-deputize ang Department of Justice prosecutors upang mapabilis ang pag-imbestiga ng kaso tungkol sa paglabag ng Omnibus Election Code at ito'y authorized under the Omnibus Election Code kaya hindi sana mabaligtad ng Korte Suprema ang kaso na kanilang dinesisyonan noong 2009.

On the Supreme Court issuing a TRO

Drilon: Hindi sila nag-issue ng TRO but the cases will be decided on the merits.

On PNoy not taking his oath as President before Corona one of the reasons Corona may be feeling bad

Drilon: I am not faulting him, I'm just saying you cannot blame him if he feels bad. I am not faulting him for not administering the oath. I am saying you cannot avoid to have hard feelings because you were not asked to administer. In fact, he was there. Chief Justice Corona was there to his credit.

On the Ombudsman's approval on the report of the PNP Chopper Case

Drilon: Sang-ayon sa ebidensiya na nakuha namin sa Blue Ribbon committee, malakas ang ebidensiya laban kay Mike Arroyo na siya ang may-ari ng helicopter at ang pagbenta ng dalawang second-hand helicopters sa PNP ay anomalous dahil masyadong mataas ang presyo na binayad. Hindi mo ma-deny na ang extensive influence of Mike Arroyo in the past administration was a factor in the decision of the PNP to purchase these two helicopters. The denial of Mike Aroyo here does not hold water. Maliwanag doon sa aming pagdinig sa blue ribbon committee na yung nagbabayad ng maintenance ay opisina ni Mike Arroyo. Yung nag-uutos kung sinong sasakay sa helicopter ay Malacañang. Ang helicopter ay nag-lalanding sa Malacañang. Pano mo naman sasabihin na hindi kay Mike Arroyo ito? Saka yung pambili ng helicopter na ito ay nanggaling kay Mike Arroyo. Of course, excuse is, "I disposed off my stocks in LTA building." Maybe on paper that's true, but on factual evidence presented before the blue ribbon would certainly point to Mike Arroyo as the owner. In fact, there's a problem now. There were four helicopters, yung dalawa ang binenta sa PNP, apat yung binili; yung sinasabi ni Mike Arroyo na hindi sa kanya yan. Yung dalawang helicopters hanggang ngayon nakatiwangwang sa hangar ng Lion Air. Who owns those helicopters? Mike Arroyo. He denies ownership. I would suggest that he now executes a power of attorney in favor of Lion Air authorizing Lion Air to sell these helicopters.

Q: Sir, Dapat ba ilagay ulit sa watchlist order si Atty. Mike kung sakaling gagawa ng preliminary investigation?

Drilon: Sa akin, dapat bilisan ang preliminary investigation at sampahan ng kaso sa Sandiganbayan.

On Hacienda Luisita share to be inherited by the President

Drilon: Well, the president's interest there in terms of ownership is one-fifth. First, the extent of his interest is 1/5 of 1/6 because there are five siblings of Cory and Ninoy. President Noy and his sisters are not inheriting in their own right but as representatives and heirs of Cory and Ninoy. They can only claim 1/6 of the whole Luisita. Out of the 1/6 there are five of them. So the equation is, 1/5 of 1/6. The President has declared that he is waiving his right over that. I am not the lawyer of the President there but this is a matter that must be decided by the lawyers of the President.

Q: Pabor po ba kayo sa panukala ng isang mambabatas na papalitan ang pangalan ng EDSA para kay dating Pangulong Aquino?

Drilon: Sa akin, mabuti kung pabayaan nalang natin yung EDSA. It is not in the character of the President to advertise his name or that of his family. He has prohibited placards of public works projects being attributed to him. This is the character of the President. He does not want to call attention to himself. Consistent with that character, sa akin pabayaan nalang natin yung EDSA. We have honored and continued to honor President Corazon C. Aquino.

On the Jalaur multi-purpose irrigation and hydro-electric project

FMD: We will try to finish the project before the term of the President ends. Those who are not very familiar with this, this is a project in Iloilo which was authorized by a law enacted in 1960. It's only being implemented now and being funded today. We are working on this and the memorandum of understanding was signed between Korean Eximbank and the Department of Agriculture during the visit of the Korean President to the country this week. We are confident that we will now be able to push through with this project which will involve additional hectares of rice, repair of 22,000 hectares of irrigation and will open 12,000 more hectares of rice planting in the province. Also, 11 � watts of hydropower and 85,000 m3 of bulk water for Iloilo City and 5 municipalities. We are working on this very hard and the Department of Agriculture, upon our request, will be allocating some funds, P 400 million, from the public-private sector budget in order to start the civil works. Since the hydro-electric portion and the water portion will be public-private sector partnership. We will be starting the project next year and we will start the actual construction in January of 2013.

News Latest News Feed