Press Release
November 28, 2018

Transcript of interview of Senate President Vicente Sotto III

On the 2019 budget

Q: Are you going to meet with Secretary Diokno?

SP Sotto: I think there is a scheduled hearing. It's going to be held in my office.

Q: What's the agenda?

SP Sotto: Ang pagkakaalam ko, it's the timetable. I think it's the request of the DBM or the Executive Department, is if we can hasten the deliberations and the passage because if our timetable is followed, I'm guessing, ang dinig ko lang is baka daw there are apprehensions na pagka ang timetable namin ang nasunod, which is January 27 ang bicameral conference ratification, there will be less than a week before the campaign period starts or a little over a week before the campaign period starts, and therefore all public works projects or other projects of the government will have to be stopped until after the elections. Another delay of five months yan. That is their apprehension, so we might be looking for a solution later.

Q: Posible po na ngayong taon tatapusin ninyo ang budget?

SP Sotto: Hindi kaya talaga. Siguro kailangang humanap kami ng paraan kung paano yung mga importanteng dapat mga kilos ng gobyerno ay hindi mapigil because of the campaign period.

Q: Ano ang nakikita ninyong solution?

SP Sotto: Wala pa. Ako personally wala pa but I am ready to listen to them although there is this joint resolution by both Houses of Congress which the House of Representative passed already na kami hindi pa, at yung resolution pa lang na nakafile sa Senate ngayon, we might be able to debate on it later, yung extension of the MOOE and capital outlay of the 2018 budget.

Q: Hanggang kailan?

SP Sotto: Hanggang next year so baka posibleng yun ang maka-offset nuong mga hindi mai-dedeliver agad because of the campaign period. Continuation lang yun nung 2018 pero I don't know the intricacies of whether would be legal or not, so we will have to listen to the DBM later. Tomorrow we will meet with the Department of Finance also.

Q: Posibleng tingnan ninyo kung pwedeng mas mapa-aga pa yung inyong legislative calendar sa approval ng budget?

SP Sotto: Ang hirap, kasi right now the five vice-chairmen are finishing their committee reports which will all be submitted on or before December 1 as agreed upon in the caucus. Pagkatapos nun, December 3, 4 yung pagrereport-out ng Committee on Finance as a whole and then sponsorship. Ibig sabihin niyan, 5, and then we already extend to 6 and 7, by December 5, we start at 10AM up to finish, so that could well end up into the wee hours of the morning or baka 12 midnight, 5, 6, 7, interpolations, I don't think it can be finished by the seventh unless by some stroke of luck ay swertehin kami at natapos namin. Then again, pasok yung susunod na week, 10, 11, 12, morning and afternoon din, even if we are finished with the interpolations by the seventh, 10, 11, 12, period of amendments, there is no time to finish the bicam. Even if we finish by the seventh, period of amendments and second reading and third reading, magbi-bicam. December 12 break na ang both Houses of Congress. Even if we extend for another week hindi (unclear) ang bicam na. Talagang during the break ang bicam pero the way it is now, pagbalik namin ng January 14, doon pa lang yung approval ng period of amendments tsaka second and third reading, and then bicam.

Q: Yung special session, out of consideration?

SP Sotto: Malabo yun kasi it will go into the Christmas week, the holidays itself. Hindi gagawin ng Presidente yun, hindi tatawag ng special session.

Q: Are you open to lifting the ban during the campaign period?

SP Sotto: We'll discuss it later if it's a possibility. I don't know if we can do that legally.

Q: Ang ipa-prioritize ninyo approval ng resolution na nag-eextend sa paggamit ng 2018 budget?

SP Sotto: Oo. Yun malamang mapagusapan na mamaya, mapasa na namin kaagad mamaya.

Q: Paano yun, ang covered buong (unclear).

SP Sotto: May I also remind you, the reason that we would want it extended, and on a personal note, sa akin, the budget of the National Disaster risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) is there, it has to be extended. Katatapos pa lang ng bidding nung mga ibang mga kailangan doon sa Marawi, di ba? Pag napigil yan ng December 31 2018, maraming mabibitin so yung resolution namin extending the MOOE and CO or the budget of 2018, that will cover the problem of (unclear).

Q: Pero sir ang coverage niya, buong 2018na MOOE and capital outlay?

SP Sotto: Oo, yung mga natitira na hindi pa nagagamit.

Q: Initially amenable po doon ang Executive?

SP Sotto: Palagay ko because I am sure the House of Representatives consulted with the Executive Department.

On Justice Bersamin possibly being the next Chief Justice

SP Sotto: Wala kaming say doon.

Q: Inannounce na daw.

SP Sotto: Inannounce na ba? I think all the nominees are very good. Excellent nominees. So pwedeng pikit-mata ang pinipili ng President doon dahil lahat ng nominee talagang magagaling.

Q: Pero hindi yung seniority hindi narecognize?

SP Sotto: I don't know about that. It could have been the reason, it could be something else.

On GMA saying that she does not like inquiries in aid of legislation.

SP Sotto: It is part of the work of the Senate. The Senate, contrary to the perspective of the House of Representatives, the Senate works by the committee or works through the committees. Through committees kung magtrabaho ang Senate. Yung plenary kung tutuusin, ministerial, yung committee work ang importante. In the committee, the hearings can be inquiries, it can be mere hearings of the contents of the different bills, ganun lang. Maluwag ang elbow room namin diyan.

Q: Pag tinanggal yun, parang clipping of the powers of Congress?

SP Sotto: Oo. Hindi pwede yun. Kahit saang parliament sa mundo, hindi pwedeng pigilan yun.

On the President saying he wants to form a death squad.

SP Sotto: I don't know his reason for that. I'd rather not comment.

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