Press Release
June 5, 2006

Transcript of Interview with Senate President Franklin M. Drilon

Q: Ano po iyong room for compromise sa budget? Gusto ng House walang mabawas dun sa P1.05 T

SPFMD: The matter of how the budget will be shaped at this point is at the hands of our contingent in the bicam. There are certain instructions by the Senate on the bicam. Basically, this is the PCGG budget and on the budget of the National Printing Office. Part of the instruction is that there should be no change unless the sponsor of these deletions and the Senate president would concur. Insofar as the other budget items are concerned, that is precisely the reason for the Senate contingent. They are the ones authorized to thresh out these differences. We do not want to preempt the Senate contingent although there would be constant consultations.

Q: After the bicam yesterday, nagconsult na ba sila?

SPFMD: Wala pa. It's just the initial session. I'm sure there will be a lot of consultations that will happen this week.

Q: Ano po ang assessment ninyo dun sa agreement to increase the education budget?

SPFMD: We fully endorse that. The classroom shortage cannot be abolished by a simple change in the formula. There is a classroom shortage, whether we like it or not, it is there. In my case, my pork barrel has gone to school building programs with the Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce. We are building it at half the cost of government. They added P4.6 B. At the cost that I am using of less than P200,000 per classroom, P4.6 B should be enough to cover the 6,800 plus classroom shortage. If you compute that at P200,000 per classroom, the cost which I am using with the Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce, that should be enough to cover the 6,800 classroom shortage. Therefore we welcome and we will support that amendment. We have already built 1,400 classrooms at P200,000 per classroom or less.

Q: How can we source that P4 B? Saan natin kukunin?

SPFMD: The Kilos Asenso funds are available. The Kalayaan fund is available. There is more than enough.

Q: If ever mai-realign, dun dapat?

SPFMD: Yes, that's correct. That's the source.

Q: The argument of the House panel is we have to maintain the P1.05T spending level .to push the economy growth..?

SPFMD: That is one view. The other view is that when we reduce the spending authority, we reduce the budget deficit and to that extent it also would perk up the economy because better confidence would result in a lower budget deficit.

Q: Magkano ang discrepancy ng cost of building classrooms sa DPWH at sa Filipino-Chinese Chamber?

SPFMD: Double.

Q: Why can the Filipino-Chinese Chamber do it at that cost and DPWH can't?

SPFMD: Corruption. How else do you explain that? We are building it at less than P200,000 per classroom. They are building it at P450,000 per classroom. How else will you defend that?

Q: Dapat kasuhan iyong mga taga-DPWH

SPFMD: That's easy to say.

Q: Can we insert a provision in the budget that says only this agency could implement the school building program?

SPFMD: It's either the DECS or the DPWH. By putting the budget in a particular agency, in effect, you are locating the authority to spend this money. So if you locate it with the DPWH, it's with DPWH. If you locate it with DECS, it's DECS. You don't have to insert any particular provision.

Q: Pero pwede nilang i-outsource iyon sa DPWH?

SPFMD: That's internal to them. They can also outsource it to private contractors.

Q: Another argument kung bakit kailangang itaas sa P1.05 trillion, ang allegation ng House, iyong ini-slash ninyong projects, infrastructure projects?

SPFMD: I don't see that. For example, the Kilos Asenso and the Kalayaan Fund are not infrastructure projects. These are lump sum appropriations.

Q: How about the P2 billion sa DOTC for airports?

SPFMD: The DOTC airports, for example, by admission of Secretary Mendoza, we didn't plan out this repair of the airports. They have submitted their proposals to the DBM without these airports. Suddenly, they were told by the DBM Secretary, "here's another P2.3 billion, build airports all over the country." They were not prepared. That's why they just started to assign the amounts. They admitted that when I defended the budget of the DOTC here during the plenary, I cited as specific example the airport in my city, which is supposed to be already closed by the end of the year because we have a new airport and yet, they allocated P23 million for repairs. That is why the argument that this is based on infrastructure, is without basis. Yes, the DOTC came up with repairs of airports, infrastructure. But this was not necessary. Because they didn't have this in their original plan, in the first place. Suddenly, they found themselves meron pala silang P2 bilyon na ibinigay kaya kung saan-saan nila pinaglalagay iyong kanilang pera. This is the kind of spending that we would want to preventsuch wasteful spending of public funds. Because these are infrastructures, which the DOTC themselves said we did not propose this.

Q: Were you given a copy of the security engagement report?

SPFMD: I was given, yes. Unfortunately, I haven't gone through it yet. It's a thick document.

Q: What's the logic of P37 billion from the unprogrammed?

SPFMD: In order to, one, prevent unnecessary borrowing. Because the unprogrammed items can only be utilized where there are funds available, i.e,., excess of collection, which will not happen because we even predict a deficit on programmed budget. Number two, to borrow. It's a borrowing authority. As a matter of policy, the Senate thought that we should limit the borrowing authority because precisely of the debt that we are accumulating.

Q: The House is questioning that's undermining the spending flexibility

SPFMD: It's a policy issue. We have differences there.

Q: Pabor ba kayo sa P125 legislated wage hike?

SPFMD: I do not want to preempt our Committee on Labor. We will be awaiting the version of the House. Apparently they are still debating it there.

Q: On the Senate's performance

SPFMD: You see us work here. We work starting at 10am and continue to tackle the bills. You would be the best judge as to whether or not the Senate is working. It's an open session. We will keep on tackling the measures as they come along. The Majority Leader is scheduling the bills as fast as we can.

Q: How do you assess the discussion on each bill?

SPFMD: Very substantial. There are a lot of matters, which are being brought out in the debates, particularly the anti-terrorism bill. This is a new measure, which we have to be very careful.

Q: On the bill creating the credit information bureau

SPFMD: The Credit Information Bureau is already in the period of amendments. We will try to pass it in the next two days.

Q: Mauuna pa siya sa bill abolishing the death penalty?

SPFMD: Yes, because the Credit Information Bureau is already in the advanced stage of debates. Incidentally, neither the House nor the Senate versions of the budget carried any item for a plebiscite and the constitutional amendments.

Q: The President can appropriate daw

SPFMD: The President can realign but she can only realign where there is an item in the budget.

Q: Kung reenacted budget, sir?

SPFMD: If there is reenacted, lalo na. There is nothing there.

Q: Hindi siya puwedeng mag-realign for chacha?

SPFMD: Because there is no item for chacha.

Q: Kukunin daw sa contingency?

SPFMD: The contingent item is defined-- what is a contingency?

Q: Iyong P14 billion for workers' pay increase?

SPFMD: Hindi namin inalis iyan. Nandoon pa rin.

Q: Supposedly iyong pay hike ng government workers, the Senate sponsored a higher amount, P2,000.

SPFMD: Yes, but the House refused to sit with us in the bicam.

Q: Why didn't you insert the P18 billion proposal for the wage hike in the Senate version of the budget?

SPFMD: No, it will become P26 billion. Because whole year is 26. Because P13 billion is P1,000 for one year. So P2,000 for one year is P26 billion. Mahirap hanapin ang P26 billion. (end)

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