Press Release
June 6, 2006

Transcript of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon's interview with ANC

Q: Is there going to be a room for compromise on the budget?

SPFMD: It's difficult for me to say. That's why we have the Senate contingent on the bicameral conference committee; because the bicam committee is supposed to look for compromises. If she vetoes, that's her own prerogative. However, it's unfortunate if she vetoes. Because then, we will be working on the 2005 budget where there is a lot of discretion involved.

Q: Does it mean either way, President Arroyo wins?

SPFMD: She wins either way but the economy suffers. It's not good to be working on a reenacted budget.

Q: How strongly do your colleagues feel about the increased allocation for education? Is that something your colleagues will stand by in the bicam?

SPFMD: A number of our senators feel quite strongly on that, that indeed, we have to address this problem once and for all. At 6,800 classroom deficiency, the P4.6 billion will be enough, especially if we follow the costing that I follow with the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where we built classrooms at less than P200,000 per classroom as against DPWH and DECS, which would cost about P450,000 per classroom. I have placed all my pork barrel in the School Building Program. There are already 1,400 classrooms all over the Philippines built at half the cost of what the government contractors do.

Q: What's your sense about how your colleagues feel about putting back some of what was cut out of the budget, for example, if the House went to your colleagues and said, alright, we'll keep the increases in the education that you asked for but let us restore some of the items that you cut

SPFMD: First, let us clarify what were cut. Number one, the Kilos Asenso, which is about P3.7 billion. Number two, the Kalayaan Fund, about P3 billion. The Airport Repair Fund, which is about P2.3 billion. By admission of Secretary Mendoza himself, this was not included in the original submission of the DOTC to the DBM. However, after DOTC submitted their proposed budget, suddenly the DBM, then under Secretary Neri, told DOTC that they have an additional P2.3 billion. Therefore, what the DOTC did was to distribute this to all kinds of airports all over the Philippines and without any consideration on how valid these expenses are. One thing that stands out for example, is the allocation of P23 million to the Iloilo Airport, which is supposed to be closed by the first quarter next year when the new airport opens. The other source of the cut is the P10 billion reorganization fund. Obviously, there is no reorganization at this point because we need a law. There is no law coming in the next six months. So this P10 billion is part of the budget which can be cut.

Q: The Senate is going to stand pat on a lot of these cuts for the reasons that you said

SPFMD: These cuts were not arbitrarily made. These cuts were made after reviewing the expenditure program.

Q: Do you think we will still pass the 2006 budget?

SPFMD: We are pushing hard for its passage, at this point. (end)

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