Press Release
August 10, 2006

Transcript of Liberal Party President
Sen. Franklin M. Drilon's press conference

Q: There is no single centavo allocated for agriculture in the supplemental budget

SFMD: The lack of support for the Department of Agriculture in the supplemental budget is deplorable. The bias in favor of DAR is surprising. The supplemental budget would fully restore the proposed 2006 budget of DAR by allocating in the supplemental budget over P4.5 billion. Therefore, the full year proposed budget for 2006 of the DAR is fully met. And yet, agriculture was not given a single peso in the supplemental budget. The beneficiaries of agriculture are in the rural areas. Twenty percent of the Gross Domestic Product of our country is from our agricultural sector. Poverty incidence is highest in the rural areas where livelihood is dependent on the agriculture sector. And yet, the administration has not deemed it proper to provide for the budget for agriculture.

Nakakalungkot po na ang agriculture sector ng ating ekonomiya ay hindi po nabigyan ng kahit na piso sa supplemental budget. Sa kabilang dako, ang Department of Agrarian Reform ay binibigyan ng mahigit sa P4 bilyon. Ito namang DAR ay matatapos na ang termino sa 2008. It is really a surprise. Cong. Macarambon even mentioned that when he tried to realign the DAR budget to the DA, or to some other agencies, he received a call from the President asking him to preserve the budget of the DAR. The bias against agriculture is indeed unfortunate.

The 2006 program of DAR was P14.470 billion. The available appropriation under the 2005 reenacted budget is P4.9 billion. The available Marcos wealth is P5 billion. The balance of P4.593 billion is being fully funded in supplemental budget for DAR. And yet, DA was not at all given priority.

Q: What are your plans?

SFMD: We will raise these questions on Secretary Andaya; why this is so? Why is agriculture not being given the priority in the supplemental budget? We will hire 700 jail guards and firemen in the supplemental budget and yet, we cannot even allocate a single peso for agriculture.

Q: Agriculture is important in our economy

SFMD: Of course, nobody can dispute the importance of our agriculture. As I said, 20 percent of our GDP is sourced from our agriculture sector.

Q: Puwede bang mag-realign ang Senate sa supplemental budget?

SFMD: We are open to that. We do not want to come to any conclusion but on the power, yes.

Q: Sen. Magsaysay's move to get Bolante, what kind of weight does this carry?

SFMD: As chair of the Committee on Agriculture, which investigated this Fertilizer Scam, certainly this would carry weight, probative value. The report of the Committee on Agriculture, which was adopted by the Senate should be recognized by the US government on the principle of comity, which gives respect and recognition to official documents issued by a sovereign state. So that the documents emanating from the Senate officially would be given due weight and recognition by the US on the principle of comity. In the same manner that we recognized the certification issued by the Singapore government on the Garcillano flight in Singapore. That is the same principle that I would like to think will be accorded the report of the Senate on the Fertilizer Scam and Mr. Bolante.

Q: On ads pushing for the abolition of the Senate

SFMD: This is nothing new. This is the continued effort to discredit the Senate because of the investigations that the Senate conducted which was embarrassing to the administration. I am not surprised. This is part of the continuous process to demonize the Senate. Unfortunately, such kind of propaganda is obviously emanating from the administration. Therefore, the credibility suffers.

Q: Your sense on Atty. Macalintal's move asking the Supreme Court for the counting machines to be used in the coming elections?

SFMD: I don't think it would stand any chance. There must be an end to the litigation. The Supreme Court has already ruled on this. This is an attempt to reopen. The Supreme Court will see through this move by Macalintal.

Q: Do you think government funds are used in these advertisements?

SFMD: In the same manner that we raise the question as to what is the source of the One Voice.

Q: You don't believe that the ULAP declaration reflects the sentiments of local authorities?

SFMD: It doesn't reflect the sentiment of the people as shown in the surveys.

Q: How do you see this apparent renewal of the collision course between the Senate and Malacañang ?

SFMD: In the caucus this week, we asked our legal counsel to give us an opinion on the ruling of the Supreme Court. We are prepared to go back all the way to the Supreme Court if Malacañang continues to invoke effectively EO 464.

Q: Can they not be cited in contempt?

SFMD: I don't want to jump the gun at this point. Because the caucus has already decided to let the legal counsel study it first.

Q: Sen. Pimentel said Comelec is providing themselves a defense on the case against them if they are allowed to use the machines

SFMD: If I were acting as counsel of Mega Pacific, I would certainly raise as a defense the matter of the machines being used again. That would certainly be a ground for Mega Pacific to refuse accepting back the machines as ordered by the court and reimbursing the government of the amounts paid for those machines. This should be resisted as the court has already ruled on this. The basic principle is that there must an end to litigation. This matter has already been decided with finality by the Supreme Court.

Q: In the case before the Ombudsman, can they use that as a defense?

SFMD: They will avail of every ground in the Office of the Ombudsman. That is their privilege. Certainly, the use of the machines can be cited as a defense in the Ombudsman and in the impeachment case. One of the grounds cited by the court in nullifying the contract was that the contract was tainted with graft. Therefore, the use of these machines will be making use of the fruits of the crime.

Q: Ano po ba ang habol ng mga OFW na nagpunta sa Lebanon tapos tumatanggap ng sweldo na mas mababa sa naipangako ng recruitment agency dito?

SFMD: Mayroong kaso na dapat isampa sa POEA at sa DOLE. There is reason for them to complain and to recover the correct wages.

Q: Sino po ang sasampahan?

SFMD: Iyong recruitment agency na nag-recruit sa kanila dito kung pagdating nila doon, iba ang trabaho o mas mababa ang sweldo. (end)

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