Press Release
September 12, 2006

Transcript of interview with
Liberal Party President Sen. Franklin M. Drilon

Q: By the end of October, dapat mapasa ng House ang 2007 budget

SFMD: We hope that they will be able to transmit it to us by about middle of November as was done in the past. So we would have enough time to pass it before the end of the year. The legislative history of the budget would indicate that for us to pass the budget by December 31 of the preceding year, we must receive the budget from the House by middle of November. If that schedule in the past is followed this year, I am very hopeful that we should be able to pass it by December 31. If it is delayed, then, we can't do anything because we cannot take this up until the House approves it. If you noticed what we did in the supplemental budget, we had simultaneous hearings. And one week after it was referred to our committee, we were able to sponsor it on the floor.

Q: But these are all informal hearings?

SFMD: Yes, these are briefings. But we must do this otherwise, we will not be able to finish the budget. But we noticed that the Kalayaaan Fund and the Kilos Asenso Fund are not found in the 2007 budget. That removes a major source of disagreement between the Senate and Malacañang , which was found in the 2006 budget. That is about P8 billion, which is a pork barrel of the Office of the President.

Q: Kung pinalitan lang ng pangalan?

SFMD: We can assure you that we will scrutinize it.

Q: Kung dispersed lang sa different agencies?

SFMD: We will see that. If it is dispersed, as long as there is a specific item, then we can monitor it easier. In the last budget round, it was just a lump sum. That is why it was a source of disagreement.

Q: What is your assessment of the entire budget proposal?

SFMD: We don't want to make an assessment at this point. What I would like to see when we go down to the specifics, from the briefing this morning, indeed, we can see a respectable GDP growth. However, my impression is that this is what we call a jobless growth. Because our unemployment problem remains at about 11.4 % on the average for the past five years. That is about 3.3 million Filipinos unemployed. The underemployment is worse. It is about 25% or over eight million underemployed. This is over 11 million unemployed and underemployed out of a workforce of 33 million. This is the worst in the Asean region. We have not improved in the past five years. That is why I asked that question because I suspected that while we have a respectable GDP growth, it has not trickled down to the C, D, E. And Juan dela Cruz is asking, 'what does it mean? All this good macro economic indicators, what does it mean to me, do I have a job?' It appears that our unemployment rate has been maintained over the past five years. Notwithstanding all the trumpeted economic gains.

Q: May increase bas a projected deficit?

SFMD: The consolidated public sector deficit is about P80 billion, which is lower than the projected in 2006 of P125 billion.

Q: Does Senate have to ratify the bilateral trade agreement with Japan?

SFMD: To me, when the trade agreement would call for policies, which are not consistent with domestic laws, then we may have to ratify it. Because if it is not consistent with existing laws, then, we must ratify it in order to give it the force and effect of law. However, if the trade agreement simply sets targets, which would not affect existing laws, then, the ratification may be unnecessary. I would like to look at the substance of the trade agreement.

Q: On the supplemental budget

SFMD: Amin pong ini-realign para sa mas maliwanag at transparent na pamamaraan ang paggastos ng pera ng taong bayan. Wala po akong nakikitang problema sa pagpasa ng supplemental budget dahil sa inapprove naman ng komite namin iyong proposed P46.4 billion supplemental budget plus the P500 million standby fund. Wala naman kaming binawas kung hindi ni-realign lang natin iyong mga items na sa aming tingin ay hindi tugma. Halimbawa, iyong P2 bilyon na para doon sa MRT na wala namang basis ay aming inilagay sa School Building Fund at saka sa Guimaras Oil Spill Fund at sa DOST. Iyon pong ating budget ay may nakalaan na P3 bilyon premium payments sa GSIS kung saan matutulungan ang mahigit sa 500,000 miyembro ng GSIS na maga-update ang kanilang premium payments dahil sa ito ay utang ng gobyerno sa GSIS. Ganoon din sa ating bagong budget, magkakaroon ng mga 10,000 bagong items para sa mga guro na ating io-authorize for hiring for 2006. Itong mga items na ito ay inaprubahan ng Senado noong June. Hindi lang napirmahan ang 2006 budget dahil sa hindi kami nagkasundo sa bicameral conference committee, lalo na doon sa isinaksak na Kalayaan Fund at Kilos Asenso Fund. Kaya itong mga P46.9 billion na supplemental budget at standby fund ay maaprubahan ng Senado.

Q: On the arrest of Sabio

SFMD: They should have realized that the Senate was prepared to assert its authority. This is a warning to the bureaucracy that when summons are issued by the Senate, my friendly advice to all of you is to heed the summons because this is part of the function of the legislature.

Q: Sa palagay ninyo, sa pag-aresto ng chairman ng PCGG, may susunod pa rito?

SFMD: May susunod pa kung hind po susundin ang imbitasyon at ang subpoena ng Senado.

Q: Hanggang kailan siya ide-detain?

SFMD: Under the rules, until they would cleanse themselves of their contemptuous conduct by testifying before the Committee on Public Enterprises. Liliwanagin ko lang na sila po ay under detention hindi dahil sa parusa sa isang ginawa kung hindi para magkaroon ng pagkakataon na pakinggan ang kanilang testimonya doon sa Committee on Public Enterprises. The detention is not a penalty but a means by which the Senate could enforce its rules and perform its function of requiring resource persons to appear before the Senate committees.

Q: Ini-invoke ni Sabio ang EO No. 1?

SFMD: Then they should go to the Supreme Court and raise that issue.

Q: Paano kung naha-high blood daw sir?

SFMD: We will take that up when the facts are presented before us. At this point, these are all speculations. The legal issue is our authority to compel the attendance of resource persons before our committee hearings in order to be able to perform our functions. They can always go to the Supreme Court if they do not agree with us.

Q: What if they go to the Supreme Court

SFMD: This is a matter for the court to decide. We have our own basis. Let them go to the Supreme Court.

Q: Supplemental budget timetable

SFMD: We will introduce the amendments tomorrow. We hope to pass it on second reading tomorrow, depending on whether or not we can terminate the period of interpellations tonight. (end)

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