Press Release
September 25, 2006

Transcript of Sen. Franklin M. Drilon's press conference

Q: On the DENR budget hearing

SFMD: A lot of issues would have to be tackled in the budget of DENR. Kami po ay nababahala doon sa report na sa Metro Manila, we have over 6,100 tons of garbage everyday of which, only about 5,000 tons would be disposed of and over 1,000 tons of solid waste is not being disposed of. This is over 1,000 tons per day or 356,000 tons a year. This is in Metro Manila alone. Saan po napupunta ito? We are urging the DENR, through these budget hearings to come up with a program as to how to address this issue of solid waste management with firmness. Dahil po hindi maganda na bawat araw sa ating buhay dito sa Maynila ay 1,000 tonelada ng solid waste ang hindi po nadi-dispose. Therefore, this is one area of further inquiry.

Doon po sa Boracay, we disagree with the DENR that the owners of the resorts there should be required to bid for this land on which these properties worth hundreds of millions of pesos now stand. We must remember that these people have been there for the past at least 30 years, through themselves and their predecessors in interest, paying land taxes. Under the law, 30 years or more of open, uncontested possession over land can ripen into ownership. Therefore, at the very least, equity is in favor of these land owners in Boracay. Because they invested hundreds of millions of pesos to improve the property and make it a tourist attraction that it is now today. It is not fair that suddenly, this will be put to public bidding and cronies of this administration could dip their hands into these properties. Sa akin po, dapat bigyan ng priority ang mga negosyante at mga resort owners na nag-develop ng Boracay rather than take it away from them through public bidding. This is not equitable. This is not proper. Therefore, we oppose such plan of the DENR to sell this through public bidding.

Q: On the River Basin Rehabilitation Office

SFMD: We also would raise issue on the proposed budget on the River Basin Rehabilitation Program. It would appear that P500 million has already been allocated for this. We do not fully appreciate the justification for an additional P114 million when the P500 million that was allocated by the President on this project has not been fully accounted for. In fact, they have not spent any portion of this P500 million except for P10 million that they said have been spent. So we will look closely into this because this may just be another bureaucracy being created.

Q: On the issue of number of undersecretaries in the DENR

SFMD: There are already eight undersecretaries. Under the Administrative Code of 1987, the DENR is allowed only five. They have officers-in-charge for the three remaining offices. You can only have an OIC for an existing office. There are no existing offices for undersecretaries. Certainly, you cannot appoint an OIC. This is an anomalous situation and we intend to have this corrected through further deliberations on the budget. We have here the list of undersecretaries: Undersecretaries Francisco Bravo, Teresita Castillo, Ramon Paje, Demetrio Ignacio, Manuel Gerochi, Jose Ferrer, Armi Jane Borje and Roy Kyamko. This is far in excess of the five allowed under the law.

Q: Sinong Kyamko iyon?

SFMD: Roy V. Kyamko.

Q: General Kyamko of the Garci tapes?

SFMD: That general.

Q: You also raised the issue that the President can reorganize the bureaucracy

SFMD: Under the Administrative Code of 1987, the President has continuing authority to reorganize the Office of the President. But certainly, to reorganize the rest of the bureaucracy, you need an enabling law. And there is none at this point. The President cannot just add undersecretaries to a department, especially where the Administrative Code only limits the number of undersecretaries to five.

Q: How will this affect the budget of DENR for personnel?

SFMD: We will be looking at this closely. We will see how much extra funds would be spent for these excess undersecretaries. We will continue inquiry at this point; what are the perks, what are the allowances that would go in the office of these excess personnel.

Q: Na-ratify na po ba ang supplemental budget?

SFMD: Hindi na kailangang i-ratify. The House adopted the Senate version. Tapos na.

Q: Wala nang formal

SFMD: Hindi na because we passed that already. We passed the supplemental budget and they accepted our version so wala nang bicam. You ratify it only if there is a bicam report. But they adopted our version so wala nang ira-ratify because that is the same version that we passed on third reading. Wala nang bicam because what will we discuss in the bicam when there are no disagreeing provisions?

Q: On cha-cha

SFMD: On the Sigaw petition, even Solicitor-General Nachura as Congressman Nachura, recognized the need for an enabling law when he filed in the House of Representatives the proposed measure as an enabling law for this people's initiative under the Constitution. By that act, Sol. Gen. Nachura then as Congressman, recognized the need for an enabling law. Of course, he now changes his position but that is a point which the Supreme Court should take note of and therefore, the previous ruling that there is no enabling law should stand. And even as Congressman Nachura by his act of filing a bill to provide the enabling law is recognition that there is no enabling law to implement the people's initiative under the Constitution.

Q: Isn't there a rule that lawyers cannot change position?

SFMD: There is no such rule.

Q: Sir, itong estoppel?

SFMD: That is not a situation, which calls for the application of the estoppel. Questions of ethics may be raised. I am not saying that Sol. Gen. Nachura is unethical. I am just saying questions of ethics can be raised when you suit your position on the basis of circumstances, which would benefit this administration.

Q: Ano po ang sanction doon?

SFMD: I repeat, I am not saying that he is unethical. I am saying that questions of ethics can be raised by any party on this point. I will not go into that. The matter of the inconsistency of the position of Sol. Gen. Nachura is a valid argument that should be raised before the court.

Q: Will you raise it?

SFMD: I am not party to that.

Q: On the gag order issued by the Supreme Court

SFMD: The gag order certainly, is unwarranted insofar as statements before the session, before the Senate is concerned and before the committees. I don't think that we can be held in contempt for statements that we make before the Senate and before the committees. There is an absolute immunity under the Constitution. We cannot be questioned anywhere else, except before the Senate. I will seek a clarification of this gag rule in this afternoon's session. (end)

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