Press Release
November 6, 2006

Transcript of Sen. Franklin M. Drilon's interview with Korina Sanchez

Q: Would you categorize yourself as an opposition?

SFMD: Yes, I have differences with this administration to basically a number of issues. That's correct.

Q: Is there such a thing as an opposition senator?

SFMD: Each senator, they say, is an independent republic. The most difficult part of running the Senate is that you run 23 republics. There are 23 senators. It's not easy. Yes, each senator would take an independent stand on the issues that will confront the Senate from time to time.

Q: Is this something irreversible, can the administration do something right that could make you reconsider?

SFMD: There are a number of instances where I agreed with the President on a number of issues. But I take it on the basis of the issues that confront the nation at any point of time. For example, on this very controversial Constitutional change, I have totally disagreed with the administration because I thought that the people's initiative, which the administration leaders push, is totally unconstitutional, totally uncalled for and in abuse of the constitutional provision on people's initiative. I raised an issue in the budget last year when there was so much lump sum fund for the Presidentthe Kilos Asenso and the Kalayaan Fund And on the matter of the Fertilizer Fund

Q: How can you explain this to the public that you are just looking very well into the appropriations and not necessarily just wanting to cause a delay to pick the administration's ire?

SFMD: We are not causing any delay. We passed the budget for 2006, except that the President took the position that she wants everything or no budget at all. The problem and the delay happened in the Bicameral Conference Committee. Looking back, if you recall, the budget was not transmitted to the Senate by the House until about I think, the second quarter of this year. The delay was not in the Senate.

Q: Because she said she wants all or nothing?

SFMD: That's correct.

Q: How do you resolve that?

SFMD: It was not resolved in the bicam. Because it was not resolved, then the 2005 budget was reenacted under the Constitution. And to dispel any talk that we'll just delay the budget, we passed the supplemental budget without any single peso being removed from the P46 billion supplemental budget that was presented. In fact, we made amendments to the supplemental budget. I handled the supplemental budget. And these amendments were totally accepted by the House without any need for a Bicameral Conference Committee meeting. They saw the wisdom of what we did. We passed the supplemental budget. So there is no such thing as a delay. That is why we are operating today on a 2005 reenacted budget plus the supplemental budget of about P46 billion.

Q: Our guests from the House of Representatives earlier said many of the important pending bills are stuck in the Senate

SFMD: No, that's not trueThey know that the Biofuels Act has already been passed by the Senate. It is now pending in the Bicameral Conference Committee. The Partial Automation bill is passed by the Senate and is now pending in the bicameral conference committee. The Anti-Terrorism bill is a very controversial measure. We have already finished the interpellations. We will propose amendments this week. The budget, as you heard, is still with them. They have not yet transmitted it to us. They will probably transmit it to us this afternoon. I am finished with 95 percent of the budget. I expect to go to the floor of the Senate about two weeks from now after we receive the budget from the House today or tomorrow. We will go through it. We will examine what kinds of amendment were introduced by the House in the President's budget. In two weeks' time, we will be on the floor presenting the budget to the Senate. We are targeting end of the month or first week of December to finish the debates on the budget in the Senate. We will go to the bicameral conference committee well ahead of the scheduled break on December 20.

Q: What is sure to be passed in the Senate within the next two weeks?

SFMD: The budget, I am sure will be passed. The Anti-terrorism bill, we should be able to finish, on my part, the major amendments. The Biofuels Act has been passed, the Automation has been passed. A number of other measures are on the floor like the rationalization of the fiscal incentives. This is a measure, which will rationalize the incentive given to investors in our Export Processing Zones, which varies from establishment to establishment. When this was presented in the House by the Department of Finance last year, the projected revenue in the version of the finance department, was about P9.2 billion. In other words, if this measure was passed in the version that the Department of Finance wanted it, it could have generated P9.2 billion. However, when it got out of the House, only P.2 billion. So we have to go through it again. It has been sponsored on the floor. I would like to think that it will be given priority in the Senate.

Q: What battles are actually going to begin? Or is there not much to be fought over because of the lack of time?

SFMD: The most prominent issue is the Con-Ass. The problem is not really on whether or not we vote separately or jointly. The first problem is, can the House do it alone? Can they simply say, 'kami na lang, hindi na kayo kasama?' Your previous guests, Boy Nograles and Art Defensor, were just being polite, but in between the lines, you can clearly see that out of deference to probably the leader of the House, Joe de Venecia, they simply cannot say we have no more time. Because indeed, it is not only the time that they have a problem, it is the Constitutional hurdle that they have to make.

By the way, they cannot go directly to the Supreme Court. After they passed, assuming that they gather 195 of their colleagues and passed the amendment alone, by their lonesome selves, without the Senate participating, the next thing they do is go to the Comelec and ask the Comelec to set the date of the plebiscite. And that is where the battle begins. Because it is in the Comelec where the oppositors will say 'No, you cannot do this alone, it must be with the concurrence of the Senate,'. It is the decision of the Comelec that is appealable to the Supreme Court. In the Comelec alone, really, you can say that there will be about probably a month to go through the arguments, the memorandum and come up with a decision before it goes to the SC. There is really no time.

As I said, the issue is not only the issue of whether the 195 can come from the House alone. The issue is whether or not they can do it alone. In fact, last December, the House transmitted to the Senate a resolution saying Mr. Senate, can we convene as a Constituent Assembly. They recognize that the Senate must first concur with the resolution constituting both chambers as a Constituent Assembly before we go to the issue of whether 195 voting separately or jointly. It is a two-step process. The first resolution is convening both chambers into a Constituent Assembly. The second is having convened both chambers as a Constituent Assembly, can all the three-fourths vote can come from House alone? On the first issue, they have sent their resolution to the Senate in December inviting the Senate that both Houses constitute themselves as a Constituent Assembly. Here alone, they recognize that the Senate has to participate at least in constituting the legislature as a Constituent Assembly. Of course now, they assert that we should vote jointly.

Q: Definitely you will be bringing this up to the SC?

SFMD: As I said, the first step is to bring it to the Comelec by the House. Because you have to set a date for the plebiscite. The amendment will be effective only if approved by the people in plebiscite set by the Comelec. The House must go to the Comelec. That is where the battle begins. If you remember, that is the same process followed by those advocating for the people's initiative. They brought these signatures to the Comelec. It was the decision of the Comelec that was brought to the SC.

Q: You are confident about how the Comelec will decide on this issue?

SFMD: Truthfully, I cannot with confidence say I am confident.

Q: But it is the official SOP?

SFMD: That is the procedure that is set because it is the Comelec which must conduct the plebiscite. Their decision is they will first make an initial finding as to whether or not the Constitution has been complied with by what the House did.

Q: You also agree that this might be the last working Congress, next year they will be campaigning When will the re-electionists start campaigning?

SFMD: First, under the rules promulgated by the Comelec, if I recall correctly, the certificates of candidacy (COC) must be filed in January. The moment the COCs are filed, then you set in motion the May 2007 election. Then the official start of the campaign for the senators is 90 days before May 14. So that is February 14. Those who filed the COCs will now go on and start campaigning. The moment the process started, it becomes extremely difficult to insert the Con-Ass even as Boy Nograles and Art Defensor said, the congressmen will now be campaigning in their districts.

Q: You will be a working 12 senators?

SFMD: The Senate will be in session until February 10 or thereabouts. And the campaign period starts. That is how it goes.

Q: Is there campaigning going on now within the Liberal Party?

SFMD: No, the case is before the SC. We took issue with the Comelec. Yes, we brought the petition before the Comelec in order that we get relief insofar as the assertion by the Atienza group that they elected themselves in a rump session. The Comelec sustained us. They said that Manila Hotel meeting in March was illegal, unconstitutional. They cannot call themselves as officers of LP for the various issues stated by the Comelec. However, the Comelec said, you have to conduct an election on November 13 at the Comelec, at the expense of the LP.

Q: What is your position on that? You brought the issue to the Comelec and the Comelec decided. You are agreeable on one part wherein they acknowledged the fact that you are the incumbent. But then again, I understand that most of those from your side of the LP disagree with the November 13 imposed elections.

SFMD: When we brought up the case to the Comelec, it was to declare as invalid, as illegal, the rump session in the Manila Hotel. The issue of the officers was in fact, never discussed. The term of office was never discussed. In that rump session in the Manila Hotel, the Lito Atienza group never said that the present Constitution was never ratified. Because Lito himself occupied positions by virtue of this Constitution that they say now has never been ratified. Yes, we bring it up to the Supreme Court because of that interference by the Comelec on a purely internal matter. The Comelec should have said, 'Alright, conduct an election.' But it went beyond that. It said, 'conduct an election on November 13 and you pay for the election expenses.'

Q: What happens now, will you have an election on November 13?

SFMD: We brought it up to the SC, asking the SC to rule on this. Even if we conduct an election on November 13, if the SC says that election is void because of undue interference on internal matters of the party, then it's useless. It's a waste of time. The election under our Constitution, the procedure is very clear, the Comelec should not interfere.

Q: Is there a TRO already?

SFMD: Not yet.

Q: What if it doesn't come out before November 13?

SFMD: We are asking that the SC issues a temporary restraining order. Whether or not the SC issues a TRO, at the end of the day, the decision on the merit will finally govern the validity of what will happen on November 13. Incidentally, the Constitution of the party does not say call the leaders from all over the province and call for a National Convention to elect the officers. That is not what the Constitution provides. The Constitution provides that the National Executive Council will be the one to elect the President of the party.

Q: Hindi kasama ang mga barangay captain?

SFMD: Hindi kasama. (end)

News Latest News Feed