Press Release
November 7, 2006

Transcript of interview with Sen. Franklin M. Drilon

Q: On the ARMM unremitted funds

SFMD: From the testimony, over half a billion pesos were represented, unremitted premiums, loan repayments of the teachers. Therefore, we are forced now to allocate and we support the allocation of P250 million for the premium payments to the GSIS in order to allow the teachers to avail of the GSIS benefits by remitting the unremitted premiums. Here, the government would have to answer for the anomalies committed by the previous administration in the ARMM. But I call on the ARMM to prosecute those responsible for this anomaly. P298 million in collected premium payments were not remitted from the teachers; P25 million of the government share was pocketed; P160 million in loan repayments were pocketed. These amounts found its way in the pockets of corrupt officials. The government is now forced to remit P250 million as premium payments on the principal to the GSIS, which we will allocate in the Senate version of the budget. But we must prosecute those responsible.

Q: That's in the time of Farouk or Governor Misuari?

SFMD: The periods are not very clear. And who are responsible are not yet clear. But I call on the Department of Justice to complete the report as soon as possible and file cases against those responsible.

Q: Will you also call on the COA to determine

SFMD: They have submitted a report and the periods covered by these unremitted premiums are found in the COA report. This includes even ghost teachers.

Q: On the E-Government Fund

SFMD: This lump sum appropriations provide so much discretion to the offices under which it is lodged. So that to the extent that we can allocate it to the users of these funds, we should do that. That is why as I said, without lowering the budget ceiling, we are asking that the P1 billion E-Government Fund should be already allocated to the different agencies which would use it so that Malcaang will not play God. This ICT officials would perform the functions of Congress when they determine to which these funds will go. This is abdicating the role of Congress. We intend to correct this.

Q: On the unliquidated cash advances of Sec. Norberto Gonzales

SFMD: We deplore this abuse of authority on the part of National Security Adviser Sec. Norberto Gonzales when it turns out that he has not liquidated P138.7 million of people's money for the past five years. This is clearly an abuse of power on the part of Secretary Gonzales. I call on the President to institute disciplinary measures on an official like Norberto Gonzales.

Q: Ano ang puwedeng gawin sa kanya?

SFMD: That is a matter for the President to determine but certainly, if a government official like Mayor Binay or Mayor Peewee Trinidad would be disciplined for offenses which are even unclear, I cannot see why Secretary Gonzales should not be disciplined.

Q: What was the explanation advanced?

SFMD: There was no explanation. In fact, these advances were made under the justification of operational requirements, not even a specific project. Clearly an abusive manner in which government funds are being disbursed and spent. This is five years of unliquidated cash advances. This is in violation of COA rules. Is Secretary Gonzales beyond COA regulations?

Q: Salary deduction?

SFMD: According to Secretary Ermita, he has not been paid salary for the past five years. I don't believe that.

Q: Ano ang remedy doon?

SFMD: He should be disciplined by the President to show the example that we are serious in governance. (end)

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