Press Release
November 20, 2006

Transcript of Sen. Franklin M. Drilon's press conference on the budget

Q: On the budget committee report

SFMD: We will recommend to the finance committee and to the caucus of all senators this afternoon that we approve the President's budget of P1.126 trillion without any reduction. However, having said that, we want to redirect the spending authority of the government for 2007 so that the budget will take into account the equity portion of our economy. This is growth budget, admittedly. But we believe that the budget did not sufficiently address equity. Meaning, those who have less in life would not have sufficient support in the budget.

We are going to achieve what we believe is an equitable budget by increasing the appropriations of the Department of Education and the education sector, the Department of Health and the health sector and address the economic sector by increasing the budget of the Department of Agriculture. With the DepEd, we intend to increase the budget by P2.555 billion. The president's budget for education is P124.2 billion. We will increase this by about P2.555 billion so that we can now claim that we have addressed the gap insofar as classroom shortage is concerned. Once this budget is approved, there will be enough funds in order to address the classroom shortage. By the end of next year, if the budget is carried out by the Executive, we will have no more classroom gap.

We will also hire all the necessary teachers. Under this budget, over 6,000 teachers will be hired. In other words, we add over 6,000 new positions to the budget proposed by the President for the hiring of teachers. This budget will now address the resource gap or the lack of classrooms and teachers. So that by 2007, we can say that there will be no more classroom deficiencies nor teacher deficiencies. The classroom deficiency will be addressed by adding enough budget in the department, that's about P4 billion in realigned budget for the school building program. This will put the ratio of one classroom for every 45 students, double shift. That will now address the classroom and teachers shortage.

In the agriculture sector, we will increase the budget by P1.496 billion. This will primarily be devoted to post-harvest facilities because we lose billions of pesos by lack of post-harvest facilities of the grains and the fisheries sector. This will address the need for post-harvest facilities so that we can minimize the importation of rice by providing for post-harvest facilities.

In the area of health, we will add P890 million. This would be for PGH, P200 million, specialty hospitals, P200 million, regional hospitals, also a corresponding amount. This is the emphasis of the committee report that we will submit to the caucus this afternoon.

We will not reduce the President's budget but we will re-direct the government spending so that the theme of the budget would be growth with equity other than simply growth.

Q: Ano pong departments ang nabawasan?

SFMD: First, we reduced the so-called reorganization fund by about P3.8 billion. We will reduce the budget of Comelec by P750 million. This is justified because if you compare the expenses of the Comelec in 2004, during the actual national and local election, and in 2002 when the barangay and sanggunian elections took place, the present budget of the Comelec is overstated, by in our estimate, about P750 million. So that even if we reduce the budget by P750 million for the Comelec, there would still be enough funds to conduct the electoral exercises in 2007, mainly the national elections, the local election, the barangay and the sanggunian election.

We also reduced the budget of the DSWD. There is a P1 billion budget there for Rice Distribution, which really, is a new activity for the DSWD. They do not have the manpower to do this because they are a devolved agency. Moreover, we don't believe in these hand-outs. That is why we put it in post-harvest facilities because we believe that the way to address hunger is to provide for better post-harvest facilities apart from the other capital outlay allocations of the Department of Agriculture.

Q: On the intelligence funds

SFMD: The intelligence funds in the agencies where we believe are not gatherers of information but are users of information, we deleted the intelligence funds. So that only agencies, which would be involved in gathering of information should be given intelligence funds. This would be our Armed Forces, our law enforcement agencies, like the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, the PDEA. In general, these are the agencies, which would gather information and therefore are entitled to intelligence funds. We have also inserted a special clause that would indicate that only those agencies so specified can use intelligence funds. The others would not be allowed to do so.

Q: Including the Office of the President?

SFMD: The P650 million intelligence funds The testimony during the hearings is that this is actually used by the AFP and the law enforcement agencies. We will allow that at this point.

Q: How much is allocated for classrooms and teachers?

SFMD: Under the President's budget, the funding for classrooms is P2.76 billion. We will add P4 billion. Nagiging P6.72 billion. That covers the unfunded portion. Under the President's budget, 6,133 classrooms are being funded. We will add to that 8,362 classrooms. The teachers, the President's budget provided for hiring of 10,000 teachers at the cost of P1.1 billion. The additional requirement would be 6,390 school teachers at the fund of P720 million. We will fund both of these. So that there will be no more classroom backlog and teachers backlog in 2007 if our recommendation is approved.

Q: Timetable for the budget passage

SFMD: We will submit to the committee and to the caucus this afternoon our recommendation. We will sponsor the budget on the floor tomorrow. We will request that the interpellations immediately start. As in the past, we have about six or seven session days for interpellations. We propose to approve the budget December 4 or 5 in the Senate.

Q: Under this budget, how much is the projected budget deficit?

SFMD: The same. It is maintained at P63 billion.

Q: What are your expectations in the bicam?

SFMD: It's too far off. I mean, we are hopeful and confident that since we are not reducing the President's budget, then it should be approved in the bicam.

Q: Do you still expect lengthy debate on the floor?

SFMD: I cannot answer for my colleagues. I hope that they will accept our recommendation. We have heard the budget of all the agencies of this government without exception. For the past three months, we have been conducting committee hearings from 9 am to 9 pm, almost everyday. We have analyzed the budget of each agency in this government. We believe that we have presented a budget which would allow growth with equity.

Q: What are your recommendations on PDAF?

SFMD: We have not touched the PDAF as submitted by the President.

Q: Magkano ang PDAF?

SFMD: P6.2 billion.

Q: What about the lump sum appropriations from the House?

SFMD: We went back to the President's budget insofar as we are concerned as the basis of our report. Although we will report out the House Bill as passed. But for purposes of analysis, and realignments, we used the President's budget.

Q: The House version included increases

SFMD: We went back to the President's budget. Because it is extremely difficult to go back and use as a starting point the House Bill. Although we will report out the House Bill, and our committee report will basically be based on the House bill, but when I said there will be additions in the DepEd budget, it is based on the President's budget.

Q: On DOTC budget

SFMD: I don't think there were any extensive revisions on the DOTC. We added some allocation for the rehabilitation of the Philippine National Railway.


SFMD: We have also allowed P250 million as GSIS premium payments for the premium payments of the teachers in the ARMM, whose premium payments were pocketed by ARMM officials in the previous administration. P250 million or so of GSIS premiums collected from our teachers in the ARMM were pocketed by previous administration of the ARMM. This has not been remitted. If this problem will persist, our teachers in the ARMM will be prejudiced. We have added P250 million for GSIS.

Q: P250 million is the exact amount?

SFMD: That can cover the amount, which was not remitted. The exact amount will still be subject to reconciliation. But as a budget cover, that is sufficient.

Q: On textbook budget

SFMD: The textbook budget is sufficient. There is no budget gap insofar as textbook is concerned. Per the President's budget, there is 30.6 billion textbooks about to be printed at the cost of P2 billion. That is already covered by the President's budget.

Q: Sino nag-pocket ng GSIS premium sa ARMM?

SFMD: Hindi ko alam kung sino pero talagang hindi nila ni-remit ang P250 million.

Q: Nilipat n'yo pala ang Tulay ng Pangulo from DAR to DPWH?

SFMD: That's just a realignment. Instead of DAR we placed it at DPWH because that's a public works.

Q: How do you describe now your timetable? Wala nang lusot para mahuli uli?

SFMD: Insofar as the Senate is concerned, we will finish it with enough time for the bicam. The Senate will finish the budget on time, well ahead of schedule. We are giving the bicam two weeks to come up with a reconciled budget.

Q: Kung male-late, hindi kayo ang may kagagawan?

SFMD: Tama iyan. We received this budget on November 6, 2006. After two weeks, we are ready to report it for plenary debates.

Q: On. Gringo Honasan

SFMD: There are certain standards that the rules of court require for a state witness. That he is the least guilty; that his testimony is essential to the conviction of the co-accused. That is a standard, which would have to be posed on him. You asked me if he can be a state witness, I don't know. I haven't seen the evidence. You can only express a view if you have access to the evidence. (end)

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