Press Release
December 12, 2006

Transcript of interview with Sen. Franklin M. Drilon
on the bicam meeting on the 2007 national budget

SFMD: I am glad that the spending limit will be the National Expenditure Program of P1.126 trillion, which we thought is the right start for this budget. I am also thankful to our panelists for giving us their full confidence in threshing out the difference between the House and Senate versions. We have been meeting with Rep. Salceda on a number of times. We are already discussing how we can agree on the various provisions of the budget. We are confident that with this authorization for the two chairs to sit down and thresh out the differences, we should have a budget before the year is over.

Q: What are the major differences to be threshed out?

SFMD: The major area of difference is the excess of P8.2 billion in the new programs in the budget. And that has been threshed out. So we can now go down to the nitty-gritty of the budget, a line by line review. I am confident that we should be able to come up with an agreement.

Q: Is there going to be a reduction in the PDAF?

SFMD: That's a matter that we should discuss. At least, the spending authority is the NEP. We also intend to put up a special fund for the Bicol Area, a special rehabilitation fund. We have discussed this covering the quick response fund for the school buildings, assistance to the local government units, the communal irrigation project, which are destroyed by the typhoon. And of course, the other infrastructures, which would have to be rebuilt in 2007.

Q: Will the opposition get their pork?

SFMD: We are just reviewing the 2007 budget. That is beyond us. It is beyond the powers of the committee to decide on that.

Q: There is no budget for Con-Con?

SFMD: The NEP did not provide for a Con-Con expense. Considering it could be substantial if and when Congress would decide on the Con-Con, there will have to be a special budget for that.

Q: On the Contingent Fund

SFMD: First in the supplemental budget, there is about P2 billion in Calamity Fund, which was originally for the Guimaras oil spill. But given the fact that there is an International Oil Fund, which can be used for the rehabilitation of Guimaras, part of the Calamity Fund in the 2006 supplemental budget can be used immediately for the Bicol area. In the 2007 General Appropriations Act, as I said, we should carve out specific amounts for the rehabilitation of Region 5.

Q: Walang realignment of fund, kung sakali, para sa Con-Con?

SFMD: Wala. There is no spare funds. (end)

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