Press Release
October 21, 2013

Transcript of Press Conference of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon

SP: This morning we were in receipt of a letter signed by Governor Edgar Chatto, Congressman Rene Relampagos, Congressman Erico Aumentado and Congressman Arthur Yap of the 1st , 2nd and 3rd district of Bohol respectively.

In the said letter, they have made the following proposals, "allow us to propose that the presently impounded priority development assistance fund of legislators or the PDAF of senators in your case, be considered as an immediate source of rehabilitation funds to get Bohol started on getting back to its feet." Now, we informed Bohol Representative Yap that this can be done under the present system.

There can be savings from the PDAF because of two reasons: number one, the senators have waived their 2013 allocations for PDAF, at least a number of them have manifested, and second, the Supreme Court has issued a TRO on the releases of the PDAF. Therefore, saving is created under the national budget of 2013. By provisions of the General Appropriations Act of 2013, savings refer to portions or balances of any program appropriations, free from any obligation incumbent, which are available after discontinuance or abandonment. So there is a provision in the General Appropriations Act which defined what savings would mean and therefore an expended PDAF would constitute part of the savings. Why is it unexpended? Because of two reasons, either the senators themselves have said we'll waive or the Supreme Court has TRO.

Therefore, with these savings, the President can augment the Calamity Fund and release the savings from the PDAF as Calamity Funds and not as PDAF. The Calamity Funds which is P7.5 billion can be augmented from the savings of the PDAF but it will be released not as PDAF because that is subject to TRO. That will be released as Calamity Fund. What is the difference? If released as PDAF, the legislators can identify which projects will be funded. If released as a Calamity Fund, the legislators cannot identify which projects will be funded. So, that's the basic difference.

Savings generated out of the non-release of the PDAF can be used to augment the Calamity Fund and we're filing today a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate for the Executive department to re-align the remaining 2013 Senate priority development assistance fund to the national risk reduction and management fund which is the Calamity Fund. So, we're filing this resolution today. Let me emphasize that the re-alignment of funds is based on Section 25, Paragraph 5, Article 6 of the Constitution which provides that the President by law is authorized to augment any item in the General Appropriations Law for the respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriation.

So, there is saving under PDAF, the President can use this under the Constitution to augment and under the Administrative Code o f 1987, Section 49, Chapter 5, Book 6, let me quote it in pertinent part, "savings in the appropriations provided in the General Appropriations Act may be used under Paragraph 9, for disaster relief and rehabilitation and repair, improvement and renovation of government buildings and infrastructure and other capital assets damaged by natural calamities." So, the use of the savings is allowed under the Administrative Code for disaster relief and rehabilitation and repair, improvement and renovation of government buildings, infrastructure and other capital assets damaged by the calamities. This is provided under the Administrative Code, Section 49, Chapter 5, Book 6 in implementation of the constitutional provision of the power to re-align. We will also file a resolution today which would express the sense of the Senate of the Philippines to abolish the PDAF in the General Appropriations Act of 2014. Now, in this particular case, we are expressing the sense of the Senate to abolish completely the PDAF. We will not re-align it to any other item and therefore the national budget will be reduced to the extent that we abolish PDAF for 2014.

Q: Sir, why did you decide not to re-align like what the Congress is doing...

SP: Because we will be charged again of just giving PDAF another name which is not our intention.

Q: Sir, unanimous ang mga senador?

SP: Well, I will sign this resolution. I will file it and I'm confident that we'll have at least a majority.

Q: Sir, paano iyong projects na sinasabi nila? Iyong mga projects na supposedly natutustusan ng PDAF...

SP: We'll have to face the reality that these projects will now have to be considered by the different departments in their regular budget.

Q: Sir, iyong Senate version tatanggalin mismo ang PDAF?

SP: Portion pertaining to the Senate on the PDAF.

Q: How much is that?

SP: Well, if the 24 will do it, that's P4.8 billion.

Q: Sir, so are you saying that there's no need for the Supreme Court to resolve the issue on the constitutionality of the PDAF? The mere re-alignment...

SP: They can still resolve it. That's their prerogative. We are an independent body. We can make our own decision.

Q: Tungkol sa Senate Resolution, will it be sufficient to supersede the GAA?

SP: That's a matter for the Supreme Court to decide.

Q: Sir, magkano iyong savings from PDAF?

SP: P200 million x 24. I don't know what's the balance of the PDAF for 2013. Hindi ko alam. I would not know because I do not know how much was released.

Q: So, Department of Budget?

SP: Yes.

Q: Sir, under the Calamity Fund, you can't identify the projects?

SP: There are two funds, the Calamity Fund of P7.5 billion and the QRF, the quick respond fund of about P3.695 billion. This will now be identified by the line departments. Whatever amounts the Executive will decide as augmentation, what projects will be funded, will be the prerogative of the line departments.

Q: What particular amounts are we talking about here?

SP: I do not know because we do not know how much is the balance that is remaining.

Q: So this will be up to the executive to decide how much they are going to get?

SP: That is correct. It is now up to the executive, how much augmentation they would need.

Q: But the sentiment is to give the entire amount?

SP: That is my resolution.

Q: So subject for approval pa ng members of the Senate?

SP: Certainly, but in so far as for example P 200 million pertaining to this concern. Whatever the balance is, I will authorize the executive branch to realign it for calamity. Obviously, we have to pass this resolution if it were binding on the others. This is the sense of the Senate resolution.

Q: Yung abolition po, 2014 or all the succeeding years?

SP: We can only talk about 2014 because that is a General Appropriations Act.

Q: For now its your resolution and you're hoping that the rest of your colleagues will sign up?

SP: Yes, I will sign it.

On the Senators who expressed support on the resolution

SP: I do not know yet. Its best that we wait for it.

Q: Sir, this early savings na po siya? Hindi po ba at the end of the year ang determination?

SP: I already read to you what savings mean. Savings refer to portions or balances of any program appropriation in this act free from any obligation or encumbrance which are still available after the completion, or final discontinuance or abandonment of the work, activity or focus for which the appropriation is authorized. Since we have abandoned our share of the PDAF for 2013, then it already becomes savings. Hindi kailangan end of the year kasi abandoned.

Q: Will the House approve the same resolution?

SP: I do not know. I cannot speak for the House.

On Supreme Court TRO on the PDAF balances of legislators

SP: I do not know. The appropriation is still there. Unless it is declared unconstitutional but what I'm saying is that there are already savings because of abandonment.

Q: Pano po yung mga ayaw?

SP: Then you just multiply 200 dun sa may mga gusto.

Q: Kapag pinass ng majority yung resolution covered na lahat?

SP: Yes, it's a resolution of the body. That is expressing the sense of the Senate.

Q: Within today niyo i-aaprove yung resolution?

SP: I do not know. I have signed it. We will file it. It would certainly be approved before we go on a break which is on Wednesday.

Q: Once approved by the majority of the senators, will that resolution render moot and academic the petition?

SP: That is for the Supreme Court to determine. I think there is basis to continue and decide on the constitutionality. It need not be academic. What I'm just saying is there are funds available that can be realigned.

Q: Hindi niyo ba aalamin sa DBM kung magkano pa yung remaining?

SP: Hindi kailangan because in the first place, this is expressing the savings of the Senate. Whether the executive will actually realign is a prerogative that belongs to them because we cannot realign ourselves. We are not allowed to realign ourselves.

On the beneficiaries of the resolution SP: We are responding to our need to help our countrymen in this calamity-stricken areas. By the way, its not only in Bohol and Cebu. You are talking about Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Tarlac that were hit by the typhoon and Zamboanga City is also needing help.

Q: There is a pulse asia survey saying that 77% of the respondents believe that at least half of the funds for the projects go to corruption?

SP: I cannot speak for the others but in so far as my PDAF utilization is concerned, its an open book. I have released to the press my utilization of my PDAF from 2010-2013 amounting to P 293 million. I cannot account for every single centavo as I have accounted to the press the P 293 million for the period of 3 years under my PDAF.

On Janet Lim Napoles

SP: The right against self-incrimination is a right and a privilege of everybody who is facing charges. I read in the papers that Atty. Lorna Kapunan will invoke their right to self-incrimination. That's the privilege of Ms. Napoles.

Q: Would you encourage her to tell the truth?

SP: They have their own lawyers. They are represented by counsel and as a lawyer it is not ethical for me to suggest to her what to do.

Q: Bakit paghaharapin pa yung mga whistleblowers saka si Napoles?

SP: I have no answer to that. That is a decision of the Blue Ribbon Committee.

Q: Possible po ba yung nangyari kay Benhur Luy na 'no naming names'?

SP: I do not know. Those are details which the Blue Ribbon Committee would have to decide.

Q: Yesterday, you mentioned sa korte dapat i-address yung subpoena?

SP: I responded to that on general knowledge. There is a specific provision of the rules of court. That's why we address it to the court.

Q: Kailangan pa ba yung consensus ng mga House members for the realignment?

SP: I am talking about the PDAF pertaining to the senators and certainly that does not require the consent of the House members. We are only talking about the Senators' PDAF allocation and not the House.

Q: How will convince your colleagues?

SP: I cannot speak for them. There are two senators who are willing to abolish the PDAF. They are Senators Loren Legarda and Tito Sotto. According to your paper, you already pooled 17 Senators.

Q: Is it possible sa House na nirealign lang yung PDAF then sa Senate?

SP: I do not want to comment on that.

Q: Malaking problema ba yun pagdating sa bicam?

SP: Hindi. I'll answer you on a theoretical basis. Assume that all of us in the Senate says, we waive our PDAF in 2014. The total budget allocated for PDAF is 25.4. When the Senate says, we amend this now becomes 25.4 minus 4.8. That's how it will work. Or 25.4 minus the number of Senators who waived their 200.

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