Press Release
December 11, 2013


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago appealed to budget secretary Florencio Abad to recommend a presidential veto of an item in the 2014 budget appropriating overP800 million for the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, created by a law authored by then Rep. Juan Ponce Enrile. The exact appropriation is P890,886,000.

The CEZA, reportedly run by Enrile's family, is notorious for smuggling and illegal gambling.

Santiago described the appropriation as illegal and immoral. She said that even with a Special Provision, it will become a lump sum, subject to Enrile's discretion. Allegedly, this outcome would violate the landmark Supreme Court ruling that all kinds of pork barrel are unconstitutional.

The senator also said that it is "extravagant" to spend such a lump sum for an alleged "deeper navigation channel" in Port Irene, when the government is cash-strapped, and when the budget describes the mandate as: "to develop CEZA into a self-sustaining area."

She said that the government has to beg or borrow funds for postdisaster relief from the ravages of supertyphoon Yolanda and giving P800 million to CEZA is "dystopic."

She cited the devastation in virtually the whole of the Visayas area, notably Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Bohol, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.

She described the CEZA appropriation as "unconstitutional, wanton, and unconscionable."

Santiago said that while other economic zones receive some P300 to P350 million in every budget, CEZA receives more or less P1 billion each year.

She raised the following questions: What has CEZA done with the P5.1 billion that it received from 2008 to 2013? What has been the CEZA output? What has CEZA contributed to the economy? What has it contributed to the national coffers?

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