Press Release
May 20, 2020

Transcript of Interview with Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon
The Source with Pinky Webb

Q: The Senate had a hearing on the provisional franchise but on the same day Speaker Cayetano said they will no longer push for the provisional franchise but will tackle instead the franchise renewal bill. How will this affect whatever hearings you had in the Senate?

SFMD: We cannot pass the franchise of ABS-CBN unless the HoR passes its version first. That is the Constitution. This is a private bill and, therefore, it must originate from the HoR. If they do not send us anything, then we cannot debate, consider and pass it. In other words, the ball is in the house. They must pass it first before the Senate can pass it.

Q: Can you do preparatory meetings or hearings?

SFMD: Yes, yesterday in fact was a preliminary hearing. It was a hearing in anticipation of our receipt of the House version. There is nothing that prevents the Senate in having hearings in advance as in fact we have done it. To discuss it in the committee, there is nothing wrong with that. But to discuss it in the Senate itself, we have to wait for the House version. Clearly, the ball is in the House. They must act on it. Unfortunately, four years had passed the franchise bill was not considered. The reality is, when we adjourn in June 3 and we come back on July 27, ABS-CBN cannot go back on the air, because the franchise has not been renewed by Congress.

Q: I heard Speaker Cayetano that there six session days and they will possible take this up and hopefully, after the Sona, hopefully in August, they will be able to put it in plenary. Natatagalan po ba kayo rito?

SFMD: Handa kaming pagbotohan ang franchise bill. We are ready. At the most from the time we receive it we can have it pass.

The ABS-CBN executives said that the may have to consider retrenching employees by August...

SFMD: If the HoR can pass the franchise of ABS-CBN when we go back in July, there is no problem. We can pass it in the Senate mid-August or end-August at the most. It is not a problem with us. It is a problem that starts with the HoR.

Q: How about testing. The goal is 30,000 by the end of May. Do you think it's sufficient?

SFMD: No, it is not enough. In relation to that, let me share with you what we discovered. The President just threatened another lockdown. This has adverse effects on all of us. We must view the lockdown on the need to control the virus. To control, you have to apply the three Ts: test, track and treat. Without testing, you will have a continuous lockdown because you are blinded. We do not know who are contaminated and if we do not know, we cannot track them, and if we cannot track them and those who are infected, we cannot treat them. Again, the lockdown is to enable us to do these three Ts: test, trace and treat. The Philhealth has package to test. The package is P8,150 per test. In other words, you go the a hospital and you have yourself tested, te Philhealth will pay the hospital P8,150. Now, what is the cost of the test kits? Our research shows the test kit coming from China would cost P1,500 per test. Then you have the overhead and cost of materials used, you will have another P2,000, and a margin of income of P500.00 Roughly, the reasonable cost is P4,000. That is the cost the Philippine Red Cross charges to patients who avail of the PRC facilities.

The Philhealth is reimbursing the hospital for the same work for P8,150. In other words, the overpayment by Philhealth is P4,150 per test. We will test 2% of our population or roughly 2 million Filipinos. If you multiply 2 million by P4,150.00, the potential loss is P8.3 billion to PHilhealth. There is a potential overprice of P8.3 billion.

I asked yesterday Sec. Duque, how they arrived at P8,150 when our own research that a P4,000 test package is reasonable and will provide a service margin to the hospitals. I do not know how they will explain this.

Q: On the President's statement on Gen. Sinas

SFMD: That erodes the confidence of our people on the ability of the government to enforce the rules of the IATF. The IATF has imposed this social distancing and the implementer is the PNP. If the PNP itself does not follow the rules enforced by the IATF, you will find difficulty for the ordinary citizens to follow the same rules. It erodes the credibility of the IATF and the PNP to enforce the rules that they promulgated because the implementers themselves do not follow them.

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