Press Release
November 19, 2020

Transcript of CNN's Interview with Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon
The Source hosted by Ms. Pinky Webb

Q: Were you surprised with the President's tirades vs. VP Robredo?

SFMD: I am no longer surprised. I've been on the receiving end also in the past, also when I was at the start and the end of the President's SONA, if you remember. I was not surprised. But what saddens me is that number one, the statements of the President were based on information which turned out to be inaccurate. Number two, insofar as the VP is concerned, indeed she did not use any government facility. Third point, the people need a unified leadership. Yes, I am vice chairman to VP Robredo in the Liberal Party but we would like to appeal to everyone, the President, the Vice President, that let us have a unified voice. Our people need an undivided attention of the government. Politics will come later if you must say. But right now, given the extent of the damage and the need of the people, there is a need for a united leadership at this point.

Q: When I asked Sec. Roque kung saan nanggaling ito, he basically said he didn't know. Ang sabi niya baka napuno na.

SFMD: I would like to think that on the basis of what I have read, it is based on erroneous reports coming from the Philippine Air Force which was fed to the President. It is quite obvious. To me, we can put that behind us now. Sec. Lorenzana and Sec. Panelo have since apologized for the wrong information which, apparently, they fed to the President. The VP denied making those statements. Let's try to move forward. I would repeat, our people need undivided attention at this point.

Q: The VP has been called a spare tire. Ang akin lang, dahil nga it is time to unite and, most importantly, help our kababaya. But the VP, she has goods, she needs help, she wants to do relief work. Meron po kayang paraan para matulungan ang VP na maabot yung mga tao na humihingi ng tulong sa kanya at yung mga taong nagbibigay ng tulong sa VP?

SFMD: That the VP is a spare tire is completely immaterial. All of us, whether you are the President, the Vice President, senator, congressman, or an ordinary citizen, your help is needed by our millions of unfortunate brothers and sisters in the calamity-hit areas. It is completely immaterial to the help needed by our people. You do not have to be vice president to help Yes, there are no particular functions assigned by the President to the Vice President, that is the prerogative of the President but that is not material to the help that the Vice President is doing in the calamity-hit areas.

Indeed I know for a fact that the VP is doing more than what is required of her. She is generating help from the private sector in order to help our kababayan. Again, it is unfortunate that this statement has been made. It is completely immaterial and uncalled for.

Q: Does this need to be resolved? Kailangan ba o pabayaan na lang ang they just continue on to their respective jobs?

SFMD: I think the latter would be needed by the people. Responses have been made. The President acted on wrong information from his subordinates. They have apologized. I think we should go back and focus on relief operations. On our part, we have to rush the budget so that the nation will not be prejudiced with a delay in the budget. It is a very critical piece of legislation. The budget for next year is very important given the three calamities that passed us and the continuing problem on Covid-19 pandemic.

Q: On the probe on flooding, what is your stand on this?

SFMD: Yes, I support the proposition so that we find out if there are lapses because there are supposed to be protocols among different agencies involved in water management. Yes, I am in favor of an inquiry so that we can have a better coordination and maybe a better protocol can be crafted, because water is a very important resource and government agencies should be on top of the situation when we have something like this. In the Senate, as soon as we finish the budget, which should be this week or next week, the majority leader has proposed that we inquire into this and I support that call for an inquiry.

Q: Would it be wise to streamline or simplify the issue on water?

SFMD: Yes, there is a need for better coordination. During my time as executive secretary, we really closely monitored events such as this because in our setup, and by our culture, we need the Office of the President as the pivot office that will oversee and direct all matters related to this. That is why I am in favor of strengthening the OCD and the body. I am opposed to creating a new department. I must assert that in the past this issue never came up. Maybe there was no similar incident, but certainly I don't remember this was an issue before whenever there were calamities. The OCD is under the DND and it is always the DND secretary that is called upon because the assets needed would be in the DND. Let us review the situation.

Q: Let's go to the task force, is it a good idea?

SFMD: Well, you know they must have the full support of the executive secretary. To me, a task force is a very difficult setup, because a task force would need resources and the resources are in the line agencies. In this particular case, the two cabinet secretaries, they have the resources, maybe it will work, as long as they are given that appropriate authority because they will be calling upon the different agencies and tapping on the resources of these agencies.

They must be clothed with the proper authority otherwise it will not work.

There were instances in the past where a task force was created and that the task force was not headed by a cabinet secretary. That was a problem because the task force head of the task force would have to cajole and talk to different departments where the funds are. The departments are the ones responsible for liquidating these funds so they are reluctant because the secretaries are responsible for liquidation. By human nature, you will place all kinds of safeguards para naman hindi ka masabit sa COA.

Precisely because of this a task force would fail. But in this particular where you have two secretaries and they would have the resources of two departments, they have a better chance of succeeding than a task force czar is not one of the secretaries.

That is why I am even advocating that in a very serious situation you put up a task force, it must be headed by the executive secretary who would have the power of the President behind him and can command all departments. He is the primus inter pares. If not the ES, a task forced headed by the DPWH and DENR secretaries, to me, has a better chance, because they have the resources in their department.

Q: We do know that initially it was supposed to be headed by ES Medialdea

SFMD: That's correct. The most ideal would have been the ES, in my view. But let me point out, this was not an issue before. I recall during the time of President Cory there were very serious calamities that confronted the country, the Secretary of National Defense, then Sec. Fidel Ramos, immediately went to action and was able to harness every department in order to adequately address the needs of the people. It was very clear that former President Ramos was on top of the situation.

Q: Do you think nagkulang po si DND Lorenzana?

SFMD: I would not pass that judgment. The OCD is under him Sec. Lorenzana is one of the most respected and perceived to be of integrity and efficiency in the cabinet. Maybe a projection of what he was doing could have given our people more comfort that the OCD and NDRRMC are up to the task. Baka po kulang lang sa communication.

Q: Sen. Drilon, you are against the creation of a department of disaster?

SFMD: That's correct. What we need today is additional calamity funds, not additional cabinet members, because once you formed a department, you have to appoint a secretary, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, directors, etc. Each department would cost at least P1.5 billion to set up. Right now there are seven bills calling in the Senate for the creation of 7 departments. Yet our calamity fund for this year is only P16 billion.

I do not see the need for a department of resilience. We have 1.8 million employees in the national government, not counting LGU employees. Our budget for salary is eating up everything. In the current year, P1.184 trillion in payroll, next year it will go up to P1.3 trillion. We must rationalize our bureaucracy. I support the bill of SP Sotto that we should rationalize the structure of the bureaucracy first (SB 244). Let's take a look at this first before seeking the creation of new departments. We go about the budget today and we notice that the allocation for capital outlay which is so critical in moving the economy is insufficient. Hence, let us approach this more rationally.

Q: The camp of the VP already filed a motion before the PET to look for a possible collusion between the camp of former Sen. Marcos and the OSG

SFMD: I have no information on that but this matter is pending before the PET. Yesterday I read in the media that the Supreme Court has required the OSG to comment on a contempt charge. So, it is best that this matter be left to the SC before whom the case is pending and who would have the power to inquire into this.

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