Transcript of Interview with Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon

SFMD:The leadership in the Senate met, Senate President Sotto, myself, Senator Legarda and Senator Lacson. We discussed this. There was indeed a report from the Senate Committee on Finance that P75 billion is being realigned. In other words, the House of Representatives is rearranging the furniture. I have asked the committee to furnish the senators with the details of this supposed P75 billion realignment. It is not only an itemization of a lump-sum, but our information is that, the items are being realigned so that those who appear to be sympathetic to former Speaker Alvarez and former Majority Leader Farinas were deprived of the allocation or their allocation were reduced. Those in who are favor of the present leadership are favored with additional allocation. I have talked to two congressmen, one from the Visayas and one from Luzo. They asserted that 62 congressmen are affected by these realignments, not only itemization. This is the allocation of the HoR. The allegation is that, these items were in the National Expenditure Program, were carried in the General Appropriations Bill, were approved in bicam, and the ratified version of the bicam contained these allocations. So, I would request the chairman of the committee to furnish the senators of the details of this, because you cannot alter what was approved in the bicam, contained in the bicam report and ratified by each chamber. If the HoR would want to realign and change certain allocations in the HoR, my suggestion is that, when we reconvene on May 20, we reconsider the ratification of the bicam report on the budget and reconvene the bicam and correct the alleged revisions in the final bicam report. After the bicam report is ratified by both chambers, hindi na pwedeng palitan ito, because that would constitute unauthorized alterations of legislative records. You cannot change, even if you are the speaker of senate president, what was approved by the chambers. The senate president and the house speaker are not superior to their respective chambers. It is the chambers which approved this and therefore, any revision must be approved by the chambers.

Q: Once you have the list, what are you going to do?

SFMD:We will compare it with what was approved in the bicam and confirm that indeed alterations and realignments are being made, not only itemization. I'm confident that our staff can figure this out.

Q: Printed na raw yung budget.

SFMD:Even if it is printed, what should be printed is what was approved. If what is printed is not the one approved, we have advised Senate President Sotto not to sign it.

Q: If it's already printed, you can still go back to the bicam?

SFMD:Of course, as long as it has not been signed. We have done that before in the case of the coco levy fund. We revised it after it has been approved by the bicam; recalled it. Of course ultimately the President vetoed the bill. We can reconsider our approval of the bicam report. The printing of the budget is immaterial.

Q: What will happen if congressmen insist that they just tinkered on typographical errors?

SFMD:The Senate President will not sign the enrolled copy. Then there will be no budget. I suggest the solution is, if they really want to do this and say, we are realigning our share of the pork barrel - let's call a spade a spade - let's reconsider the approval of the bicam report, reconvene the bicam, come up with a new ratified report, and have it printed. You cannot just revise and alter what was approved in the bicam.

Q: Ano po yung risks kapag reenacted budget yung umiral during election?

SFMD:Wala naman. The items that were already utilized can no longer be utilized.

Q: Yung ibalik sa bicam ang best remedy?

SFMD:That's the only remedy.

Q: Sir, admission iyon na maraming lump-sum nan a-approved sa budget?

SFMD:The way I understand it is it is not only an itemization of lump-sum items; it is really a revision of individual items that were included in the bicam report. For example, if a bridge is in District 1 of Province A and has a budget of P100 million, this P100 million is removed and placed in another district.

Q: Ang agreement daw po kasi during the meeting with Sen. Loren and Cong. Abaya, the agreement is framework lang iyon and saka na mags-submit ng after ma-ratify.

SFMD:They can agree on that basis but it is not consistent with the Constitution. That is not correct. That agreement is wrong if there is that agreement, because it is not the chairs of the committees who would decide this; it is the chambers that will decide.

Q: Some senators daw po submitted items after the ratification?

SFMD:Then it should be rejected. As simple as that.

Q: May kaunting liability ba si Sen. Legarda?

SFMD:I would not impute any liability at this point.

Q: Yung likelihood of an archived budget?

SFMD:I am making a proposal to solve the deadlock.

Q: What if the HoR does not agree with your proposal, are you looking for a reenacted budget for the rest of the year?

SFMD:If they will not agree to that proposal, then you have a reenacted budget for the whole 2019.

Q: Paano yung HFEP?

SFMD:Then you cannot fund that because it is on the 2019 budget.

Q: So, hindi tapos yung maraming hospital?

SFMD:That's the effect.

Q: Aware kayo na may senador na nag-submit after the ratification?

SFMD:That should not be allowed. I'm not aware.

Q: Ano pa yung mag-suffer aside from the HFEP?

SFMD:Well, one-fifth of the gross domestic product of the country is dependent on public expenditures. If there are no new appropriations, then that share of the GDP will be affected, because public spending will be less than what was budgeted.

Q: And the BBB?

SFMD:In general, there will be a reduction in public expenditure, which constitutes one-fifth of the country's GDP.

Source: Senate of the Philippines