#PingSays: On delays in the 2019 budget, Alsa Masa, visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping | Nov. 19, 2018

In an interview, Sen. Lacson answers questions on:
– delays in the passage of the national budget for 2019
– reported plan to set up Alsa Masa-style network vs insurgency
– visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping

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Quotes from the interview…

On delays in the passage of the 2019 budget:
“Assuming na-transmit dito (ang budget) ng Nov. 29, maiwanan kami ng mga 5-6 session days to prepare, to deliberate, to introduce amendments. Kasama na pati bicam. So it is an almost impossible task for the Senate to finish deliberating on the 2019 budget. Having said that, kung ganoon din lang mangyayari kung magpupuyat kami na walang kahihinatnan kasi imposible talagang maipasa mag-tackle na lang kami ng ibang measures and let the 2018 budget be the budget ng 2019, meaning reenacted.”
“It is better that way kesa naman sa apurahin namin na di mapag-aralan nang husto kasi alam namin napakaraming insertions na ginawa because of the change of leadership sa House, ang mga naipasok ng dating kaalyado ni dating Speaker Alvarez, siyempre pinalitan ng mga insertion ng mga kaalyado ng ngayon ay Speaker GMA.”

On likelihood of a reenacted 2018 budget at the start of 2019:
“All indications point to that na magkakaroon ng reenacted budget. Not because of the inability of the Senate to deliberate and approve the budget but because of the delay caused by the House.”
“From my own point of view mas mainam nang iwanan sa executive branch ang pag-operate ng gobyerno under the reenacted budget kesa sa hilaw at di namin masyadong ma-scrutinize ang pinagpapapasok ng mga congressmen. At saka talagang weโ€™re not superheroes to finish the job in so short a period na in 6-7 session days. Maski magdamagan kami riyan imposible.”
“So it will be their (House’s) own misdoing kung mabura lahat ang kanilang insertions dahil under reenacted budget walang bagong items, programs, projects, or activities.”
“Pagbalik namin halimbawa sa January at kung kaya ng oras, or after that sa April, kung kailan kami babalik, doon mata-tackle yan. Pero to enact the budget, maipasa ang budget ng 2019 before the year ends, mukhang napakahirap na.”

On the disadvantages of a reenacted budget to House members:
“Hindi advantageous, disadvantageous (to members of the House of Representatives). Balewala ang insertion nila. Kasi walang new items eh. So pagkakatiwalaan natin sa executive branch kung saan nila pwede i-realign kasi pwede mag-realign within the executive branch ang president.”
“Malaking pork barrel kasi reenacted. Walang bagong items. Ang disadvantage sa Republika ng Pilipinas, walang bagong programs, walang bagong items, walang mga bagong proyekto. Kasi walang naipasang budget, maghihintay tayo say first quarter or middle of the year kung maipapasa ang budget, saka ma-implement ang bagong items, PAPs na nakapaloob sa 2019 budget.”

On previous reenacted budgets:
“Quite interestingly in 2001, the government operated under the 2000 budget. In 2004, 2003 budget. 2007, 2006 budget. 2010, 2009 budget. So ang pattern, siguro hindi na ito coincidence na lahat na reenacted budget nangyayari tuwing election year at saka under the leadership of then President GMA. This time around, election natin midterm at ang bagong Speaker ang leadership at least ng HOR, napalitan at si dating President GMA rin ang Speaker. So ewan ko kung, I cannot call it a coincidence.”
“Parang pattern na lang pag may election year. Under the presidency of PNoy wala ni isang budget year na na-reenact. At kay President Duterte, 2016, 2017, 2018, ngayon lang mangyayari 2019, midterm na magkakaroon ng reenacted. Why? I do not know.”
“Simple and logical explanation lang, sa dami ng binabago nila sa na-approve nila on 2nd reading which is quite anomalous to say the least, because sa Senate pag inapprove namin ng 2nd reading di ka na pwede magbago unless somebody who voted in favor of the measure para ma-approve on 2nd reading mag-motion for reconsideration within 48 hours. I donโ€™t know the rules sa HOR but I suppose pareho lang siguro, may parallelism ang mga rules na sinusunod, ang alituntunin. Kung ganoon nagkaroon ng sub-bicameral, they cannot call it bicam because thatโ€™s just one House. So papayag ba ang kasamahan nila na nag-apruba sa plenaryo na basta baguhin ng small group sa committee ng House ang kanilang inaprubahan on 2nd reading sa plenary?”
“Every time mag-election parang sinasadya mag-reenact. Why? Maski kanino niya gusto ibato ang budget kasi nga operating under the previous yearโ€™s budget so naka-floate lahat yan. Sabi nyo nga itโ€™s a big lump sum appropriation under complete control of the executive. Ngayon walang control ang Kongreso except oversight or pwede sila mag-suggest sa Malacanang ang pinasok naming insertion pero di rin pupuwede kasi ang Constitution malinaw na within the executive branch lang pwede galawin ng Pangulo.”

On tackling other measures if there is not enough time to approve the budget before yearend:
“We better just tackle other measures except the budget. Kung tackle namin alam namin di matatapos, we might as well be productive in passing other measures na naka pending sa Senado.”
“We cannot just adopt the House version. It never has happened before. Not in my memory.”
“Alam natin nababago from NEP pag lumabas sa HOR yan at na-approve ang HOR version maraming nababago roon. Ito lessons learned for example ang P8B na nagamit para sa free tuition doon galing sa malinaw na violation ng organic act ng ARMM. Kaya noong kaming magkakasamang mga senador nagkaisa-isa na huwag natin ipasa yung DPWH projects na mag-i-implement ang national government na di pwede because of the organic act.”
“Hindi option na i-adopt namin ang HOR version especially so na alam naming napaka-contentious napaka-controversial at napakagulo ng nangyaring palitan ng mga PAPs sa NEP.”

On whether the reenacted budget will affect pay hike for cops:
“I donโ€™t think it will be affected. May savings from MPBF na pwedeng i-realign. Tutal ang PNP, ang AFP, ang uniformed services they are under the executive branch. Walang problema sa violation ng cross-border realignment. Kasi pwede mag-realign talaga within sa jurisdiction. Di maapektuhan yan.”

On whether a reenacted budget will affect the Senate relocation efforts:
“Senate relocation, lalong di maapektuhan. This yearโ€™s budget may P1.5B na naka-appropriate. So I am not worried at all na ma-delay ang Senate relocation because meron na naman another P1.5B and we can proceed as scheduled.”

On reported plans by the PNP to set up an Alsa Masa-type network vs insurgency:
“The PNP should consider learning the painful lesson of the past kasi ang Alsa Masa sa Davao City, fine kasi na-arrest talaga ang problema ng insurgency roon because at the time talagang exigency tawagin na natin because Davao City became the laboratory ng CPP-NPA sa kanilang insurgency-related activities. So Alsa Masa, it was very successful. Elsewhere in Mindanao I think Northern Mindanao, ang Kuratong Baleleng na parang commissioned ng AFP para tulungan sila sa insurgency problem. Later on nang na-dismantle na kasi na-outlive na ang usefulness or na-accomplish ang objective, walang control at walang programa sa pagbalik sa normalization. So ang nangyari, even some members of the Alsa Masa, they resorted to next career path nila napunta sa crime. Ganoon din nangyari sa KB dahil wala naman nagsusustento and they were armed. At sanay sila na may power. So nauwi sila sa bank robbery, kidnapping.”
“So yan ang dapat tingnang mabuti ng PNP if they seriously consider parang engaging the services of an Alsa Masa-type organization. Kailangan tingnan nila ang exit program maayos, structured at organisado para sa ganoon hindi mag-spin out of control. Nariyan pa ang supervision.”
“Thatโ€™s another point… para kang mag-engage ng parang second force with all the logistics available with all armaments and all the support given to them, parang admission yan na di namin kaya mag-isa, kailangan namin ng tulong ng ibang organized groups. But the real issue is it could be very dangerous.”

On the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping:
“Siguro ang gusto ko makita, explore lang ang possibility na pagusapan ang joint exploration ng mineral resources in the contested areas sa West Philippine Sea. At least yan pwede ma-add sa economic development ng ating bansa. But remember ang bottom line dito should be 60-40. If we maintain that those areas in the WPS area are ours and we should exercise sovereignty, it should not be violative of the Constitution na 60 percent ang sa atin, 40 percent sa any foreign country. Yan lang nakita kong pwedeng i-tackle, explore ang possibility na magkaroon ng joint exploration.”
“During the time of PGMA na JMSU, it was almost successful until nahaluan ng ZTE, ng NBN. Kung di nahaluan ng ganoon at purely oil exploration baka by this time weโ€™re already producing oil in partnership with China. And I know the Chinese government is pretty excited on this particular possibility, na magkaroon ng joint exploration. Because lahat naman ng mga geologist sinasabi nila may oil sa area na yan.”

On raising the issue of drugs coming from China:
“Ang recent information na nakukuha based on na-share ng PDEA, mukhang di naman sa China nanggagaling. Mukhang nabuhay ang Golden Triangle, mukhang ibang areas na pinanggagalingan ng precursor or finished product. Kaya lang kung saan-saang lugar, Itong mga containers na merong ano, mukhang iba ang pinanggalingan, hindi China. Pero nag-transit sa minsan Malaysia or Taiwan. Pero di na yung tulad ng dati na basta drugs, sa China nanggagaling.”

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