Interviews: Meeting with the President on the 2019 Budget | March 13, 2019

In interviews with CNN Philippines and with Senate media, Sen. Lacson narrates what happened during lawmakers’ meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on the 2019 budget on March 12.

Quotes from the interview…

On the outcome of the meeting:

“Walang naging resolution. Parang bumalik lang kami where we were before we went to Malacanang last night. Naging usapan lang, si PRRD, hindi siya ang nag-i-impose.”

“Last night he just listened. And then nang narinig niya palitan ng kuro-kuro he suggested, I would suggest i-resolve ninyo among yourselves, where you will be comfortable with. Parang ganoon.”

On President Duterte not signing the bill if SP Sotto does not sign it:

“Pag-upo pa lang yan sinabi niya. ‘Ganito, basta walang pirma ang SP, I will not sign the enrolled bill.’ And rightly so. Paano siya pipirma dahil bicameral tayo dahil isa lang leader ng Congress nakapirma? Emphasize niya talaga yan. In other words, message niya is, kung ako naka-interpret dahil nakapagsalita na siya the night before sabi niya I will not sign any document that is illegal. And that’s the position of the Senate.”

On P95 billion to SGMA allies:

“Not only that. Pagusapan muna natin DPWH, tapos na tayo sa DOH-HFEP. Kaya nagkagulo, P25M binigay sa kaalyado ng Speaker at P8M binigay sa hindi bumoto. Kaya ang 62 congressmen, several of them pumunta sa amin. Di lang ako kausap, pati si SP, FMD, nakausap din nila at nirereklamo nila kung pwede kami magquestion. Di namin para question yan. Sa DPWH ang net increase ng HOR, P95B.”

“Ang pinakamasama roon, P72.319B ginalaw nila ang Major Final Output ng DPWH. Meaning pag sabi mong MFO, kasama ang Build Build Build program ng gobyerno. Kung pati yan kakalikutan mo at reallocate sa distrito para sa kanila, di ba in effect derail mo programa ng national govt?”

On PRRD’s reaction to Sen. Lacson’s revelation:

“Nakatingin lang siya. Kaya si Sec Dominguez when I suggested, bakit di i-recall ng HOR ang pinadala nila sa Senate at advance copy ng Malacanang dahil definitely di yan pipirmahan ni SP? SP sabi di pipirmahan kasi maging prone siya sa criminal complaint. Certify mo ito in-approve namin, baka wala na siya sa Senate makasuhan pa.”

“Sabi niya (Dominguez) maganda ang suggestion. He and ES they endorsed favorably ang suggestion ko i-recall, submit sa Pangulo. Maski may lump sum, bahala ang Pangulo mag-veto line item veto ng lump sum.”

On Speaker Arroyo’s reaction:

“She was quiet all the time. Nang sinabi ko yan, kung halimbawa ma-reallocate dito, nakatabi sa GAA di mawawala yan. DBM pag veto ng Pangulo, di pwede release ng DBM.”

“Kung 100B ang lump sum dahil di umabot ang itemization ng House, dahil post-bicam di namin papayagan. Halimbawa 100M line item veto, probably pwede para pagbigyan ang ilang congressmen pwede itemize, there’s a constitutional way to do it. Pwede supplemental budget involving that P100M lump sum appropriation tapos pagbigyan ang congressmen.”

“When I mentioned the P72B impart kong message kay Pangulo ito hwag sana galawin ito, sa inyo ito, baby nyo ito. Doon nagsalita si Rep Andaya na malaking mawawala sa amin kasi 72B. Bakit yan pinakialaman nila, dumaan sa masusing pag-aral? Yan ang SC ruling grave abuse of discretion. Pinagaralan ng ahensya, kaya MFO. Then whimsically, arbitrarily reallocate nyo sa district ninyo?”

On line item veto and supplemental budget:

“Pag nag-exercise ng line item veto ang Pangulo, siyempre hindi ire-release dahil lump sum. Kasi unconstitutional eh. There are 3 major provisions sa ruling ng SC. Bawal lump sum, post-enactment at grave abuse of discretion. The way to do it, suppose there’s hundreds of billions in lump sum na di kailangan veto ng Pangulo. Pag veto niya, by way of supplemental budget doon pwede itemize yan at adopt ano nilagay ng mga congressmen. The other way is kaya lang medyo tedious, suggestion ni FMD na reconvene ang bicam. That’s going to be tedious if not contentious.”

“When I suggested that i-reallocate or itemize, it doesn’t necessarily mean Pangulo mismo mag-itemize. Pag line item veto, may lump sum talaga. Ang di namin maintindihan bakit ang HOR hinintay ma-ratify bago sila mag-realign. Problema sa realignment, that’s basically an amendment.”

On House manipulations affecting ‘Build Build Build’:

“Ito masama, P72.319B, ito ang appropriations na nakalagak sana sa MFO ng DPWH, 1 and 2. Ito ang ginalaw nila. At ni-reallocate nila sa mga distrito. Sabi ko Mr President, ang masama rito legacy program ninyo ang Build Build Build. Dahil nagalaw ang substantial amount of P72B, nireallocate sa distrito, madiskaril ang Build Build Build. Ano ito? Asset Preservation Program (maintenance ng bridges, roads, bldg), Network Program (road network, primary roads), pinagaralan ng DPWH at presented sa Cabinet and DBCC at approved ng Cabinet. So bakit papakialaman ng congressmen, biglang tatanggalin ang 72B, kasi unang nakita ko MFO1 and MFO2 216B yan. Kung kaltassan ng 72B that’s effectively 30% of the MFO diskaril ang programa ng govt. And then P70B para itago, inalis sa 87 DEOs nilipat sa DPWH central office. Ginawa ito dahil una baka magkainggitan. Kung nakita ng kasamahan nila nakalagak sa DEO na more often than not, tama sa political district.”

“Ang net increase P95B. Out of the P95B, P79B internally, ito sabi ni Rep Castro huwag pakialaman bahay nila. E unconstitutional yan eh. that’s everybody’s concern. Since we have a bicameral system of govt, di pwedeng di pakialaman ng Senado because what we will submit to Malacanang as an enrolled bill is the same enrolled bill the Speaker of the HOR has already signed.”

“We will not also allow our SP to be exposed to possible criminal charges or criminal investigation later on because that’s tantamount to falsification of the records of the legislative process. Ang sine-certify kasi pag nagpirma ng enrolled bill, yan ang inaprubahan sa plenaryo, which it is not. Ang inaprubahan namin di kasama ang amendments nila kasi post-bicam na yan.”

On the meeting’s atmosphere:

“Very civil. Before PRRD arrived, very civil, nagbibiruan nga.”

“Ang attitude niya (PRRD), every time kausap namin siya di lang issue na ito, as much as possible nire-respect niya ang separation of powers. Sabi niya basta kayo resolve nyo yan, ayoko makialam diyan ayoko kayo utusan. Kaya ako narito gusto ko mag-arbitrate para mapagusapan, para maayos. And since hindi naayos, we’re now back to where we were before we went to Malacanang last night.”

“She (SGMA) was quiet all the time. It was all Nonoy Andaya. Nobody else spoke except Nonoy Andaya.”

On possible charges for violating the Constitution:

“Ang bottom line sa amin mga senador, we will now allow the SP to violate the Constitution and to commit the crime of falsification. And klaro yan. So stalemate na naman kasi kung ipipilit ng mga congressmen or ng HOR na ang printed copy nila ay yan ang enrolled bill, di makakarating ng Malacanang yan because sinabi ni PRRD pag walang pirma ni SP di ko yan pirmahin, Of course an enrolled bill should be signed by the speaker and SP. It’s not going to be enrolled bill kung walang pirma isang House.”

“Ang House, huwag nila kami pilitin mag-violate ng Constitution. Huwag kami isama kung gusto nila mag-violate. Since SGMA already signed the HOR version of the enrolled bill, she’s already prone to being charged for falsification because she’s already certified something that did not take place. Certify mo ito approved sa plenaryo. Pareho ng niratify naming bicam report sa Senate.”

“Consummated na yan. She already signed. Di consummated ang GAA but the act of signing a falsified document is already consummated. So any taxpayer can go to the Ombudsman or DOJ to file a criminal complaint against her for falsification.”

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