Finally! End to the 2019 Budget Impasse | March 26, 2019

Sen. Lacson joins colleagues in explaining their proposed solution to end the 2019 budget impasse. Sen. Lacson also answered questions on:
– Manila Water’s decision to waive fees over water supply row
– Chico River loan agreement
– claims of former policeman Eduardo Acierto

Quotes from the interview…

On the Senate solution to the 2019 budget row:

[SP Sotto signed the budget but with reservations – that his attestation is limited only to those approved by the bicameral conference committee and ratified by both houses of Congress]

“Hindi pinapasa ang bola dahil persuasive ang sulat ni Senate President. In the final analysis, Presidente pa rin magde-decide kung ive-veto o hindi, o kaya magkakaroon ng conditional implementation ang DBM, di ire-release ang pondo. Sa kanila ang final say. After all, ang authorization phase sa budgeting process hindi pa naman tapos. Until such time the President has finally signed: approved, approved with line-item veto or without, doon makukumpleto ang authorization phase sa budget process.”

“Ito ang latest development. Ito naging action ng bipartisan by the way. After all itong proposal na ito originally came from the minority leader. And siyempre si SP now feels safe kasi I suppose magvo-volunteer si Sen. Drilon na mag-abogado sa kanya pag nademanda siya.”

“We did not do this without info and concurrence of the HOR. It is not as if weโ€™re turning our back on them dahil this morning after we decided on this last night I relayed this to Rep Zamora as designated go-between. Sabi ko sa kanya nag-decide kami kagabi. Ipadala nyo uli enrolled bill at pipirmahan ni SP. Mag-e-express lang siya ng kanyang reservation. So malinaw sa kanila ang gagawin namin, di dahil kami may paguusap na nangyari hindi ang wala man lang pasabi ginawa na namin ito. So gusto ko lang liwanagin na malinaw ang usapan. As a matter of fact binanggit ko kanina na kung sakaling makasuhan si SP, nariyan si FMD magde-defend. Nag-volunteer din si Rep. Zamora: ‘Sabihin mo kay SP Tito I am volunteering to be his lawyer in case makasuhan siya.’ So meron ngayon defense counsel si SP isang No. 1 and No. 2 sa Bar.”

“Gusto lang namin maging transparent. In-inform namin ang HOR and executive branch sa gagawin ng aming SP para transparent, walang taguan. Pangit ang nag-uusap kami kahapon may schedule mag-usap ngayong gabi, tapos ngayon may gagawin ang Senado na di nila alam. Kaninang umaga text ko, tinawagan ko si Rep Zamora.”

On whether SP Sotto’s limited attestation is a compelling reason for PRRD to veto the budget bill:

“Hindi. Ang pinirmahan niya enrolled bill, meron lang siya reservation and attached ang details ng kanyang reservation. So ang call nasa Pangulo pa rin. Kung gusto niya disregard, we will not take it against the executive kasi call niya talaga, siya talaga nag-approve, authorized siya under the Constitution na mag-line item veto. So itโ€™s really their call. But itโ€™s not passing the buck to the palace kasi ang kay SP, para lang protection niya rin just in case baka wala siya sa Senate may kaso siyang hinaharap. Yan ang concern.”

“Itโ€™s his (President Duterte’s) call. Authorized sya ng Constitution to line-item veto or approve en toto. So who are we to question the authority of the President?”

“Letโ€™s not preempt the president kung magve-veto ba siya o hindi. Letโ€™s pick it up from there anong action taken niya once he reads the budget kung anong gagawin niya. Kung approve en toto wala tayong paguusapan na preparation pa ng projects.”

On Manila Water’s waiving of fees:

“Not enough. Kasi marami pa silang dapat ibigay or i-give back sa mga consumers. Noong hearing di ba napagusapan natin kung unilateral sa kanila gawin na lang nila mas makakaganda para wala nang discussion with MWSS. Di pa ginagawa ang Cardona naninigil na sila although thatโ€™s nasa concession agreement yan. Pero dapat sila magkusa na nagkaloko-loko na ang supply ng tubig pagkatapos di pa nasisimulan nasa business plan naaprubahan ang Cardona water treatment naniningil na sila sa consumer. Kung walang water crisis fine because thatโ€™s parang a sovereign guarantee. Pero nagka-crisis dapat umatras sila kaunti huwag muna maningil or i-waive muna sa Cardona water treatment na paniningil.”

On ‘China loan’ for Chico River agreement:

“Kung titingnan nyo ang GAA, tatlo yan. Regular budget, Special Purpose Fund and automatic appropriation. Ang SPF pang-augment sa regular budget ng pangulo kung kakapusin. Pero ang automatic appropriation, hindi namin pakikialaman yan, pagdating ng budget deliberations precisely because sabi ni Sen Drilon ito nagpo-protect kasi kasama rito debt service whether principal or interest payment. Kasama sa automatic appropriation, Ito ang pinakamagadang collateral pagka nangungutang. Parang assurance ito di kami magre-renege. Kasi automatic appropriations nga. But to say pwede i-collateralize ang patrimonial assets mukhang may mali yata roon. Hindi ako mag-a-agreeโ€ฆ Kung pwede isanla mo collateral patrimonial assets ng ating bansa. But the fact remains di darating sa punto na magre-renege tayo kasi committed tayo by way of GAA, kasi ang annual budget natin laging may debt service na nakapaloob under automatic appropriations. (Pag nag-default) bagsak tayo.”

On whether the claims of former policeman Eduardo Acierto should be pursued:

“Yes. Dapat i-pursue kasi siyempre ini-involve ang highest office, ang nag-occupy ng highest position sa gobyerno. Dapat pursue ang investigation just to clear the air, kung may basis ang accusation ni Acierto. I am not saying credible ang accusation, I have seen the report even before the Senate hearing. And ako hindi ko masyadong ma-appreciate except for the photos shown but the details di ko masyadong na-appreciate at the time.

“Pinakita niya sa akin. He went to my office before he was accused, si Acierto.”

“May mga butas (ang report ni Acierto) na hindi ako bilib. Ang sabi ko sa kanya provide me with all the details, di pwede ganito lang papakita mo photographs. Kasi di ba naging issue sa previous hearings namin, ang pic ni Sen. de Lima, kasama si Kerwin Espinosa, pic ni PRRD may kasama kung sino. Hindi masyadong convincing pag pic lang.”

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