(THIS transcript of a press interview with Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile on Sept. 15, 2008, can help clarify issues on the “double insertion” of P200 million for the C5 road in the 2008 budget. Enrile, now Senate president, was then chairman of the finance committee that worked on the budget, while Sen. Manuel Villar was the Senate President.)
JPE: You cannot fund a project of this magnitude with one shot. It has to be done over a certain period. For 2008 put an additional budget of P200 million for this. When the budget was approved on second reading in the House, somebody moved to amend the word “C5” and put “Carlos P. Garcia.” So the name of the project was changed in the House. When it reached us we did not bother anymore to see that. Because we had an advance copy of the budget proposal of the President, it remains C5 here and when I asked for amendments for the senators, Manny Villar added P200 million for the construction of this road, so the total allocation for 2008 was P400 million.
Q: So additional budget lang yun. Walang issue don.
JPE: Even the Public Works, that was their explanation.
Q: Maraming projects naman na dinadagdagan nyo ng pondo?
JPE: Marami. Ako I added P300 million to the Supreme Court. I added money to feed prisoners in all the jails in the country outside Muntinlupa.
Q: Sir, pa-clarify lang yung sinabi nyo, yung kay Senator Villar. He added which one?
JPE: P200 million.
Q: Saan pong project?
JPE: Sa C5.
Q: Ah, si Senator Villar po. Pero it’s a different stretch or which one?
JPE: It’s the same stretch, that’s the only one, that’s the whole project. C5 project is I understand from the Department of Public Works. The total cost of that project is P4.290 billion. One billion had already been spent. Now for 2008 the Office of the President submitted to Congress an additional expenditure of P200 million. When it reached the Senate, based on my record, President Villar proposed an amendment by adding P200 million more to that P200 million allotted by the Office of the President.
Q: Sir, bakit yung ibang senador hindi aware na pinadagdagan yan?
JPE: I don’t know whether they are aware , but that is for their….
Q: Walang malisya dun sa pagdadagdag?
JPE: Wala. Lahat naman kami ay nagsa-submit ng amendment lang sa budget.
Q: Sir, at what point pumasok yung amendment, at what point within the budget, sa floor or sa bicameral?
JPE: The budget is like any other law. It goes to a first reading sponsorship, then second reading debate, then it goes to a period of amendment, committee amendment muna, and then later on individual amendment. Doon ipinasok yon.
Q: Tapos sabi nyo napalitan yung pangalan, saan napalitan yung pangalan?
JPE: Doon sa House.
Q: Ah, House ang nagpalit ng pangalan.
JPE: During the period of individual amendment, I think. I don’t know who’s the congressman who called the attention of the House that this road is no longer C5 but Carlos P. Garcia Avenue.
Q: Sir, napalitan before it was transmitted here?
JPE: Napalitan before.
Q: Pero yung second hindi napalitan?
JPE: Dito sa amin hindi namin pinalitan.
Q: There’s no corruption and no intention to….
JPE: Well, I’m just stating the facts. I do not know whether there was any intention or anything.
Q: Pero tingin niyo, sir, walang malice yung nangyari?
JPE: Kaya nga I’m doing this, as far as I’m concerned I don’t think there was any intent to steal any money from the government.
Q: Kanino po pumabor?
JPE: Pabor? Pabor sa bayan.
Q: Bakit hindi na-release….
JPE: Hindi pa nila nire-release, dahil yung amendment ng senador, nasa discretion ng Malacañang whether they will release it or not.
Q: Sir, aside from Villar meron pang ibang senador na nag-insert dun sa budget?
JPE: Ah, marami.
Q: Puede pangalanan niyo?
JPE: Saka na lang pag inimbestigahan na. Pero lalabas lahat yan. I’ll submit the list.
Q: Pero, sir, sa period of amendments po pinasok yung 200?
JPE: Yeah, individual amendments.
Q: Bakit other senators are claiming na hindi sila aware dun sa nangyaring paglalagay ng additional budget?
JPE: I don’t know about them, but if you’re not aware, that’s your problem. You’re supposed to be alert. Walang palusutan dito. We have been always doing this practice because of the very voluminous size of the budget document. Thousands of pages yan eh. We require all the senators to submit their individual amendments in writing.
Q: Clarify ko lang, there’s no double entry nor double appropriation?
JPE: There are two figures.
Q: Not double entry?
JPE: To cover the cost of finishing of C5, and with those two figures you cannot finish the C5. That’s the way I’ll put it.
Q: So, sir, aware kayo from the start na nagpasok, nag-amend, si Senator Villar?
JPE: Hindi naman kinakaila yan. Kasi it is in writing.
Q: Kasi nung una sinasabi nyo na it’s a human error, nung unang sagot nyo.
JPE: It is a human error in the sense that pinalitan nila ang pangalan sa House ng hindi namin pinalitan dito.
Q: Pero nung hilingin ni Lacson na huwag ipalabas yon dahil ang dating double entry pero kahit pala ilabas yon, kumbaga additional budget lang pala talaga kahit ipalabas yon.
JPE: Di ba dito nagdagdag kami kagaya nung dinadagdag dun sa Department of Health. Any amount saved below 21 billion interest or foreign loans, added to the budget of DOH.