Drilon, Villar clash over bamboo bill
MANILA, Philippines— Tensions ran high on Tuesday between Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Cynthia Villar over the proposed bamboo industry development in the country.
It started when Drilon asked about the budget being earmarked for bamboo as provided for under Senate Bill No. 1240.
“Because the way it’s phrased, we’re already earmarking P1 billion for the greening program only for bamboo. This is a substantial allotment and allocation so I think if the sponsor can kindly give us an explanation of why a budget of P1 billion is being put up,” Drilon said, directing his questions to Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, sponsor of the bill.
“Because when the General Appropriation Bill is prepared, we already allotted P1 billion without any explanation and rationalization for this earmarking,” the minority leader said.
It was Villar, head of the Senate committee on agriculture, who responded to Drilon’s query, noting that there are two executive orders, which she said provide for the earmarking of 25 percent of the greening program for bamboo.
Drilon contradicted Villar, explaining that the earmarking refers to “25 percent of the area, and not 25 percent of the budget.”
“I’m just asking the senator that if we’re going to help the bamboo industry let’s indicate what we’re going to give the bamboo industry,” Villar later said, to which Drilon agreed.
“And I want to remind the senator from Iloilo, that you’re the bamboo capital of the Philippines…” she added.
“No… That’s immaterial…” Drilon quickly said as he turned his back to return to his seat.
But Villar went on: “You have the best bamboo plantation in the Philippines…”
Drilon went back to the rostrum and protested at his colleague’s remarks.
“I hope that the gentlelady from Las Piñas will stop alluding to personal motives…” he said.
“Even if Iloilo does not have a single peso if, in fact, we can justify P5 billion, I will support P5 billion but we can’t just say P1B and we don’t even know how it was arrived at?”
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto had to intervene and explained Drilon’s point in asking about the budget.
The Senate later decided to defer the discussion on the bill.
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