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Rm. N-411, House of Representatives, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
+63 2 931 5497, +63 2 931 5001 local 7370

The grossly inaccurate revelation of former senator Franklin Drilon of an expanded “pork barrel” in the House version of the 2008 General Appropriations Bill is malevolently designed to torpedo and derail the forthcoming bicameral meetings on the disagreeing provisions in the House and Senate versions of the national budget bill.

Drilon’s misleading disclosure is intended to create a wedge between the House and Senate on the eve of the one-on-one meeting between me and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and head of the Senate Bicameral Conference Committee panel.

I vigorously oppose the proposal to tax text messaging for the following overriding reasons:

  1. The House leadership has committed that there will be no new taxes during the first regular session of the 14th Congress. We shall abide with this commitment to our people.
  2. Text messaging is the cheapest, fastest and most convenient means of communication particularly for the masses and taxing text messaging would burden the ordinary users.
  3. Even if the tax is imposed on the service provider, it would just the same be shifted to the cell phone user through increased charges.
  4. A tax on text messaging would impair or restrict the constitutionally guaranteed right of communication.
  5. When one buys a cell phone, the price he pays for the unit includes the corresponding value added tax (VAT). Another tax on using the said cell phone for text messaging would be an uncalled for and unreasonable impost.
  6. In lieu of a tax on text messaging, a serious study should be made on the advisability of imposing a windfall tax on service providers considering that the facility of text messaging does not require any additional costs to service providers.

The bicameral Conference Committee on the differing provisions of the House and Senate versions on the General Appropriations Bill (House Bill No. 2454) has decided to work during the Christmas break to finalize the forging of a reconciled bill.

The bicameral report on the 2008 annual appropriations is expected to be ratified on 28 January 2008 when Congress resumes its sessions.

The Committee on Appropriations shall assess and review the President’s budget proposal for FY 2008 on the basis of the congressional primacy in the appropriation of public funds as mandated by the Constitution.

We adhere to the maxim that with respect to the annual budget, “the President proposes, while Congress disposes.”

While we respect the President’s initiative on budget allocations and ceilings, it must be understood that even the “best budget” proposal is far from sacrosanct and impregnable.

Elected officials as well as officers of the military establishment are sworn to protect the Constitution, uphold the rule of law and respect the supremacy of duly constituted civilian authority.

The improvident and recidivist adventurism of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Gen. Danilo Lim and their armed complement in forcibly seizing the Manila Peninsula Hotel to launch their concerted action to cause the fall of the government verily constitutes a violation of their oaths and transgression of penal laws.

This calls for immediate sanctions, arrest and prosecution of the errant parties.

I exhort our people to fully support the government and completely deny any assistance to the transgressors.