Drilon, Villar argue over budget for proposed bamboo law

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 04 2020 10:46 PM | Updated as of Feb 05 2020 12:05 AM

MANILA - The Senate on Tuesday abruptly suspended its session after a verbal tussle ensued between Senators Franklin Drilon and Cynthia Villar over the proposed budget for a bill seeking to institutionalize the country’s bamboo industry.

The argument began when Drilon questioned why P1 billion was allocated for the development of the industry.

“This is a substantial allotment,” the minority leader told the chamber as he sought for an explanation for the allocation.

Senator Cynthia Villar, who proposed the amendment, rebutted Drilon saying: “If we’re going to help the bamboo industry, we should indicate what we’re going to give.”

The original version of the bill - which was derived from an executive order issued by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo - only indicated a 25 percent allocation, instead of a fixed amount.

“I want to remind the senator from Iloilo (Drilon) that his hometown is the bamboo capital of the Philippines,” Villar added.

Drilon snapped back: “I hope that the gentlelady from Las Piñas will stop alluding to personal motives.”

After the suspension, the chamber agreed to postpone the passage of the bill.

‘MISCOMMUNICATION’

Villar attributed the spat to “miscommunication.”

“Akala niya I’m just speaking because I want to contradict him, but no. It’s my amendment,” she told ABS-CBN News when asked about the incident after the session.

“I cleared it with the people (other senators) so I thought okay na din sa kaniya, hindi pala klinear sa kaniya,” she said.

Raising the importance of the bamboo industry to Drilon’s home province was meant to be a compliment, Villar said.

“It’s a compliment that Iloilo province is very good in bamboo. I went there talagang meron silang plantation at processing ng bamboo,” she said.

“Pinupuri ko nga siya,” she said.

Villar said she was not maligning Drilon, saying she too has stakes in the bamboo industry.

“I have a bamboo processing center that makes home stairs... sinu-supply ko sa VistaLand para hanapbuhay ng mga tao,” she said.

VistaLand is the real estate entity owned by Manny Villar, Sen. Villar’s husband and the Philippines’ richest man according to a Forbes list in 2019.