Senate may halt 2022 budget debates after DND chief contracts COVID-19

Facade of the Senate of the Philippines building. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Senators censured on Monday an official of a printing office attached to the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) for “drinking alcohol” while attending via video conferencing the plenary debates on the agency’s budget.

Piqued by this “total disrespect” of the Senate, senators agreed to defer the deliberations on the PCOO budget until Tuesday.

The official was identified as Dominic Tajon, the general manager of the APO Production Unit, a government-owned and controlled corporation attached to the PCOO.

“This is total disrespect for the Senate, we are in session. They are inside the session hall virtually and they are taking alcoholic drinks during our session,” said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who also moved that the Senate censure Tajon for his behavior.

His motion was approved.

“This is reprehensible. This is the first time in my 24 years being in the Senate that I hear of a resource person imbibing hard liquor or alcohol during our session,” Drilon added.

“I was also informed by our sergeant-at-arms that Mr. Tajon is drinking alcohol,” Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, the presiding officer, said.

Before this, Gatchalian had reminded the PCOO staff to “conduct proper virtual etiquette.”

“We can see Mr. Dominic Tajon moving around, and we saw some inappropriate pictures of individuals not clothed properly,” he said.

“We can all see you. We can all see what you are doing and keep this as a proper formal hearing. May I remind Mr. Tajon to stop moving around because we are getting very distracted with your camera moving around. Our sergeant-at-arms is quite disturbed with the constant movement of the camera of Mr. Tajon,” he added.

Be present or get zero budget

Aside from deferring the plenary debates on the PCOO budget, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri also said heads of agencies under the PCOO will be mandated to physically attend their budget deliberations on Tuesday.

“We will require all these agencies to be present here like we are every day… Failure to attend for the agency head we just zero their budget,” he said.

Zubiri noted that department secretaries were present when it was their agencies’ budget being deliberated on the floor.

“Sorry, some of them there are my friends, but I’ve been here for three weeks. I haven’t seen my family for three weeks. I come home at two in the morning every day,” he said.

“To see them there in the luxury of their homes, maybe not even wearing pants. It’s really so — I move to defer the budget,” Zubiri added.


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