Cynthia Villar loses cool, curses at Senate budget hearing

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 22 2021 06:35 PM | Updated as of Oct 22 2021 07:06 PM

Sen. Cynthia Villar lost her cool at a Senate hearing on Friday. Screengrab
Sen. Cynthia Villar lost her cool at a Senate hearing on Friday. Screengrab

MANILA— Sen. Cynthia Villar on Friday lost her cool during Senate deliberations on the proposed 2022 budget of the National Tobacco Administration (NTA), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The NTA is seeking a P505.494 million for next year.

Villar initially asked for the breakdown of NTA's proposed budget, looking for a specific program to assist tobacco farmers.

Under the NTA proposal, P210 million will be allocated to Personnel Services, P95 million to Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses, and P200 million to Capital Outlay (CO) and Tobacco Production Assistance, according to the NTA budget officer.

"Eh di wala nang natira? Ano ba yan! P***ng ina!" a visibly irked Villar said. The senator was seen throwing her pen. 

(So nothing more is left? What?)

The NTA’s budget officer then reasoned that part of the Capital Outlay includes the agency’s project for tobacco farmers, prompting Villar to order that such undertaking be removed from the CO.

"Ang iyong overhead ay 60 percent of your budget. Please realize that. Ang allowed lang sa overhead is 50... Wala kayong project for the people," Villar noted.

(Your overhead is 60 percent of your budget. Please realize that. What's allowed for overhead is only up to 50 percent... You don't have projects for the people.)

A hard copy of the NTA’s proposed budget was later on provided to Villar. The senator quickly identified the project that the NTA official was referring to under their proposed budget’s CO.

"Talagang 60 percent ang overhead niyo, 40 percent ang project. Ikaw naman. Kasi ang regulatory, 'yang research eh mga overhead 'yan. Hindi yan sinasama sa project. Alam naman natin. Naku, hilig na hilig na ilalagay 'yan eh. Palusot lang 'yan, palusot lang 'yan,” an irritated Villar said.

(Your overhead is really 60 percent, 40 percent for projects. Regulatory, research that's overhead. That's not included in the projects. We all know that. Why do you like putting it there.) 

Sen. Imee Marcos also noted that tobacco farmers have yet to receive cash assistance, as earlier promised by the government.

She also registered her discontent upon hearing the NTA’s budget presentation for next year.

"Hala! So walang nakuhang cash ang mga farmers," said Marcos.

(Oh no! So farmers didn't get any cash?)

Villar also fumed after seeing a budget entry that she found questionable.

"Ang sabi dito, 'Provision of Production Technical Marketing Assistance.' P***ngina puro nakaw 'to," Villar remarked.

(It says here 'Provision of Production Technical Marketing Assistance.' This is all corruption!)

The official then attempted to explain such entry, but Villar quickly cut him off.

"Tigilan na natin 'yang technical assistance 'yan. Alam naman nating drama lang 'yan ng taon. Naku naman, Diyos ko. Terible," the senator said.

(Let's stop calling it technical assistance. We all know it's just drama. Oh god, terrible.)

Villar later on instructed the DA officials to revise the NTA’s proposed budget.

The DA’s proposed P72-billion budget for 2022 was approved for plenary deliberation, pending the submission of the revised NTA budget.