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Senators reprimand PRA chief for 'incessant texts' to prioritize DOT budget

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 21) — Senators expressed dismay over Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) chief Cynthia Lagdameo Carrion for her «incessant texts» asking them to prioritize deliberations on the proposed budget of the Department of Tourism (DOT), where the PRA is an attached agency.

«No one has the right to tell us to stop talking here,» Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said Monday. «It is our duty and our job to perform our work here in the Senate. You do not have the right to tell us what to do here.»

Estrada revealed that Carrion repeatedly texted him and other senators, including Senate President Migz Zubiri, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and Sen. Cynthia Villar, telling them to stop interpellating and hasten the deliberations on the budget of other departments so that the DOT can have its turn.

Estrada threatened to defer deliberations and even slash the department's budget due to Carrion's inappropriate actions.

Senate President Miguel Zubiri echoed the same concern. He argued that they are just performing their constitutional mandate to discuss the budgets of all government agencies.

«We have no right to stop any member of the Senate to ask questions, oppose amendments, and as a Senate President I will not do that,» Zubiri said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros stressed that there should be no “sense of entitlement” when it comes to the budgets of agencies.

“I heard the apology but I think moving forward, words must be followed by action,” she said. “Pagwasto ng ginawa niya hindi lang sa indibidwal pero sa buong institusyon [To correct not only the individual but the entire institution].”

The Senate asked for an explanation from the DOT.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco apologized on behalf of the agency. She said Carrion had also approached her, asking why the DOT budget wasn't being prioritized during Monday's budget deliberations.

«I share in your shock and dismay at the highly inappropriate, unacceptable, and out-of-line actions of the head of the Philippine Retirement Authority, the recently appointed General Manager Cynthia Carrion,» she said.

Frasco said Carrion personally apologized to lawmakers for the inappropriate text messages.

She added