Press Release
June 4, 2015

Transcript of Kapihan Sa Senado with Senate President Franklin M. Drilon

Opening Statement

SPFMD: Allow me to make a few statements first. On June 12, for the first time in this administration, and for the first time in the history of the country, the Independence Day flag raising will be held in Santa Barbara, Iloilo to commemorate the 117th Independence Day. It will be in Santa Barbara, Iloilo because that was where the revolutionary government was proclaimed in the Visayas after Luzon with General Martin Delgado as the head of the revolutionary government in Panay at that time.

It will be held in the renovated provincial capital where we will have approximately about 250 guests including about 100 diplomats from all over the world. We want to show in Iloilo what a united political leadership can do in terms of the implementation of the reforms and what a good governance platform was able to do in terms of moving the city and province forward. So, we will be pleased to host the Independence Day on June 12 in Iloilo. Everything is set. We have been preparing for it for the last several months.

Q: On Senator Marcos saying that he cannot support the Palace version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law

SPFMD: It is the prerogative of the committee certainly. Nobody has said that we will not revise the BBL as submitted by the Palace. We have always said that we will review and make sure that the BBL is within the four corners of the Constitution. This is something that all senators agree on. So, we will debate on the substitute bill when it is submitted to the chamber and we have many common grounds, One, it should pass the constitutional test. Two, it should result in peace in Mindanao. Three, that national interest should be served. I don't think the statement of Senator Marcos should cause mass concern. This is the position of the senators from the very start, we will examine closely the BBL. Now, once the committee report has been submitted, we will debate on it. The Senate is a collegial body. No one can dictate. The senators are all independent. They have their own independent assessment of the situation and we will debate on this.

Q: On the President needing to see the senators because of the substitute bill

SPFMD: Di ko pa nakikita ang substitute bill. In fairness, the President said he is ready to meet the senators if necessary. He had asked for the views of the Senate President. At this point, I think, it's premature to talk about that. Let's see the committee report. Let us open it to debate and let's see how divergent the views of the senators are. At that point, we will make an assessment but it's too early to say.

Q: On the Bangsamoro government not giving tax collection to the national government

SPFMD: We will debate on that. It is one of the sensitive points.

Q: On giving parliamentary form of government to the Bangsamoro government

SPFMD: The presidential form of government is in the national government. There is no prohibition on the local government structure. That can be defended.

Q: On the substitute bill causing delay

SPFMD: Nasa pagdedebatihan from the very start. Ang proseso sa Senado, pagsumite ng committee report, pagdedebatihan namin whether it's a substitute bill or an amendment to the proposed draft submitted by Malacañang, we will always debate on it. Sa plenary na 'yon. It will be on the floor for debates.

The substitute bill is the committee report. It's just called a substitute bill because it doesn't refer to Section 1 of the BBL as submitted by Malacañang. So, maybe he wants instead of going through an amendment of the measure, it is more convenient to present for debate a substitute bill. A substitute bill is the result of the hearings conducted in the committee.

Q: On the possibility of the October deadline

SPFMD: Tingnan muna natin kung ano ang kakalabasan ng version ng Senado at ng version ng House. I don't wanna jump on anything.

Q: On including the Committee on Finance

SPFMD: First, there is no appropriation. Whatever appropriations will be in the General Appropriations Act. So, therefore, whatever appropriations will be called for would have to pass through the GAA. It is not an appropriations bill, otherwise we will be looking at the certification of the treasury that there are funds available. So, no, there is no appropriations even in the Malacañang bill. It is just a question of directive to have a black grant but that directive will have to be approved in the GAA. So, doon naming pagdedebatihan yon.

Q: On his proposed amendments to the BBL

SPFMD: I have my own studies but I will not make it public until the debates are in the floor.

Q: On the claim that a Chinese gambling lord's money used to bribe lawmakers into passing the BBL

SPFMD: It's all malicious. I don't want to waste my time on such issues.

Q: On the BBL plebiscite

SPFMD: You only have a plebiscite for the entire government, for the entire country. Under the constitution, the plebiscite is only for the affected areas, nasa Saligang Batas po yan. Di kailangan na buong sambayanan ang boboto dito, yung mga areas lang na affected. The BBL does not contain automatic appropriations. It must go through the budget.

Q: On the economic Cha-cha going beyond other provisions

SPFMD: I think the Senate will not agree to that. We have enough senators that will not agree to such proposal. I, myself, will support the proposed the amendment that will revise the method changing policies in the constitution by inserting the phrase unless otherwise provided by law. That will only be in the economic provisions and I don't think there's any vote in the Senate that will allow that kind of amendment on the political provisions.

Q: On the Palace supporting the economic Cha-cha

SPFMD: I have no idea. I'm not informed.

Q: On Senator Escudero questioning the House's procedure of passing the economic Cha-cha

SPFMD: There are views of experts like Father Bernas which supports the method adopted by the House. I, myself, believe it can be done.

Q: On the issues against Senator Poe

SPFMD: At this stage it's all politics. Why is this politics at this stage? Number one, Senator Poe hasn't said that she will run. Number two, all those questions will be resolved once she files her certificate of candidacy but before that politika lang yan. Hindi naman mareresolve sa media ang mga issues na yan.

Q: On the residency issue of Senator Poe

SPFMD: Walang basehan yon. Sa aming mga abogado naintindihan namin ang prinsipyo ng animus revertendi or intention to return kaya yon pong physical presence ay hindi kailangan in terms of establishing your residence.

Halimbawa ikaw ay taga San Juan. Kahit dun ka nakatira sa San Juan ay pwede kang tumakbo sa Maynila, dahilan sa sinasabi mo, "intention to return." Ganun yun eh. That is, hindi ka kailangan physically present sa isang lugar. Maraming congressmen ganyan eh. May mga bahay sila outside of their districts, and yet they continue to represent their districts.

Because physical presence is not the only factor that the courts will look at in determining residence. Otherwise, hindi ka naman pwepwede na dalawang places ka physically. So the intent to return is a principle that is accepted in jurisprudence.

Q: So obviously, Senator Poe is qualified to run for President or Vice President?

SPFMD: Politika lang iyan.

Q: Sir, is it true na if you are not aware kung sino yung biological father ay questionable na yung pagiging natural-born citizen mo?

SPFMD: At this stage, politika lang lahat iyan. I am being honest. You cannot presume the issue - there is no court at this point who is looking at this issue, and this requires evidence.

Q: Under the law po ba?

SPFMD: Politika lang liyan. It is. Lahat iyan politika. Hindi ba? Because, Wala naman husgado na magde-determine or magju-judge on those legal issues. It is presented to the media, and media is not competent to finally decide on these legal issues. Grace, when she decides to file her candidacy, her qualifications will be determined by the COMELEC and ultimately, by the Supreme Court. Di ba?

Q: Sir kung politika yung kay Senator Poe, paano po yung kay VP Binay?

SPFMD: Darating din sa husgado yun, kaya dapat munang sagutin.

Q: So politika pa rin?

SPFMD: So these are all being aired here in the Senate hearings in aid of legislation and if there are charge there, they must be responded to.

Q: May sinagot po ba si Secretary Mar Roxas na magdeklara na siya for 2016?

SPFMD: Wala pong sumasagot. Hindi pa po sumasagot. Tumatawag nga ako hindi sumasagot. Hindi ako sinasagot.

Wala pang sagot. Kasi nga tumatawag ako diba? Call a friend, diba?

Q: Month of June na po, according to PNoy ay idedeklara na ang standard bearer. SPFMD: Whatever stands is that the standard bearer of the administration will be announced after the SONA.

Q: Not during the SONA?

SPFMD: After the SONA. After last Monday of July - July 27 yata. So the week after the SONA. So you can limit it to July 28 to July 31.

Q: Si Secretary Mar po ba iyan?

SPFMD: Basta may announcement. Di ko alam kung sino eh.

Q: Si President Pnoy pa daw ba ang magaannounce?

SPFMD: Hindi ko pa alam. Any administration candidate - at the very least, the administration candidate for the presidency will be announced.

Q: Sir at this time ano po ba ang ginagawa ng LP leading up to that announcement of presidential candidates? Parang quiet ang LP.

SPFMD: Pray. Pray for guidance. We are still continuing with the organization at the grassroots level to strengthen our Party.

Q: So hindi na po ba magcoconvene ang LP before the announcement?

SPFMD: I do not discount that but there is no notice at this stage.

Q: Clear na po ba nagyon kung sino ang anointed one?

SPFMD: Why don't we just wait for after the SONA?

Q: Si President Aquino, nabanggit na baka tumakbo siya for a local position.

SPFMD: I am not aware of that. I saw it in the papers for this morning, otherwise there is no discussions on that. So I can't have any inputs on that at this point.

Q: Between BBL and ChaCha, ano po ang mas madali i-pass? Ano po ang mas may support?

SPFMD: Titingnan muna namin ang report ni Senator Marcos. How can I judge that this early when he haven't seen the report by Senator Marcos, and how close it is to the divergent views expressed by the different senators throughout these past several months.

Q: Are you not disappointed that hindi na-meet ang June 11 deadline?

SPFMD: That was a desired date to finish it, but this is a democracy. We will work on it.

Q: Nadelay na naman ang filing ng 3rd batch ng mga kaso sa pork barrel scam. Mas mabilis daw yung pag-file sa 1st and 2nd batches. SPFMD: I would assume that the Ombudsman is taking extraordinary diligence in making sure that the charges will pull in court. They are reviewing it and studying it and we just have to wait at this point - so no one can say that this is rushed, that this is politically motivated, it's better that way than to rush it.

Q: May nagsasabi po kasi na mukhang may ally ang Aquino administration sa 3rd batch kaya dinedelay.

SPFMD: That is an insult to the Ombudsman.

Q: Pero DOJ ang mag-fifile diba?

SPFMD: Yes, they said that earlier.

Q: Nung nasa CA, si Secretary De Lima ay nagpromise na mafifile yung third batch kaso nadelay ng nadelay.

SPFMD: I am sure that there are reasons for that, and I am sure that she will explain it if she sees that there is a need for explanations. Q: Wala po ba kayong nakikita na selective justice?

SPFMD: None.

Q: Ano ang edge ni Secretary Mar para manalo sa 2016?

SPFMD: Let us just wait for the anointment of the President, kung sino man ang ia-anoint niya.

Q: Sir, may shortlist na po ba ang LP ng mga senatorial candidates?

SPFMD: Hindi ko alam.

Q: Sinasabi niyo na si Mar Roxas ang possible presidential candidate ng LP for 2016. Ano ba ang mga qualifications niya na nakikita nyo para maging kandidato siya ng LP?

SPFMD: I am sure that Secretary Roxas can present himself as the most qualified candidate. He doesn't need spokepersons.

Q: Sa tingin niyo po ba, ano ang kailangan gawin ni Secretary Mar para tumaas ang kanyang ratings? Sa huling surveys mataas pa rin si VP Binay.

SPFMD: These are just surveys and these are opinions at a certain period. I am sure that over time, Secretary Roxas can present himself as the most qualified candidate to the public.

Q: Sine Die adjournment na next week. Ano po ba ang mga naka-accomplish ng Senate? Ano ang mga mahahalagang bills na naprubahan sa Senate?

SPFMD: First of all, as we are talking now, the bicameral conference committee hearing on the Fair Competition Act is working hard so that by next week, we can present the reconciled version on the floor.

This has not merited much craze in the media because it is always about politics in the media. But I tell you, the Fair Competition Act is a landmark legislation which has not been acted upon in the several previous decades.

It is a landmark reform measure which will level the playing field insofar as private businesses are concerned. The main intention of the bill is to safeguard the welfare of consumers against monopolistic practices by some businesses.

You know cartels are punishable under the Revised Penal Code but it has not been very effective. For example, questions are always being raised about the cartels in the oil industry. We must be able to provide fair competition for the benefit of the consuming public.

The proposed bill will protect businesses - both large and small- against abuses of dominance of position, and other unfair practices that put these smaller Filipino businessmen and their consumers at risk.

The bill will prohibit anti-competitive agreements such as price-fixing. Yan po ang unang dahilan kung bakit ating itinutulak itong reform bill na ito which will benefit our consumers.

We will be putting a new agency called the Fair Competition Commission which will be directly in charge of seeing to it that unfair competition and the anti-trust policy of this administration is properly enforced.

We have also approved on second reading the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act or TIMTA. In this measure we will make the public and let the sun shine on the tax incentives which companies enjoy. Remember that incentives mean taxes being waived in the hope that when you waive taxes the industry or the company can contribute to the general welfare such as expansion of businesses and generating more employment.

The purpose of this bill is to let the sun shine on the secretive incentives granted to the companies. If there is a call for information to the government through the Freedom of Information Act, equally there should also be transparency on the taxes that we are not collecting and waiving in the form of incentives granted to the private sector, so that we will see whether indeed, the public is served by these incentives being granted to these companies.

So these are 2 major bills that we will pass before sessions run out on next week. Of course, there are other measures which are nearing completion in the debates, and we will report on that as we go along.

Q: What is the importance of the Japan trip of President Aquino in terms of defense positioning in the South China Sea?

SPFMD: The defense cooperation with Japan is very important because of this security that we need in the South China Sea, to protect the international passage of ships on this very important body of water. Japan is a very important ally of the country - it is one of the two countries where we have a strategic partnership - and closer partnership and cooperation between the countries will certainly enhance our position that these disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved under the rule of law.

Q: May pwede daw bang gawin ang Senate pagdating dito sa West Philippine Sea issue?

SPFMD: The matter is already before the international tribunal. The conduct of foreign relations is primarily the responsibility of the executive branch. We in the Senate only participate in the ratification or giving consent. Let me repeat that, the conduct of foreign policy is lodged in the chief executive or the President. The role of the Senate is just to concur in the ratification of treaties.

The Senate supports the policy of this government in terms of resolving this dispute peacefully before the international tribunal.

Q: Dun daw po sa Japan trip, parang nagparamdam daw po si Pnoy na he is planning to run for other position.

SPFMD: If you ask me, I think the President will not seek any local position. That is my assessment. Personally, I will prefer that, so that he will become a statesman, not being engaged in day to day debates on certain issues of the country.

Q: Hindi ka in favor of the idea na kapag naging Pangulo ka na, magiging local official ka pa?

SPFMD: Personally, I am not in favor it.

Q: Sir recently, nagkaroon ng paghina ang ating economic growth. Dahil po ba iyan sa underspending?

SPFMD: I am disappointed that underspending in the government has again caused a slowdown in the first quarter. Again, this is a wake-up call. We must push the bureaucracy to spend whatever the budget is allotted. Because approximately 20 percent of our economy would depend on public spending. And if you do not need the budget the budgets allocated and designed to move the economy, then we have problems.

We must push the bureaucracy, and we can no longer keep on citing the chilling effect of the decision of the Supreme Court. That is past. We must move forward and just have to push infrastructure spending in order to boost the economy and meet our targets.

Q: Sa first year po ng Aquino administration po ay yan din po ang criticism, underspending. Nagingat lang po ba ang Aquino administration kaya po may underspending ulit?

SPFMD: I do not know. Whatever it is, what the fact is that there is an underspending. A combination of factors, including the extra care in spending money. Because if you are in the bureaucracy, you are always conscious, with the Ombudsman behind you and watching you, you have the Commission on Audit watching you, the press hounding you - all of these would cross the mind of a bureaucrat when pushing forward his programs but you know, these cannot be an excuse. We just have to keep on pushing the bureaucracy to spend properly what is allotted to them.

Q: Ever since, pinipuna niyo ang underspending. Nasaan po ba ang problema? Sa DBM? Sa bidding?

SPFMD: Again, the bidding process is not the sole responsibility of the government. Dito kasi sa ating kultura, walang natatalo- lahat ay nadadaya. Kapag may natalo, since they no longer get an injuction, they go to the press. The press would raise all kinds of issues, natatakot ang bureaucracy.

For example, the bidding for the second phase of the Iloilo international Convention Center was delayed for several months because of the unwarranted and malicious case filed in the Ombudsman which was ultimately dismissed. Yet the harm was already done, because the project was delayed. It is the best example that I can cite for this delay in infrastructure. You multiply that case a dozen times.

Q: is there any legislation to change that?

SPFMD: Well, it is attitudes eh. The fear of being hailed before the Ombudsman and being pilloried by the press and the COA, these are all factors that come into play.

It's also good though, since you are extra careful. But sometimes even if you are sincere, you don't want to take risks. Kawawa naman ang pamilya mo kapag nasampahan ka ng kaso sa Ombudsman, kahit wala namang basehan. Yung retirement mo, maiipit. Hindi ka na ganuon kasigasig. I have not solution to that yet.

Q: UNA is now talking to NPC. SPFMD: Politika lang iyan.

Q: Sir, may group na magfi-file sa Supreme Court na para manullify yung deal between IBC and RII builders. Isa kayo po dati na nagsabi na ang deal na iyon is bad.

SPFMD: I do not know what has transpired since then. Because they have reported to to me that this deal, forged in the previous administration, has been reformed. After that, I no longer venued any information, they have presented to me the changes made, but otherwise I could not recall anymore what it was.

Q: Ito po bang sa Iloilo, first time gagawin sa Visayas?

SPFMD: First time in the entire Visayas.

Q: So this is historical?

SPFMD: This is historical. In the previous administration, it was done in a number of locations outside of Manila, but the vin de honneur has always been in Malacanang - except this time.

Q: Sir, this is the last time that the President will have his SONA in July. What are we expecting?

SPFMD: Well, I would expect the President would show what the "Tuwid na Daan" platform has brought to this country and on his last year, I would assume, he would push for the remaining items to complete the reforms he has done and show that these reforms are followed and would not be revised whoever is the next President. That's why it is very important to him that these reforms be placed before he leaves office.

Q: On the President wanting to pass the BBL

SPFMD: We are a democracy. We have totally independent branches of government. I think it cannot be denied that the Mamasapano episode delayed the debates on the BBL. No matter what you say, the Mamasapano incident delayed the enactment of this critical piece of legislation that can bring stability, peace and progress to Southern Mindanao.

Q: On the President's endorsement power

SPFMD: I have no doubt about that. He can show that the reforms he has done should be continued by his anointed successor.

Q: On the urgency to have a new PNP chief

SPFMD: I agree it's urgent and a new PNP chief should be appointed because Purisima has resigned as PNP chief. I urge the President to appoint as soon as possible a new PNP chief.

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