Press Release
July 22, 2015

Excerpts from the "Beyond Politics Interview" of Senate
President Franklin M. Drilon by Ms. Lynda Jumilia

Q: On Congress' accomplishment

SPFMD: We had very significant laws passed in the past year. This morning the President signed the Philippine Fair Competition Act and the amendments to the Cabotage law. These are very significant because our anti-trust law is found in a very small section of our Revised Penal Code crafted 85 years ago. The reason why we have this Philippine Competition Act because we have no agency that handles unfair trade practices, price fixing which are prejudicial to consumers. This had been pending for 25 years. The President also signed the amendment to the Cabotage law. Before this law, it is more expensive to transport rice from Davao to Manila than from Bangkok to Manila. Right now, domestic shipping is nationalized. With the new law, foreign vessels are now allowed to transports goods to islands where they come from.

Q: What are you expecting to hear from PNoy's SONA?

SPFMD: I really expect the president to make comparisons of where we were when he assumed office in 2010, and where we are today. Fair enough because he is being judged by history, so where were we and where are we today. I am sure he will be able to acquit himself in the eyes of historian with the reform measures that we worked together. The economy has improved. Greece is not anywhere near we are in terms of the robust economy. Yung buhay ng ating mga mahihirap ay siguro naman ay umangat. In fact, the latest SWS survey indicated that there are less people now who consider themselves poor.

I would like to see and hear some firm executive actions on services. Let's face it, MR. I feel the difficulties of our people. So, improvements of the services in this area are very critical. We would like to hear - I am sure the public would like to hear - what is the administration going to do in the remaining months to at least alleviate the situation. We would like to hear how we intend address these difficulties at least in the short term in the next 12 months.

Q: Any other services you think the president should exert more political will on?

SPFMD: Maybe we must be more efficient in spending. The GDP has been stunted and affected by underspending. This is partly because of the very extraordinary care that the bureaucracy would impose in view of a constant threat of a case before the Ombudsman and in view of the Supreme Court decisions. This affects the spending. What is important is we are able to spend what the budget provides for, because 20% of the economy depends on government spending.

Q: When you say the President should exercise political on some shortcomings, do you mean to say that heads should roll?

No, we don't have to go into that. Let's provide more attention, closer supervision and monitoring. For example, I mentioned services, the matter of budget spending, this can be addressed in the next 12 months.

Q: About the reported announcement of the standard bearer of the Liberal Party - of which you are Vice Chairman - tell us what to what to expect next week.

SPFMD: The President will make the endorsement before July 31, after the SONA and so that should be around the 29th, the 30th and the 31st. So an announcement then will be made. People are expecting that the President to endorse Secretary Mar Roxas and I think it's a belief entertained by many sectors.

Q: Is that a valid observation, from your end?

SPMD: Well, given all the circumstances, I think it is a reasonable expectation.

Q: Definitely not on SONA Day?

SPFMD: Definitely not on the State of the Nation Address, nor on the day after the State of the Nation Address.

Q: I understand that during the SONA, because you don't want to inject politics, into what is probably the swan song of the President, but why not on the next day?

SPFMD: Because of you guys, the media. The topic on July 28 will be the State of the Nation Address, right? So you allow the State of the Nation Address this day, and you come in on between the 29th or the 31st.

Q: It is a matter of media management.


Q: When will Secretary Roxas declare? Is he going to make a declaration before the announcement by the President?

SPFMD: I think after the announcement, yes.

Q: So endorse first, then announce later?

SPFMD: Yes and I would expect him to already leave his post after that, so that you know, he becomes a candidate and it becomes untenable for him to continue holding the post as Secretary of interior and Local Governments.

Q: Do you also expect when he declares an acceptance of the endorsement he will also hand in his resignation?

SPFMD: If not immediately, shortly after that.

Q: This endorsement was already rumored by early this year, but of course, Mamasapano happened and there were so many things. But why the perceived delay in the President's endorsement?

SPFMD: There is a perceived delay in the President's endorsement yes but I think the President was trying to consolidate his, you know, working on a coalition. He came into power in 2010 under a coalition, not solely of the Liberal Party but also of other groups. I was the campaign of Team PNoy, which was not an all- LP slate.

So the President would want to preserve this coalition, and all this time, he is trying to consolidate allies of the government and his supporters - and also consulting. You know, this takes a process.

Q: Why does the President keep on talking to Senator Grace Poe? They just had their 5th meeting yesterday.

SPFMD: I think it is a process that the President wanted to go through. Firstly, they would want to establish certain principles in trying to forge and continue the coalition we have had in the last five years.

The first principle is that this administration had undertaken a lot of reforms. Number two, the reforms must be continued by the next administration. Number three, the alliance or group that the President would campaign for should assure him and the good public will have a continuation of these reforms.

Number four, let's face it, in politics, you have to have groups supporting your candidates, and there is nothing wrong, and certainly it is needed that the President talk to his coalition partners to make sure that they are in the fold when he endorses the candidate.

Q: Is also the President asking her to run as the Vice Presidential candidate of Secretary Mar?

SPFMD: Lynda I am not privy, I was not in those meetings, I do not know exactly what were discussed. From what I know there were discussing principles. Whether or not there was an offer of a Vice Presidency, I am not in a position to say at this point.

Q: You said that the President is talking to the coalition partners to make sure they are in the fold, but you don't see the President talking to the Nacionalista Party, for instance.

SPFMD: The Nacionalista Party has said that they have no presidential candidate. If you recall correctly there is no candidate. I am sure that at the appropriate time, meetings will be held with the Nationalista Party.

Q: Do you think Senator Poe will run for President?

SPFMD: Only she can answer that at this point. Neither you or me can tell what she has in mind at this point.

Q: Will the LP prepare for her possible run?

SPFMD: We are prepared for all contingencies.

Q: Let's go to Secretary Mar- does he have all a short list already of possible partners as Vice President?

SPFMD: Not to my knowledge, but certainly if he is anointed and he runs for the Presidency, the vice - presidential candidate must be somebody whom he is able to work with, whom he could trust and be able to work with.

It's his choice at this point.

Q: You name has been floated as one of the possible Vice Presidential candidates, and you are up for re-election.

SPFMD: Lynda, that doesn't any political sense. Why? Because Mar and I belong to the same group - to Region VI, both Hiligaynon. In fact we belong to the same island.

It doesn't make any political sense for Mar to say, "Frank come on, let's run together." I would like to think he is looking at other people you know, not because of anything, but reality of politics will make bring in no advantage to me for the electorate.

Q: Possible Vice- Presidential candidates of LP for 2016.

SPMFD: I don't know, We haven't discussed that yet.

Q: And outside, who are the possible contenders?

SPFMD: As I said, that is a matter that Mar would have to decide as a Presidential candidate - who he work with, who he believe will be of the same thinking as him, and including the President, President Noy's agenda.

Q: Did the LP gave him a free hand to choose? "Bahala kana, ikaw na pumili?"

SPFMD: Ah yes. He has been given that privilege.

Q: What about the senatorial bets? I would imagine that the LP will field a complete slate.

SPFMD: Certainly. We will have a complete slate, from the President down to the last councilor of the last fifth- class municipality.

Q: How many senatoriables are up for election?

SPFMD: There are 6 incumbent senators up for re-election. There are to my count, about 4 whom you will recall, were former senators', who we hear would like to go back and present themselves to the people.

There are a number from the executive branch who would want to present themselves, and a number in Congress who believe that they have enough exposure to be able to give it a try. So many names are being raised at this point.

Q: So the re electionists in the LP are yourself ?

SPFMD: Well myself and TG Guingona, Ralph Recto.

Q: Senator Bam is not on re-election?

SPFMD: No. Then there is Serge Osmena, you have Tito Sotto. I am just talking about who the re-re-electionists are.

Q: But will Serge be in the LP ticket?

SPFMD: I don't know. I can't speak for the Party.

Q: For the Cabinet Secretaries?

SPFMD: I am just discussing those who have signified their intentions. Secretary De Lima. I hear TIEZA general manager Mark Lapid has expressed interest. Tolentino, the Chairman of the MMDA. These are some of the names I have heard.

Q: How about former Secretary Petilla?

SPFMD: Yes, Secretary Petilla but he has not decided what position to go for.

Q: You said it is a reasonable expectation to expect Secretary Mar to be endorsed by PNoy, within the LP and in general. But is there a chance or a probability that he might go for someone else?

SPFMD: I don't know. I have not seen any indication in that regard. But one week is too long in politics.

Q: There is no more party convention in the LP about this?

SPFMD: Wala na. In LP only Secretary Mar has expressed his intent to present himself, so there is no sense in having a convention anymore.

Q: What role do you expect the President to play after the announcement? Will there be a reshuffle of the officers of the LP? Will he remain as Chairman?

SPFMD: Yes, he will be the Chairman. He is a very critical endorser. All that talk about, "You don't need the President's endorsement" is misplaced. Look at our political history: I think at this stage of the President's term, it is President Aquino who has the highest acceptance rating compared to the previous presidents. Of course, the immediate preceding president was extremely negative, it was better not to get endorsed by her at the time.

The President has a very strong endorsement value, and he will play a critical role during the campaign.

Q: On Presidential Endorsements

SPFMD: The only thing that we should not forget at this stage of his incumbency, the President has a very substantial rating, a high trust rating which is not true in the previous presidents. Endorsements then could not be equated to a good support because they themselves had a negative perception. This President has a very high rating at this point, the fifth year of his presidency.

Q: Do you feel that it is transferable to whoever he is going to endorse?

SPFMD: Why are they seeking the President's endorsement? Binay was seeking the President's endorsement, right? Do not forget, in 2013, we had a Team PNoy and we stood in the platform of good governance as espoused by a common President and we won nine out of twelve. That is a (unclear) of his endorsement. To say that the President's endorsement at this stage has no value, is wishful thinking.

Q: On Roxas placing fourth in the last survey and how much points an endorsement will have on Roxas

SPFMD: I would not know. An endorsement would have different values on different periods of our political history. That is my theory. Certainly, the value of the endorsement of the previous President would be value-less as compared to the endorsement value of President PNoy today. What percentage? I do not know, that is speculation.

Q: On whether Roxas' ratings will go up once endorsed by PNoy

SPFMD: Yes, it will certainly have an effect. Again, the endorsement of the President cannot pull him down, it will only pull him up. That is difficult to dispute.

Q: On announcing the running mate and the LP ticket

SPFMD: It is pure speculation at this point. At the latest, that should be in the filing in October. Insofar as the Vice President, I would expect that sooner. Within a short period after the endorsement is made, then the vice-presidential candidate would be announced. Insofar as the senators are concerned, it will probably take a little more time, probably in October.

Q: On Drilon's pet bills

SPFMD: First the GOCC Governance Act. I wrote that bill. The Sin Tax Law, I shepherded that, and because of that we generated Php 50 billion more in excise taxes which we used for our universal health care program. I pushed for the law and I authored the law, which saved the livelihood of our seamen because we were being threatened with being blacklisted. There are a number which I can't enumerate.

Q: On why Roxas is not frequenting the markets, despite his "Mr. Palengke" brand

SPFMD: I do not know the strategies of Secretary Mar.

Q: Are you going to play a role in his campaign?

SPFMD: I will contribute as an adviser in the campaign, but I will be handling my campaign (unclear) so I cannot devote that much time in the candidacy.

Q: Unlike in 2013 with Team PNoy, you were not running.


Q: On whether PNoy's reforms will remain even before the Aquino administration.

SPFMD: Support the President's candidate. That will assure that the reforms instituted will be carried. That is precisely a major concern in the discussion among our coalition partners on who the President will endorse in 2016. Who will best continue the reforms that he has started.

Q: On federalism and Duterte as President

SPFMD: Federalism is not easy because we are an island nation. We are very fractious. We are composed of so many "tribes", therefore federalism becomes very difficult in terms of governance. I am not prepared to say that I am endorsing federalism,

I would rather have a strong government. Given our culture, given our geographic situation, I would rather have a strong unitary government at this point.

Q: On the Bangsamoro Basic Law

SPFMD: Other than the budget which we intend to pass before the year is over, we intend to have on top of our agenda, the Bangsamoro Basic Law. I would expect that the Committee Report of Senator Marcos would be filed when we come back in a week's time and we will give it our priority. Of course we have to make sure that it is within the four corners of our Constitution.

In the past administration, that MO-AD argument in the Supreme Court, I was a principal petitioner therefore I know the pitfalls of having a law which would be constitutionally infirm. I will be among those who will scrutinize the BBL to make sure that it is consistent with our Constitution.

Q: On whether the LP is united behind Roxas

SPFMD: I do not see a split down the road. The LP is united behind Secretary Roxas. I can assure you, there will be no split down the road.

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