Press Release
September 8, 2015

Transcript of Bulong Pulungan with Sen. Cynthia Villar

Villar: In the Senate now, my committee is the Committee on Agriculture and Food and Committee on Government-Owned Corporations. Because Chiz Escudero left the finance committee, there were reassignments. They gave me the vice chairmanship of the budget of the Department of Agriculture. The text scam is a personal battle for me. Because for the last two years, they have been doing this text scam. They are telling people that they won something in the raffle of the Villar Foundation. It's black propaganda against us and at the same time they are asking the people for money. Usually the victims are the poor people. Like for example, I reimbursed P5,000 to a janitor of NAIA. Kasi he approached me in NAIA and told me that he was asked to deposit P5,000 so he can collect the winning. It's a house and lot from Villar Foundation. Siguro one month salary niya yung P5,000, naawa naman ako binayaran ko na lang. I cannot go on paying because that might be another scam. I feel for the poor people having this false hope. Kahit ba P500 lang, that's big for them. I have been reporting this to NTC for the last two years. And they are not doing anything. I think I'm not the only one na na-scam, all of us have been victims of black propaganda thru text. There is another issue that the text is being used for terrorism. We are trying to hear these issues so we can file a bill together with Sen. Sotto to demand a mandatory registration of prepaid SIM.

Q: Where is the bill now?

Villar: We have finished the hearing in the committee. We're supposed to do a committee report. We're in a hurry because of the time limit. We will have a break by October 8 because the candidates will have to file on Oct. 15. We will go on break from October 8 to November 3. After that we will have Nov. 13 to Dec. 18, go on a Christmas break and come back third week of January. Then by February, we have to suspend session until after election. We have very limited time. When we come back on Nov. 3, we have to do the 2016 budget until Dec 18. So when we want to pass bills, we have to pass it before October 8.


Villar: Malabo na. because we have only five weeks to go from here to October 7. Five weeks of three days, so that's a total of 15 session days. I don't think we will be able to pass it.

Q: Telcos are against the mandatory registration bill?

Villar: Yes because in 2001, the NTC issued a memorandum mandating that the telcos will have to do mandatory registration of prepaid SIM card. But they got a TRO from the court until now. They think if we pass the bill, we will have a TRO again. Ang reason nila is invasion of privacy. At least we have to do something. Walang solusyon, eh. We were all victims of black propaganda thru text. The NBI said that they arrested a syndicate which has P100 million worth of load collected out of text scam. I think they are selling it to propagandists because there is no traceability. They can sell it for a lesser amount.

Q: Abroad, most of the countries require registration...

Villar: Yes.

Q: Where do you think they get the numbers?

Villar: I think they get it from inside the telecom. They are being paid, without the knowledge of management. They can do that, yung mga employees... Sometimes they use it for marketing, they pay for the list. They can use it for a good and bad cause.

Q: I hope something comes out of it even if you get a TRO..

Villar: Yes, that's why we are decided on passing it. At least we have done something. I think we delivered the message to them that we're serious about it.

Q: But the TRO will only last 15 days...

Villar: Yes, but they are big companies. They have a lot of influence also... But I guess we can justify that these are really used for scam and terrorism.

Q:You are the main proponent?

Villar: For the text scam, but it is Sen. Sotto for terrorism.

Q: Abroad the telcos are complying...

Villar: I think because the national telecommunication commission is cooperating. They should be the one to do it because they are the regulatory agency. They are not doing it. I think they are very influential over telcos kasi regulatory sila. Nagtataka ako why they cannot do anything.

Q: Is your son running for the Senate?

Villar: Not sure. He still has one term in Congress. He can still run for it.

Q: Are you running?

Villar: If I want to run in 2019, I can still run because you are entitled to two terms of six years.

Q: On the Nacionalista Party

Villar: We are five in the NP in the Senate. Sen. Pia, Alan, Trillanes, Bongbong, and myself. The problem with us is we have three vice presidentiables. We cannot comment until they have decided what to do. In fairness to them, we have to wait for them to decide.

Q: What are they waiting for?

Villar: The survey before October.

Q: On Alan Cayetano

Villar: I don't know if he will run if he is not selected by LP. Ang open na lang sa kanya because Duterte is not running is Mar Roxas.

Q: NP will choose who to support as VP...

Villar: I think we will go free zone kapag marami sa kanila. Kasi hindi mo naman mapipilit ang party members mo kung pare-pareho naman silang NP.

Q: Is it probable that Bongbong will join BInay? There is news that there will be a proclamation at the Philippine Arena.

Villar: I'm not sure.

Q: How much would a presidential candidate spend?

Villar: Depende siguro . If the perception is you don't have much money, there will be less expectation from the people who will support you. If they think you have more money, then more expectations. Siguro ranging from P2 to P4 billion.

Q: Sabi ng Smartmatic you cannot cheat...

Villar: Even the European countries they have abandoned the automated election. They did a hybrid, voting is not automated but transmission is automated. Many of them abandoned the automated. The problem with automated, if there is cheating, you wouldn't know where to start. We know the program can be hacked or changed. You can never be sure.

Q: Who would you personally support as president?

Villar: I cannot comment on that. We're heading a political party. A comment from us will affect the stand of the party.

Q: What is the strength of the party vs NPC?

Villar: We have 5 senators, 27 congressmen, 10 governors, 10 vice governors, 150-200 mayors. I think pareho lang. We have more senators.

Q: Ang NPC?

Villar: Dalawa, Sen. Sotto and Legarda.

Q: Nacionalista ba yung nag-join sa LP?

Villar: I think local. Tinawagan nila ang local, nagsabi sila sa amin. We allowed them.

Q: Who are the LP senators?

Villar: Sen. Drilon, Recto, Guingona, and Bam Aquino.

Q: Do you really vote according to partylines?

Villar: Kami, we really vote.

Q: Do you consider yourselves opposition?

Villar: Hindi naman. Critical collaboration. Alam mo naman ang mga member namin matatapang.

Q: Anong party ba si Miriam?

Villar: Independent.

Q: Do you think she'll run?

Villar: No, may sakit siya.

Q: Will Sen. Manny Villar run?

Villar: No. He's very busy. He has been in politics for 21 years. Suddenly he realized he lost a lot of time. He has gone a long time out of his business. Now he is back. Noong 2010 kasi ang kanyang focus politics kasi senator siya. But now that he is a businessman parang mahirap nang ibalik. Nakuha na niya ang momentum sa business. It's a matter of getting the momentum.

Q: Do you still ask for his advice?

Villar: Yes. We always talk about this. Kasi mas marami siyang experience sa Senate.

Q: Does he ask for your advice?

Villar: With regards to what?

Q: Your expenses?

Villar: No. Pareho kaming kuripot so we don't quarrel about money.

Q: Who do you think is the better senator?

Villar: Depende. Si Manny kasi, iba kami. As a person, just like all women, mahilig tayo sa detail. We're more detailed in our work. Siya naman visionary. Magaling siya sa long-term planning. Alam niya what will happen two, three or five years from now. I don't have time for that because I am so engrossed with my detailed work. Kapag visioning, siya iyon. Kapag araw-araw na work mas matiyaga syempre ako.

Q: Is there a possibility that we are going back to two-party system?

Villar: I don't think so. Alam mo noong mag-vote sila for a system of government, I think the parliamentary lost by one vote. Ang nangyari, yung multi-party system is really adopted to a parliamentary form of government. Dapat talaga sa presidential, two-party system. Tayo mixed, multi-party system in a presidential form. Kaya medyo magulo tayo. Kapag may nanalong presidente, lahat maglilipatan sa party niya. Kapag natalo na siya, doon naman sa kabila lilipat. Tapos parang walang stand ang party. Kapag tinanong mo platform ng party, parang magulo. But us sa NP, we try to stand for something. Sinasabi nga ni Manny, we asked for our independence from foreigners, yung NP noon ang in power. They asked for political independence. When that's all over, we realized that political independence is not enough, to be truly independent, we should be economically independent. We are trying to achieve economic independence by reducing poverty. Kasi we think we can only achieve economic independence if the people are not poor. They can stand up for something; they are not dependent on anybody.

Q: What is the Senate doing to mitigate effects of El Nino?

Villar: It's actually us asking the DA and other departments what they are doing. I think the President has created an inter-cabinet committee to deal with El Nino. Kasi they think El Nino will be worse in the next 12 months than what is happening now. In terms of technology, marami na yung climate-resilient seeds. Halimbawa, may El Nino, you plant seeds which can withstand less water. Hindi katulad noong araw na pare-pareho ang seeds. And then you have to build more water-impounding facility. Kasi sa experience natin, kapag umuulan, maraming tubig, kapag nag-El Nino, walang tubig. So what you do is you store the water while we are having typhoons and use it when there's no water. Iyon nga ang pinag-uusapan ng public works ngayon. Before I came here meron kaming hearing on the budget of DPWH. There are 19 major rivers in the Philippines. Kapag typhoon may oversupply of water in these rivers kaya nagkaka-flooding. So what they have to do is an embankment, a catchment basin to store this water and coordinate with the irrigation system so this water can be used for irrigation.

Q: Is there time to build that?

Villar: Yes. Yung basic principle iyon. If you want more, itong major river sana but that would take time about 10 years. So what you do now is create small impounding facilities in the meantime.

Q: DA will do that or DPWH?

Villar: Both. Lahat sila, pati DENR, lahat ng related sa environment and agriculture.

Q: Sen. Romulo had a bill..

Villar: There's a law on water impounding, it was passed in the 1980s.

Q: Is it being followed?

Villar: Hindi masyado kasi sana marami na tayong water impounding facilities.. Kasi kung irrigation lang naman, not for drinking or cooking, you can use it.

Q: What can you do in the agriculture...

Villar: There are climate-resilient seeds. You can adjust your cropping on El Nino. Meron namang crop na can thrive during dry season. Yun lang namang rice that has to have a lot of water. May mga rice seeds na rin na can withstand less water. You just have to educate the farmers what to do. Kaya ngamaski sa study, we have to teach our farmers technology. Kasi ang mga farmers natin parang ang alam lang nila ay yung old style of farming, which is not anymore profitable. You have to teach them the new model of agriculture. Kasi noong nagpunta dito ang food rapporteur ng United Nations from Netherlands siya, sabi niya they know how to deal with this climate change. They can adjust their cropping season sa climate condition. They are even inviting me there to observe what they do. So it can really be adjusted according to the effect of climate change. May mga ways to do it. We have to teach our farmers and besides kung kokonti tayo sa rice, mag-plant tayo ng crops that can withstand hot season. We're so engrossed with rice, actually pwede naman tayo kumain ng white corn. Masarap din, filling, and you don't need viand, and you will lose weight.

Q: With the Marcos amendment, will BBL pass?

Villar: Even with the Marcos amendment, we will have a hard time. Kasi katulad ng House, wala silang quorum. Sometimes the lack of quorum is a sign. They just don't want to express it but the mere fact that they are not going there, it's a sign that they don't want to do something about it.

Q: What about the effort of Bongbong Marcos?

Villar: No, Bong Bong is there because he wants to talk about the bill and discuss it. It doesn't mean that he's in favor of passing it. Kasi ang fear nila, good kung mapa-pass namin yung magandang version sa Senate, paano pagpunta sa bicam? Mahirap din. What assurance do you have that you can insist on your version?

Q: The MILF will go to war...

Villar: Do you think they won't go to war even if there's a BBL? If you see the provision of the BBL, the original form, matatakot ka din. Kasi it will empower them to be able to prepare for a separatist movement. Kasi malaki ang budget sa kanilang discretion. Iyong original form, of course we will not agree na parang ang dami nilang power na usually power of the national government. If your country is not that strong, you don't try to give chances that people will separate from each other. Yung mga ganung movement para siguro sa very developed country na ang kanilang institution ay strong. But for like us na developing country...

Q: Sino ang kausap mo sa agri, Sec. Pangilinan o Alcala?

Villar: Both. Kasi they separated work. I think 40% went to Sec. Pangilinan, 60% went to Sec. Alcala of the budget and the work. The total budget of agri is P90 billion. P38 billion went to Sec. Pangilinan, P52 billion went to Sec. Alcala.

Q: Food security kanino napunta?

Villar: No, it's not about food security. The agencies that went to Pangilinan are NFA, Pesticide and Fertilizer Authority, NIA and PCA. But they are the big ones. The rest went to Sec. Alcala-- fisheries, livestock, crops except those na sineparate nila. Malaki iyon. Coconut farmers are about 3.5 million, ang rice farmers 3.5 million; fisheries, 1.5 million, siguro corn ganun din. If you divide agriculture, crops is 54%, livestock is 30%, 16% ang fisheries.

Q: Could you write a bill disallowing the selling of fish roe for sushi.. no more baby fish

Villar: I don't know if we are the one selling to them. Kasi ang alam ko ang dinadala lang natin doon tuna. Pero dito naman in fairness, yung Japanese food they don't consume so much. Ang ineexport sa Japan mostly tuna, tsaka yung eel. In fact, may regulation ngayon na you have to export na bigger size... ang problem ng fisheries, there's really a study that if we cannot prevent illegal fishing, in 36 years the ocean would be virtual desert and we will rely on aquaculture for our fish needs. That's why we passed that amendment to the Fisheries Code of 1998. Iyon ang study ng UN FAO. It's not only sa Philippines, it's worldwide. Twenty years ago, ang share ng wild catch is 70%. Ngayon 50-50 na ang wild catch at aquaculture. Sabi nila in 36 years kapag hindi natin na-stop ang illegal fishing, zero na ang wild catch. We will all depend on aquaculture because of overfishing. Kasi yung mga commercial fishermen nagda-dynamite fishing, patay lahat maliit o malaki.

Q: What about the problem of fishermen they cannot fish in municipal water?

Villar: There is such thing as municipal water, that's 15 km from the post. That's for the small fisherfolks and it's under the control of the local government. When we passed the fisheries code, we did not touch that. When you pass something, you don't touch the local government code or it will be very controversial...

Q: The breadth of your knowledge from politics to agriculture...

Villar: I chose Committee on Agricultue and Food because if you look at statistics, yung poverty figure natin, all the poor people are in agriculture. Because the national average of people living below the poverty line is 25%. At least one-fourth of our population are living below the poverty threshold of P5,000 a month. If you look at the fishermen and the farmers, they are 40% living below the poverty line. When you look at the coconut farmers, 60% of them are living below the poverty line. So you will realize why our poverty threshold is 25%, kasi mataas yung iba, pinull-down ng agriculture sector. So if you want to reduce poverty, go to agriculture. Then you try to learn what's wrong with our agriculture, why are the people poor? So you read a lot.

Q: How do you unwind?

Villar: I watch movies. I do massage, but I read a lot. As if you're going back to school in the Senate. You have to read a lot because how do you solve the problem if you don't understand what's happening?

Q: What' s the latest movie you watched?

Villar: No Escape. Every week I watch a movie. Favorite namin ni Manny ang movies in the moviehouse.

Q: What is the best tourism spot in Las Pinas?

Villar: We're going to do river cruise in Las Pinas by January siguro. We have a critical habitat, the LPPCHEA. It's 175 hectares of land in Manila Bay. It has 80 species of bird, 3 of them endangered. It has a 35-hectare mangrove forest. It has a lagoon, which is the spawning ground of fishes in Manila Bay. It has endemic trees. We're building a bamboo setum. The DOT gave us P50 million to build the wetland museum, training center, laboratory, office, restaurant. It will be finished maybe next year. Cavitex is building a mangrove nursery, meron na inaayos nila. We'll start the river cruise from Sipag in the Las Pinas River. We'll go to LPPCHEA and then to the Cavitex nursery, we have a salt bed along the river. We have the Battle of Zapote Bridge along the river. It was fought in 1897 and half of the bridge is still there. We go to the Molino Dam, it was built by San Ezekiel Moreno in 1882. We built a museum there. And then I established a farm school beside it.

Q: What will you call this development?

Villar: It's Las Pinas-Zapote River Cruise.

Q: How many kilometers?

Villar: Siguro mga 20 km.

Q: What about the problem with the proposed airport?

Villar: Yes, I think they are going to build it in Sangley. Not anymore in our place. Over my dead body. We are in the Supreme Court for the petition of Writ of Kalikasan.

Q:What about the casino and hotels...

Villar: No, this one is a protected area. This is a critical habitat, it was declared by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2008 as a protected area. It has 35 hectares of mangrove. It's illegal to kill mangroves. It's provided for by law. It's in the Ramsar List as one of the most important wetlands in the world kasama ng underground river, Olango Island, Nauhan Lake, Tubbataha Reef. Anim lang kaming listed. Automatic kami kasi we have 3 endangered species of bird living in our sanctuary. One of them is the Black Stilt, ang natitira na lang sa buong mundo 100,000. 1,000 is in LPPCHEA. If you have 1% of the remaining, you automatically join the Ramsar List.

Q: This is the only wildlife sanctuary in Metro Manila?

Villar: In any urban setting. Kasi ang kasama niya, Tubbataha Reef hindi naman urban iyon, Palawan Underground River, Nauhan Lake, Olango Island in Cebu and Agusan March. Alin ang urban doon? Iyon lang. We should be very proud of it.

Q: Yung Bamboo organ world heritage ba?

Villar: It's a national treasure.

Q: What kind of boat will you use?

Villar: Ang boat yata mga P2.5 million. May budget naman sila. I will buy two for us. Passenger bus, parang Loboc. Ang laman mga 18 or 20.

Q: Sino magpafund?

Villar: DOT, TIEZA. Meron pala tayong tinatawag na Wetland Society. They did a plan. Ibibigay na lang sa TIEZA. Because it's really eco-tourism.

Q: Mataas ba ang taxation sa Las Pinas?

Villar: Hindi nga kaya maliit ang income. We're the smallest, P2 billion. Makati has P12 billion.

Q: How many population?

Villar: 520,000.

Q: Rampant pa ba ang rice smuggling?

Villar: Yes. Kaya mo nalalaman, ang United Nations, they give the industry the volume of rice being exported to the Philippines. They have an official record. And then the industry will just ask the BOC, ilan ang nagbayad ng taxes? Kung ide-deduct mo doon, it's consistently 600,000 metric tons a year ang smuggled.

Q: They are buying more rice because of El Nino daw?

Villar: Kami from experience, if I am to be asked sa computation, talagang tayo short by 1 million metric tons a year pero usually they import more because hindi nila sinasama ang smuggled. Dapat pag-project isama na iyon kasi every year consistently meron. Kasi kapag hindi mo iyon dineduct, mago-oversupply ka. Kasi iyong consumption, tapos yung local production, plus yung importation,ang equal consumption. Kasi kapag sumobra doon, bababa naman ang presyo ng rice para sa ating mga farmers. Kaya ang sabi ko sa kanila and BOC agrees with me, both si Sevilla at si Lina, na dapat government to government ang importation para walang smuggling. Kasi when you give to private, that's where smuggling starts. Pero sabi ng NEDA, tayo daw ay may trade liberalization, we have to encourage the private to import. Sinasabi naman ng BOC na kapag nag-private importation iyon ang pinanggagalingan ng smuggling. Kasi kung wala, lahat ng pumasok na rice na hindi inimport ng NFA, huhulihin na lahat kasi government to government lang tayo. Smuggled na sigurado iyon. Kapag may private, naguguluhan sila. Magi-investigate pa sila, hahanapin pa nila alin ang smuggled o hindi.

Q: Will it become a bigger problem with the ASEAN integration?

Villar: Yung AEC kasi sa rice 2017 pa. Hindi tayo kasali sa 2015. They arranged that by 2017. Hindi pa tayo magli-liberalize sa rice. We have to improve kasi ang cost of production of rice in Vietnam is P5.50 per kilo of palay. Sa atin P10.50. Mahihirapan tayong mag-compete. So we have to mechanize. We have to improve para by 2017, more or less we are competitive.

Q: Sa Vietnam ba mechanized?

Villar: Malaki ang subsidy nila. And even Thailand.

Q: What is the solution to the aging farmers?

Villar: Alam mo, kung ikaw may farm ka, may anak ka, kapag kumita ng malaki ang anak mo sa farm mo hindi aalis sa farm iyon. The idea is to make them earn more from their farm. Tuturuan mo sila ng model of agriculture that will make them earn more. If you interview iyong Gawad Saka awardee, they earn P50,000 a month per hectare while an ordinary farmer P4,000 a month. Malayong-malayo. There's something wrong with the model. Tanungin mo iyong mga Gawad Saka awardee bakit mas malaki ang kita ninyo? Minimum daw sila 2 crops. They don't do one-crop farming, outdated na iyon. Tapos they do livestock on the side. So parang may three sources of income. Whereas yung isa, isang source of income. Kapag nagluko pa iyon, zero. Tapos you have to mechanize kasi talagang kapag hindi ka nag-mechanize ang taas ng labor cost. You also have to teach them how to avail of cheaper loans. Kasi nagpa-five-six sila. Hindi ka mananalo sa five-six. So you have to teach them how to get a loan from legitimate sources like microfinance, rural bank, Landbank. Financial literacy naman iyon. Ang findings din ng UN FAO, if we don't preserve our family farms, in 2050 may problem tayo sa food security worldwide. Kasi ang sabi nila ang pag-asa ng food security natin is the maintenance of family farms. The corporate farms will not feed us. If there are 500 million family farms in the world, dapat yung mga anak ng farmers will stay in the farm and continue farming. And how do you do that? You make them earn.

Q: Have you tried passing Edsa now?

Villar: I don't. I'm afraid to go to Edsa. Kapag ako napilitang mag-cross ng Edsa, lahat ng appointment ko doon na. I'll go there early and stay there the whole day and go home at night. Otherwise, you're in trouble. Hindi ba iyong nagpapabalik-balik ka ng Edsa wala kang matatapos. Nasa traveling ka lang all the time.

Q: Pero iyong papunta sa inyo walang problema?

Villar: Wala. Magaling ang aming road system. Hindi ba iyan ang issue kay Manny, C-5 at Daang Hari?

News Latest News Feed