Press Release
November 13, 2018

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III

On the Universal Health Care.

SP Sotto: Baka mag-Bicam at pirmahan ng Presidente, all done either before December or January because after the second week of February, kung hindi makakaya, nasa committee level ka pa ngayon, we will have to tackle it in the 18th Congress already. I am speaking of all the bills are pending in the committees right now, not only the sin taxes bill with the committee on ways and means and the committee on health.

Q: Accurate ba yung sinasabi na doon manggagaling yung pondo ng Universal Health Care System?

SP Sotto: Hindi. It can probably help, pwedeng sabihing makaka-boost, but there is a budget already and there will be budgets allocated for the Universal Health Care. As a matter of fact, it is part of what we will be discussing here today as we discuss the budget of the Department of Health for 2019. With or without that sin taxes bill, there is enough in the budget in the Department of Health to handle it.

As a matter of fact, kinut pa nga ng DBM ng ilang bilyon ang budget ng Department of Health, hindi nagagamit. Papanong sasabihin na kailangan pa iyon kaagad? I am not saying na hindi kailangan, it can help as I said. It can boost.

Q: But even without it, enough yung allocation?

SP Sotto: I think so.

Q: To keep it rolling (unclear)?

SP Sotto: Yes.

Q: So hindi siya pwedeng iprioritize today, yung sin tax, better try it again next (unclear)?

SP Sotto: Let us put it this way: hindi imperative na siya ay mapasa para lang mapatupad ang Universal Health Care package ng gobyerno. Mapapatupad yung Universal Health Care even if we are not able to pass it in the 17th Congress.

Q: Magkano yung nakaallot under the DOH's budget?

SP Sotto: I am not sure about the figures. As far as I know there was a more than P30 billion cut from the Department of Health's budget by the DBM so there is enough.

On the tobacco tax.

Q: Under the TRAIN law tumaas na rin yung tobacco tax?

SP Sotto: Yes, doon sa original. Kulang pa nga yun. It depends on how you look at it, if you are looking at the glass half-full or half-empty.

Q: What about the Expanded Maternity? Ano po ang mangyayari?

SP Sotto: Gustong mag-usap muna nung mga members ng Bicam. I think may mga amendments, you will have to ask the chairmen of the committees involved because I am not privy to what these proposed amendments are.

Q: Pero you can finish the Expanded Maternity naman?

SP Sotto: Oo naman.

Q: Within the year?

SP Sotto: Of course. Pasado na yun, tapos na yun. Madali na yun, it's just a matter of tweaking some loose ends.

On the news that some politicians are starting to work with some armed groups.

SP Sotto: As I was saying earlier, I doubt if the chief PNP would be saying something like that unless he has valid intel or intelligence reports. Hindi magsasalita ng ganun yun kung hindi merong natanggap yun or meron silang mga nahuli, na sinasabi sa kanila yung mga pangyayari. Now the problem is how to prove it so that they may be able to file necessary charges against these people or these syndicate members or these politicians who are involved. Proving it is another issue.

Q: It is a reality lalo na sa local level na mga politicians na nakikikuntyabahan sa gun for hire para maliquidate yung mga opponent nila?

SP Sotto: As I said hindi sasabihin ng chief PNP yan kung hindi siya merong valid info na natanggap diyan. Ako naman kasi, may mga naririnig akong ganyan, tsismis. Iba yung tsismis sa amin, iba yung intelligence report na natatanggap ng chief PNP.

Q: Tamang sabihin na kayo, naniniwala kayo na yung nga, kasi hindi ninyo sasabihin yun na...?

SP Sotto: Posible? Oo. On former first lady Imelda Marcos' conviction.

Q: Can we get your reaction about the conviction of Imelda Marcos?

SP Sotto: I am not familiar with the issue. If it is an issue whether it's Mrs. Marcos or another person, whether it's Senator Trillanes or whoever it is, the issue is, may warrant ba? Yun ang importante doon, may warrant o wala? Kung may warrant, dapat arestuhin, kung walang warrant, Hintayin natin yung warrant. It's as simple as that.

On NPC's lineup of candidates for the 2019 elections.

Q: May update na po sa NPC yung list ng susuportahan ninyo?

SP Sotto: Meron. Ang usapan namin, I will initiate a group of council members, leaders of the NPC to go around the country and talk to the NPC members on the field, on the ground. Gusto rin naming mapulsuhan sila. Sino-sino sa tingin nila ang makakatulong sa kanila at makakatulong sa mga lugar nila.

Q: Ano ang nagiging problema? Bakit wala pang final list?

SP Sotto: Masyadong marami.

Q: How many names do you have right now?

SP Sotto: Labing-lima.

Q: Maraming nakikiusap?

SP Sotto: Merong mga kaibigan, merong mga kasama kami na pino-propose si ganito, si ganyan, at meron din naman kaming mga dapat... I for one, I have already mentioned the fact that I will support the members of the NPC and most if not all of the reelectionists pero, syempre pag-submit mo nun, hindi naman pwedeng lahat ng mga kapartido mo ay tanggap lahat. Syempre merong sa kanila ay may local issues, (unclear) is all local, so may mga local issues sa kanila, and then involved yung politician, or yung senatorial candidate, syempre hindi sila kumportable na susuportahan yun.

On NPC's final decision on Sen. Bam Aquino and Rep. Imee Marcos.

SP Sotto: Wala pa. Kaya nga ang nangyari ay madedelay na lang kami. Consultation muna on the ground to finalize. I was hoping na it will only be eight or nine so meron kaming elbow room for those we want to help, pero it appears that we might have to support a full slate.

Q: Ilan yung so far safe na susuportahan ninyo?

SP Sotto: Mga eight.

 Q: Mostly allies of the president?

SP Sotto: Mostly allies of NPC. Q: Kailan ang talagang target date ninyo to disclose?

SP Sotto: Siguro January.

Q: Yung bam vs Imee, meron bang kailangan i-drop sa kanila? Possible naman na pareho silang kasama sa slate?

SP Sotto: Yung sinabi mo parehong possible. Posibleng wala, posibleng nandun, posibleng isa lang.

Q: But now is it safe to say that they are still both in the list of NPC?

SP Sotto: They have both been submitted, that is as far as I can say.

On the third telco.

Q: The NTC is about to choose, but this early may nagpo-protesta, how do you think the government will resolve this?

SP Sotto: Yan ang matagal ng sinasabi ng Pangulo, lahat ng lang ng bidding natin... siguro we have to look at the law that we follow kasi lagi na lang, pag may nanalo, may nagpo-protesta. Wala na tayong bidding, kahit sa public works, sa Department of Health, Department of Trade, kahit saan, oras na may nanalo sa bidding, yung natalo, lagging nagrereklamo. Siguro it's about time that we make them sign a waiver na pag sila nag-bidding, sumama sila sa bidding, pag natalo sila, bawal sa kanila magprotesta para hindi naaabala ang gobyerno.

Q: Parang lagging may sore bidder?

SP Sotto: Lagi na lang. wala yata akong alam na bidding na walang reklamo.

On the return of the Balangica Bells.

SP Sotto: It is about time kasi alam ko, I am not sure if it is the (unclear) or President Duterte who discussed it themselves or their executives of both countries, I know for a fact na talagang planong ibalik sa atin yun, parang sign of goodwill. As I said, it's about time.

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