Press Release
August 5, 2019

Transcript of joint interview of Senate President Sotto and Senate Majority Leader Zubiri

SP Sotto: ...schedule ng small LEDAC and the main LEDAC. And small LEDAC will be composed of the Senate president, president pro-temp, the majority leader, the minority leader and the chairman of finance. The House, there will the Speaker, a deputy speaker, majority leader, minority leader, and I think also the chairman of the appropriations committee and ways and means. Yun yung small LEDAC. And then the Executive Secretary will always be there, will be present. So unlike the previous small LEDACs before, mini LEDACs that they used to call it, in the previous administration, ang Malacanang bihirang magpadala ng representatives eh. Ito, and we can invite 1 or 2 members of the Senate or the House who have concerns. Yun ang ano napagkasunduan and then the main LEDAC will of course be composed of the Cabinet and the same officers of both Houses of Congress. It is scheduled once every quarter. The small LEDAC is now scheduled every last Monday of the month. So hopefully, we will be able to eliminate the issues on bills being vetoed. As manifested by the majority leader during the meeting, we were there to clear the air also. So it was an organizational meeting, we cleared the air and the majority leader aired the concerns of the Senate.

SML Zubiri: before we started discussions of priority measures, pinagpaalam po namin sa kanila yung hinanakit ng ating mga kasamahan dito sa mga vetoed measures na ito. We said that we do not question the power and prerogative of the President to veto measures as it is his prerogative to do so under the Constitution. Ang nakakapagtaka lang yung mga certified measures at pumayag naman sila and they said, because of this happenings last Congress, we will have frequent meetings, mini LEDAC ika nga na sinabi ni Senate president every last Monday of the month, pero this Aug. kasi last Monday is a holiday so gagawin po naming syang 27 ang next meeting po natin. At idi discuss natin yung mga measures that could possibly have stumbling blocks or serious reservations of the different departments. So we cleared the air early on.

Q: sino pumayag sir...

SML Zubiri: ES Medialdea pumayag sya and we had Sec. Dominguez there as well, that these bills early on will already be given study and discussions on the committee level pa lang. Kasi ang unang hirit ng secretary of the PLLO was dapat pagkatapos ng bicameral conference committee report, magbibigay daw ng comment ang secretaries. Hindi tama yun. Dapat sa committee levels of pa lang, yan ang comment ni SP. Sa committee level pa lang ay nagpadala na po sila ng mga representatives na makasalita at magbigay ng comment para sa ganun hindi na po tayo mag aaksaya ng panahon na pagdating sa plenaryo, alam mo naman yung debate dito ilang araw isang batas, we don't have to waste time on certain measures and we can go to the more important priority bills of the President.

SP Sotto: so what we requested was that we must have a livelier PLLO participant as far as the hearings are concerned so that their feedback will already be given to the departments. At kami din mabigyan kaagad kami ng feedback because as we said earlier, I told them bluntly, 'kung sa tingin ninyo ibe veto ng Presidente, we won't waste our time on debating, wasting time, effort, money on a bill that will be vetoed anyway.' So yun and then ang isa pang napagkasunduan, we did not go into much details of any of the bills was that on the 27th, the House of Representatives and the Senate will be putting forth or giving them a copy of the priority list of both Houses and then they will be giving us..well ahead of time they already gave us a copy of the 22 bills or measures na gusto ng Presidente or ng Executive Department. But come Aug. 27, we'll be able to perhaps merge them together. Ganun.

SML Zubiri: actually magpapatawag si SP. Magpapatawag si SP bukas ng caucus.

SP Sotto: caucus dito sa amin, sasabihin ko sa kanila...

SML Zubiri: anong priority measures and their priority measures also, isa submit namin sa Malacanang, each senator's priority measures para matimbrehan na yung mga departments to participate in the discussions.

Q: ilan usual na nasa list na sinasubmit ng Senate

SP Sotto: marami yan eh pero we will probably be asking them for a priority list and a pet bill list for the first regular session of the 18th Congress only. Alam natin kung ano yung mga priority... meron silang sinabmit for the 18th Congress eh alam nating maraming bawat isa eh sinabmit so we're going to ask them tomorrow to submit a perhaps 2 or 3 of their priority bills or 2 or 3 of their pet bills and then yung realizable by Dec. or at least by June of 2020. The first regular session of the 18th Congress.

Q: pero yung Palace po nagbigay na...

SP Sotto: meron na

SML Zubiri: ito meron na. It's the message of the President during the SONA - mandatory ROTC, death penalty, the packages of the DOF (the TRAIN), the trabaho bill and the other measures of the DOF, 3 departments, department of disaster resiliency, department of water management, department of OFWs, yung binanggit ni Presidente sa SONA.

Q: anti ENDO...

SML Zubiri: hindi nalagay sa 22 measures yun.

Q: pero the Senate will submit it again...

SP Sotto: Oo

SML Zubiri: well Sec. Bello was there. So...

Q: hindi na discuss yung about anti-endo kanina

SP Sotto: ano eh, superficial ang discussion about any of the bills eh, about the PSA, the Public Services Act, the Foreign Investments Act, the ROTC. Ma mention mention lang. There's nothing detailed about any of the discussions yet. Still, we were on the...

SML Zubiri: getting to know you. organizational lang kanina

SP Sotto: we barely scratched the [inaudible]

Q: on divorce bill, ano chances nya

SP Sotto: wala sa listahan

Q: lumakas lakas yung mga lobby groups...

SP Sotto: Sa akin, I'll speak for myself first and then we'll probably try to get sense of the members of the Senate. I was trying to do that the other time while we were having a merienda eh. Tinatanong ko sa kanila, 'kayo ba payag?' The consensus at this point is, not all ano, there is a problem on the word divorce. Andudun yung problema. Mukhang mas madali doon sa amin, karamihan sa amin, mas madali kung ang pag uusapan natin eh dissolution of marriage. In other words, it is an upgraded annulment law.

Q: meaning ire-relax

SP Sotto: oo. At this point yan ang possibility. I'm not discounting anything yet. Yun lang muna ang sense ko na sa kanila.

Q: may stigma ba pagka divorce bill...

SP Sotto: may ano eh, kumbaga sa ano, may negative na dating

Q:parang US style kaagad ang naiisip

SP Sotto: oo

Q: parang semantics lang pero yung effect is the same

SP Sotto: maaring ganun. Depende nga sa aming nitty-gritty

Q: Ano pagkakaintindi natin sa upgraded annulment

SP Sotto: yun na nga, yung dissolution of marriage and definitely you relax the requirements. Even the participation of the Solicitor General. Yung mga ganun. Pwede ng hindi kasama yun. Tapos yung, hindi dapat mahal at hindi dapat nagtatagal sa korte yan. Dapat, being the principal author of the family courts, dapat dun na lang confined para doon lang kaagad yung hahandle nun, mas madaling i-take up.

Q: consensus is open sila basta hindi divorce yung word

SP Sotto: Yung karamihan, narinig ko. Narinig ko. Open sila basta't hindi word na divorce ang gagamitin.

Q: kung dissolution ng marriage ang term, susuportahan

SP Sotto: Ah oo. Kung yun ang term eh, oo.

Q: kasama kayo doon... kasama kayo doon sa open na pag usapan basta dissolution, wag lang divorce

SP Sotto: Open pag-usapan huh. Open pag-usapan muna.

SML Zubiri: Ayoko lang kasing mangyari, katulad ng binanggit ko nung isang araw, isang linggo, ayoko lang mangyari na parang American style divorce na parang Las Vegas. Ikakasal ka in front of Elvis Presley mamaya maya divorce kaagad tapos kasal ulit ng panibagong girlfriend, divorce kaagad. Ayoko ng medyo dysfunctional ang dating ng concept of marriage.

Q: parang mas receptive kayo

SML Zubiri: actually ang gusto ni Senate president, what the Senate president say, if I may clarify, what we wanted to do is strengthen. We already have annulment in the Philippines. It is making it more efficient annulment process. In other words, katulad ng sinabi nya, maybe it's possible to just remove the Office of the Solicitor General. Bakit may OSG pa na component ang annulment and other components. I think that one is more acceptable to the majority of the members.

Q: pa clarify, openness to talk about it or openness to support...

SP Sotto: There is more probability or possibility of support if it is not called divorce or we're not talking of divorce but we're talking of dissolution of marriage.

Q: probability of openness by the majority

S: By most of the members.

Q: hindi lang basta pag-usapan sir, susuportahan

SP Sotto: Malamang. I'm not saying yes. I'm saying most probably there will be more support if we're talking of a dissolution of marriage instead of divorce.

Q: you agree on that

SML Zubiri: Next question please.

Q: SP yung death penalty po nasa 22 list

SP Sotto: Sa 22, yes it is. It is.

Q: What about specific about trabaho sa priority bills na nakikita mo

SP Sotto: Sa amin sa Senate wala pa akong nakikita na merong concern about the Trabaho Bill. Sa Executive Department kanina, there was mention but it was not really touched on.

Q: yung SOT bill, pwedeng wala dun sa 22 from Malacanang list pero ang Senate may (inaudible)...

SP Sotto: Oo. Yes.

SML Zubiri: I think the chairman of the labor committee will file again.

Q: what do make of that, non-inclusion of anti-endo

SML Zubiri: Ang sabi naman, in fairness to the Senate President, ang sabi ni ES Medialdea, the list can expand. But these are the bills that were mentioned by the President during the SONA.

SP Sotto: it does not necessarily mean that the priority of the Executive Department is limited to the 22. No. it can expand. As a matter of fact kanina 23 na nga eh because the Public Services Act was mentioned.

Q: pero as far as the Senate is concerned, we're going to pass the list that includes the SOT bill...

SP Sotto: We cannot promise to pass all the 22. Hindi ganun kadali yun. We will tackle. As I've said ija-jibe natin dun sa priorities ng Senate, saka ng House tapos isasubmit natin sa kanila, we talk about it, we tell them what's realizable by June of 2020 for the first regular session and then perhaps some of the bills would be passed in the second regular session of the 18th Congress. We cannot write it in stone at this point. Alam mo naman ang Congress eh. That's the reason Congress is dynamic because of these parameters of legislation.

Q: one of your members received some tongue- lashing from the President, Sen. Gordon...

SML Zubiri: Birthday nya ngayon, maawa naman kayo. Birthday nya

Q: Would you remind your colleagues to the next time be more careful in expressing opinions with respect to other so many issues

SP Sotto: As far as the opinion of my colleagues and the opinion of the President are concerned, I have no comment. I refuse to answer. Thank you!

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