Press Release
February 28, 2011

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

On the LEDAC

SP Well, I just came from the Malacañang. I attended the LEDAC meeting called by the President along with the Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Majority Floor Leader Tito Sotto, Minority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen. Ralph Recto and Sen. Franklin Drilon. To me, it is one of the most extensive LEDAC meetings I've ever attended at my legislative career, from 10:00AM all the way to about 2:30PM. We tackled 22 major issues. We could not tackle the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan because of lack of time. I've requested for another time to hear that presentation because it involves a major document about our national condition and our future so that was given. I also requested for another time for the presentation of the Climate Change Bill in the Senate and other legislators also requested for another time to present bills to be considered by LEDAC and the President graciously agreed to hold another meeting subject to their call. I must tell you that the subject matter of the LEDAC meeting was quite impressive. It covered matters involving security, economy, education, governance, disposition of natural resources, organization of a new Department of Housing and Urban Development and also measures involving our maritime zones and our sea lanes and the Anti-Trust Law that is now pending in the Senate, and many other things. I will tell you that the program that was presented to us is quite good and impressive for us to take in the following months.

Q Sir, 'yung election po sa ARMM?

SP We also held a discussion on that. That was one of the matters in the agenda and there was a consensus to postpone it. The only question is what will happen to the positions, whether there will be a hold-over or new appointments. The President agreed to meet with the members of the House of Representatives coming from ARMM to discuss this.

Q Magiging priority po ba 'yung pagpasa ng bill tungkol sa postponement ng ARMM elections?

SP That is one of the most urgent bills to be tackled by Congress.

Q Personally, what do you prefer?

SP I will not preempt the decision of the President. Let's wait until he has discussed the matter with the members of the House of Representatives coming from the area of ARMM.

Q So sir, ilan lahat 'yung priority bills na sinubmit po ng Malacañang?

SP 23 lahat 'yun pero ang pinag-usapan namin ay 22. 'Yung isa, pinostpone for another day dahil maraming mga pag-uusapan dun sa Fiscal Responsibility Bill.

Q Sir, did you make any commitment on the Senate action on these priority bills.

SP I took the position that we will support the President, the Malacañang on those bills because they are worthy bills to be considered and I believe that they will redound to the good and they will be very beneficial for the country. We involve for instance a definition of the sea lanes of the internal waters of the country, our maritime zone...

Q Sir, 'yun daw pong sa Spratlys?

SP Well, that is going to be included in the discussion. I told them that that is another area with special import to us.

Q Sir, yung sa mga priority measures, ano na 'yung may advanced...

SP Anti-Trust Law, EPIRA, GOCC na pinag-uusapan dito at sponsored ni Senator Drilon. I cannot remember the others

Q Sir, 'yung FOI Bill?

SP That is going to be discussed in the next meeting.

Q Sir, na-discuss ba kung ano 'yung contingency measures ng government para sa mga OFWs sa Libya.

SP Ang sinabi ko na, with or without an emergency power given to the President, the Senate will support the Chief Executive, the President, in dealing with the emergency condition of our overseas workers in the affected areas and in dealing with the national interest.

Q Sir, did you discuss the inevitable oil price increase?

SP We discussed the impact of oil price increases and that is being watched by the administration. We also discussed the reorganization and transformation of the National Food Authority, what to do with it and its effect on the plight of our farmers as well as our consumers. It was a wide-ranging discussion, free-wheeling discussion, in fact.

Q Sir, dun sa oil crisis, meron bang proposed na legislation dito?

SP Wala pa because we are watching the development of the affected areas in the Middle East and we have to wait and see what will happen. We cannot legislate and then move back.

Q Sir, na-discuss po ba 'yung proposal na bigyan ng emergency powers ang Pangulo?

SP Hindi pero tinanong 'yun sa Malacañang Press. Sinabi ng Presidente na there's no need for that because he has other sources of funding if there is a need to evacuate our people in the Middle East. I think they have already harnessed the resources and the required manpower to deal with the problem and to support that effort, I said, with or without emergency powers, the Senate will support Malacañang in dealing with the problems of the OFWs in the affected areas and in promoting the national interest of the country.

Q Sir, hindi kailangan pong mag-pass kayo ng supplemental budget?

SP Hindi na kailangan sabi ng Presidente. If there is a need for it, we will pass it.

Q So you think, problems with the region will escalate like with Oman and Saudi Arabia?

SP I don't know. I'm not current with the political condition in the area but I think that given the experience that we have with the Philippines and with the fall of Mubarak in Egypt, what's going in the Middle East , I could see that as a very turbulent period in the history of that area and I think that the ruler of Libya is in trouble.

Q Sir, may binigay po kayong commitment sa Malacañang para i-approve 'yung 23 priority legislative agenda?

SP Walang timetable. We will consider them but, you know, 'yun ang mga proposals nila and they will be subjected to scrutiny by Congress. They do not expect to accept our version in toto. We will have to consider the bills individually.

Q Sir, timing ba 'yung pagpapalit ng DFA secretary in the midst of this crisis?

SP Well, it doesn't matter if you change the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. The institution is there that can service the foreign service requirement of the country. The foreign policy of the country does not depend upon the presence or absence of the secretary of Foreign Affairs. The shaper of foreign policy is the President.

Q Sir, Secretary Del Rosario went personally to Tunisia to supervise the evacuation of Filipinos?

SP I think so. I understand he went to Tunisia.

Q Is this unprecedented or indicative na kulang siya ng kompiyansa sa mga staff?

SP Well, probably he wants to see what's going on. There's no better way of assessing the situation except by your presence in the area of conflict or problem so yes, a different way of running the department. He wants to be on the scene and not just depend on the information going to him.

Q Isn't he putting himself in harm's way by going there?

SP So what? That is the risk you have to take if you accept a job in the government. I used to go to Mindanao and spend my time there. I spent more time in Mindanao and in the conflict areas than what I've spent in my office in the Department of National Defense. I would say that's augurs well for the country.

Q Hindi ba matagal ang response ng Malacañang para sa mga OFWs

SP Alam mo, ang gobyerno ay hindi pwedeng padaskol-daskol. Kailangang pag-aralan at baka matalisod ka. Given the situation and the breadth of the conflict area and the number of people involved, we have to make a clear analysis of the emerging event there and then take action. You cannot say na, padala na ako ng tropa doon, padala na ako ng mga eroplano doon. Saan mo ipadadala?

Q How would you assess, sir, the government action in this situation?

SP I have no complaints about the way they're doing their job.

Q Sir, 'yung holding ng first LEDAC after eight months...

SP Well, they had their period of adjustment. It's only now that they found the time to call a LEDAC meeting and it was very productive.

Q Sir, wala bang sense of urgency ang gobyerno?

SP Ano bang sense of urgency ang kailangan? Tatalon-talon ka o sisigaw-sigaw ka? What? Sino nagsabi noon? Mahirap kasi kung tatalon-talon ka e wala ka namang magagawa. I don't know whether he has been in Libya or in the area for that matter. It's not an easy area to handle. ###

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