Press Release
April 28, 2011


On PNOY's Open Skies policy

Q: Any statements on this?

Serge: ... That's a very important law for an airline. Tingnan mo ha. If Singapore Airlines comes here and pick-up passengers, it cannot bring it directly to Rome. For example, it has to land in Singapore. That's 4th Freedom. So, me to your country, your country, back to mine. So, everybody has to do that kasi wala silang 5th Freedom rights. Cathay Pacific, they want to fly to Los Angeles? Yes. Hongkong first. Eva Air, they want to fly to Vancouver, yes, but they have to stop-over first in Taipei. Qatar, they stop at Qatar. So makikita mo, countries don't give up 5th Freedom rights that easily. But we are. So, anong mangyayari sa ating mga airlines? Kawawa naman. Alam mo bakit? Because the landing rights to one country is given by government, not by any airline. So, kapag sinabi ng Japan, you can land here, that's all the permit that Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines would need. But usually ang nakaka-impluwensiya diyan, iyong mga Japanese airlines - Japan Airlines, All Nipon Airways, etc. Kapag sinabi nila na, 'huwag mong ibigay iyan, wala tayong rights to go to Manila.' So, doon nagkakaroon ng negotiation. That's what you call reciprocity. For example, we told Macau Airlines you can land in Clark anytime. May open skies sila, Clark lang, packet. That's what we call packet skies. What happened? Ang Cebu Pacific nag-apply to fly to Macau. But they said no, we won't allow you. But why? We allowed Macau Airlines to fly to Clark? Yeah, but you did not ask them. So, nawalan tayo ng negotiating power.

Ang sinasabi po ng Department of Tourism at ng Civil Aeronautics Board, if you open it up, they will come. I don't think it will be that easy. I'll tell you why. Our airports are not ready. Maski ung NAIA 1, walang gustong pumunta dun eh. Malakas lang ang traffic papunta dito sa Manila. But you want to send them to Siargao, to Butuan? They're not going there, there's no traffic. But at the same time, now, if we ask other countries, 'Can you allow Cebu Pacific to fly there?" They'll say, 'Aaah... we will talk about it next year" kasi wala ng pressure galing sa airline nila na 'Cge sabihin mo na okay as long as we can fly to Mactan also." Ganoon iyan eh.

So, I think there has been a big mistake to unilaterally declare Open Skies. Now, there's a proposal na, meron na tayong multi-lateral agreement on open skies. Iyan ang maganda sana.

Q: Iyan ba iyong tinatawag na International Access System?

Serge: I don't know. I am not familiar with that term. But let us say, Asean open skies. In other words, there's an agreement na among the countries. In other words, I can fly to your country, you can fly to my country. Pero hindi iyong one-sided na, you come here, you fly here even if you don't allow me to do that.

Q: How do you establish an Asean Open Skies?

Serge: There's already an Asean open skies. I don't know why this administration did not say, "Okay, we will adhere to Open Skies within the Asean agreement." Hindi ko alam bakit hindi nila ginawa iyon.

Q: Is there any enter into those kinds of agreement?

Serge: No. It all depends upon the Implementing Rules and Regulations. But it could be a forever thing. It is painful we gave something away free when we could have gotten something in return. Now, there's already an Asean agreement on open skies and it could extend internationally, that means, there has to be reciprocity. Pangit naman na, Delta Airlines will come here and send 20 flights and we can only continue with our 2 flights a day.

Q: Can we remedy this through legislation?

Serge: Remedy? It's gonne be harder to remedy now because of the open skies. I am pretty disappointed on the way they made that decision and the manner by which they carried it out. I am very disappointed. It could be forever because the moment an airline starts to, technically... the moment an airline sets up its facilities here, ang hirap naman kung sabihin sa Delta na, 'Hoy, huwag na kayong pumasok. We are now limiting you...' Siyempre sasabihin nila..."Teka muna, I already paid for my equipment. I already paid for my hangars. I already paid for all of these. And you are telling me now to cut down? Ay, gagantihan ko kayo." Mahirap eh.

On increased US presence in the country

Q: Sir, what is your sense about the increased US presence in the country? Subic officials said the two visiting senators are interested in increasing the presence of US troops here...

Serge: Why? Justify for me the reason for it. Why would they increase US troops? We already threw out the bases.

Q: Because they are pulling out from Japan....

Serge: Ah, so we are doing them a favor? Oh yes, but when we threw them out, they did not want to be thrown out, either.

Q: Because of the economy of China and they need the presence of these troops nearby?

Serge: Well, if I were the United States of America, yes, I would want bases everywhere. But is it to our benefit? We already had that big debate in 1992 when the Senate voted to throw out the bases. And I think nothing has happened since then to make us change our mind. We've had excellent relations with America since then. So why do we need to host their bases here? We also don't want to be involved between 2 giants, uupakan lang tayo ng 2 elepanteng yan.

Q: So you will oppose it?

Serge: Yes, I will oppose it.

Legislative accomplishment in the first 10 months of the PNOY administration

Q: 10 months into office si President PNOY, anong major headway ang nagawa niya sa Senate? The relationship between Senate and the Palace on the legislation of laws?

Serge: Major headway sa Senate? He's not a member of the Senate. I don't know. We don't have relations with him. You have to ask the others. As a matter of fact, the relationship with the PLLO - the Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer - and the Presidential Assistant for Political Affairs has been very poor.

The connection between the Senate and Malacanang has been very poor. On my part, because I know all his Cabinet members and they're all friends of mine, it's easier. But I can see that they've got to work 10x harder.

Q: San ang problema?

Serge: Hindi binibigyan ng diin, wala, zero.

Q: San dapat manggaling ang initiative, Senate o Malacanang?

Serge: Malacañang.

Q: But has he succeeded in getting his priority legislation....

Serge: He doesn't talk to us about it. He just announces it and then we just read about it in the newspapers. We don't know why.

Q: Hindi niya na-impress iyong priority legislation niya sa Senate?

Serge: No. I think they had one meeting, when they called the Senate President and the Pro Tempore, Majority and Minority leaders to Malacanang. But that's it. You have to engage the members of Congress, just like you saw President Obama now with the US budget. He was really talking to the congressional leaders and the senatorial leaders intensively. So that has to be done. And even if it's just his liaison officer who does it, it's going to help a lot. But for us to be in the blind, not to know anything... mababasa mo na lang na priority ni presidente na i-postpone ang ARMM elections, bakit? Hindi mo alam. Basta babasahin mo lang sa diyaryo, hindi tama iyon. Nobody has ever talked to me about it. Nobody.

Q: Why do you has the government failed to engage legislators?

Serge: They're laid back. That's the best, that's the kindest excuse I can give.

Q: Have you met with the PLLO?

Serge: Only once, when he introduced himself to me. And he's an old friend of mine from college days. He said hello and goodbye, and that's it.


Q: Has the Palace made any overtures about the impeachment? Has anyone approached you to talk about the impeachment?

Serge: No. That I would definitely reject. That's none of your business. Don't talk to me about it. I am now a judge. But on the other measures, the priority measures, the RH bill, the ARMM, I wish they had consulted with us.

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