Press Release
June 23, 2011

Excerpts from Kapihan sa Senado with Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

Pimentel Center for Local Governance

That center was actually a brainchild of then Mayor Jojo Binay about two years before the end of his term and my term. He asked me to head a center for local governance in the University of Makati but I told him I cannot do that. I am a Senator. So I forgot about it. In any event, when my term was over already and he had been elected as Vice President, he repeated the offer. I said this time I am free. In short, we are running that center for the purpose of helping local government officials starting from the barangay upgrade their knowledge of local governance and hopefully improve their resistance to corruption. So basically, these are the things that we are trying to do. And in the process, the local officials, to make it a little more explicit, if they are dropouts of college, for example, they may join the seminars and get appropriate credits to complete a baccalaureate degree. So this is one of the attractions of the center that if you are a barangay official, a councilor, mayor, board member or a governor pero hindi ka nakatapos, you may enroll at the center and gain credits enough to earn a baccalaureate degree or even a masteral degree in public governance. So that is the essence of it.

Q: Kamusta naman Sir ang response?

Pimentel: Well, so far, this is our seventh month in holding seminars. And we've been holding seminars in distant places in Luzon, of course in Metro Manila, in the Visayas as well as in Mindanao. So you can see there is an enthusiasm among local government officials to improve their skills at governance. One big problem that we have is the fact that I think that they are being discouraged by the DILG from attending. In fairness to the DILG, its not only our seminar that is hit by the apparent reluctance by the DILG to approve requests from local government officials to go away from their places of responsibility to attend seminars because this procedure has also been abused. There are number of seminars in Boracay, for example, and the participants just go there and sign the attendance slip, get out of the seminar hall, come back in the evening to get a certificate. So obviously there is a need to rationalize the approvals that the DILG would give but we want to assure everybody that the seminars that we are conducting, so far the participants have been complaining of lack of time even to go to the washroom. So nahihirapan sila.

ARMM Postponement

Q: Senator Pimentel's voice was among the earliest to voice opposition to the postponement if not the cancellation of the elections of the ARMM. President Aquino, about a few days ago, signed a series of bills into law but deliberately did not sign the postponement of the ARMM's elections bill which he himself certified. What do you think is the motive behind that Sir?

Pimentel: Well, it's good that you mentioned that this bill is certified and that means, when a bill is certified, it is deemed urgent and by necessity it should passed soonest and that is why when a bill is certified as urgent in Congress, they dispense many of the requirements , for example, of intervals between first, second and third readings parang when the bills are divide, wala na yun. Therefore, this is exactly I would suggest what happened to the ARMM postponement in the Senate. As you pointed out, my understanding is that the enrolled has already been forwarded to Malacañang but Malacañang said the President will sign the bill only on June 30. Now this is being interpreted by many people as a ploy to deprive people who want to test the constitutionality of this bill before the Supreme Court because obviously since the elections are supposed to be held according to the old provision some time in August of this year kung pipirmahan ang bill by the end of June that means you barely have time to question the constitutionality of that bill before the Superme Court. And so it looks like it is a deliberate ploy on the part of Malacañang to diminish the possibility of the bills being challenged in the Supreme Court but we are not dismayed by that. By we, including myself , because I am from Mindanao and a good number of Muslim leaders have asked me to help them get regress for their grievance before the Supreme Court and I said yes with the hope that the Supreme Court will find a way.

Q: Sir, because whether he signs it or not, if he doesn't sign it at all, it will lapse into a law just the same.

Pimentel: That's correct. After 30 days from receipt of the enrolled bill.

Q: When it has lapsed into a law, will you still go to the Supreme Court and question it?

Pimentel: No, as a matter of fact, that bill has to be signed into law or allowed to lapse into law before it can be challenged properly. Otherwise, we are challenging a bill that may be vetoed by the president as so the Supreme Court will hesitate to act on it if that is the status.

Basic argument against the postponement

Well, the basic argument is that, the postponement violates the character and the soul of the autonomy that has been granted to the Autonomous Region. Among other things, the regional government of the Autonomous Region derives its powers from the will of the people expressed in the elections. And for Malacañang to say that they will determine when the elections should be and not the people of the ARMM determining that in effect Malacañang is depriving the people of the right to express their own will through elections as mandated by law. So, we are objecting to that procedure.

The additional grievance that will very likely be aired against this is the very fact that it will authorize to appoint the OICs and if you go back to the history of the ARMM Elections, there were several postponements indeed but all the incumbents were allowed to hold over. Hindi naman pinalitan ng OIC because the appointment of OICs as I said cuts through the very heart of the right of the people to elect their own leaders which is the very essence of the Republic on democracy.

Q: The absence of a plebiscite is that an added violation?

Pimentel: Yes, of course, that is also an added argument against the move of Malacañang to unilaterally as it where to decide on the postponement of the ARMM Elections.

Q: I understand that you yourself will argue the case for the PDP Laban in the Supreme Court

Pimentel: No, not really for the PDP Laban, for the Moro people, Moro petitioners.

Q: You yourself will argue it

Pimentel: If I still have my voice, yes.


Well, regarding the Spratlys issue that is one of the more sensitive issues that confront the country today. The reason is that China which is looming super power right above us in the North actually has interest in the Spratlys also. And therefore, those interest will necessarily collide with ours. And that being the case it would not do for this government to send Rajah Humabon, a 33-year old and only battleship of the Republic, steaming out of its sick bay just to threaten China to my mind that is the most inappropriate response. It is hilariously laughable. If it were not that serious but kidding side, maybe the administration is taking comfort in the fact that we have a mutual defense treaty with the US. The problem with the mutual defense treaty is that the assistance to the US to us when we are threatened by an enemy is not automatic, it is subject to many of the restrictive processes of their own constitution which means that even if we are attacked the US cannot just send its battleships or war planes to our assistance. The US government has to secure the approval of the US Congress and of course the imprimatur of the President and that takes time. Therefore, it is illusory to have that pipe dream that we can rely on the US na labanan ang China. In the first place, I am not sure if the US considers China its enemy. In other words, our enemies may not necessarily be the enemies of the US. The bottom line is that the only feasible solution that I see here is not to go to war against China but the solution is more diplomatic that ballistic which means that we should go negotiate not alone but with the help of the ASEAN. It's a good thing that Singapore has been making noises na: "China you clarify your claims over the Spratlys" Now, ASEAN was designed for the 10 nations to help one another and I am sure that even if some of the ASEAN also claim the Spratlys, they don't war over that piece of rock. Even if ASEAN will already help us, there is no inhibition for us to invoke also the assistance of APEC because we are a member of that association and we have independent countries like Australia and New Zealand who are our natural allies. New Zealand, for example, has banned the entry of Nuclear warchips in our part of the globe. Therefore, New Zealand and Australia do not want the over arching power of China to envelope that we are contesting over the Spratlys and Scarborough. Aside from these two, ASEAN and APEC, we can also invoke the United Nations. Of course, the United Nations as you very well know is organized to promote peace in the world. We would like to go to the international commission on justice. The problem here is that you cannot just sue a sovereign nation without this agreement.

It will be foolhardy for the Philippines to negotiate with China alone. It's always better if you do a negotiation backed-up with other groups of nations. That is why I am suggesting that we should negotiate with China but with the assistance of the ASEAN.

Among the Asean countries, I think we are one that says that the matter should be settled diplomatically. There is hope in that proposal.


Pimentel: That 's a novel suggestion and I think it deserves backing up, because what usually happens is that politicians who receive excess contributions would treat that money as a personal fund. Anyway, that should fall under the category of earnings, accruing to the benefit of the politician, and therefore it should be taxed. That's a good idea. There is already a law that requires reporting and it's a matter of implementation.

In the US, the contributions of individuals and corporate entities are regulated by law. Up to a point lang, you have a ceiling, and that is why a Filipino, Mark Jimenez, got into trouble. Apparently, when he was a head of a corporation, there was a contribution from his corporation that exceeded the limits of contributions allowed by law.

It will probably need legislation only for the purpose of clarification because kung walang legislation, how will you tax?


I would like to leave that to the SWS or Pulse Asia, but since you asked the question, I will answer it. There's one area where President Noynoy seems to be missing the point and that is "kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap." The premise of this assertion is doubtful. It does not necessarily follow na kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap. But assuming that it is right, then bakit may corruption sa LTO, may corruption sa Customs, PPA , to mention only some of these agencies. The problem of corruption in this country is herculean. Noynoy is not Hercules but he seems to give a message that he does not favor outright firing of people, especially if they belong to his KKK. He wants them to go on leave but going on leave is hardly the solution because once the leave credit is done, the official concerned goes back to the office and so the wheels of corruption are oiled again.

I would also like to point out to his chevalier attitude when it comes to Presidential appointments. The prime example here is Jojo Ochoa. He might be the best man in the world to occupy the highest appointive office in Malacanang, which is the executive secretary, but to saddle him with other jobs that also call for so much attention and dedication, would in effect, reduce his effectiveness. The executive secretary is a 30-hour, eight-day a week kind of a job and there is no room for Jojo Ochoa to breathe if he is given another task like the PAOTC. Even Jesus Christ carried only one cross to the cavalry. The point is, there is much to be desired in the way the President is handling his basic powers and to top it all, the law and order situation in the country is most alarming. It is not only journalists but also simple Maria or Pedro who are either killed or kidnapped daily in Metro Manila as well as other parts of the country. Noynoy is the top cop of the country. As the chief executive, he cannot pass the buck to another person.

Firing them does not mean that they should be put behind bars. Jailing people is something else, disciplining them within the administrative structure of government is one thing and putting them to jail under a criminal system is another. By exercising his powers of administration, President Noynoy can fire people. Pero of course, may bata yan para naman hindi siya mahabla when his term ends.

The important thing is that Noynoy has to buckle down to serious work. In other words, to see the substance and not the superficiality of things. In addressing poverty for instance, he has to see not only with his eyes but with his heart. Ano talagang kailangan ng mga tao? One of the things that he misses out is the fact that he is not holding regular sessions with his Cabinet. Hindi naman kailangan 'yung buong Cabinet but certainly he must have sessions with people responsible for certain areas of governmental concern. Otherwise, he will be faced with the situation like when he went to Maguindanao yesterday. He goes there, he looks at the water lilies and says: "dami kaya itong malilinisan. "

In the meantime, the people of Maguindanao has been suffering from floods for about a month. I understand they have been expecting something more than just that. And this is where his advisers, who are probably more perceptive of what is happening, could give him ideas on what to do and what to bring to the stricken areas when he goes there. So ito 'yung nakikita ko but unless he does that, the wasted one year cannot be brought back to life again. It is bound to haunt him through the remaining five years of his life unless he really buckles down to work.

The President cannot always wash his hands and say "na inherit ko lang ito." That is precisely why he was elected, to do something about it. And if all they hear from him is that "bago ang ako rito," or "I still have to think more deeply about it," baka maubos na 'yung panahon with the same excuse. So I am sorry that this is probably not a good way to show the people that he is doing something to solve the problems of the nation.


The continued presence and active role of officials like Sumalipao, for example, who are exercising powers in the Commissions on Elections either as regional supervisors or other top positions in the Comelec, will test the mettle of chairman Brillantes.

It is not only a matter of the Garcie boys who are making life for the people miserable but also other employees of the Comelec.


I still believe a person is redeemable, no matter is background. His background might weigh him down but if he puts his heart into his job he can do it. Maybe Chairman Brillantes should be reminded that he will not be there forever, he is not getting younger anyway, so I guess it's about time he buckles down and cleanse the Comelec of the corrupt debris he inherited.


I think Sec. Deles is a misplaced negotiator in the peace process. He antagonized a legislator from Mindanao, the daughter of Gov. Dimaporo. I cannot imagine the lead negotiator of this country dressing down or putting down a legislator, who is a Moro. One thing to know is, what are the ins-and-outs of the negotiation? Even that alone, I think it is a ground for disenchantment among the Moro people with Deles as the head of the negotiation.

Putting women as negotiators is not a bad idea because one of the results of the peace negotiations should be the upgrading of the state of women in the ARMM. It is one thing that still have to go a long way because it is more of a culture.

On the MILF being more receptive in talking to women

I doubt it because of the cultural impediment of the Muslims in general who tend to say that women should stay at home. Probably, this is a factor that they should consider regarding putting women as part of the negotiating team.

On the Supreme Court's decision regarding the ARMM election

There is such a thing as temporary restraining order (TRO) that will prevent implementation of the law. That is something that will be hoped for by the petitioners but more to the point, the Commission on Elections should not stop preparing for the elections until it is clear na hindi na talaga matutuloy. The Comelec should be on top of the situation. Whatever happens, they are prepared either to hold elections or postpone it. The budget is there and if manual, so what's the problem?

On the delay of the signing of the bill regarding the postponement of ARMM election

That is a "photo op" explanation. That is not a substantial argument that deserves a serious refutation. You make the whole nation wait for the presence of legislators so you can have a photo opportunity during the signing? What kind of an argument is that? I really find that utterly ridiculous.

On compiling the cases filed in the Supreme Court to oppose the postponement of ARMM election

What usually happens here is that when there are complaints along the same line, the Supreme Court does the consolidating. That's not a problem.

Pine-prepare pa lang ang case. We are also taking time kasi wala pa naman ang china-challenge mo. The preparations are underway.

On the legality of appointment of OICs

Definitely because if you look at the Constitution, in the enactment for the providing of the autonomous region, it requires the election of the officers of the ARMM. Our basic argument will be anchored on that point.

On the postponement of the ARMM election being a cancellation

That's the sugar-coating that they are trying to use to make the pill easily swallowed. But technically, the effect is still the same. Don't tell me that if you cancel, you do not postpone. Necessarily, cancellation flows the postponement.

On the ARMM election postponement bill allowing the appointed officials to seek a second term

Well, for one thing, I think that's a deceptive tactic. Pinaasa nila ang mga tao na hindi pwede tumakbo ang mga appointed OICs pero they are eventually allowed to do so. That is another argument that we will use in the petition.

On the achievements of the PNoy administration

I understand that he recently signed four Republic Acts that are meant to address the concerns of the poor, employees and power. So, probably 'yun ang kanyang sasabihin among other things as a positive achievement of his administration. Unfortunately, I cannot think of anything other than what his spokesperson had magnified.

On the drop in popularity rating of PNoy

Well, incidentally, that has always been the trend of new presidents. For a while nasa ibabaw ka then you plummet down in ratings. The common denominator is public perception that the President concerned is not delivering on his promise. Ganoon talaga. It is now up to the President to rebut that by positive action.

On Cha-Cha tackled next year

Any move to amend the Constitution should have been started yesterday. What I am trying to say is that the urgency of that proposition cannot wait tomorrow but the lever of power is not within our control. Among other things, the President has a very strong say as to when that would happen. There are proposals to start amending the Constitution but only with respect to economic provisions that will not solve many of the political problems faced by the nation. If the amendment of the Constitution aims to provide a lasting basis of peace and development in the country, the amendment should be holistic, not only targeting economic provisions. I say this because one of the things I'm advocating is the adoption of the federal system. When you adopt the federal system, the economic provisions should be left to the federal states to decide whether they want to use the economic provisions to attract investments or protect their own federal state investments. This will be a matter for federal states to decide, not for the national government to determine in lieu of the judgment of the states on that issue. I therefore propose that amendments to the Constitution should be holistic and that it should be proposed at the earliest possible time.

Most people believe that a Constitutional Convention is probably the better way to do it because you elect the people who will amend the Constitution. In a Constitutional Assembly, it will only allow incumbent senators and congressmen to do the amending. There's argument for either two options.

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