Press Release
September 20, 2011

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

On being the 3rd most popular government official according to Pulse Asia

SP I am just doing my job. I do not focus my attention to these things. Sometimes you make mistakes. Sometimes you hit the mark. Sometimes you don't. Well, it is a plus and minus operation. I am happy that people notice our efforts, and we continue to take positions on certain issues. I never think of the consequences when I take a position. As long as I can live with it in my conscience, I stand by what I decide to take on a given issue, the side that I take.

On whether former AFP Comptroller Carlos Garcia should be detained at the New Bilibid prison

SP Yes, why not? The crime he committed is not a military crime. It is a crime punishable under the Revised Penal Code and whether you are a President, you are a General, you are a King, if you commit a crime against the laws of the country, then you must go to the confinement areas to suffer your punishment according to law.

Q Wala pong batas na kapag military court, may special facility?

SP Wala. Walang special treatment.

Q Meron po bang pananagutan si former President Arroyo?

SP Bakit, naprisinta pa sa kanya yung desisyon?

Q Under her administration daw po kasi?

SP She was the Commander-in-Chief. The President is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, for purposes of operation. For purposes of criminal administration, everyone is treated just like anyone else.

Q What about yung dating Defense Chief Norberto Gonzales?

SP I do not know what they did. You know, you have to study the facts before you can make a pronouncement. Due process says hear first, and then condemn, then judge.

Q Pwede po bang i-overturn ng Commander-in-Chief ang conviction ng military court?

SP I am not sure, but I think the President has the power to do that. The appeal, I think, goes all the way to him. I am not sure.

On a resolution deferring the implementation of the LRT-MRT price hikes

SP I will support it. The situation in the country is such that there is too much burden on the public and I think that government must be ready to subsidize public services for the benefit of the poor. That is the same philosophy for the Conditional Cash Transfer, to subsidize the people who are not in a position to take care of themselves. Considering the cost of transportation in the country and the uncontrolled increase in prices of fuel for transportation, I think the government must sacrifice and be ready to subsidize the transportation needs of the people.

Q The resolution includes the suspension of the imposition of the VAT on toll.

SP Supreme Court na yan. If we want to really act on it and remove the VAT on toll, and I believe we should not impose a VAT on toll because it is to me a tax by whatever name you call it, it is still a tax. It is a collection of tax to pay an advance payment for a public work that was the responsibility of government. If that is so, then you cannot impose a tax on a tax. We should remove that burden on the people, but since the Supreme Court has spoken and I respect the opinion of the Supreme Court, until it changes its mind, the remedy is now for Congress to enact a law to remove VAT on toll fees. On the liability of the Secretary of Defense for sitting on a court martial. SP The Secretary of National Defense has no appellate jurisdiction over court martial proceedings.

Q But he has a duty to transmit a verdict? The verdict was handed down in 2006 but it was transmitted only when President Aquino took office.

SP I do not know what happened. I do not know why it took them that long to review in the level of the Chief-of-Staff or the level of the Department of National Defense.

Q Ano po ang liability?

SP If they can establish a deliberate neglect of duty, then... Wala na siya doon.

Q Si Norberto Gonzales po yung secretary then.

SP He was the Secretary in 2005? I think he was only a Secretary only for one year. There were several Secretaries ever since.

On the side-effects of contraceptives SP Maraming side-effects talaga yung contraceptives. We got a lecture from medical practitioners and experts from the field, and theologists. Marami and these are current findings, especially in the field of cancer.

Q Valid po yung concern ni Senator Lapid?

SP Yes.

Q Wag siya matakot na magtanong sir?

SP Huwag sana. Maski Tagalog. Pwede yun. Maski na Latin.

On whether the Supreme Court ruling on the VAT on toll can be prevented by Congress SP No, it has to be a law. Supreme Court decision yun, that is an interpretation of the Constitution. You have to pass a law to override.

Q Pero original authors of the VAT affirm that the toll was not in the contemplation of the lawmakers when they passed the VAT.

SP Correct, because the toll fees are known to be tax, and you cannot impose a tax on a tax. That is what I learned in my taxation course both in UP and in Harvard.

Q Paano nga p yun, yung gumawa ng VAT sinabi hindi kasama yung toll.

SP That is the interpretation of the Supreme Court, so the remedy under our system is to apply the principle of separation of powers. The Court exercises its power, then, we exercise our power.

Q Pass a new law that will exempt it.

SP Yes, we exempt it from taxation.

Q Meron na pong nakafile na bill, si Senator Recto.

SP Ok yun. I join him.

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