Press Release
October 12, 2011

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

On the Burial of President Marcos

SP: Well, you have to understand that that's a very sensitive issue as far as the two families are concerned and I would understand the feelings of the President. He is the son of the man who was slain and I think we have to understand him and respect his feelings.

Q: So, the family of the former President should not take it against the President?

SP: Yes because, you know, that's a natural reaction of a son who loves his father. Hindi mo mahihiwalay. That will linger on.

On the Stimulus Package

Q: Sir, 'yung sa P72 billion stimulus package ng gobyerno, sabi ng iba hindi raw dapat umabot sa ganon kung mabilis ang public spending since last year.

SP: I do not know the details of that but the administration of President Aquino has been doing a stimulation of the economy. I think this time, they have already finished the assessment of many of the pending projects and they're ready to launch an economic construction, recovery and progression in the country given the fact that he has already finished one year and he has only a remaining five years. So, I think personally, I would look at it as a very cautious handling of the national interest especially the economy. They have to study what they inherited and refine it, modify it, and probably now they are ready to spend massively in order to make the growth of the country faster.

On the RH Bill

Q: Sir, ano 'yung nakikita niyong prospect sa RH Bill considering na magkakaroon na kayo ng budget deliberations?

SP: Wala ng Panahon. We will tackle that when we come back because there are many questions that have to be clarified. It's not because we want to delay the RH Bill but on the other hand, even if I'm chastised, we have to be very careful because if there is any single legislative measure that has come by in this Congress, it is this Bill. It has a very long term effect and you cannot quantify it. You cannot anticipate it. We can only draw lessons from existing experiences of other countries that adopted the same policy before us. We have not adopted that policy. We have adopted it during the Marcos years but the enforcement was not really that serious. This time, we understand that the spending fund requirement of this would be rather massive. So, that means the magnitude of this effort has increased tremendously and we have to be very careful about the impact of this Bill on the lives of this country, on the economic life, political life, demographic life, sociological life and the security interest of the country. Imagine, if you are going to contract the population, you'll reach a point in time that you will have less workers, less production, less consumption, less tax payers to support the government, your pension funds will dwindle, you have to import foreigners to work in your country in order to make your economy. We have no economy to speak of and I'm not about ready to deal with this lackadaisically. I'll have to be very very careful in dealing with it.

Q: Sir, how long are you willing to engage the other senators in a debate?

SP: For as long as we have to finish all the issues and really go to the very bottom of this. The sponsor has denied that this is a population control but they're talking of fertility rate. They're talking of what's the acceptable fertility rate and what is not. They're talking of the eradication of poverty through birth control. Why are you reducing the sizes of your families if your purpose is only to help the health of the womenhood of this country? We can do that without condoms, contraceptives, anything else. Now, we can address poverty by educating the children of the poor so they can have a chance to go up in life and create jobs in this country, open our country to massive foreign investment in order to increase the tempo of economic activities and thereby create more jobs which will respond to the economic and financial needs of people who are looking for work to better their lives.

Q: Come November, budget na lang po, wala ng iba?

SP: Wala na. Budget na lang. Next year, when we open in January, we have all the time to discuss the RH Bill. Even in the House, I understand, there are so many members of the House waiting to interpellate. I know that my son is listed. I think he's number 41 among the people who enlisted themselves to interpellate on that Bill.

On Charter Change

Q: Sir, pati 'yung Cha-Cha next year na?

SP: Well, on the Charter Change, we will continue, with due respect to the Presidency, the responsibility to amend the Constitution is lodged, delegated by the people on Congress and no one else. Not the Judiciary, though they interpret the present Constitution and the laws. Not the Executive. The Executive cannot even veto the resolutions that we will pass if we have the necessary votes required by the Constitution. Whether you call it a Constituent Assembly or a Bicameral Assembly, it doesn't matter, for as long as the power exist because if you read the Constitution there are instances where the Constitution says that if you do this kind of work, you have to meet jointly. In the case of the declaration of war, canvassing of votes for the president and vice president, if the President declares Martial Law or suspends the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus then we meet jointly. Sometimes the Constitution says vote separately. Sometimes it does not say so. But all the time, the Constitution mentions Congress. And so, what is that Congress? There's no other Congress mentioned in the law except the Congress defined in Article 6. And that Congress is composed of two Houses with two separate memberships, records, journals, rules, set of officers and voting. So, any amendments or revisions of this Constitution maybe recommended by Congress through a vote of 3/4 of all its members, they're talking of the Congress mentioned in Article 6. Ngayon, sabi nila, hindi raw. We will see. Only the Supreme Court can settle that. Apart from that, if you read the history of Article 17 of the Constitution, the amendatory provision, the amendatory provision of the present 1987 Constitution was a verbatim copy of the 1973 Constitution except that they added people's initiative. You must bear in mind that the Constitution of 1973 contemplated and in fact, provided for a single House legislature for the country. We amended it and we created two Houses again for the legislature although the intention of the Constitutional Commission was for a single House, a unicameral body, but in the last minute, the unicameral system was defeated so they have to revert to a bicameral. Now, if you have to go back in time and study the 1935 Constitution, the original amendatory provision also says 3/4 of all the members of the National Assembly. That was changed in 1941 when they restored the Senate. And so they said, Congress in a joint session assembled by a vote of 3/4 of all the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately, may propose amendments or revision to this Constitution. That is the source of the so-called Constituent Assembly term because of the joint session that was demanded under the 1935 Constitution. That is no longer required under the 1987 Constitution. There's no mention of a joint session in Article 17.

On Secretary Llamas' Firearms

Q: Sir, sabi po ni Senator Gringo pwede po siya magpatawag ng hearing dun sa issue ngayon kay Secretary Llamas kasi maluwag daw po kasi 'yung PNP or lax 'yung standard sa pag-iissue ng permit to carry...

SP: Ok lang 'yun so that we will find out if there's any problem with respect to the giving of permit to carry. Licensing is required for all the firearms but sometimes people are not given a permit to carry except when there's a need for it outside of residence.

Q: Pero 'yung pag-concentrate sa kaso ni Secretary Llamas.

SP: Well, nasa ebidensiya 'yun. Kung may ebidensiya na there's an illegal possession or violation of existing criminal rules of the country, anybody must answer for this.

Q: Si Presidente dinaan lang niya sa biro, walang sanction or anything kay Secretary Llamas...

SP: Siguro alam niya na lisensiyado ang mga baril na 'yun and there was an authority to carry those firearms outside the residence precisely because the holder licensed those firearms for his security. You do not need that mass security if you are just using it for the security of your home. One AK-47 is more than enough but if you are outside, you do not know the size of the people who will confront you.

Q: Ang criticism kasi, sir, bawal ang wang-wang pwede ang bang-bang...

SP: Iba 'yung wang-wang. Iba ito. Buhay ang pinag-uusapan natin dito. Doon sa wang-wang, it's just a question of privilege to be ahead of others in the streets.

Q: E 'yung bang-bang?

SP: 'Yung bang-bang, giyera 'yun kaya nga hindi mo alam kung ilang 'yung kabang-bang mo sa kabila. Siguro, Secretary Llamas anticipated that because he's handling political matters, he might encounter a big group na magbabang-bang sa kaniya.

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