June 7, 2012
Excerpts from Kapihan sa Senado with Gregorio Honasan II
On the accomplishments of the Senate
The Senate President put it very clearly kahapon sa pagtatapos. Inabot man tayo ng late na sa gabi but I think the record of the Senate speaks for itself. Not to mention the impeachment, the trust rating that was a derivative of a well-managed impeachment trial process.
On People's Ownership of Government Information (POGI) Bill
Hinihintay lang natin iyong House version para maisulong na ito pero if you recall doon sa agenda mag-sponsorship speech pa si Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano na siya'ng nag-shepherd nito sa 14th Congress and si Sen. Loren Legarda, not to mention the 14 other co-authors of various versions of the bill that they consolidated.
On the Privacy Act
We were waiting for the Malacañang version dahil may concern din ang Executive branch. Sabi nga ni Senator Arroyo, kapag nasa administrasyon ka, parang di mo masyadong type 'yung FOI Bill. Kapag nasa oposisyon ka, mayroon kang kakayahan para kulitin 'yung administrasyon kaya mas gusto mo 'yung FOI Bill but na-resolve naman ito. In fact, 'yung significant development dito hindi na kasama doon sa consolidated version ng Information Commission which is just another layer to prolong the process of giving the information the people want. As a matter of policy, almost automatic 'yan. Doon sa publication sa public information system ng pamahalaan with certain exceptions kasama na dyan 'yung national security, foreign policy, private contracts, ongoing court proceedings and executive sessions ng three branches of government.
On Data Privacy Bill vs. FOI Bill
Hindi naman. That's a separate law covering a separate area of governance. Kapag humingi ka ng impormasyon at ginamit mo sa ilegal na paraan, kasama na ang terrorism, ay liable ka kaya walang conflict. Although I must admit, may gray area dito but it covers a different area altogether.
On passing the FOI Bill
I have to realistically look at this from the point of view of the coming 2013 elections. I hope na kapag nag-resume ng SONA sa July ay maitulak na ito.
On the POGI Bill to FOI Bill
'Yung Freedom of Information limits itself. Ang pundasyon ay People's Ownership of Government of Information. The government is for the people, by the people and of the people. So lahat ng impormasyon na hawak ng pamahalaan ay pag-aari ng tao. Yung acronym, there's a reason kaya ganoon. Catchy kasi kaya there's curiosity generated so madali ipaliwanag.
On Malacañang's delay of the FOI Bill Hindi, sa tingin ko noong na-technical ito sa 14th Congress dahil sa lack of quorum at 'di naman natin pwede kuwestiyonin 'yun. Marami pang inputs na kinuha lalo na itong Right to Know Right Now na coalition which the spokespersons are Atty. Nepo Malaluan, Malou Mangahas ng PCIJ at sina Vince Lazatin ng Transaparency at Accountability Coalition. Sila ang tumulong sa inyong committee para i-consolidate lahat ng inputs kasama na ang Malacañang.
On the government prioritizing the POGI Bill
Mukhang hindi ito nabibigyan ng pansin dahil hindi natin alam kung priority ito o hindi. So 'yun din ang hinihingi natin na magkaroon ng sense of national priorities. Pero ngayong naayos na ang mga certain areas of disagreement, sa tingin ko bibilis ito hihintayin na lang 'yung sa House.
On Malacañang's inputs on the FOI Bill
'Yung mechanism or presumption na kapag may humingi ng impormasyon at tinanggihan, ang burden of proof na bakit kailangan tanggihan ay nandoon sa agency. Pero maganda sana kung mayroon tayong FOI Bill bago nag-impeachment, para naiwasan sana 'yung masalimuot na issues katulad ng SALN issue. By the way, doon sa panawagan ng waiver, personally I am willing. In fact, I already sent it to the Ombudsman.
On approving the FOI Bill and disclosing waiver
Halos hindi na kailangan. Tulad nitong waiver, kaya sinabi ko na redundant 'yan dahil sa SALN form doon na inamin ng Civil Service Commission na may kakulangan. Mayroong automatic waiver doon sa last paragraph. Kaya lang natin pinapatining 'yan is because of transparency.
On the necessity of a waiver if the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill is in place
Automatic na. Published na 'yan. Available sa website sa lahat ng public officials, including Supreme Court judicial officers. Kaso mapapansin niyo, naging reactive.
On the FOI applicability only on the SALN
Hindi sa lahat. Di ba Constitutional principle, balancing of interest. Ano 'yung no. 1 interest? The right to life. Kapag mayroong nanganib na buhay, lalo na kung buhay ng republika natin, tabi na muna 'yung transparency, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of the press.
On the SALN being posted only if the content is correct
Presumption of regularity. Kapag nag-file ng kaso at hindi tama ang nilagay mo, aba'y liable ka. Katulad ng nangyari.
On who publishes the SALN
The offices mismo. The individual files, the SALN and the office he or she belongs to will publish it.
On the applicability of the resolution regarding confidentiality of SALN in Supreme Court
Hindi na dahil ang pananaw ng iba, historically, parang secret society ang Korte Suprema. Hindi naman totoo 'yon. Hindi lang napag-uukulan ng pansin until itong huling impeachment trial kung saan 'yung Chief Justice Mismo ang nasakdal.
On the safeguards of FOI against abuse or political attacks Well, may built-in safeguard siya. Hindi naman ito automatic process. Katulad nitong waiver na pinipirmahan, kapag may nag-file lang ng kaso. Kapag hindi, hindi naman pwede itong busisiin ng kahit sino. Plus the procedures. Kapag may denial, bibigyan mo ng 15 days with a possible extension of another 15 days. Pero kung umabot sa korte, ang magpapaliwanag hindi 'yung taong nag-rerequest, kundi 'yung opisina na tumanggi. May presumption dito na may dahilan 'yung pagtanggi. Kapag napatunayan na malisyoso 'yung pagtanggi --- para i-harass, para magtago, na nagdulot ng kapahamakan doon sa tao, then may administrative o criminal liability 'yung ahensya. On the redundancy of waiver on bank accounts
I would rather be redundant and err on the side of prudence than sabihin ng taong-bayan na naglagay sa akin dito sa Senado na, "Oh, may tinatago." Ayaw natin ng ganoong perception. Kung minsan kasi, because of the passion and the intensity of the previous impeachment trial, nagkaroon ng panawagan ng transparency. Ako, sige, kahit magkapatong-patong 'yang mga waiver, as long as may proseso.
On President Aquino signing the same waiver
If you notice, this was an individual call on the part of public officials. That was my judgement. I am not in a position to give unsolicited advice to the President, being the highest official in the land. He has his reasons, and I think it will serve the public's interest. We must give him the benefit of the doubt, or presumption of regularity.
On an appeal for everyone to sign the waiver
As I've said, it is an individual judgement call based on your reading of the public sentiment. Since I am an elected official, I have both responsibility and quantifiable and qualifiable accountability. That was my call. Importante sa akin na hindi na magtanong 'yung naglagay sa akin dito na para panatag 'yung kalooban nila na wala akong ginagawang masama.
On the information from FOI as public document
Parang noong impeachment, whether it is accepted as evidence or not, kapag sinabi mo na on national television, public record na.
Kapag transparency ang issue, walang O.A. diyan. Mas mabuting redundant. Hayaan mong panatag ang kalooban. Di ba government of the people, by the people, for the people? Sila ang primary audience dito beyond the legality and the Constitutionality. Mas mabuting komportable ang taong-bayan na walang tinatago ang gobyerno. So, kahit na 10 waiver pa 'yan na pirmahan. That's going to be the judgment call of the institutions. What we're trying to do is to convert it into a law that would be measurable in terms of gauge of transparency. Ako, wala akong problema doon but then again, that's my personal judgment call as an elected official.
On the high trust rating of Vice President Binay
If you talk of a logical, rational, intelligent observation, there is none. 'Yun taong-bayan, kapag natipuhan ka, perception, in this case, becomes more important than fact. Their perception is that they identify with the Vice President with their day-to-day concern. But you cannot also discount the fact that the most important position in the land is the position of the President. Ikaw ang bagsakan ng lahat ng hopes, dreams, frustrations, galit, tuwa ng Filipino people. Kaya bumaba ang rating, natural lang 'yan. Pero hindi naman bumaba to the point na mayroon ng dissatisfaction or a very low trust rating. In the case of the Vice President, he's not in the line of fire. He has responsibilities but not the same accountability as the President of the Philippines.
If the Vice President becomes the President, that will be a different ball game.
On VP Binay maintaining the high trust rating until the 2016 elections
I cannot predict what resonates in the hearts and minds of our people. Ang permanent battleground for politicians, government, even for soldiers is the hearts and minds of our people. Kapag nanalo ka diyan, panalo ka.
Sa politika, napakaraming variable. Hindi mo talaga masabi so you just have to keep on trying to deliver to our people what they expect from you. Pero ang pinakaimportante diyan ay huwag mong tanggalan ng pag-asa. Binabalik-balikan ko ito. Pinag-isapan kong mabuti 'yung boto ko noong impeachment. Kapag nagkaroon ng doubt, pagdududa sa 'yo, tanggalan mo pa ng pag-asa, wala ng mangyayari.
On the trust rating of Corona
History will judge us. Pero 'yung 12% huwag nating maliitin 'yon. Ibig sabihin, mayroon pa rin naniniwala kay former Chief Justice Corona. We cannot erase that. That has to be factored in as we continue to compete in the free market of visions, ideas and leaderships. That's why I think the former Chief Justice is planning to do the lecture circuit. Not to agitate those who continue to support him but to teach the next generation lessons in political history.
On the votes during the impeachment
20 against three is a very big margin so you cannot discount that portion. 12% sa survey, that's something you have to factor in. Lagi ko sinasabi na mas concerned ako sa aftermath ng impeachment and here we are. This is now the difficult part. 'Yung madaling bahagi nun is the impeachment. Ito ngayon, what will we do with the verdict? How do we continue to institute the reforms not only in the Judiciary but in the Executive branch and the Legislative branch and in Philippine society. Hindi naman pwede sabihin tapos na.
On the survey that among the senators, Gregorio Honasan is number 6
Hindi mo naman maiiwasan na tumaba ang puso mo but that is the least of my concerns now. I'm happy the people continue to trust us and they might trust us if we decide to run in 2013. Mas importante rito ang substance ng ginagawa natin. So, this is a tribute to God, our people, family and friends.
On the campaign for 2013
We have to catch up sa trabaho na napabayaan during the impeachment. So, may mga hearings kami especially sa public order, the varied perception of the crime rate, kidnappings, killings. Plus series of amendments we are preparing for the Dangerous Drugs Act because we had a Congressional Oversight Committee on Agrarian Reform meeting. Medyo kinukulit namin 'yung Department of Agrarian Reform at sumulat kami ni Congressman Teves, my co-chair in Agrarian Reform dun sa House, kay Presidente na tigilan na muna 'yung land conversion until we get the reports from the Department of Agrarian Reform.
I think what we have to do this in a calibrated manner because we cannot be accused of early campaigning but I meant to do is what we normally do kaya lang mas may time ka kami ngayon because of the almost two months break.
Mga 5 million of the 9 million ang target ng DENR at DAP. So ang natitira lang is almost 1 million hectares which will benefit aroung 600,000 beneficiaries, agrarian reform beneficiaries.
By the way we increased dito sa extension, we increased support services from about 25% to 40% kaya active ngayon 'yung Joint Congressional Oversight Committee for Agrarian Reform dahil Hacienda Luisita is not the program. If you can make Hacienda Luisita succeed in terms of land reform and truly, bastion ito ng social inequity. If we can make it succeed there, then we can make it succeed all over the country.
On illegal gambling
Matagal na natin sinasabi na unang-una, may policy tayo about gambling. Second, whether we like it or not, illegal gambling is a source of livelihood for many of our people. Kapag pilitin natin sugpuin ito at wala tayong alternative livelihood, tataas 'yung crime against person and property. So, mamili tayo. Ilagay natin ang gambling policy in place para malaman natin. Simple lang sa gambling. Saan napupunta ang revenues kaya 'yung proliferation of illegal gambling dahil hindi na natin mamonitor at hindi na pupunta sa kaban ng bayan 'yung revenues from gambling which is a national past time pero pag ipilit natin at wala tayong salo na livelihood we will have to contend with crime against persons and property including the drug problem and the figures are alarming.
On the Hacienda Luisita ruling of the Supreme Court
Well, syempre, dumadaan 'yan sa proseso. Ito ngayon nag-ruling ang Supreme Court. Naipamahagi na. Ang pinag-uusapan na lang talaga ngayon is 'yung evaluation para hindi naman malagay sa alanganin ang Hacienda Luisita Corporation. Matagal na din nilang pag-aari 'yan, kaya lang kino-correct natin 'yung mistakes from the past katulad nung distribution ng tax certificates. Pero ang komentaryo dun is ano namang gagawin ng magsasaka dun sa papel kung sabihin naman nung manager na hindi kumita, anong gagawin nila?
On the selection of a new Chief Justice
Basta hindi magiging prejudice 'yung decision. For example, bakit sa mga developed countries walang live coverage ng court proceedings? Para hindi maimpluwensiyahan ang ruling nung jury, judge, mga abogado at mapasama 'yung akusado. Sa akin, mas importante ang certain standards o higher standards are imposed. Then the decision will be the product of the application of the standards. Of course, it will be the judgment call of the President pero now is the time for the President to show the people na ang impeachment is just a procedure. Walang personalan dito at seryoso siya sa reporma. If we can institute reform in the highest court of the land, which next to God is the dispenser of justice, I think we are on our way towards serious reform.
Ako, I will have to look at the procedures I am not aware of the processes that the JBC goes through. Importante lang diyan, lahat ng pangalan na isumite wag lang 'yung paraan na more of the same banana. Kailangan ay mas taasan pa natin 'yung standards during impeachment trial.
On Allowing U.S. Troops to use Clark and Subic
Actually, this is a Constitutional issue. Ang pinaguusapan dito is ano ang pakinabang ng DFA, Defense Treaty, ng SOVFA. Kung wala, pag-aralan nating mabuti. On the other hand, ako, I believe on the arguments especially those that were offered by Sen. Miriam Santiago. Kaya lang the question is, "What choice do we have?" Ano ang pakinabang sa atin? Para sa akin let's be practical. Magpalakas tayo para hindi tayo sunud-sunuran.
On the suggestion of Senator Lacson that it is better for the oversight committee to conduct an investigation or hearing regarding this issue
Well, I'm being consistent with my proposal that we conduct a performance audit on all the treaties; mutual defense, DFA, SOVFA and all of our economic and security arrangements with the U.S., with ASEAN, ASEAN plus, Japan, South Korea and maybe we should also consider what was proposed on the floor yesterday; a visiting forces agreement with China.
Hindi natin alam, baka nag-uusap na sila. Hindi natin alam kung ano ang mas matimbang. 'Yung relasyon ng U.S. sa atin o 'yung relasyon ng U.S. sa China. We don't know that. They need to discuss that. President Obama needs to clarify that. Bakit hindi sila nagsalita noong kainitan na dun sa Scarborough Issue? What is the significance of this mutual defense treaty, visiting forces agreement para hindi naman tayo umaasa sa wala.
On the Scarborough Shoal
We need to pull out our boats. We need to make an arrangement to make that place a tourist destination. Kung paramihan ng tao, mas malapit ang paglalagay ng tao doon, malapit sa Zambales so let's put some people there.
On the Helicopter Scam being tried by the Ombudsman
Well, if it is based on the evidence, if it went under due process, fair battle, no political harassments or persecutions. Tama lang 'yon.
On the next election
Actually, pag inalok ka ng VP katulad kong independent, talagang matutuwa ka pero sa pag-uusapan namin program and platform-based. Naniniwala naman ako sa advocacy ni VP like housing programs and the welfare of OFW's. He is going to places that are experiencing strife to check on the status of our OFW's. But my long term vision on this, is that sana hindi para sa election lamang. It will lead us back to a two-party system kung saan matatanggal na 'yung temporary coalitions before elections at magkakaroon ng two-party system na kung saan programa ang pagpipilian. Hindi 'yung personalities.
Actually, as an independent, I have always been adopted by many political parties. That is the advantage of an independent. Madaling ipakiusap. But ever since, I was never hard sell. Lagi kong sinasabi katulad kay VP, If you think I am rightful, help me. In fact, we will be having a meeting soon.
For an open candidate like me, I think, offers are always welcome. But this is not because I have an added value to the coalition but program based; I need to believe on their platforms.
Q: Sir, paano po kung 'yung UNA is part ng preparations for the 2016 presidential election?
Well, you cannot remove that. The VP said that he is interested in running for the highest post in the land. There is no law against that. I think he has the vision, the capability and the capacity for uniting our people.
On his waiver
I, Gregorio B. Honasan II, Senator of the Philippines, hereby waive in favor of the Ombudsman, my right of confidentiality and secrecy of bank deposits under Republic Act 1405 as amended, and Republic Act 6426, and authorize all banking institutions to disclose any and all bank documents pertaining to all peso and foreign currency accounts under my name. For the exclusive and sole purpose of either investigating a duly signed and verified complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman or persecuting an action before the Sandiganbayan in a manner as provided for by law. I am hereby also authorizing the secretary of the Senate of the Philippines to release to the public a copy of my foreign Statement of the Assets and Liabilities and Networth, disclosure of business interest and financial connections and identification of relatives in the government service for all the years that I have served as senator of the Republic of the Philippines.
On as to why he submitted a waiver
I decided it will serve public interest and transparency and that I guess this is the call of the people who placed me here as a senator of the Republic. Definitely, I have no dollar accounts.
On possible government positions for "graduating" senators; Senator Lacson as DILG secretary, Senator Pangilinan as Agriculture Secretary
Depending on the appointing authority, Senator Lacson and Senator Pangilinan will be qualified to any government position consisting to their stature as senators of the Republic.
On the Sin Tax Bill
May mga version sa Senado pero siyempre we have to weigh it based on public interest because we don't want this be just expeditiously considered for any other reason than public interest. I have to study it closely because my knowledge about tax laws and taxation is limited. I have to tell you, the Senate President is an expert on taxation.
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