July 9, 2012
KAPIHAN SA DIAMOND HOTEL TRANSCRIPT
On the opening of the 3rd Regular Session of Congress on July 23
SPJPE: The priorities in this country, as far as economic and social development is concerned, belong to the Executive. Congress will coordinate and cooperate with the Executive on theimplementation of the programs sent by the national government. We are legislators, we pass the laws. Sometimes we have our own special laws that we want to pass, like me, I would like to pass the Anti-Trust Law. The committee that handled it is the Committee on Trade and Commerce, the chairman of which is Sen. Manny Villar. So, he has already submitted the committee report and he has sponsored the measure before we went into an adjournment sine die. So we are going to continue with that one. The other one is the adaption on the law that deals with cybercrimes. I also authored that and then the one that heard it is the committee of Sen. Edgardo Angara and he has already sponsored it. We will continue with the discussion on that measure. Then, I already finished the bill that I filed regarding the creation of the People's Survival Fund or the much talked about problem of climate changes. The other one that I authored as a bill is the creation of a trust fund arising from the liquidation of all the investments of the balance of the coconut levy that we collected during the Marcos years. As you know, we collected P9.6 billion in terms of coconut levy from the coconut farmers of the country and out of the P9.6 billion, P7.1 billion was used to subsidies consumer coconut-based products like soap, cooking oil and others. There was a balance left of P2.5 billion. This was deposited with the United Coconut Planters Bank under the names Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF). Some of these funds have been invested in shares of stock of San Miguel. I think the totality of the investment of this fund in San Miguel is 27% and then some are invested in the United Coconut Planters Bank. Some were invested in Cocolife, Coconut Life Insurance Corporation, in a coco-chemical plant in Batangas and in coconut oil refining plants all-over the country. So, this money has grown to a very huge sum. If we liquidate it today and convert it to actual cash, the estimate is that this balance of P2.5 billion out of the P9.6 billion would now amount to about P130 billion. So, I felt that since this money was understood in the beginning when the levy was installed during the Marcos years to be money of the coconut farmers, it is no longer possible and practical to return it to the coconut farmers individually. And so therefore, it is not necessary to find a way by which this money would be recognized as money of the coconut industry and to be utilized primarily and singularly for the benefit and advantage of people in the coconut industry. So, I filed a bill to create a special trust and the capital of this special trust would be the cash value of this investment of this balance of the coconut levy which hopefully would amount about P130 billion. That money will not be touched. What will happen under my proposal is this money will be borrowed by the Republic of the Philippines but it will be governed by a well-selected people that will compose the board of trustees for this fund. The money will be borrowed by the Republic of the Philippines and used for infrastructure development. The interest that would be paid by the Republic would be used to modernize the coconut investments so that it will benefit the coconut people especially the farmers who depend on the coconut industry as a source of their economic support for their families.
On Rep. Jack Enrile joining the Liberal Party
SPJPE: That is a surprise to me and probably a surprise to the President. This story says that I talked to the President. I never talked to the President about politics when I am invited to see him. We talk about national problems but never politics. My last meeting with him was during a Cabinet meeting held last week. I was invited to Malacañang to attend a special meeting of the Cabinet where the Department of Foreign Affairs briefed the Cabinet on the special problem of the Panatag area. We never talked about the political matters. In fact, when I arrived in the Palace, the President wasn't there. When he came, we started the Cabinet meeting and when the meeting was over, I went to the restroom of the Palace behind the Cabinet room and when I came back, the President was gone. So, I could not possibly talked to him about anything else because I did not see him, I wasn't able to bid goodbye to him. When I read this story this morning, I thought this was an unfounded and baseless story. Whoever concocted it probably have something else in my mind instead of informing the public about some truths regarding political matters. There's no truth to this story.
Q: There are written reports that after the cabinet meeting in Malacanang you asked the president for a few minutes meeting?
SPJPE: Probably the president will laugh. I never saw him after the cabinet meeting. I went to the CR and then when I came out the guy that I saw was si Jessie Robredo and I think, Jojo Ochoa. I was looking for the president, he was gone. When I did not see him in the cabinet room, I went home.
Q: There was no talk between you and the president?
SPJPE: I never saw the president. In fact, I was a little bit sad because I was not able to say goodbye to him. He might think that I was disrespectful but I knew that he was busy. He must have gone to his presscon after his cabinet meeting.
On Rep. Jack Enrile
SPJPE: Si Jack ay nagpaplano na tumakbo sa pagka-senador. Siya ay mahigit 10 taon na miyembro ng House of Representatives. Gusto naman niyang subukan na tumaas ang kanyang katungkulan, maging miyembro ng Senado. He's already an adult. He's no longer my dependent. He's 54 years old. So, he's ready to run under the umbrella of UNA. He's a member of the NPC and I understand from him that he talked to the head of his party, si Danding Cojuangco, dahil ninong niya 'yon. Nagpa-alam na kung maaari na sumali siya sa UNA bilang koalisyon although Danding has expressed the position that kung maaari he maintains his LP affiliation. So, I don't see any problem about that because as you know, I started out in politics as a member of the Nacionalista Party (NP). In fact, I was the Secretary General of the Nacionalista Party in 1992. I reorganized the Party after the EDSA revolution because the Party was inactive when Martial Law was proclaimed by President Marcos. When EDSA I happened, I went out my way to reorganize the Nacionalista Party and then I remained a Nacionalista. Whenever I filed my certificate of candidacy, whether during the time of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan or after EDSA, I always make it clear that I was NP-Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) or NP Grand Alliance. It was only after the election of 1992 when I became a congressman, since the Party was inactive, I joined the Liberal Party. At that time, I was made the President of the Liberal Party. But then, I separated from the Liberal Party in the election of 1998 because in my case, I decided to file a certificate of candidacy the presidency in 1998 just to participate in the debate, to find out the policies and programs of the candidates that were in the field at that time. That was the time when Fred Lim, Raul Roco, Erap, Joe De Venecia was running at that time and so forth and so on. I joined them just to engage in lively debates. Jack will run under UNA, of course, as far as I'm concerned. If the Communist Party of the Philippines would adopt my son as their candidate for the Senate, who am I to say no? If the NP would adopt him as their candidate for the Senate, I will not object nor if the Liberal Party would adopt my son. As I said, addition is the name of the game in politics. My son would not separate from his brother in politics.
Q: So, ah, may I repeat again, for the benefit of those who came late among the media. Inuulit ko lang po, talaga pong walang nangyaring usapan o nagrequest kayo kay President Aquino sa Malacanang na mag-usap kayong dalawa para lang maipasok ang anak ninyo sa partido nila?
SPJPE: Walang katotohanan yun eh. Hindi nga kami nag usap ni Presidente on a one-on-one. In fact, I was across him in the cabinet conference room. I was directly in the opposite side to him and we have no time talk on personal matters or any other matter other than the matter that was being discussed by the cabinet. And I was listening, I just give an opinion when I was asked to put in my opinion during discussions of the issue other consideration. I never spoke to him about the candidacy of anyone. That was not in the agenda and I normally do not do that with anybody. Matters be aside, I've been in politics for more than, almost five decades and I have build up a constituency of my own as much as other politicians in this country.
On the inclusion of Senators Lacson and Pangilinan in the Aquino cabinet
SPJPE: As far as I know, I do not know rather whether the president has been for invention of the rankings, his cabinet but, if he has and he would recruit these two gentleman that you mentioned, they can contribute to the improvement and implementation of the programs in the government because this Kiko Pangilinan and Ping Lacson are well-trained already in the art of state craft. They have dealt with major national political issues and policies. And in the case of Ping, he has already handled the cabinet in the, under the administration of President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. No doubt, if this two will be taken, they could enhance the performance of any administration. There's no question about it and no doubt about it. In the case of Ping for instance, he's a very able head of the Philippine National police in his time. In that position, I think if given the chance, he could show a good performance in any cabinet position that he will be assigned to.
On Charter Change
Q: What about the reported meeting between you and Speaker Belmonte? Is it about the Chacha?
SPJPE: We've been meeting before because we discussed the possibility of amending the economic provisions of the constitution. One time, I called him and he was in Europe. I was asking about something and asked him if we could talk when he gets back and he said yes. Then, I read the story I think in Philippine Star where he said that we are going to discuss about the constitutional amendments.
Q: What's the real score of Chacha?
SPJPE: We are trying to study the possibility of amending the economic provisions of the constitution. Without abandoning the protection given to Filipino nationals and their corporation in areas of national import like agriculture, land ownership, public utility, media and the others, we felt that it would be more of the interest of the country and more flexible for this country not to put that restriction in the constitution but leave it to the Congress to decide what areas of national, economic and social concerns would be left under the control of Filipino nationals and their corporations. We are not shuffled. Right now, we have entrapped ourselves in constitutional limitations where we could not move. We lost the flexibility to make decisions to address contingent events that may happen in the life of this nation that we have not anticipated. For instance, in the case of the requirement that we must always give a bigger budget for education, when we have a security problem and we have to spend money far beyond the needs of education because we want to protect the country and her people. Are we going to rapidly amend the constitution under that limitation? These things are serious and very dangerous provisions that we have to address.
Q: After the SONA, will you do something about it like file a resolution or gather support?
SPJPE: The last that I talked to the Speaker, I left with him and the House to develop the areas that must be touched during the proposed constitutional amendments. He indicated that they have arrived at the same formula for the purpose. Very simple but I will leave it to him to explain it. It will be just a phrase that we will insert in the constitution.
Q: Would amending the constitution affect the president?
SPJPE: Only the economic provisions, we are not going to tinker with the structure of government or the other provisions.
Q: Si Roco po ba yung nagsabi na the 1987 Constitution intends to weaken the power of the president?
SPJPE: No. There is no intention to weaken the power of the president or weaken the power of any institution of government. We are simply trying to make it easier for the nation to make decisions with respect to our economic life. We are not irresponsible leaders. We think of national interest more than ourselves.
Q: Kung walang mag-fa-file, would you have the initiative?
SPJPE: Of course, once they file it in the House, we will file it in the Senate. If no one else will file it, I will file it in the Senate.
Q: Sir, just to clarify, you want the House to file it first?
SPJPE: Yes. I would like them to indicate their result to go along with the idea. They are the House. They are the immediate representative of the people. We are the national representatives. From them, you can get the temper of the nation.
Q: What would be the focus of the amendments of the constitution?
SPJPE: Its simple. All you have to do otherwise provided by Congress, then 60 - 40 unless otherwise provided by law. Its not a revision of the constitution. This kind of amendment would be done by the Congress sitting as a Constituent Assembly. We do not need to meet jointly. They can pass it in the House. We can pass it in the Senate with the required number of votes under the constitution.
Q: How would you deal with this if somebody from the House would wants to go into the government structure?
SPJPE: They cannot because we will limit the agenda to the economic provisions.
Q: Is the 60 -40 rule the one discouraging foreign investment?
SPJPE: That is our notion. How can you expect foreign investment to come here on the level that you want it if they are in the minority in certain areas of economic activities. If you are a foreign investor, are you willing to invest your money in a foreign land and you put the capital and yet the one who would decide how that capital would used is not you but somebody else. I think common sense would tell you that the answer is obvious.
On the Panatag shoal
Q: Good morning Senator. Kanino po you mentioned that you went to Malacanang tapos ang pinag-usapan po yung problema po natin sa Panatag shoal.
SP: Alam mo, yang problema na yan ay di mo mareresolba sa madaling panahon sapagkat it involves two countries. In fact, not just two countries, a multiple, a multilateral, a multiple countries have state claims over certain areas of the western Philippine sea or traditionally known for navigational purposes, the South China Sea. It takes time before problems like this could be settled. And that is why it is proven, and I think it was wise, a wise move on the part of our government to use the rule of law instead of the rule of force to deal with this problem by bringing the case to the attention of the International Court of justice. Of course, that is dependent upon the consent and cooperation of the People's Republic of China because you cannot litigate a case like that in the International court of Justice without the consent of the other party whose in this case the People's republic of China. But, nonetheless, in the case that the Philippines is willing to submit its claim over the area to a third party in partial, as far as the issue is concerned instead of in the bilateral basis, where the cards are against the Philippines because China is admittedly an economic colossus, a military powerful country, undeniably powerful country and a more populous than the Philippines. The Philippines is an ant compared to a lionwhich is the People's Republic of China. So, bilaterally we are weak in dealing with China so, we want to, we brought our case to the International Court of Justice. But, they do not want to have just issue discuss there because I think, they know that the legal position is very very very very weak. How can you expect to sustain the proposition that a body of water like the sea between the mainland of Asia and this country could be owned by a country. It was named South China Sea for a better identification because China is the lone country in this part of the world at that time. We were colonies but, that did not mean that China owned the waters. It was contrary to International Law. The principle at that time and the principle even today is the freedom of the Sea. Second, how can they possibly say that they occupy the Scarborough Shoal. They could not possibly have left a Chinese soul in that rocky promontory in the middle of the sea to claim ownership or possession. Maybe some of their birds went there, or some of their fish if at all, went there but, not Chinese souls. So, I think, legally, as far as my understanding of International law that I learned from my professor, China has a very little legal stand on as far as that issue is concerned.
On the next Chief Justice
Q: Mr. President, what's the time table for the new Chief Justice to take over? What's the time table we should follow?
Q: What time table do we have do we have to have a new Chief Justice?
SPJPE: Well, that's in the constitution, the President has to make an appointment with not little time I think, 60 or 90 days after the vacancy has occurred. So it has to be done soon. Who that person will be, I do not know. There's several candidates for it.
Q: Sir, follow up question doon sa sinabi nyo. Should the incoming Chief Justice come from the outside or those...
SPJPE: It doesn't matter whether it comes from outside or inside but, it has to be somebody that is remotely recommended of the JBC. Unfortunately, at the moment, there is a problem about the JBC, this is my personal opinion. You see the JBC, as far as the judicial is concern is a counterpart of the commission of appointment. Under the 1935 constitution, there was no JBC, all appointees in the judiciary from the municipal judge, all the way to the members of the Supreme Court were confirmable by the Commission of appointments. That was also through under the 1973 Constitution but, when the 1987 constitution was adopted by the government and the Filipino people in the plebiscite, the framers of the 1987 constitution remove the confirmation of the members of the judiciary from the commission on appointments of congress on the claim that they wanted to make the judiciary totally independent body. In order to achieve that, they created the Judicial and Bar Council as the counterpart of the commission on appointments and in that of the JBC, they specifically stated that the Chief Justice not an acting Chief Justice, not a member of the Supreme Court but, the Chief Justice and there's only one Chief Justice. And that Chief Justice must be appointed by the president, is the ex officio chairman of the JBC like in the Senate, the President of the Senate is the Chief, is the ex-officio presiding officer of the commission on appointment composed of 12 members of the House as elected by the house for that purpose and 12 members of the Senate also selected by the senate for that purpose, based on party representation in his house. Now, as long as the experience on the commission on appointment in the congress is concerned, that commission on appointment cannot function without the Senate President and I assume that the JBC could not function without the presence of the Chief Justice as the presiding officer. But, we are now in this quandary, legal quandary or conundrum where there's no Chief Justice because he was impeached and therefore the JBC could not function because there is no Chief Justice to preside it but, they are not now improvising by putting an acting Chief Justice to preside over the JBC to select a new Chief Justice on the Supreme Court. There is an opinion that there is no need for the position of the Chief Justice to be passed upon by the JBC but, that has not been decided by the Supreme Court because that's a matter of interpretation which is within the jurisdiction and competence of the Supreme Court. But, there are though some lawyers who espoused that position because, precisely to obviate this situation where the president as the appointing power will be in a quandary whether he could appoint a Chief Justice if there is no JBC because the Chief Justice might die anytime and you have no control over that or he resigns all of a sudden and you have no control over that. In this particular situation the Chief Justice is impeached, so that's a hiatus but, let's see how things will play up.
Q: Sir, there is a controversy between the COMELEC and Senator Miriam Santiago. Senator Santiago has not assumed her post in the International Court of Justice and the COMELEC says it's going to proclaim 13 senators next year. SP: Well, you cannot force Senator Santiago to resign. We can only appeal to her to formally consider the national interest since she has voluntary sought her membership in the Criminal International Court and she ably succeeded in getting a slot in the membership of that International Criminal Court. Maybe, she should consider and this is a matter that is addressed to her alone, the national interest over her interest as a Senator by relinquishing her slot as a senator since she's already assured of a membership which she sought in an International Court of Justice. That possibility and that decision belong to her alone. It is addressed to her patriotism and love of country and consideration of by herself of the national need and interest of the nation. Q: Ano po ang inyong komento tungkol po doon sa pagpapahiram ng Bangko Sentral ng pera sa International monetary Fund samantalang may mga bangkong nagsasara at humihingi po sa kanila ng tulong para tulungan o para umangat, katulad halimbawa ng Bangko Filipino. Kaya pangalawa ho, ito pong perang ito ay pera po ng sambayanang Pilipino at di ho ba ang Senado at ang Kongreso lang ang may karapatan kung saan ilalagak yung perang yan at hindi ho pwede na ang bangko sentral ang magpapahiram lang ng walang kaukulang pahinulot sa kongreso?
SP: Ah, unang una po, ako sumasang-ayon ako dun sa ginawa na pinahiram ang isang bilyong dolyar sa International Monetary Fund. Yun po eh asset ng gobyerno natin hindi naman itinapon yun, pautang yun eh. Magbabayad sila ng interest sa atin. Pangalawa, eh tayo naman noon umuutang din, tinutulungan din ng International Monetary Fund at maswerte nalang tayo umahon tayo at nawala na tayo doon sa mga umutang sa tulong ng ating mga Overseas Filipino Workers na nasa iba't-ibang bansa. Ngayon, bakit ko po sinasang-ayunan iyon, yung pautang na yun, sapagkat tulong din natin yun sa ating mga kababayan na naghahanap buhay doon sa mga bansa na nahihirapan ngayon. Kung yung mga Pilipino sa Espanya, Pilipino sa Italya, Pilipino sa Gresya, Pilipino sa Portugal, at iba pang bansa sa European Union na nasasangkot dito sa problema ng ekonomiya nila ay magsi-uwian ay palagay ko ang isang bilyon dolyar na ipinautang natin sa IMF ay hindi sapat na panagutan yung mga kailangan ng mga tao na yun na mawawalan ng trabaho. Ngayon, tinutulungan natin ang mga ekonomiya na yun para una, para doon sa ating mga kababayan. Pangalawa ang ekonomiya din natin ay tied up doon sa ekonomiya nung mga bansa na yun kung bumabagsak yun, babagsak din tayo. Eh yun eh, parang salbabida natin. Atsaka hindi naman nawawala yun. Ngayon, yung tungkol sa sinasabi ninyo na pera na sa mga bangko na babangkarote dito sa Pilipinas eh ibang issue yun. Una, yang mga bangko na yan kagaya ng mga bangko na sinabi ninyo at kagaya ng mga export and industry bank na ngayon eh lumulubog dapat usisain kung bakit lumulubug yang mga bangko na yan. Hindi lang naman ngayon lumubog yung Bangko Filipino. Noong panahon ko sa Department of Finance ako'y acting Secretary ng Finance noon at Acting Chairman ng Monetary Board, sinalba nila ang gobyerno yan eh. Nagkaroon ng bank run, eh bakit nagkaka ganoon? Kaya meron namang pera na nakalaan para dyan, sa bagay nay an kung kinakailangan pero kailangan usisain ang management at bank practices ng mga bangko na yan ng sa ganoon ay hindi repetitious yung nangayayari na bumabagsak sila at saan napupunta yung mga pera na deposita, inuutang ba ng mga members of the board of directors nila? O yung mga controlling stock holders para sa kanilang mga negosyo. Yun ang dapat titingnan eh.
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