Press Release
March 15, 2016

Transcript of Media Interview with Senate President Franklin M. Drilon

Q: Sir repeated po yung warnings ni Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chairman Andres Bautista sa posibilidad ng postponement of elections at pagbalik sa manual elections.

SPFMD: Firstly let us clarify. Elections cannot be postponed unless Congress acts on it. Automation of elections cannot be changed unless Congress passes a law. I am not aware that the President is inclined to call a special session, to enact the appropriate law.

What I suspect Chairman Bautista is doing is to put pressure on the Supreme Court, because he has not consulted with us as to whether or not a special session is feasible, and he knows that we need a law to go into manual elections. Kailangan po natin ng batas para maging manual ang halalan. Kailangan po natin ng batas para mapostpone po ang ating halalan.

Hindi po kami kinausap ni Chairman Bautista kung ano ang tingin namin, kung pwede mag-special session, at hindi po namin napapag-usapan ng Pangulo kung kailangan ang special session. Magkasama kami ng Pangulo sa Baguio, wala po at hindi napag-usapan iyang special session.

Sa aking pong tingin, itong binabanggit na postponement of elections at manual elections ay siguro pine-pressure ni Chairman Andy Bautista ang Supreme Court to take a good look at their decision, and see whether if there might be a basis for reconsideration as asked by the Solicitor General. Because Chairman Andy Bautista, the constitutionalist that he is, knows that he can and we cannot postpone the elections and have manual elections unless so authorized by Congress. That is clear.

Q: Paano po yung binabanggit na force majeure?

SPFMD: Yung force majeure, ang aming pagkaalam sa batas, ay mga bagyo o lindol, acts of god or similar analogous cases.

Q: Yung sinasabing SC decision ay hindi force majeure?

SPFMD: Sa palagay ko, hindi naman Diyos ang Supreme Court. It was an act of the Supreme Court, not the act of God. We must make a distinction between God and the Supreme Court, though sometimes they think they are.

Q: Is it feasible at all to have that manual elections?

SPFMD: First, I am not in favour of going back to manual. Second, the matter of a special session to repeal that law on automated elections has not been discussed. I have not been even consulted on that. As I said, I was with the President in Baguio last Sunday, it was never mentioned. So it is not something you just called, there must be consultation between the executive and legislative branch, and I have not received a call from Chairman Andy Bautista.

Q: Looking at the time frame feasible ba yun?

SPFMD: I do not know. I am just stating that I do not agree to the postponement of the elections, so I do not want to talk about the time frame.

Q: Ano po ba yung opniyon ngayong namomroblema ang Comelec sa desisyon ng Supreme Court dahil sa vote receipts? Kailangan ba talaga tayo mag demand ng vote receipts?

SPFMD: That's how the gods of Padre Faura interpreted the law, so we are just mortals whose interpretations may no longer be relevant at this point. The Supreme Court has ruled, the ruling is not a ground to postpone the elections.

Q: Ang sabi po, the elections can be extended for hours lang, not for weeks.

SPFMD: The extension of the voting hours is within the prerogative of the Commission on Elections. But the postponement of the elections, especially the May 9 elections, cannot be done without an act from Congress.

Q: Sir mamaya po magkakaroon ng hearing ukol sa Anti-Money Laundering Council. Yung findings po ba ng committee, pwede sa deliberations sa susunod na Congress?

SPFMD: Certainly. Our rules allow that the findings of the committee in this Congress can be considered as reference in the next Congress. That is done as a matter of course. Of course, we will not keep repeating the same testimonies by the resource persons and we refer to the testimonies in the past Congresses and adopt it as findings of the current Congress.

Q: Sir yung na-discover na money-laundering activity sa banking system natin, it proves po ba na may kulang pa po sa Anti-Money Laundering Act natin?

SPFMD: Sa akin po, implementasyon, it is the implementation of the law, except probably for the non-coverage of the casinos. If there are any insufficiencies, it would be in that area, although some are saying that you know, the involvement of the casino at this point is not clear. But what is clear is the law, the process, the procedures are set out in the law, that a suspicious transaction report should have been filed, the "know your client" rule should have been followed, and these are the areas the committee will inquire into, as to how the laws was complied with.

But in my view, the structure is there, it is a question of proper implementation, except probably for the matter of the coverage of the casinos, which we will do, when we come back. I have endorsed that proposal, we have always been for the inclusion of the casinos as a covered institution.

Q: Sir sabi po ni Senator Poe, may mga nagpapahiwatig na sa kanya na sasama sa kanyang kampo, after ng SC decision. Would you know from LP sir?

SPFMD: There is no truth to that, that is part of the rumor mill at this point. Secretary Roxas had the highest in terms of improvement in his standing, so there is no truth to that, and it is part of political intrigues which we expect at this point.

Q: Would know if there are efforts to recruit from LP at the local level? May rumors po na narecruit na si Governor Salceda.

SPFMD: Ito'y feelers, kami rin may feelers; we try to feel each other.

Q: So wala naman pong loyalty check?

SPFMD: There is none.

Q: Pagnagstart na ang local campaign, doon po natin makikita iyan?

SPFMD: Makikita natin iyan. Malapit na ang local campaign, and pagdating doon, you will see the extent of the political machinery of the Liberal Party which will swing the pendulum for our candidates.

Q: Hindi po ba ninyo pipigilan, ng LP leadership, if may mag-paalam na aalis sa partido?

SPFMD: Freedom of choice is one of the hallmarks of our system of our government.

Q: Do you need a law if we will extend the elections by days?

SPFMD: We do not need a law to extend the voting hours, even if it extends beyond the calendar day of May 9. We will not need a law. We will just extend the voting hours, and that is the prerogative of the Comelec. There is nothing in the law which states the voting must end by midnight or 12:01 of May 9. It can be extended. Comelec can extend the voting hours, even if it extends beyond May 9.

Q: Hindi naman po for weeks?

SPFMD: The voting hours can extend up until early morning of May 10. The Comelec is authorized to do that, they do extend voting hours as part of their mandate. In fact, you can hear of rules like, "If the line is long, if you see a voter within x number of meters from the voting precinct, then you can extend the voting hours. It is within the power of Comelec to extend voting hours. Certainly, yes it is an option.

Q: But for how long can they extend the voting hours?

SPFMD: There is none, as long as it is a continuous process, that's part of the voting period. Hindi naman siguro aabot ng isang linggo ang botohan.

Q: It is appropriate po, yung pang-pepressure ni Comelec Chairman Bautista? Nagca-cause daw po kasi ng confusion sa publiko.

SPFMD: He can express his opinion, especially that there is need for public information. But I think what Chairman Bautista is doing is telling the Supreme Court, "Gods of Padre Faura, please take a second look at what you decided on."

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