Press Release
January 8, 2018

Transcript of Interview with Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon

Drilon: Sa akin po, beyond the legislative agenda yung mga banat ni Kagalang-galang Speaker Alvarez sa senado ay unang-una, hindi po ginagawa iyan because of inter-chamber courtesies. Nasa 20 taon na ako dito sa senado, ngayon ko lang naririnig ang speaker na bumabanat sa senado. Pangalawa, sa aking tingin, beyond the criticisms - unfounded as it is - of the pace of the senate that would act on these measures, I think this is part of the effort para pababain ang tingin ng tao sa senado, para pagdating doon sa Charter change, kung ibig nilang burahin ang senado sa pamahalaan ay madali na. This attack on the senate is part of the deliberate attempt to weaken the senate as an institution of democracy. The senate is part of the check and balance system within the legislature; in the same manner that the senate may not agree with the house, the house may not agree with the senate. That is precisely part of the senate. Eh ngayon hindi naman lahat ng pwedeng ipasa eh papayag sila. That's precisely the reason why we have a check and balance in the same manner na hindi naman lahat ng ipinapasa namin sa senado ay payag sila. This is a democratic way of doing it. The attacks on the senate as an institution weaken our role as an institution which checks on the other house. For example, yung death penalty na binanggit ni Speaker Alvarez na hindi namin inaaktuhan, dahilan po sa ang karaniwang mga senador ay hindi pumapayag sa death penalty. Therefore ang position ng senado ay hindi dapat ibalik ang death penalty. Why should we be criticized for not passing that? That's part of our duty to make a judgment; that's what we are elected for - to make a judgment whether or not a particular law should be passed. The committees in the senate are controlled by the majority and therefore, the majority has not included it as part of the legislative agenda. You may be aware that we have these regular meetings with the house leadership where we agree on a legislative agenda. The death penalty is not there. The restoration of the death penalty is not part of our legislative agenda. Our records will show that 413 bills were referred to the Senate by the House in this present Congress. We have acted and approved 116 of them or about 28%, so it is not true that we are sitting on these bills. You know, this is not my role because I am the minority leader but I am citing this in fairness to the institution that is being attacked. Given all of these the more I am convinced that there is another agenda. Siguro mahina ang senado sa taumbayan at pagdating ng constitutional amendments, unicameral legislature na ang pag-uusapan at buburahin na ang senado, or kung hindi man we will be ineffective in our role to check on the bilsl passed by the house.

Q: Ano ang dapat gawin ng senate ngayon?

Drilon: That is not my role and I'm just pointing out what I feel about this. The leadership should respond to that question.

Q: Ang sinasabi ni SP Pimentel ay sinasagot naman niya ang mga banat ni Speaker, do you think it's enough?

Drilon: Sa akin po, kasi ang issue na ipinapalabas ay hindi inaaktuhan ang mga bills nila. But for me, two things. It is beyond the legsilative agenda kasi inaaktuhan naman. Nagmi-meeting kami ng regular. Bakit bumabanat ng ganyan? To me, the result is, whether intended or not, ang resulta po niyan ay sumasama ang tingin ng taumbayan sa senado. Our institution is affected. The perception of the people on the senate is affected by these attacks.

Q: There should be more profound statements?

Drilon: I have already made a statement and I called on the Senate President to defend the senate against these unwarranted attacks.

Q: Sa death penalty lang, kahit ngayon hindi pa rin ito kasama sa priority ng senate?

Drilon: I am not aware of any change in the priority list that we have agreed with the house.

Q: The senate president said that it is already included in this year's legislative agenda.

Drilon: The priority agenda of both houses did not include the restoration of the death penalty.

Q: Ang sabi ni Senator Sotto na sa pag-uusap raw nila ni Speaker Alvarez, bicameral pa rin.

Drilon: Yes, but the effect of these attacks - maybe that is not the intention and maybe unintended - but the result of such attacks on the senate as an institution affects the perception of the people on the senate. That might be the unintended consequence.

Q: How can you fight back?

Drilon: I'm not fighting back. I'm just defending the senate. Q: Ano po ang benefit ng unicameral?

Drilon: Eh di siguro mas madaling i-railroad yung mga kailangan i-railroad? Remember that the senate is always proud of its tradition of independence. Hindi po nape-pressure ang senado ng pangulo at alam naman ng pangulo iyan that the senate is known for its independence.

Q: Is there a need for the leadership to communicate it with Speaker Alvarez?

Drilon: I'm just communicating an opinion; that it is the burden of the leadership to defend the institution.

Q: Ano po sa tingin ninyo ang dapat na mode to amend the constitution?

Drilon: Before I was deposed as chairman of the committee on constitutional amendment, precisely we had several hearings and we asked several resource persons including former CJ Hilario Davide. The records will bear me out that I invited ES Medialdea to secure the views of the OP on what mode is preferred and what are the amendments they should prefer. ES Medialdea said that on that day the President issued an executive order to create a commission to study the proposal. We were supposed to be a recipient of that study. Up to now, over a year has passed and we have not received anything. You must remember that theoretically, amendment to the constitution is the role and power of the legislature. In fact the proposed amendments to the constitution, which could be proposed by Congress as a constituent assembly, is not sent to the President for approval, not like an ordinary law. It is sent to the people in a plebiscite to approve or disapprove. Nevertheless the reality is, the congress would seek the view of the President but at the end of the day, it is congress that will decide as to what the amendments will be or what the mode of amendments will be.

Q: Ano yung pros and cons of doing it via con-ass?

Drilon: I don't want to preempt. The committee, now headed by Sen. Pangilinan, will have to conduct and continue the hearings where we left.

Q: That is the supposed recommendation from the study group formed by the palace?

Drilon: Well among those inputs will be, if any by the Palace, but it will be the committee which will submit a report to the senate in plenary.

Q: Isa pa sa sinabi ni Speaker yung possibility ng no-el?

Drilon: The election is provided under the constitution, so you have to amend the constitution before you say no-el and that is several steps away from where we are today. The constitutional amendments committee, which has jurisdiction over this, has first to decide if we have to amend the constitution dahil marami rin sa ating mga kababayan ang hindi payag na i-amend ang constitution. The first step is to determine whether or not we have to amend the constitution. If the senate says, yes we have to amend the constitution, the next step is how to amend it: is it through a constitutional assembly or con-con? Is it only after we have decided on which of the two modes can the proposals be submitted and debated upon and decided, including federalism. May proseso iyan at hindi po ganon na lang na bukas magsa-submit kami ng federalism proposal, hindi ganoon iyon.

Q: Hindi po possible na May 2019?

Drilon: I cannot say. I'm not in the leadership of the senate.

Q: Given the processes?

Drilon: That would have to be determined by congress kung ano dapat ang timetable.

Q: Dapat walang no-el?

Drilon: Sa amin, sa partido at sa minorya sa senado, hindi po kami papaya na may no-el. We are in the opposition and we do not have control over the leverages of the power.

Q: Yung con-ass will really speed up things if ever?

Drilon: That's one argument that the con-ass is more economical. Those in favor of the concon naman say we should not put a price tag on amending the constitution.

Q: This early, some congressmen are saying that they are in favor of staying in their position in a hold-over capacity?

Drilon: I'm not in favor of any holdover or no-el. The holdover is another version of no-el.

Q: Mase-settle na ba yung if there is a voting process separately?

Drilon: Hindi pa.

Q: Do you support Makabayan's petition against the extension of martial law?

Yes, we support the petition because that will allow the Supreme Court to once more pass upon the validity of the declaration of the extension. The constitution provides for that remedy and the court is obliged, under the constitution, to render a decision 30 days after it is submitted for decision. The SC has to act on it, on the merits, as distinguished from the old constitution where the SC then could consider it as political question and decline to decide. In this particular case, under our present system, the SC must decide on the validity of the extension. That is a welcome move that gives the SC an opportunity to pass upon the validity of the extension.

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