Press Release
February 7, 2018

With Ms Pinky Webb

SENATOR FRANCIS PANGILINAN: Good morning and thank you for having me. Just a clarification, the target this month is really a working target. We confirm that I had a discussion with the Senate President and we're looking at a timetable of March, but this is between me and the Senate President. If other Senators feel otherwise, then we will have to do the necessary pencil-pushing and going back to the drawing board, if it is necessary. But we're working on a March timetable wherein the committee would have completed its hearings and we will be working on a committee report. But based on the discussions in the Senate, this is also dependent on how the House is going to be pushing the issue of Charter Change.

PINKY WEBB: What exactly do you mean by that?

SFNP: For example, while we are working on a March target, if the House of Representatives insists that it should be voting jointly, what's there to work for in terms of a target? Because the Senate will simply not agree on a voting jointly arrangement if it is constituent assembly that we are to undertake.

PINKY: So, really what's happening, Senator is if the House, if the Speaker pushes this voting jointly, that's going to be obviously a problem to the senators as senators have intimated in the past.

SFNP: And mind you, when they met, the Speaker and the Majority Leader of the House--

PINKY: Fariñas, Sotto--

SFNP: Yes, when they met, they did not agree on a joint or--

PINKY: --separate voting.

SFNP: There was no agreement. What was agreed on in my understanding is that we proceed with our respective processes. As simple as that.

PINKY: From how I understand from that particular picture that they finally met because medyo nagkakaroon ng konting rumblings between the Senate and the House is that they talked about what provisions can be or should be changed but they did not talk about the process by which. In other words, in my understanding, pinag-usapan nila kung ano yung pwedeng palitan pero hindi pa nila pinag-uusapan kung paano nila 'to papalitan.

SFNP: Which is pretty much whether it's Con-Con or Con-Ass or if it's constituent assembly whether it's voting jointly or separately. That has not been resolved. So here we are in the Senate, we will work on this timetable but at any given time, if the other side says, no, it has to be voting jointly, we will bring this to the Supreme Court, etc. Magbabago. And this is based on the consensus and the discussions in the Senate in caucus.

PINKY: Okay, so, everything being as they are right now, you're looking at the committee report being passed on by actually sabi ni Senate President Koko Pimentel was end of Feb or March was the promise of Senator Kiko Pangilinan.

SFNP: Well, again, this is between me and him. The other senators--

PINKY: --which he intimated to the public; which he expressed to the public.

SFNP: Yes, and the other senators are not privy to this. Kung nakikinig ang ibang senador at sinabi nila, teka hindi naman napag-usapan yan. Ililiwanag ko lang ngayon, this is a working timetable but I'm only one of 11 members. If any of the other senators or if the majority feel this is rushed then we will have to sit down and meet and redo the whole thing. But if they are amenable to March then wala tayong problema. We will work on that.

PINKY: What is controversial here is that posibleng magkaroon po nitong idea or pakiramdam that you're taking your time, hindi ba? Because sabi nila baka Senator Kiko Pangilinan might be sitting on this.

SFNP: Well, my commitment is to process it correctly. Hindi na rin naman pwedeng pwersahan. And I am taking the cue from the caucus that the Senate had. And this is all but the majority of the Senators were there. So that's where I take the cue from.

The marching orders, so to speak, is to proceed with the hearings and we're conducting it. So ang sa akin, in the end, kung hindi sila natutuwa, they can always remove me. I am in the minority. But I'd like to make sure that the process is transparent. The process is participatory. The process is inclusive. Dapat kasama ang mga sectors hindi lamang ang mga pulitiko. And, I don't know if you've monitored the first and second hearings, we allowed all views whether for or against to be expressed. And this is how a democracy should work.

PINKY: (laughs) Are you comparing that with other Senate hearings, Senator?

SFNP: Hindi naman. I was just speaking on behalf of the committee.

PINKY: In fact, balikan natin yung first hearing, you had constitutional experts, you had framers of the Constitution, you had former Supreme Court Justices during that hearing and questions were raised on voting jointly or separately and a majority of them really were for voting separately. In fact it was Associate Justice Azcuna who said that, ang problema ho kasi natalo sila ng isang boto, dapat unicam, di ba? Naging bicam. Hindi raw napalitan yung provision in the Constitution. Siya raw, yung kanyang provision, napalitan niya. Pero yung doon sa isang provision on the voting, hindi daw napalitan.

SFNP: Yes, ang nakalagay lang doon, Congress by a vote of three-fourths of all it's members may propose amendments or revisions to the Constitution.

PINKY: Exactly, the much debated provision in the Constitution, which the Supreme Court will have an answer to that. But before I jump in to that, so you're saying also sir that even Associate Justice Azcuna was saying sila po during the framing of the Constitution, pumunta sila sa Bicol, kinausap nila yung mga mangingisda doon. Sila daw nakatulong to even really frame the 1987 Constitution, you have plans to actually go around the country.

SFNP: We are finalizing the schedule this week, of course in consultation with the other members of the committee, and we are looking at Cebu, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, perhaps ARMM. And this also in consideration of the BBL and some the--they say, provisions of the 1987 Constitution, which prevents a more comprehensive peace agreement with the Bangsamoro.

PINKY: When you talk about the places that you plan to go to, Senator, it seems like March might not be an easy target. I know you're saying it's a working target but it's already middle of February.

SFNP: Yes, well we process this and we will take it one week at a time.

PINKY: Saan ang unang punta, Senator?

SFNP: I think Cebu but again we are finalizing it this week.

PINKY: Okay, so, while we talk about it that again you were talking about the two hearings where you had experts, in fact, really helped us understand the Constitution. You had Chief Justice Puno, Chief Justice Davide, you had framers of the 1987 Constitution--

SFNP: Senator Nene Pimentel, Secretary Sal Panelo was also there. So we really made sure that this would be as participatory and getting all views whether for or against, whether for or against federalism, whether for con-ass or constituent assembly or con-con, lahat pinalabas natin.

PINKY: Pero pag pinag-usapan po natin doon, my summary is the for or against charter change, it seemed like you had Chief Justice Puno, Senate President Pimentel, Associate Justice Azcuna was also a little bit going to that direction. They were all gearing towards federalism. And in fact it was Chief Justice Hilario Davide that said this is the best Constitution in the world. Para bang, tama ho ba yung aking evaluation--

SFNP: Sabi nga, "A leap into hell" daw yung federalism.

PINKY: Tama ho ba yung aking analysis that mostly we're really moving towards federalism during the hearing.

SFNP: Well, among the persons you mentioned, there were those in the academe also who were favoring decentralization, there was one who said, unless you address the issue of political dynasties, then federalism will simply create more stronger monopolies.

PINKY: In fact, let's hear it straight from that particular person, I think that was one of the framers of the Constitution, Atty. Christian Monsod who said that--he also guested here very recently--and he said that if we really look into federalism, this would magnify political dynasties, let's go back to that particular statement of Atty. Christian Monsod:


[AUDIO SOUND BITE] ATTY CHRISTIAN MONSOD: This competing interest between the national Congress and the local provinces. There are dynasties, but dynasties are also not always the same in these areas. In fact, the World Bank has a study recently showing that that thing about the relationship center and the outlying provinces. And the question is, when you do a federalism, what happens? Do you get rid of that? And moreover, are the dynasties going to be strengthened rather than made weaker. And the answer is they will be more entrenched with federalism.

[AUDIO SOUND BITE] PINKY WEBB: There will be more dynasties?

[AUDIO SOUND BITE] ATTY CHRISTIAN MONSOD: Yes, we have about 200 clans who rule the country.


PINKY: Do you agree with the statement of Atty. Monsod?

SFNP: It's a cause for concern. 80 percent of governors are from political dynasties. 76 percent of congressmen are also in political dynasties. So that is a concern. And the Constitution currently says it should be prohibited as may be provided for by law. But again the law is not there. And so some of them, Senator Nene Pimentel was saying, when we do constitutional change, we should spell it out na second degree--

PINKY: Fourth degree.

SFNP: Fourth degree of consanguinity bawal, di ba? So these are the issues.

PINKY: But these are the issues, I'm sorry to be direct, how long have you been a politician the past what? Has it been like, may 20 years na ba?

SFNP: Wala pa naman. Magtu-twenty.

PINKY: Oh sige, magtu-twenty.

SFNP: 2001.

PINKY: Hindi na po sa akin to. Atty Monsod was saying it's the fault of the lawmakers for sleeping on the job. The Constitution has been there but you guys did not file an anti-dynasty law.

SFNP: Well, up to a certain extent, that is valid. But of course, now, in hindsight dapat pala nilagay na rin sa Constitution lahat yun, I mean, diba. Parang masyado ring hinayaan. Of course that's part of democracy.

PINKY: Yeah, they probably wanted a little elbow room for you guys.

SFNP: It was more of in keeping with the democratic spirit that we allow the representatives to complete the reform efforts. But clearly, it didn't work in that respect. Many of the provisions in the Constitution precisely on political dynasties, on the protection of the environment, and on social justice, continue to be words without the corresponding law.

PINKY: But if you had, the lawmakers such as yourself, passed an anti-political dynasty law, you think things would have changed, sir?

SFNP: I think it would help. Term limits, for example, in a way is helpful. It allows for others to come in. Yun nga lang naging misis, naging--so kaya nga kailangan palakasin--

PINKY: Anak, pinsan.

SFNP: Palakasin pa natin. It's a step forward, but obviously, there are more steps to take.


PINKY: Sir, just before we leave charter change, right now what are your thoughts on that? Where are you leaning towards? I guess directly, is there really a need for charter change?

SFNP: Well of course I will have to suspend my personal views. Being the chairman of the committee, I want the process to be as fair, transparent, and as impartial as possible. But off hand, I guess the basic question is: one, can we trust our politicians?

PINKY: Okay. I heard that already.

SFNP: ... to proceed with charter change or we give it to others by way of a Constitutional Convention. Many of those resource persons believe that if it is a revision of the Constitution such as (switch to) federalism, it should be Concon.

PINKY: And a hybrid...

SFNP: Hybrid-- some are elected, some are appointed. So these are some of the dynamics... some of the concerns. The other issue is before we discuss pala the deadline with the Senate President, wala pa 'yung Constitutional Commission nung Executive Department. So we will have to factor that in also. I mean, we may or we may not because ultimately that is our decision. Eh halimbawa sabihin ng Constitutional Commission, sumulat sa amin, "may we participate? May we contribute?" to the process before...

PINKY: Your committee report. You would, obviously, accept that.

SFNP: We should. We should be flexible. Considering that this is a body that precisely was created...

PINKY: I understand exactly where you are going with this sir. But my only concern is again, baka sabihin that you're... pinapatagal mo ito. 'Yun naman talaga ang concern that was raised before. In fact, they keep on saying that your chairmanship might be on the line.

SFNP: And I don't mind. Ang sa akin, I will do what is right.

PINKY: Magtagal man o hindi?

SFNP: Hindi natin mamadaliin. Pero rin hindi natin pipilitin at pupwersahin. And one last point on charter change. Ito ba ay madadagdagan ba ang kita ng ating mga kababayan? Maa-address ba ang kahirapan? Magkakaroon ba ng dagdag na trabaho? Lalago ba ang ekonomiya? 'Yung poverty rate ba na 25% sa ngayon ay mababawasan ba? Dapat lahat ng iyan ay ping-uusapan at binabalangkas dun sa usapin ng problema ng ating mga kababayan. Ang trapik ba mareresolba?

PINKY: I'm sure Napa-isipan niyo na 'to but I guess, again, you're suspending judgment because you're the chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments.

SFNP: Yes, yes. And get the process... the process is as important as the outcome.

PINKY: Alright. Let's move topic Sir. Martial Law extension: the Supreme Court already has spoken that there was basis and that Martial Law is Constitutional. Your thoughts sir?

SFNP: Well I do not agree with the Supreme Court but they have spoken, we will have to respect it. Hopefully there is a motion for reconsideration that might get some of them to change their minds. Five disagreed. Ten agreed. We will just have to take it as such for now. Respect it. I disagree with it. I believe Martial Law for such a long period of time is not the intention of the framers of our Constitution.

PINKY: Apart from the findings or the resolution of the Court, is that the Constitution is silent on how many times the Congress may extend the proclamation of Martial Law or the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. What do you say to that Sir? It is silent, isn't it?

SFNP: Well, strictly speaking it is silent but it does say that 60 days is the maximum period that the President can impose Martial Law. Then it is subject to review. You know I'd like to think if the Constitution says 6 months, a longer period would be... This extended period for me is not consistent with the Constitution. But again, this is my view. The Supreme Court has ruled. We will respect it even if we disagree.

PINKY: But you wish, you were hoping for an MR? At least for somebody to file a motion?

SFNP: At least for purposes of record. And hopefully, baka by some miracle something happens and some of them change their minds. Because really, in the end, Martial Law should be the exception. It is an extraordinary measure. It should not be the norm. And imposing it for such a long period in Mindanao which is such a huge area, you are making it the norm. That is why I feel, with all due respect, I disagree with the Supreme Court.

PINKY: The resolution yesterday by the Supreme Court was that of Professor De Castro who asked that the Supreme Court rule on the voting jointly or separately. The Supreme Court had said that they don't have jurisdiction over the matter right now?

SFNP: Well kasi declaratory... I haven't seen the decision. In that sense, hindi pa ripe. Ibig sabihin the ripeness is not there yet. It's premature... I'd like to think that at some point they might step in. Or if there's abuse. But in the hearings, sabi ni Chief Justice Puno, if the Senate for example refuses to do the Constituent Assembly, the House and the Supreme Court cannot compel us. But very interestingly, the question is, if they cannot compel us, they will also not restrain us?

PINKY: The opposite! 'Di ba? Actually 'yun and gusto kong tanungin sa inyo Senator. Because if you have people like Chief Justice Azcuna, Chief Justice Davide, already saying that it is clear that it is already voting separately. And hypothetically the Supreme Court says no, voting jointly.

SFNP: Sabi nung isang Senator, I don't know if it's Senator Lacson, or Senator Drilon when they are saying that "if that's your position," then somebody said but "you are not the Supreme Court."

PINKY: To be fair, there are different compositions of the Supreme Court. Different members rather. Alright. A few more topics. The resolution of Senator Trillanes on the wealth of the President and his daughter. What are your thoughts on that 'cause Senator Gordon was already saying that it should be the House that should hear this and not the Senate. Who should be hearing this in your opinion?

SFNP: Ako either... should be able to hear it. Ang pagkainti ko kasi diyan, sinuspend kasi si Deputy Ombudsman Carandang. And on the issue precisely on his bank accounts and the documents. Alleged bank accounts. Because of that, it still is a valid issue. Is Deputy Ombudsman Carandang being harassed? Is he being silenced to do his work because it is the President...

PINKY: So let me ask you that. Is he being harassed?

SFNP: I don't know. That's why it's something that should be looked into.

PINKY: Who's the better branch...

SFNP: Well you know right now, the House has its Dengvaxia hearing. The Senate has its. The P6.4 billion shabu smuggling in the BOC-- the House did it, the Senate did it. Sa akin, either house or both houses should be able to look into it. I think it is a legitimate, valid issue for the people. Nevermind us politicians. The people deserve the truth.

PINKY: So you're not sure if Deputy Ombusdman Melchor Carandang is being harassed. You're not making any conclusion just yet.

SFNP: Well it appears that he is. We'd like to precisely find out. And having said that, I'm in the minority. It's a democracy. Majority rules.

PINKY: Do you think na 'yung kapwa Senator niyo are really interested to look into this?

SFNP: Some perhaps. Some, maybe not?

PINKY: Majority are interested or not?

SFNP: I don't know. I don't want to second-guess my colleagues. But I'm not optimistic. Whether or not it will be heard, that's another question altogether.

PINKY: Not optimistic on what sir?

SFNP: Precisely. Whether it's gonna be heard or not is another question altogether.

PINKY: Very quickly. 'Yung militarization ng China. There was an exclusive picture on Inquirer about two days ago? What can the Philippines do about this? Because Secretary Roque was already saying, we can't go to war, 'what do you want us to do? Those structures were being done even during the time of President Noynoy Aquino.'

SFNP: Yes, but it was President Aquino who pursued the case and got a favorable ruling. Ideally we should build on that case coz it favors us. Instead we kept quiet. And that is most unfortunate. You know, a country is a country because of its territory. And therefore our leaders must protect and defend our territory.

PINKY: What should government do now?

SFNP: A continuing protest. Stop first, review this Benham Rise research. Let's see what the outputs are all about. What are the parameters of the engagement? What is the research for? We don't know that. So we have to know that. And I think continuing protest-- get ASEAN. Strengthen our ties with Vietnam and the other countries that are claiming so that we are able to settle this peacefully. War... it's not simply put that because we will speak up then we will have to go to war. No! No. We can speak up. We can protest. We can strengthen our hold. And then push for that ruling without going to war.

News Latest News Feed