Press Release
February 14, 2018

Transcript of Ambush Interview of Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III

On Benham Rise

SP Pimentel: Kung Chinese lang, mangangati tayo. Kung Benham, America, hindi tayo mangangati? So when the Americans named Benham Rise, preliminary ba na American? Wala. Bakit tayo allergic dahil Chinese ang nagbigay ng pangalan? Kung Amerkano ang nagbigay ng pangalan, okay lang? Spratly's Island. Pilipino ang nagbigay ng pangalan? Amerikano? Scarborough, Pilipino, Amerikano? Di ba? So what's the problem. I don't see the problem. And I am sure even without reading the Convention, hindi ko pa nababasa, I'm sure no country has the exclusive power or right to name features, but sovereign rights, iba yun.

On the helicopter deal with Canada being scrapped by the President

SP: Good decision specially when there are lots of helicopter manufacturers anyway, which we can deal with. Kasi, of course when a sovereign country buys transportation item like helicopter, syempre multi-use yun ang nasa isip ng bansa. How can you tie the hands of the buyer and say na you only use this for this purpose, use these during these days. Hindi naman ito lease. Sa lease pwede yun but this is a purchase. Kung ganun pala kahirap kausap natin, the President wants to cancel it, then very good. It should be a buyer's market now.

Q: We should buy from governments that do not impose conditions?

SP: When we buy, oo syempre. Binibili mo na, may condition pa. The seller should also be willing to let go of his product.

Q: What is your position about the Benham Rise?

SP: Sabi ko, without reading the Convention, or the treaty or the rules governing the naming, commonsense tell me that no one has a monopoly of the power or the right to name features on earth. Wala naman pong ganun. It is only to name, iba naman yung exercising sovereign rights. Even sovereign rights does not mean sovereignty, mga ganun. Maraming mga nuances po dyan. I am sure yung naming wala naman pong ano yun. Una sa lahat, sabihin ko sa inyo, Benham Rise, sino nagpangalan nyan, tayo din ba? Nagalit na ba tayo? Amerikano bang name yan? Nagalit ba tayo? So ayun, Chinese name, allergic tayo?

Q: China has proven to be aggressive in building structures.

SP: Has China been aggressive in Benham Rise? Hindi naman. There was once upon a time an American-Philippine war, parehas din. I don't see the point.

Q: Are you not bothered?

SP: I am not bothered. Basahin yung rules, who can propose names, and who can oppose the proposal? If there is such a procedure, let's avail the procedure. What's the point?

Q: Even when China has a record of saying wala kaming ginagawa dito, and then here comes the artificial island?

SP: In Benham Rise? May artificial islands dyan? Ganito na lang. Wag na muna nating problemahin yung hindi pa problema kasi if we use our imagination, lahat talaga possible. So, hindi tayo matutulog nito.

Q: Kahit i-claim na nila yun? Sa Benham Rise?

SP: Wala naman akong nakitang mapa na may dash doon sa right side of the Philippines. I don't really see any problem at all. We ask China why it is proposing names, but ang point ko is we look at the rules. Is China, or any other country, prohibited from proposing names? Sabi ng rules, is there a procedure to oppose the proposal of names, di gawin natin yun.

Q: Hindi naman siya proposal, adopted na.

SP: By the international body? Di all the more wala tayong magagawa, then that's the name. Then we look at the procedure in renaming features on earth.

Q: Aren't you worried that that is one step to claiming what is not theirs?

SP: Wala eh. We want our own names, so let's just follow procedure. Hindi ako masyadong nag-aalala dito.

Q: When do we act as a nation?

SP: Let's now ask the experts, and the experts might be employed by the DFA. Basta ko, without having read the treaty or the Convention, ang feeling ko, wala namang exclusive right ang Philippines to name features on earth, even within our EEZ. Wala tayong exclusive right doon. Ngayon kung naunahan tayo to name something, then there must be a procedure on how to rename something.

Q: But the naming?

SP: Pagdating sa Benham Rise, if ultimately they will claim it and come up with something, hintayin natin. Wag na muna nating problemahin yun, wala pa namang claim.

Q: Wouldn't that be too late for us to wait given their capacity to name features?

SP: When Banham Rise was named Benham, natakot ba tayo na American name yun? American claim? Wala naman, so what's the point? Meron tayong disconnect sa issue na ito. I do not see the point, refer all the questions to the DFA, anyway hindi ako expert sa issue.

On whether to allow the banks and currencies committee to handle the resolution filed by Sen. Trillanes re President Duterte

SP: Di ba yun yung dalawang pinag-isipan? Actually referred na sa Dalawa. Blue Ribbon primary, Banks secondary, so answered na rin yung prayer niya. Ang gusto siguro niya ireverse yun. Number one, the mere fact na nareffer na sa Blue Ribbon, kasi may accusatory tone na siya, and then Blue Ribbon is hardly ever designated as secondary. Ang Blue Ribbon is a premiere committee of the Senate, for very grave issues. Ayaw mo ngang Blue Ribbon ka na investigation kasi may ibang issue na involved eh. So kung involved ang Blue Ribbon, it is hardly a secondary referral.

Q: His request if for the Committee on Banks to hold a separate hearing.

SP: Nakay Chairman Escudero. Pwede yun. Coordination na lang yun.

Q: Hihingi lang siya ng consent kay Senator Gordon?

SP: Ganito. Yung matter niya, referred na sa dalawang committee. Meron na kaming primary na tinatawag, and secondary but it doesn't mean na si secondary, cannot hear it on its own. It's judgment call of the chairman. We will not force the chairman. Kasi lalo na kung naghearing si Blue Ribbon, nag-attend si Committee on Banks, pina-attend din, ninonotify sila, bakit pa niya isi-split ang isang hearing, eh limited ang time.

Q: Kinocompare daw sa case ni Andy Bautista.

SP: Bank accounts ba yun? Hindi ko masyadong kabisado. Ang gagawin kasi for example, kunyari dun kay Andy Bautista, kung ako ang chairman kasi doon, kung may katiwailan involved, ipapasa ko din sa Blue Ribbon sooner or later. Ganun yun.

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