Press Release
July 25, 2018

Transcript of Ambush Interview with Senate President Vicente Sotto III

Q: On what happened during President Duterte's meeting with Speaker Arroyo and former Speaker Alvarez during SONA.

SPVS: (unclear) what is happening. Speaker Bebot Alvarez was quiet, he was not saying anything because House Majority Leader Rudy Farinas reminded the President that the SONA was mandated by the Constitution, so if ever there was any idea for the president moving it - because he was contemplating it, he mentioned something to that effect na "Ipostpone natin ito, ipagpabukas na kaya natin ito," something to that effect.

Q: Speaker Arroyo said she will not push for 'No-Elections" in 2019.

SPVS: That's good if that is the case, because the majority of the members of the Senate, if not all members of the Senate, or let me amend myself - the entire Senate is not going to support a no-election scenario in 2019, no matter who the Speaker is.

Q: Pero hindi po kayo sarado sa Charter Change?

SPVS: I will speak for the entire Senate.. we have agreed to let the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes come up with the committee report and we will discuss it then, that is the situation.

Q: Wala po kayong deadline?

SPVS: None.

Q: Sir can we say that it is not in the list of the priorities?

SPVS: Well we have asked the members of the Senate to submit a maximum of three priority bills so that we may be able to consult the (unclear) and sit down with the House and the executive department to keep it together. None of the submissions contained the Cha-cha. You take it from that.

Q: On the TRAIN 2 being sought by the executive branch

SPVS: We have our own version of the rice tariffication bill and we have our own version of the tax incentives. The mentality of most members of the Senate is to look at how we would be able to help in trying to control inflation and the rising prices of commodities. Yan ang facts namin, so if ever these bills that I mentioned are presented, whether it is TRAIN 2, if it is going to do that, then we will take it up. If not, we will follow the Senate version which is addressed towards better tax incentives and other issues.

Q: (unclear)

SPVS: I am not familiar with the Department of Finance version of that eh. But the way I hear from our Ways and Means chairman and the members of the Senate- the Senate President Pro Tempore, and Senator Panfilo Lacson, our version sounds better.

Q: On possible Senate resolution expressing the sense of the Senate on Cha-cha

SPVS: If necessary, we will come up with something like that. If necessary.

Q: Sir can we say na imposible na this year yung Cha-Cha?

SPVS: Let me say that perhaps the chances are very slim.

Q: Sir noong meeting ninyo sa holding area with the President, was there a mention of Cha-Cha or federalism? SPVS: No, hindi na mention.

Q: Sir isa po bas a reason kung bakit hindi excited ang Senate sa Cha-Cha is the chance of CGMA being Prime Minister?

SPVS: Hindi namin na discuss yan. With the President ah, hindi namin nadiscuss. In the senators caucus, well the senators caucus is supposed to be an executive session.

Q: Sir so hindi po concerned kayo with CGMA possibly being the Prime Minister?

SPVS: It was an executive session, I will have to seek the permission of the entire Senate before I could answer the question.

Q: (Unclear)

SPVS: We would like to look at the perspective that the Senate and the Senate President is the Senate President and the Senate as it is called. And therefore we look at the House of Representatives also as the Speaker and the House of Representatives as it is called. It is better to look at it that way than to look at the personalities. So we are not talking about Sotto, about Arroyo, or any other. So the relationship between both houses, that is how we agreed to take it up, to handle it.

Q: Sir some of your colleagues are (unclear) given her track record.

SPVS: Well we cannot blame the members of the Senate, not because of her track record but because of past experiences. Perhaps, but again as agreed, we will take up the bills that come from the House, and hopefully they will take up the bills that come from the Senate. What is good for the country and good for the majority, we will support.

Q: Sir kung i-rush ng House yung Cha-Cha, mapre-pressure po ba kayo?

SPVS: Hindi eh, I told my colleagues and they support me, I said, "My idol is named Stonewall Jackson."

Q: Sir so will you treat all bills coming from the House with caution?

SPVS: Hindi naman, the bills emanating from them coming to us? We will do our job. As I said earlier, basta sundin naming yung aming job description, no personalities, then we are OK. Kapag hindi kami magkasundo, then hindi kami magkakasundo on these bills.

Q: Sir on the resolutions calling for a probe at the West Philippine Sea issue, wala daw na pinapatawag na hearing matagal na.

SPVS: It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security. Baka naman natiyempo lang sa break. Actually hindi ko alam, it was only referred yesterday. Resolutions expressing the sense of the Senate are always referred to the Senate Committee on Rules because that is tradition. Now the Committee on Rules thereafter proceeds to refer the resolution to the proper committee, which we did last night so it was referred to the Committee on Rules and the Committee on Rules chair, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, referred it to the Committees on Foreign Relations and on National Defense and Security.

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