Press Release
August 2, 2018

With Ms Pinky Webb


PINKY WEBB: Magandang umaga, Sir. So much to talk about. First, the blast in Lamitan, Basilan. Now, Metro Manila is on heightened alert. The NCRPO is saying there is no direct threat, Sir. Is this worrisome? What are your thoughts on what happened in Lamitan, Basilan?

SEN. FRANCIS PANGILINAN: Well, even before the blast occurred, during the debates in the Bangsamoro Basic Law, there were already concerns about possible, how do you call it, incidents such as this in terms of derailing the BBL passage, the (Bangsamoro) Organic Law. So this may be related. We've been told that there are factions within the insurgents, there are hawks and there are doves. Ibig sabihin mayroong mga gustong mangyari yung peace negotiations. You must understand, wala pang agreement. Kasama sa buong ano yung peace agreement and of course yung ratification of this measure, magkaka-eleksyon pa dyan. So may hawks, ayaw ng kapayapaan, mayroon ding doves na gusto ang kapayapaan. So this might be part of that struggle in terms of attaining lasting and just peace in Mindanao. So you were forewarned that retaliatory attacks or attacks may occur because of BOL, because of the passage of the BOL simply because some people are against this.

SFNP: Yes, and would not want to see peace happening in the region and therefore will initiate such efforts or acts to derail and subvert.

Q: But, Senator, the facts are there was a van loaded with IEDs, there was one passenger. Authorities are still not concluding that he's a foreigner, he is a foreign national. But all indications, according to Senator Ping Lacson, point to suicide bombing. Is this a cause for concern for you, Sir?

SFNP: Yes, in fact, that too was one of the pressing concerns as to why we should have to Bangsamoro Basic Law or the BOL, the Organic Law because there are elements pointing to the failed peace negotiations and the non passage of the BOL, as proof that government is not sincere in pushing for peace and therefore nara-radicalize. Nagkakaroon ng mas maigting na pagtutol at pagsuporta dito sa mga radical elements.

Q: If we were to look forward, Sir. Something like this, because of what you've told us, and something I have heard in the past. Could this possibly continue, Sir, if indeed this could be linked to the passage of the BOL or the ratification of the BOL?

SFNP: Well, I think peace is not easy. Pero sabi nga you'd rather have a fragile peace rather than a shooting war. But in the end, it is government who is charged with ensuring that the insurgents are checked, that these incidents are prevented, by way of intelligence information, by way of no-nonsense security efforts to ensure that incidents such as this can be avoided and of course get the perpetrators.

Q: You are of course the chairman of the committee on Constitutional Amendments and we will be asking the Senator of the status in the Senate and their thought on the Cha-cha.



Q: Cha-cha, Sir, chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments, what is the status?

SFNP: You know, we've had 10 hearings. So hindi natin hindi binibigyan ng importansya. In fact I've been to Cagayan De Oro, Cebu, Cotabato, Baguio, in our desire really to generate public awareness regarding this issue. I understand and completely recognize the prerogative of any administration to push for Charter change. That's a given. But I'd like to see it done precisely in a participatory, open, and transparent process. And that's why we've been going around the country.

And so the status now, it is still pending in the before the Senate because we've only received the draft charter of the Puno--

Q: Consultative committee.

SFNP: --two weeks ago. You know, before that, in Baguio for example, in the open forum, one of the participants said we've had four seminars on federalism in the last two years. Which proposal are we talking about? Because there were four different proposals. So, you cannot rush this. You cannot simply say, okay let's go to federalism and bahala na si Batman.

Q: Pero--

SFNP: For example in the last hearing, we've conducted it before the SONA. A think tank said that it will cost at least P55-billion to create a new layer of regional states. Sweldo lang yun. Wala pa yung infrastructure doon. You know, TRAIN 1, the tax take of TRAIN 1 is a little over a hundred billion. In other words, yung 55-billion is already one half the amount of TRAIN 1. And look at where we're at in terms of the impact on the economy, the impact on the consumer.

Q: Does that frustrate you, Sir, that I guess somehow the cost of a possible shift to a federal form of government isn't completely discussed, Sir?

SFNP: Yes, because who's gonna pay for it?

Q: But, Sir, ganito po--

SFNP: How are you going to fund it?

Q: But even...I understand where you are taking this--

SFNP: --And just one more point, and the think tank is saying, we're gonna have more taxes. So the citizens must know this. So, it's not just going to be TRAIN 1. It's going to be TRAIN 2, 3, 4, 5 just to fund a new federal form of--in fact, Secretary Pernia, the NEDA Chief was concerned about the impact on the economy of--

Q: --that it could wreack havoc. Yun po ang sabi niya--

SFNP: So why should we, you know, just a leap of faith and say let's do this and bahala na si Batman.

Q: So let me go to this, the House of Representatives filed a resolution convening Congress into a Con-Ass or a Constituent Assembly. Are you open to this? Just putting everything already in perspective, the cost, how difficult it is, information dissemination, is the Senate willing to do a Con-Ass?


SFNP: Well there are resolutions pending before this committee filed by some of the Senators to have a Con-Ass. The concern now is whether it is to vote jointly or separately--

Q: Which I need to interrupt you, Sir because Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo already said that to move forward, we need to vote separately. Does that give you a little bit of comfort?

SFNP: Well, that's a welcome development. However, what is to stop anyone from going to the Supreme Court and say, "no, it's not separately. The letter of the law says, it's voting jointly." Of course, the Senate disagrees, so what happens there?

Q: So what you're saying is, a statement made by SGMA is not cast in stone because it can be questioned before the Supreme Court.

SFNP: No one can prevent anyone, any congressman, any interested party--

Q: But here is the question--

SFNP: --And what if...And then there is the Supreme Court. My concern also is that, well, the voting record of the Supreme Court now has pretty much, has been...well, the quo warranto ruling for us in the Senate, a number of us, we believe this is unconstitutional because you can only remove a chief justice and an impeachable official by way of impeachment but this was...nagkaroon ng shortcut in the legal gymnastics ika nga.

Q: Pero ganito, Sir, do you trust Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo saying that to proceed, we need to separately? Ganoon na lang po.

SFNP: Well, whether I trust her or not is not the issue per se. Because sure, I trust her but what if somebody brings it to the Supreme Court? My concern really is that she may say one thing but other parties and other sila-sila nga hindi magkasundo eh. Kaya nga sila nagkaroon ng coup de etat dahil nasa isang administrasyon pero nag-aaway sila.

Q: Then let me move forward. You may trust her but other people may do something else but do you trust the Supreme Court, sir, kayo na po ang nagsabi na may questions on some of the decisions made by the Supreme Court, sir?

SFNP: You know, sabi nga nila, we just have to be vigilant, and we just have to make sure that we enter this process with our eyes wide open.

Q: So you proceed with caution.

SFNP: Definitely. We have to keep our guards up. Otherwise, we might wake up one day and say, "voting jointly na ang Senado at ang Kongreso. Hindi na kailangan ng voting separately." You saw what happened last SONA. What a House can do.

Q: Sir, here's the thing. What a House can do. Senator Ping Lacson was here yesterday and sinabi nga niya, when GMA became Speaker, it's as if, just on a condensed version, you closed ranks and cha-cha is as good as dead. Do you share the same sentiment? Because nung sinabi niyang nag-closed ranks, kasama po ang LP doon?

SFNP: Well, nag-closed ranks, yes, na whether cha-cha is dead or not, let us wait for the final verdict.


Q: Senator Nancy Binay has a suggestion. You are the chairman of the constitutional amendments committee. She said Asec. Mocha Uson may hopefully be invited by your committee to kind of tell the Senators to know more about federalism because in fact they will be using 90-million pesos in funds for information dissemination on federalism. Let's listen to Senator Nancy Binay quickly: [SEN NANCY BINAY SOUNDBITE]

SEN. BINAY: Nagko-conduct kami ng hearings ngayon so magandang malaman kung yung sinasabi niya ba sa ating mga kababayan is the same concept of federalism na inihain sa amin dito sa Senado because baka umiikot sila tapos yung version pala nilalatag nila sa baba ay malayo doon sa version na pinag-uusapan namin dito sa Senado.


Q: Parang ganoon po yung sinasabi ninyo kanina. But here's my question. Would you invite Asec. Mocha Uson?

SFNP: Well, I'm waiting for the official written request of Sen. Binay. Ang tanong ko lang is how will she explain federalism. Baka--

Q: Yun nga yung tanong niya eh. Yun yung tanong ni Sen. Nancy, Sir.

SFNP: Baka kasi mas mahalaga, sa akin, sabi nila 90-million ang gagastusin.

Q: Earmarked.

SFNP: Saan dadalin iyan? Alam mo even before this 90-million, gumagastos na ang DILG. Umiikot na iyan. Magkano na ba ang ginagastos nila nung 2016 July hanggang ngayon para dito sa pederalismo? Dahil nga doon sa hearing sa Baguio, apat na daw ang nahi-hearing nung DILG at iba pang grupo tungkol sa federalism. Kung apat yun sa isang lugar, magkano ang ginagastos sa buong Pilipinas? Tapos ang resulta, more than 60% oppose charter change at this time. Di ba? So ano ba ito? Is this an education campaign or is this a 'may kumikita dito' campaign?

Q: Would you still be open to invite Asec. Mocha Uson to your committee?

SFNP: I don't know. We'll see. If to clarify on the issue of 90-milion being spent, pwede siguro but apart from her siguro yung pinaka-head ng PCOO.

Q: Do you think si Asec. Mocha Uson is a good representation for information dissemination on federalism?

SFNP: I'm sure there are more learned experts but we'll see. Pag ni-request ni Sen. Binay officially then we will have to take it from there.

Q: Pero pwedeng oo, pwedeng hindi?

SFNP: Yes.



Q: Sir, let's talk about TRAIN 2. Senate President Tito Sotto earlier said a couple of days ago, nobody wants to touch TRAIN 2. No one even wants to sponsor TRAIN 2. And frankly, we spoke to Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Senator Bam Aquino, Senator Ping Lacson, ang dami nilang questions sa TRAIN 1. Ano ho ba ang fate ng TRAIN 2 sa Senado?

SFNP: Well, obviously, mahihirapan. And yan naman ang kainaman ng meron kang House, meron kang Senate. Kaya nagkakaroon ng check on one another dahil hindi biro ang magpataw ng buwis. Tapos maririnig mo binubulsa. 'Di ba maririnig mo mayroong corruption dito, ayaw isauli yung 60-million, etc. So, sasabihin ng taumbayan, nagtataas kayo ng buwis, nagbabayad kami ng dagdag na buwis tapos ninanakaw lang. Plus, yung underspending. What is underspending? Ibig sabihin, nandiyan na yung pondo, hindi magastos kasi hindi naipapatupad nang maayos yung mga programa kaya nakabinbin so habang ang taumbayan hindi na nga makagastos dahil kakarampot na nga ang ginagastos napupunta pa sa ano. Yung gobyerno naman kolekta nang kolekta ng buwis, hindi rin ginagastos dahil nga hindi maliwanag yung mga programa.

Q: So is it clear that you would turn down any talk on TRAIN 2 or proposals on TRAIN 2?

SFNP: Let's see how TRAIN 1 is being implemented--

Q: But, Sir, there are questions on how TRAIN 1 is being implemented as I mentioned, hindi po ako, si Senator Bam, because obviously hindi naman po talaga... Hindi naman po bumoto si Senator Bam sa TRAIN I.

SFNP: Yes.

Q: Senator Sherwin Gatchalian voted for it but he already intimated that there's so many questions on the promises of government na hindi raw natuloy.

SFNP: You know when we were debating this, inflation was what, at 2.5-3%? Di ba? Today, it's over 5%.

Q: 5.2.

SFNP: That's more than quadruple the inflation rates in the start of Duterte's administration. And then we're gonna talk more taxes?

Q: Yes.

SFNP: Iba na yung kundisyon. So kinakailangang maging masinop tayo bago natin itulak na naman ang panibagong pagpataw ng buwis sa ating mga kababayan.

Q: But you're, right now Sir, it's obvious from how you're discussing it, that you're not likely to support any TRAIN 2.

SFNP: Yes.


Q: Alright so also meron po kayong naging tweet on - number one, the President, last July 31 sir, said he will neutralize, they would neutralize erring policemen and in his State of the Nation Address he said that the War on Drugs will continue and it will be a chilling war on drugs. Maybe very quickly we can go exactly to what the President said.


Q: Sir, quick reaction.

SFNP: Well, you know. Yung hepe na involved doon sa Kian murder hindi naman... Na-appoint pa nga sa ibang assignment eh. Yung hepe na involved, na directly in charge rito sa Jee Ick Joo, iyong unit na yun na nasangkot sa Jee Ick Joo murder. Nandiyan pa rin eh, na-appoint pa sa ibang position eh. Of course iyong ibang mga corrupt or na-link sa corruption dito sa BOC P 6.4 billion pinalusot ng BOC yan. Wala namang nakasuhan diyan eh. So you know, it's one thing to say it. It's another thing to do it. So we'll just wait for the action.

Q: You don't believe the President when he says these things, Sir?

SFNP: I can see that there are... Merong sinasabi, pero iba ang nangyayari in a number of instances. But even the issue of neutralizing policemen, what is this? Will we... Is that an order to shoot these people on sight? Have them killed extra-judicially? Di ba? Ito ba ang patakaran ngayon o eto ba yung ginagawa sa mga adik gagawin na rin sa mga corrupt na policeman? Kunwari nanlaban? You know, yung araw-araw na patayan is not, for me, a solution towards bring the country towards first-world nation status. There are better ways of doing it.


Q: Alright Senator, mabilis na mabilis lang. Iyon pong sa ICC, there is a petition that you signed together with four other Senators on Senator Leila De Lima hopefully to, well.

SFNP: Represent us.

Q: Represent dito sa withdrawal ng President sa ICC. Sir, any update on this?

SFNP: Wala pa. The Supreme Court has to rule on that, but we hope that the Supreme Court will rule in our favor. You know, the issue of the ICC withdrawal, does this mean, without... Kasi ang issue diyan is, our position is that it has to have the concurrence of the Senate.

Q: Yes.

SFNP: So ibig sabihin ba we can withdraw from UNCLOS? Ibig sabihin ba na we can withdraw from the United Nations kahit na walang Senate concurrence? The Executive Department is not in the business of lawmaking in that sense. And this is part of the law of the land. And therefore we believe that the Senate has a role also in the withdrawal. And we hope that the Supreme Court will rule in our favor because this will also send a signal to the international community, that we adhere to our treating and our international conventions and the community. And I'm sure the ICC is also looking at this case.

Q: It's very important, Sir.

SFNP: And I hope the Supreme Court will show that we can rely on our system of justice.


Q: Okay, isa na lang talaga. Yung 60 million na mention mo a while ago Sir, you obviously, I'm assuming, you want the Senate to investigate this and to conduct the hearing on this kay Senate Committee Blue Ribbon Chairman Richard Gordon. Sir, 60 million yung kay Ben Tulfo na sabi nya hindi nya ibabalik.

SFNP: Well we will give Senator Gordon, the Chairman, the benefit of the doubt. He said that he has asked for documents. And we hope...

Q: But should it be heard?

SFNP: Yes. Definitely, it should be heard. Pwede bang nagresign na lang tapos wala na? Di ba? Saan na yung pananagutan? Eh sabi nga isosoli, ngayon hindi na isosoli. O di, pano na ito?

Q: Alright. Thank you, Senator Kiko Pangilinan. Sir, maraming salamat po sainyo. And thank you for joining us here on The Source.

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