Press Release
August 23, 2018

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III

On NPC's senate slate

SP Sotto: Linawin ko muna. Alam namin ang PDP Laban magkakaroon ng sariling senatorial lineup. Ang HNP na regional party ni Inday Sara meron ding sinusuportahan, not necessarily their lineup, di ba? Ang LP would probably have their own senatorial lineup.

The NPC, being one of the major political parties, do not really have an intention of putting up its own lineup. What we are saying in that we are going to support a number of senatorial candidates. Pwedeng tatawagin ng iba na NPC senatorial lineup yan, they may call it that but to us, technically, we will have a list of senator candidates that the NPC will support. Now what does it mean? It means that in the NPC controlled areas, when I say controlled, meaning amin ang governor, amin ang maraming board members, amin ang mga mayor o amin ang mga councilors, they will be very accommodating in campaigning for these senatorial candidates. That's what it means. I just want to lay it out, na technically ganun yun.

Q: The candidates will be coming from different political parties?

SPVS: Oo. Nabanggit ko nga yung mga pangalan na sinisiguro ko na as far as we are concerned, they have been mentioned by a number of members of the NPC, they are willing to support these candidates. We will formalize everything very soon. Lalo na pagkafile na nung certificate of candidacy kasi it is not ideal for us to keep on mentioning names, when later on they will not be running pala. Or they will no longer be interested. We'd rather come out with an official list that we will support, after the filing of certificates of candidacy. Right now the names that I have been mentioning are the names that are being mentioned by NPC members and that we are willing to support. In my case, on a personal note, ganun din syempre lalo na sa mga kasama ko sa Senado.

Q: Kasama po ba si Senator Bam?

SPVS: Oo. Kaya nga sabi ko aabot ng 15 yan kasi merong mag technicalities na inayos pa namin, like for example, if there are members who would like to include Governor Imee in the lineup, or there are members who would like to include Senator bam in the lineup. So para makaiwas muna kami sa maaaring maging problema dahil baka naman hindi naman matuloy, mabuti na yung nagiingat. Caution is a better way of doing things, di ba? We should be cautious so ang nababanggit lang namin, yung nakakasiguro kami na suportado ng karamihan, karamihan ng members ng NPC.

Q: Mamimili kayo between Senator Bam and Governor Imee? Hindi sila pwedeng pagsamahin?

SPVS: I cannot answer that. There is a possibility na kung magusap-usap kaming members ng NPC, pumayag sila lahat. There is a possibility na pwede silang magkasama doon sa susuportahan namin, like in the case of Senator JV and Senator Jinggoy.

Q: Endorsement lang naman kasi yun di po ba?

SPVS: Yes, endorsement lang naman yun, but of course, maganda rin sigurong magkaroon ng pagkakataon na like for example, if there is a big NPC rally in Tarlac, or a big NPC rally in Quezon, yung mga sinusuportahan namin na kandidato, iimbitahin namin.

Q: Even if you are coming up with your own list, you are still in alliance with PDP, ano po yung magiging setup?

SPVS: As far as the administration is concerned, we are in alliance with PDP Laban. We are in alliance, it is not a coalition, particularly in the House of Representatives kasi and also in the Senate.

Q: If you are coming up with a senatorial slate, ibig po sabihin, doon sa magiging slate ng PDP, hindi na siya parang admin coalition?

SPVS: Ibang usapan yun, hindi kasama sa alliance yun. When we say alliance, we are in alliance with the administration, with the PDP Laban, in the running of government. In the way government is run, we are in alliance. Yun ang meaning nun, not particularly for elections.

Q: If you are supporting these candidates from different political parties, isn't it necessary that you would forge an alliance with these parties?

SPVS: We may, we may not. It is not necessary.

Q: What about logistic support?

SPVS: I'd rather not commit.

Q: Ano po ang magiging role mismo ng NPC sa 2019 elections?

SPVS: Definitely we will be having our own rallies with our local candidates. Now they can, we may invite them, we can invite them, we will invite them for major rallies in the different provinces. I have a list of our members na incumbent. Marami kaming member na hindi incumbent, merong naubos ang term, merong hindi nanalo.

Q: Bakit kayo may delineation, alliance lang sa government?

SPVS: Because it is not a coalition. We are allied but it is not a coalition. A coalition will entail a total agreement to coalesce with each other, acting as one political party.

Q: It was never a consideration po?

SPVS: No, we have never entered into a coalition with the PDP Laban. An alliance, yes.

Q: Bakit hindi siya naging consideration po?

SPVS: Perhaps no one thought about it. No one found a necessity for it, kasi we can exist with each other as an alliance.

Q: Yung sabi ninyong dalawang unnamed, yun na yun, because may issues pa kay Senator Bam and Governor Imee?

SPVS: Meron pang mga ibang pangalan, kilala ng taga-ABS CBN.

Q: Ang magiging ruling ng NPC as of this time is kung meron kayong mga rallies, pwede nilang gamitin as venue to campaign?

SPVS: Oo. And the NPC member will campaign for them.

Q: Pero walang perang involved?

SPVS: Sino ang magbibigay? Hindi namin pinaguusapan ang pera. If there are logistics necessary or involved, we don't talk about it, it just comes along.

On Sec. Andanar saying that charter change is not yet dead, just taking a power nap.

SPVS: That is a good way of putting it. To me kasi the timing is really difficult at this point. I am not for, or I am not against, but the timing really is the most difficult thing to hurdle as far as cha-cha is concerned, because limited yung time namin, because of the elections. It will be easier to discuss it after 2019.

Q: You are doubtful that the president will (unclear)?

SPVS: Hindi niya ginagawa yun. He has never done it. I don't think he will do it now.

Q: Is something wrong?

SPVS: There is nothing wrong.

Q: But according to Senator Drilon he is hoping na panindigan daw yung agreement na hintayin yung committee report ng Committee on Constitutional Amendments?

SPVS: As far as the Senate is concerned, yes, that is not a commitment, that is an agreement of the Senate as a whole that we will await the committee report of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes before we talk with the House of Representatives.

Q: So maninindigan kayo sa agreement na yun kahit na mag-effort yung Palace to convince Senate?

SPVS: Yes. If ever, as I said I doubt if the President will do that. If he does, it will be the same answer that we will give him. Pinagaaralan po namin ang ilalabas ng committee report. Ididiscuss po namin sa plenaryo yan, kung ano ang magiging desisyon ng majority ng Senado.

Q: Sabi daw ni Sec. Roque bubuksan daw sa public consultation yung draft federal constitution. You think this will help convince the public?

SPVS: This will help inform the public. Convincing is another word, another issue for that. To inform the public, that will be good. Convincing? I really don't know. Depende, tingnan natin kasi malalim. Hanggang ngayon, pang-apat ko nang beses nabasa, ilang oras na ang nauubos ko, malapit ko ng maintindihan.

Q: What is so contentious?

SPVS: You are talking of a constitution. You are talking of the entire constitution that will affect the country, that will affect the future of our children, of our grandchildren so it is not that easy to just take it like, ah okay ito, okay ito.

Yan ang problema natin, nung constitution natin, noon pa hanggang ngayon. Masyado nating inilagay lahat. Merong madadaling constitution na generalized. May mga constitution ng ibang bansa, tingnan ninyo, iresearch ninyo, ang ninipis, madaling intindihin, simplified. The laws govern, follow after the constitution lang. Sa atin kasi, nandoon na halos lahat, nakaelaborate.

Q: Sabi ninyo kanina cha-cha is easier to tackle after 2019.

SPVS: That is my personal opinion. It will be easier to tackle because we will have more time to talk about it and discuss it with the House, hindi lang kami. Sa amin, mapaguusapan namin yan in a few months, pero to tackle it together with the House of Representatives, it's not that easy.

Q: Walang initial talk si Speaker Arroyo to convince Senate na makipag-cooperate?

SPVS: Wala pa, we have not talked.

On SolGen Calida going to the Supreme Court to ask for a TRO on Senate's hearing on the JBC.

Q: I am not familiar with it, it is up with the chairmen of the committee. Ang pagkaka-alam ko, yung Thursday na naka-schedule yan, it doesn't have anything to do with the SC. Naschedule bigla yung JBC ni Senator Gordon that is why he has to attend that. It is a constitutional mandate, yung sa JBC. Parang hindi pwedeng palampasin ni Senator Gordon yun.

Q: May nangyari na bangganun na pwedeng pigilan ng SC yung isang Senate hearing?

SPVS: Hindi pa yata. Yun ba ang petition?

Q: Yes po.

SPVS: Let's wait for what the Supreme Court will say. I don't think it's possible, but let's wait for what the Supreme Court will say. I don't think the Supreme Court will prevent a committee from hearing, especially if it is in aid for legislation. Baka hindi ayun yung petition niya?

Q: Feeling po ni SolGen Calida daw, based on caprice lang daw yung hearing.

SPVS: Sinasabi niya sa Supreme Court yun? The Supreme Court will interpret it. Let us wait to what they will say, their interpretation kasi I do not know what is the entire petition, or a gist, I don't have a copy of the entire petition of what it contains eh.

Q: If the SC grants the TRO, will the Senate follow?

SPVS: We'll cross the bridge when we get there.

Q: Sir nakuha niyo na po ba yung drug test result niyo?

SPVS: Yes, I have a copy here. Guarantisadong negative. I can show you a copy. Eto oh. Cocaine negative, ecstasy negative, methamphetamine, negative, morphine negative, tetrahydrocannabinol, negative. Original copy ito ah.

Q: Sir are you at liberty to say if may nagpositive na Senate employees?

SPVS: Di ko nakita ang result. I think the best person to ask is the Senate Secretary, Atty. Myra Villarica. And remember, if a person tests positive for a certain drug or substance, it does not necessarily mean or it is not conclusive that he or she is a drug dependent or drug addict. He could have expeosed- via a party or whatever - but he was not really a drug dependent. Kaya once you test positive, there is a confirmatory test that should be done.

Kaya dapat hindi kinakabahan ang ating mga kababayan kapag nagpapadrug test eh, kapag nagpa-drug test ka, tapos nagpositive ka, "Saan?!" Edi confirmatory test.

Q: On perceptions that President Duterte is pro-China

SPVS: Hindi naman kasi ako naniniwala na maka-China siya eh. Maka Pilipinas siya. Yun ang perception ng iba na hindi gusto ang mga nangyayari. Ganun lang yun, perhaps they do not like the statements of the President, or perhaps, they do not like the President.

Pero ako kasi, I know him as a friend noong araw pa, noong 1998 pa magkasama na kami in the fight against illegal drugs and in the fight against drug abuse. He is not pro-China, he is pro-Philippines. Pero if it is for the good of the Philippines, he will allow it. Now if it is bad for the Philippines, then you hear that statement from him. That is what you get. He will say, Delikado, hindi pede iyan."

Dapat kasi, may usapan na diyan, magkasosyo tayo dapat eh, kung mayroong mga joint exploration na area na pede, dapat 60-40, meaning atin yun, because it is in our Constitution na dapat 60% Filipino.

Q: Sir the President again accused the CIA of plotting to kill him and on listening in his conversations.

SPVS: Well I have heard this before and I agree, which is, when there is a threat on the President, whether it is real or imagined, it is best to be careful.

Q: Sir yung sa state of calamity sa Zamboanga dahil sa prices of rice, how should the government respond? Pati fish prices kasi sir nagtaas na.

SPVS: Well the city of Zamboanga did the right thing, they declared antimano a state of calamity, to be able to able to address that. What does it mean when they declare a state of calamity? It means that they can use the calamity fund, see? I will not cut the long story - noong Vice Mayor ako, pumutok ang Mount Pinatubo.

Maraming tiga-Pampanga na nakatira sa Quezon City, so maraming kamaganak sa Pampanga. Maraming nag-pupuntahan sa Quezon City, may mga pinasundo kami, may pinadala kami na mga bus, pinasundo namin, dinala naming sa Amoranto stadium. Maraming mga Kapampangan na naapektuhan, nandoon sa Amoranto. I am talking between 1989, 1990 and 1992, noong vice-mayor ako.

Noong nandoon na sila, kailangan naming ngayon pakainin. Kailangan ng banig, kailangan ng damit, napakaraming kailangan. Hindi kami pwede umasa- ang Quezon City government, hindi pwede umasa sa donation lang. We have to spend our money, we have our Calamity Fund. Ang mandated ng Local Government Code, five percent of your budget should be reserved as a calamity fund. So mayroon kaming five percent na nakareserve as calamity fund, five percent ng napakalaking budget ng Quezon City nakareserve as calamity fund.

So eto kagad ako, (unclear), "Gamitin na natin yung calamity fund." Ayaw kami payagan ng COA, ayaw ng City treasurer magrelease. "Sabi ko, baket?" Sabi ng City Treasurer namin ang nakalagay sa Local Government Code, kailangan magdeclare ng state of calamity ang presidente bago mo magamit ang calamity fund mo, kailangan may state of calamity doon sa lugar mo.

Ang tanong ko noon, papaano kung sa Sultan Kudarat nagkaroon ng kalamidad, hindi nakarating sa Presidente? Pano nila gagamitin ang calamity fund nila? Kami noon makakapagpaalam kami eh kay President Cory, eh paano yun? Eh wala pang cellphone noon ah, 1990, yung cellphone na maliit. Pano malalaman ng Presidente na kailangan magdeclare ng state of calamity sa Sultan Kudarat, eh walang communication? Kung meron mang communication, eh sa panahon noon, kung may bagyo, katulad ng nangyari sa Yolanda, walang form of communication, paano ngayon magdedeclare ng state of calamity?

Yan ang sabi ko. Fast forward ngayon, noong nahalal akong senador, isa sa unang batas o bill ko na finile is yung amending the Local Government Code and giving the power to declare a state of calamity to the city or the municipal council. So naging batas yan, isa sa mga una kong naging batas, dahil galing akong local government as vice mayor. Republic Act 1885 is the law allowing the declaration of a state of calamity in the local level by the local council, yun yun. Yan ngayon ang ginawa ng Zamboanga City. Tama yun. That is the first move. They will be able to use their calamity funds to offset or augment or subsidize whatever issue they have on rice or whatever food products.

Q: How are you sure na hindi na mauulit yun, kasi nagsimula daw po iyan sa smuggled rice?

SPVS: Correct, yan ang mabbigat kasi matagal natin na hindi nacheck yang issue ng smuggled rice lalo na doon sa bandang dulo ng Mindanao, kaya mura dahil smuggled. Ngayon na nawala yung smuggled rice, Sinamantala naman siguro ng ibang mga hoarders o yung ibang mga traders, hindi ko naman nilalahat pero may nananamantala eh. Parang lang itong TRAIN yan, eh pati fresh foods tumaas daw dahil sa TRAIN eh wala namang tax yan eh. Hindi naman kasama yun, pero tinaas eh. So may nananamantala.

Anyway, sa issue na ito, let me say, mayroon kasing idea -nabanggit ko na noon to sa dating leadership eh - and I'm not too sure if I mentioned this to the President already and I told Secretary Manny Pinol about this already. Marami na akong napagsabihan nito - si Ka Paeng Mariano alam din ito eh - sabi ko, if only government would buy 50% of the total output of farmers in the Philippines, hindi tayo magkakaganyan and malaki ang alleviation ng poverty sa atin. Seventy (70) percent live based on agriculture, so kung lalo na yung bigas kung fifty (50) percent nila binibili ng gobyerno sa tamang presyo, hindi magkakaganyan nationwide, hindi tayo kailangan magimport. Para mo nang sinubsidize, eh yung mga ibang bansa nga subsidized ang mga farmer nila.

As a matter of fact, may mga farmers nga nila na binabayaran na huwag na magtanim, mayroong ganoon pag sobra. Sa America pag sobra ang oranges at apples, binabayaran nila ang farmers para huwag sumobra, dahil babagsak ang presyo. Sobrang dami eh, mayroong ganoon. Dito sa atin, ang sabi noon sa akin ni Ka Paeng, kahit daw mga thirty (30) percent lang daw pwede na. So between 30 to 50 percent sana, binibili ng gobyerno sa tamang presyo, hindi magkakaganyan eh.

Dapat may isang problema na dapat ayusin din natin, and perhaps the Office of the President, through the Department of Agriculture can study this, ang ibang mga farmer nagrereklamo na napakadami ng requirements na hindi nila ma-meet doon sa NFA, kaya hindi sila nakakapagbenta doon sa kanila, lalo na yung mga maliliit na farmers. Sana luwagan natin yung requirements para sa mga magsasaka, sana luwagan ng NFA, lalo na doon sa mga maliliit na farmers. If we do that, then we solve this issue, yang rice crisis na iyan.

Q: Sir policy po ang problem, hindi po yung incompetence ng officials?

SPVS: Combination eh, hindi ko masabi na incompetent eh, policy ang kailangan baguhin. Pangalawa, mahirap magbintang eh, doon na lang sa policy.

Q: Sir may proposal to abolish the NFA?

SPVS: May ganoong proposal, pinag-aaralan pa namin.

Q: Sir yung Rice Tariffication Bill maaapprove po ba sa Senate?

SPVS: I thought the President was going to sign it as an executive order. I do not know. Kapag gumawa siya ng executive order, hindi na kailangan.

Q: Sir pag EO, hindi permanent.

SPVS: Well that can lead to the finally making it into a law, but it will need a band-aid solution right away.

News Latest News Feed