Press Release
September 12, 2018


KAREN: Your reaction to President Duterte's chat with Secretary Sal Panelo yesterday. Were you satisfied on the issues that were tackled and his responses?

SEN. PANGILINAN: [JOKINGLY] Nakita ko ay bago nang trabaho si Sec. Panelo. Talk show host. Biro lang.

Well, I think masyado siyang apektado sa kaso ni Trillanes, na ang hinihingi ng mga kababayan natin sa kanya ay malutas itong problema ng inflation, pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin, 'yung NFA rice availability ang haba ng pila ng ating mga kababayan, they have to line up several hours just to get five kilos of rice at P27 or P32 because commercial rice is so expensive. 'Yun dapat sana ang talagang natutukan niya. The economy, how are we going to move out of the challenges our citizens are facing now. But instead, ang tinutukan niya ay 'yung mga kritiko niya but in this case si Sen. Trillanes.

In a way, it was also part divisive. He was telling the soldiers, the AFP to side with--

KAREN: No, stage a mutiny against me, yeah.

SFNP: Nakakalungkot. Sana ang tinutukan na lang niya ay paano natin mareresolba itong daing ng ating mga kababayan which is really the economic problems, jobs, inflation. How do we address it? What are the steps to take to solve it to reassure the public that government is doing what it can and will do everything in order to move away from this economic crunch that the people are feeling.

KAREN: President Duterte mentioned Trillanes' name 20 times in that interview yesterday that was televised. And he reiterated over and over again how the amnesty granted by former President Aquino was void, illegal, that it was former Defense Secretary Gazmin who actually gave it. Now, Congress gave its concurrence. You were already a senator in 2010, 2011 during that time so you were part of the Congress that actually concurred.

SFNP: Yes, and we believe the Proclamation arrogates unto one man powers of the Judiciary, the Executive branch and the Legislative branch. It's authoritarian and therefore it should be struck down. But more than that, the interview yesterday showed na iba na 'yung dahilan bakit pinapaaresto si Sen. Trillanes. The issue of invalid or arrogating unto the Secretary of Defense or saying that the Secretary of Defense usurped his powers was not in the proclamation. Because the proclamation said he did not apply, the application was missing, pinakita; that he did not admit, mayroon palang admission. That was the proclamation. That was the context of the proclamation.

KAREN: That's quite interesting. Yeah.

SFNP: Now, they're saying: "No, no, no. The argument why he should be arrested is because Gazmin had no authority." Eh wala sa proclamation 'yan eh. What is this? It's so arbitrary. If that is not in the proclamation, why is it now being raised as the issue to arrest him? In other words, we can have proclamations and then set it aside and then come up with another argument as the case develops? Hindi pupwede 'yan. This is not how a president should conduct himself in this issue of exercising the power of amnesty or--

KAREN: Sec. Harry Roque came out yesterday and said that essentially, it was a victory for Malacañang, Senator Trillanes was not able to get the TRO he wanted from the Supreme Court, and now he claims there is no more legal impediment to fulfill Proclamation 572. Whose victory was it yesterday? How do you read the Supreme Court decision?

SFNP: Is Senator Trillanes in jail? No. So I think every day that he is not in jail because of this proclamation is a victory for Senator Trillanes and a victory for the rule of law. This is not just about Sen. Trillanes, this is about the rule of law. Our courts are functioning. The courts have said, he is entitled to due process. Due process is a fundamental right in our constitutional democracy. It is a part of our bill of rights and therefore due process is also being upheld here and therefore this is a victory for the citizens, this is a victory for all of us. You are entitled to due process, all our viewers are entitled to due process, and due process is being upheld here and therefore this is a victory of the Filipino people against abusive exercise of power.

KAREN: Senator, do you feel that the Supreme Court in a way washed its hands over deciding on the Trillanes issue by passing it to the regional trial court?

SFNP: Well, for as long as Sen. Trillanes' rights are respected, I think I'm okay with that and I'm thankful that the Supreme Court acted and specified, they clearly spelled it out that the President himself said that he will respect the courts and that there will be no arrest unless the court issues an arrest warrant. Sinabi 'yun ng Supreme Court. So in that regard, we're thankful na ito ang naging posisyon ng Korte Suprema.

KAREN: Okay, just a little more. You were part of that Congress that actually gave the concurrence for the amnesty, when it's a situation like this, how did Congress do it? Did you do it per person or in full? Because we have to remember, Sen. Trillanes was not the only one who applied for amnesty, 15 officials and 97 enlisted men. So that would mean that you gave concurrence to all of them.

SFNP: Through the proclamation. The details is an administrative matter because, you know, amnesty is for a class of people or a class of individuals, citizens whether it's communist rebels, whether it's coup plotters, or coup participants in the military. So maraming tao talaga 'yan. So kinakailangan, 'yung detalye niyan, you leave it to the alter ego of the President and in this case, it's the Secretary of Defense and of course, the AFP and the DND bureaucracy.

KAREN: So you believe former President Aquino and former Secretary Gazmin did not violate the law in any way when you look at that document granting amnesty that it's only Gazmin who had signed.

SFNP: Yes, and in fact, former President Aquino said we followed the process in the same way that it was done by President Estrada, President Ramos and President Aquino. So if we're questioning this, then all other amnesties are questionable? That is an absurdity.

KAREN: Now, President Duterte mentioned a destabilization plot, an ouster plot against him. This time he claims it's the CPP-NPA conniving with the Magdalo group. A certain point in time, he blamed the Liberal Party for a destab plot against him.

SFNP: Hindi 'yan totoo. Lagi na lang ang LP ay inaakusahan 'pag may problema at kapalpakan sa gobyerno in the last two years. Nung si Sec. Yasay ay hindi ma-confirm, sabi niya may LP destab plot dahil siya ay US citizen; nung si Sec. Aguirre, nasangkot 'yung kanyang mga tauhan doon sa P50-million extortion sa BID, sabi niya LP plot daw ito, destab plot which he retracted and apologized to us. So style na ito na ililihis. Pero sabi ko nga, hindi dapat destabilization ang pinag-uusapan, dapat rice price stabilization. At 'yun ang dapat mangyari na paano natin matigil itong walang-tigil na pagtaas ng presyo ng bigas. 'Yun ang dapat mag-stabilize, 'yung presyo ng bigas at iba pang bilihin. 'Yun 'yung dapat tinututukan ng ating Pangulo.

KAREN: The President also tackled solutions briefly when it comes to rice prices. I'm going to ask you this: so one of the solutions that he gave, first of all was to replace Jason Aquino.

SFNP: Mabuti 'yon. Dapat talagang palitan siya. Dapat nga tinanggal siya. He should have been fired rather than asking him to be relieved and in fact charges should be filed against him. He has to explain how buffer stocks which mandated by law should be 30 days during lean months is now down to two days. The NFA buffer stock, saan napunta 'yung 28 days? You know, 28-days worth of rice is around 20 billion pesos. Saan niya nilagay 'yun? Saan napunta 'yung 20 billion pesos na NFA rice na ngayon ay pinipilahan ng ating mga kababayan dahil kulang. Seryoso ito. Milyun-milyon ang nagugutom dahil naging palpak or ginamit itong NFA rice para--

KAREN: What charges? What charges should be filed against Jason Aquino based on your opinion?

SFNP: Well they have to, of course, review it but clearly, anti-graft 'yan. The Senate hearings on the NFA, he was there. They accredited NFA retailers that are supposed to be the ones legally allowed to receive the NFA rice because they will sell at P27 and P32. She said, "for the first time in 40 years, wala kaming makuhang NFA rice. This is the first time this has happened. This has never happened before," number one.

Number two, she was saying, "we had to buy the NFA rice sa mga trader."

KAREN: And that's wrong. That's illegal.

SFNP: That's illegal. What happens doon sa rebagging is NFA rice, they will buy it at P25 pesos, they will rebag it, and they will sell it at P45. Yesterday in the hearing sa Department of Agriculture sa budget hearing, ang sinabi nila ang rice supply natin 32 days worth of rice is with households, 32 days worth of rice, nationwide ah, is with commercial traders, and two days worth of rice is with the NFA.

KAREN: Do you see a collusion?

SFNP: Yes, in fact, the President said that rice traders are the reason why rice is going up. Unfortunately the President has been given terrible advice on the rice problem and the rice crisis and obviously it's coming from the NFA administrator because the truth is, the rice crisis or the rice problem is rice traders manipulating the supply of rice in cahoots with corrupt NFA officials. That's the long and short of it.

Nilipat ang NFA rice na dapat sana ay diretso sa taumbayan nang mura, binenta, ni-rebag and evidence points to that. Si Sec. Evasco, actually, was investigating a diversion of rice in Region VIII. They were going through that process. An NFA council member in open hearing said that 245% releases in the last quarter of 2017 October to December, 240 plus percent NFA rice was released to the market during the time na ano ang harvest. In other words, nakipagkumpitensya pa ang NFA--

KAREN: --sa farmers.

SFNP: And walang NFA rice sa merkado. Noong December 2017 hinahanap ang NFA rice sa merkado so nasaan ang NFA rice?

KAREN: So, Senator, under the leadership of Jason Aquino given the facts, I mean, given what you are saying right now that's the result of the hearing, was the NFA problem was a corruption issue or simply an inefficiency issue?

SFNP: You know, 'pag may inefficiency, dyan pumapasok ang corruption or dinadahilan nila kunwari inefficient pero totoo, corruption. I think it's a combination of both. They didn't realize, if that is what inefficiency is, na ganito pala ang magiging resulta nung kanilang kalokohan, na magkaka-letse-letse ang ating rice supply at pipila nang ganito ang ating mga kababayan. 'Yun ang tanong ko eh.

There are a lot of dedicated, committed NFA managers and officials. And the NFA council, nagbabangayan sila eh. Alam mo ang NFA Council, ang nakaupo diyan, representative of the Secretary of Finance, representative of the Secretary of NEDA, representative of the DTI Secretary, representative of the governor of the BSP, representative of the DBP and the representative of the LandBank.

'Yang mga 'yan, hindi naman nila lolokohin 'yung sistema ng ating pag-import, etc. These are people who are professional except that Jason Aquino refused to cooperate with the NFA Council, made decisions without the approval of the NFA Council, decided on matters in conflict with the NFA Council, nagkabangayan sila. Sa halip na ayusin, nag-delay nang nag-delay ng importation ng rice, nagkaroon ng problema sa supply, and here we are today.

KAREN: President Duterte mentioned yesterday that he may recommend to Congress that the NFA Council should be abolished. And he blamed the Council for hindering on the operations on rice. Do you agree?

SFNP: I think the NFA Council in this regard was trying to solve the problem that NFA Administrator refused to work with the NFA Council. Ang unang naging problema niyan, was the issuance of import permits for private sector.

KAREN: Jason Aquino refused. Yeah, I remember.

SFNP: Actually, the rice was already coming in. Extension lang ah. May permits 'yang mga 'yan. Meron nang permit 'yan, nag-import na sila. Humihingi na lang ng extension kasi na-delay din 'yung NFA sa pag-decide a couple of weeks because you have a deadline to bring it in. So na-delay nang dalawang linggo, tatlong linggo, the NFA should have extended it because the cause of the delay was the NFA, not the private sector. Si Jason Aquino refused to issue an extension. Doon nagkaproblema.

KAREN: Oo. Because President Duterte said that job can fall on the shoulders of just one person. You don't need to have four or five. In other words, he's saying why have a council of four or five that are debating if you just have one good one that's enough.

SFNP: I beg to disagree. We've made sure that, in fact, when I was chairman of the NFA, I said one of the requests that I said was, because this is a matter of--food security is national security. I said this is a matter of paramount national interest, I requested, before I take on the job and asked the President, "Sir, can you at least have our secretaries commit that even just in the first three months of my--

KAREN: Your term as chairman.

SFNP: --I don't have a representative attending the NFA Council. I want the Secretary of Finance to be there. I want the Secretary of Trade to be there. The NEDA Secretary to be there. I want them there because we have to fix this. And we made it open, we made it transparent, the procurement process was NFA approved. We rejected import offers that were very high. In other words, when Thailand and Vietnam offered the price to be so much, we rejected them four times. And these four rejections led to savings because every time you reject we ask them, four hours from now, we reject you at 10 o'clock, at 2 o'clock, you come back with your new offer. And every time, they would offer it lower. And we saved, because of rejections alone, around P6-billion in two years. So, it can be done if the interest is to make it work, if the interest is to buy low, if the interest is to ensure there is no hanky-panky or kalokohan.

The reason why ayaw nila makipag-usap would be because ano ba ang tinatago nila? Mayroon ba silang tinatago? Ba't 'di nila maipaliwanag sa buong Council?

KAREN: Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol when he was here said that he wanted the NFA and all other agencies connected to agriculture to be directly below him. Because he says right now he just is in a coordinating capacity, do you agree?

SFNP: In our time kasi, I was...nandoon si Sec. Alcala at nandoon ako, but we both have backgrounds in agriculture. I was chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture or three years. So we understood the problem. So if you want to keep the NFA Council under the CabSec, make sure that you have, those who are experienced in the agriculture sector. In fact, if you ask me, mas magandang ibalik sa DA 'yan--

KAREN: Ang NFA Council or NFA?

SFNP: The NFA as an attached agency. But ensure that it is an NFA Council-led NFA.

KAREN: Oo. Because the problem with this one is that you had Jason Aquino who was acting almost like a cabinet secretary. He was making decisions on his own. He was not consulting the Agriculture Secretary, you just said he was not following the Council recommendations. So here was a guy that was essentially making his own decisions that turned out to be all wrong. So how do we prevent that again?

SFNP: Just make it work. Let it be an NFA Council-led... You know, in the next six months have--Secretary Sonny Dominguez used to be Agriculture Secretary. In the next six months, the President should say, "kayong mg secretary, upuan ninyo 'yan. 'Wag kayong magpadala ng representatives sa NFA Council. Ikaw Sec. Sonny, mag-attend ka every month for the next six months hanggang maayos natin ito. Ikaw rin Sec. Lopez." Secretary Mon Lopez is also a professional guy. "Ikaw ang umupo dyan representing the trade sector. Ikaw, Sec. Pernia, dyan ka. Kayong tatlo, upuan ninyo 'yan. 'Wag kayong mag-aabsent sa NFA Council meeting. Ayusin natin itong sitwasyon ng bigas.

KAREN: Senator, what will it take to take back the NFA under the Department of Agriculture?

SFNP: It has to be an Executive Order. The Executive Order which created the OPAFSAM which I headed. The President has the power to reorganize the Executive Department so he did that reorganization, removed the Philippine Coconut Authority, the National Irrigation Administration, Fertilizer...

KAREN: This was during the time of PNoy, he did that?

SFNP: Yes. And when we came in, there were rumblings, there were challenges to the supply of rice in the country then that we were able to, thankfully...

KAREN: But why did PNoy do that? Why did he organize it that way? Why did he remove it?

SFNP: My understanding is that there were challenges to the NFA management then, the NIA also there were management issues, the same with the Philippine Coconut Authority. So he had to reorganize the Executive Department. And at that point, if I recall correctly, January of 2014, we experienced seven percent growth but the agriculture sector was lagging behind, joblessness was still a challenge, poverty was pretty much not moving and major poverty policies are really in the agriculture sector.

If you want to confront poverty squarely, you really have to make sure that the agriculture sector policies and execution of programs are always ahead. Ika nga, dapat laging kang on top of the situation. So I guess that's the reason why he asked me to come in, to handle the--

KAREN: But then if PNoy then reorganized it, removing all those agencies under the DA, I'm asking you now, why do you think it's wiser to put the NFA as an attached agency back to the DA?

SFNP: Well, the minimum is the DA Secretary should be in the NFA Council. So maybe--

KAREN: He's there. Pinol is there but he said it's coordinating.

SFNP: No, he's not a member now.

KAREN: Now? He's not a member?

SFNP: No. But I think he should be a member of that council

KAREN: What made him...I mean--

SFNP: The Executive Order.

KAREN: I see. Okay. Because he did attend a meeting of the Council.

SFNP: Kaya nga nabanggit ko kanina, because I also have a background on agriculture. So pretty much even if Sec. Alcala was not there, we were coordinating and I understood it. In this case, talagang may sariling palo 'yung NFA Administrator.

KAREN: But that sounds so wrong in concept that the very Secretary on Agriculture that's in charge of rice production is not part.

SFNP: Although during my time, we created the food security council and the Secretary of Agriculture is present there. And the food security council makes the necessary recommendations in terms of importation based on our production. And the NFA cannot make a decision unless there are recommendations forwarded by the food security council--

KAREN: And now, that does not exist anymore.

SFNP: It still exists.

KAREN: Have you called the food security council?

SFNP: No, no, no. That's the executive department. In our time, we did.

KAREN: Today?

SFNP: They should call it.

KAREN: But who are the officers?

SFNP: Secretary of Agriculture, NEDA--

KAREN: So in other words, that council exists, it's just not, how do you say, it's just not--

SFNP: The institution has to work. Ang problema, itong mga nangyari. The NFA Council is an institutional body that addresses the rice supply challenges of the country. But it was not made to work. They were at odds with one another. There were instances where the NFA Council would meet but the NFA Administrator would not be present. It was not working. If you allow institutions to be undermined, then were gonna--

KAREN: Well I mean, just to simplify for our viewers, who should be the boss of the NFA administrator given that not just in this administration, even in past administrations, the NFA has always been a source, I mean people have always, there's always been doubts of corruption within the NFA's, smuggling--

SFNP: I was boss for two years. And we were able to help move things around.

KAREN: Who should the NFA Administrator report to?

SFNP: Well, under the existing setup, it should be CabSec Evasco. Hindi kasi nirespeto 'yung proseso ng institusyon. Kasi nga dapat si CabSec Evasco as chairman of the Council should be working together with Jason Aquino. Ang lakas kasi nitong si Jason eh. You know, for him to defy the NFA Council, ano'ng meron dyan? Tapos ngayon P20 billion worth of buffer stocks, saan napunta 'yon?

KAREN: Okay. We're gonna continue our conversation with Senator Kiko Pangilinan after this short break. Hot Copy will be right back, stay with us.


KAREN: We'll talk about first, inflation. Inflation in NCR has reached seven percent, in the Bicol Region a whopping nine percent, I think parts of Mindanao eight to ten percent. What should be done? Let's first talk about TRAIN 1

SFNP: I think TRAIN 1, there has to be a suspension of the excise tax on fuel.

KAREN: That's January 2019, second round.

SFNP: Yes, so nag-file na ng bill sa House ang LP Minority, kasama din d'yan sa Senate si Sen. Bam ng Bawas-Presyo Bill which is really to suspend excise taxes on fuel, the 2nd tranche, ika nga for TRAIN 1.

KAREN: Yeah, for TRAIN 1. And I think that's two pesos eh.

SFNP: May range 'yan. P2 - P5 yata depending on whether it's diesel.

KAREN: And as it is now with the first excise tax release, gasoline prices have been up by P10 in full per liter.

SFNP: So, 'yun ang isa. Suspend TRAIN 1 excise taxes on fuel. That will be a big relief to our citizens.

KAREN: Do you mean should the House pass it first? How will this work in terms of processing?

SFNP: It's a tax measure. We can already hear it in the committee but we cannot decide on it until the House brings its version.

KAREN: You may have the numbers in the Senate for the suspension. Would you say?

SFNP: I think so.

KAREN: But the House is a different story.

SFNP: Yes. And this is a temporary relief. This is not as if we are not going to go back to that excise tax. Pagka maayus-ayos na ang usapin ng inflation. And the country's economic managers have admitted that they did not anticipate this kind of inflation.

KAREN: You have members of the Duterte Cabinet, like Sec. Mon Lopez was here yesterday, and when asked about the inflation rate of 6.4% highest in the last nine years, they've come up with charts to say while during the time of Marcos, it was higher, during the time of Cory it was higher, during the time of GMA it reached 6.6, so it's like saying we've experienced higher.

SFNP: Well, that is true up to a certain degree but what is the net effect of that? You would have more poverty. I mean nobody wants we justify it and therefore it's okay to have more poverty. No, no, no. It's not. Food for example, rice inflation is 7, mataas 'yan.

KAREN: Yeah. Rice is 7 percent. Correct.

SFNP: And the bulk of the expenses of the poorest families, 60 percent, almost 70 percent go to food. And the food prices have gone up. So for them to say yes, na mas mataas dati, but tell that to the man on the street na hindi na kumakain nang tatlong beses sa isang araw. Ginugutom. We have 25 million Filipinos who still live in the poverty line levels. And any spike in inflation means hunger and not eating square meals a day. That is not acceptable.

KAREN: I wanted to ask you your position, I mean, your committee it's still with Senator Villar, 'yung agri. But your opinion at galunggong, I think local galunggong is at 120 or 140 but the ones coming from Vietnam they said were 75, is importation of galunggong the solution?

SFNP: No. Again it is a stop-gap measure. The strategic solution really is to raise incomes of our farmers and fisherfolk by providing them with support, government and private sector support.

KAREN: But for example, farmgate prices of chicken are at 80 or 85 and chicken are sold in the market at 140.

SFNP: The DTI has the power to inspect.

KAREN: So is the DTI doing its job enough? I wanna ask you. Are you happy with the performance of the DTI.

SFNP: Well, they have to step up. They have to step up. I think they're doing their job under Sec. Mon Lopez but I think they have to do more. It has to be a concerted effort in terms of--magkakaroon pa rin kahit paano nung mga unscrupulous profiteers who want to take advantage of the rising prices but if government's presence is felt, that would be tempered. Any tempering of inflation will help lalo na sa ating mga kababayan.

KAREN: I think you released an initial list of senatorial candidates for the 2019 running under would you say under the Liberal Party or it's a coalition?

SFNP: It's a coalition of different parties, we have the LP, Akbayan, Aksyon, Magdalo, we also have Tindig Pilipinas, and there are many other groups that I am scheduled to meet with so that we build a broad coalition of opposition forces who will stand on issues on human rights, opposition to EJK, and of course how do we address the basic fundamental issues of jobs, prices going up, how do we address the issue of TRAIN 2. So basically, paano natin maibabalik yung pera ng taumbayan sa bulsa niya para siya na mismo ang makakagastos at guminhawa ang buhay.

KAREN: You are a Senator 'til 2022 so you can focus clearly on the candidates running for 2019. It's a challenge right now for the opposition to come up with stellar names, so to speak. You have Bam Aquino of course who is a sure reelectionist, where is Mar Roxas in the picture? Is he 80 percent? 90 Percent?

SFNP: Mar has not decided. In fact I'm seeing him, I'll ask for time to see him to find out what his plans really are so hindi hasn't decided. But we have (18) names, very quickly:

1. Aquino, Bam
2. Alejano, Gary
3. Mar Roxas
4. Chief Justice Sereno
5. Erin Tañada
6. Chel Diokno
7. Florin Hilbay
8. Barry Gutierrez
9. Dingdong Dantes
10. Edwin Lacierda
11. Manolo Quezon
12. Leah Navarro
13. Agot Isidro
14. Jim Paredes
15. Romulo Macalintal
16. Dinky Soliman
17. Chief Justice Davide
18. (Samira Gutoc)

KAREN: Okay, do you want to put solid 12 or do you wanna put let's say smaller number but--

SFNP: The inclination is that we don't have to fill up the 12. I think we would like to push for a strong message. A lean but mean ticket so that the issues really would be articulated. Historically kasi wala namang nananalong labindalawa. Talagang given 'yun.

KAREN: Where is former CJ Sereno and former CJ Davide right now with the talks. I think that would be very interesting because I don't think I mean historically no former Chief Justice has ran for the Senate.

SFNP: No, si Fernan.

KAREN: Yeah, you're right. He's the first. And won.

SFNP: Well with CJ Sereno, we are still in talks with her. In fact, I'm meeting her later this afternoon. Si CJ Davide, I met with him yesterday but he is not inclined to run but sabi ko sa kanya, habang may buhay may pag-asa. Malayo pa ang deadline baka sakaling magbago ang kanyang isip.

KAREN: Hindi malayo. October na, that's less than a month. Filing is close.

SFNP: One week is a long time in politics.

KAREN: Alright, on that note, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, thank you so much for coming to the show.

SFNP: Thank you. Maraming salamat.

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