Press Release
February 4, 2010

Transcript of interview with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile
at Kapihan sa Senado

Q: Clarification sir, what really is the status of the Committee Report of the Ethics Committee?

JPE: Actually, the report of the Senate Committee of the Whole is still an open issue. It has not been closed. It is not disposed of. The sentence of the sanction recommended by the Report has not been read or disposed because the group of Senator Villar opted not to ask questions from me. The only one that interpellated me was the complainant. Of course, there were others who wanted to interpellate me from the Majority. At least, Jinggoy Estrada wanted to interpellate me. Dick Gordon, I think, wanted to interpellate me and several others from my side of the political aisle in the Senate. Pero 'yung mga dapat na magtanong sa akin, na dapat sumalungat sa akin at sabihin na hindi totoo 'yung sinasabi ng report, sila ay naging comite de silencio. Walang kibo. Kung bakit, hindi ko maintindihan 'yun dahil sila ay napakaingay kapag tungkol sa korupsyon na sinasabi nila na nangyayari sa ating bansa, tungkol sa korupsyon na sinasabi nilang nangyayari sa administrasyon. Pero kung tungkol sa korupsyon na nangyayari sa Senado at nangyayari sa sinusuportahan nila na kandidato sa pagka-Presidente, wala silang kibo. I cannot square that conduct with what they say. In other words, they do not walk their talk.

Q: Sir, did you suspect that that is the really the plan because if you recall January 19, second day of the session after the Christmas break, when the Committee Report was scheduled to be taken up on the floor, the same thing happened?

JPE: Actually, if you remember, I do not know when the Committee Report got the 12. They did not expect that I will get 12 signatures to submit the Committee Report for consideration of the Senate. In fact, they lobbied in order to kill the Report so that it will not reach the Senate. If you remember, they even hoodwinked some members of the Majority to sign a resolution clearing the respondent, Sen. Manuel Villar, even before a Committee Report was prepared by the Chair of the Senate Committee of the Whole. And that was the first indication that they were maneuvering to clear the respondent and prevent the people, prevent the nation, prevent the public from knowing the truth about the result of the hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole. Then, finally, I prepared the Report and I worked hard to prepare that report. When I finally finished it, I never talked to any member of the Senate to sign it. I signed it, I gave it to the Secretary of the Senate, acting as Secretary of the Committee of the Whole. I asked the Secretary to route it among the senators. I supplied a copy of that Report to every senator including Senator Villar and his cohorts. And at that point, I received a grave threat that if I will talk to any of those who signed the Resolution, then they will try to unseat me. I said, 'Please, go ahead. If you can unseat me, unseat me but I will have to do my job.' I told them. I sent word to them that they are free to campaign to unseat me but I continue to have the Senate Committee of the Whole Report to be routed. Then finally, when I got the signatures of 12, I filed it. And that is when they started to howl. They boycotted the Senate session. We did not have any quorum to consider the Report. So then, we agreed to tackle the report and everyday I was waiting for them to interpellate me. They did not want to interpellate me because I know that they cannot stand the heat of interpellation. They are not adequate enough to interpellate me.

Q: Sir, in fact, may I go back to the Report? So as it is, it is hanging, not disposed of properly? Meron bang law, parang lapse of time that it is automatically archived and/or can you discuss it again?

JPE: None that I know of. A Committee Report is in order at any time to be called.

Q: Can you revive it, resurrect it when you reopen on May 31?

JPE: Yes, why not?

Q: Because at that time, sir, the Senate is convened into a National Canvassing Board. Can you still take up legislative matters?

JPE: We will have to convene in order to go through the process of canvassing the votes. But during that time, when we convene, I suppose, we can take up that matter if somebody will raise it.

Q: Possibility sir na may quorum lang kayo niyan is when you convene and that is on the 31st of May.

JPE: We might take it up during that time.

Q: When you convene as a National Canvassing Board, you will be at Batasan?

JPE: Correct, but we are still acting also as a Senate. We will have to convene first here before we go there. That is my understanding. And then we pass a resolution that we will conduct the canvassing. At that point, after we have taken the necessary resolutions to join our counterparts in the House to do the canvassing, maybe we can take up the matter because it's pending. As I said, a Committee Report is in order at any time to be taken up by the body.

Q: After you have done your job as a National Canvassing Board, you can adjourn sine die?

JPE: We can also come here and close the session. Before we close the session, we can take up pending matters if we have to.

Q: Sir, di ba ang best chance ninyo is during the opening on the 31st? I'm sure that there will be a quorum, almost 100% attendance.

JPE: That will be the best time. We will see what will happen. They might boycott also the canvassing, the session to pass the resolution for the canvass of the votes for president and vice president.

Q: According to Senator Pimentel, what happened yesterday was caused by failure of leadership. Wag daw 'yung Minority ang i-blame.

JPE: I respect his opinion. I will not argue with him. I do not know what he did when he was Senate President but I know what I did as a Senate President. You're privy to what goes on in the Senate everyday and I will not lift my bootstraps, I will not give value to the opinion of someone who does not wish to face an adversary to confront him if he has any issue to take up.

Q: Is the threat of a "coup" still alive, and what's the logic behind this?

JPE: They can continue their coup but it's just going to be just a coup-coup-coup. Or kukurukuku. You know, that's just the ineptness of some people. You know I've never planned anything unless I can pull it through. Whether it is a life and death issue, I will pull it through, if I have to plan it. These guys planned a kukurukuku, but it evaporates like fog.

Q: Sen. Alan Cayetano said yesterday that the bills for NTC and PAGCOR are not that urgent?

JPE: Well, PAGCOR is different, it is not a necessity. But the NTC to me is a necessity to protect 80 million cellphone holders who are being robbed blind of their prepaid loads and most of these are poor people. Maids, drivers, laborers, students, farmers, fishermen, sick people in the hospitals, nurses, not rich people. Teachers, OFWs. Nobody is protecting them because these people who are NTC, they are afraid also like human beings, to be taken out of their jobs. They have no fixed tenure of office. They are not safe, they could be removed when the giants in the communication industry will pressure people to remove them from office. That's why I wanted to give a fixed tenure to the Commissioners of the National Telecommunication Commission so that they could perform their job protecting the people of this country who are being robbed of their hard earned income because of the activities of some people in the telecommunications industry. The Villar group does not want this to happen. If I were a cellphone holder I will kick out these people because they are not true to what they say, that they are pro-poor, that they are for the people, protecting the people of this country. They are just mouthing these things to gain power, to fill their coffers, if they can. Well, if we have the time, we have to consider that, because when that bill is certified by Malacañang, and if there is no objection,

Q: When you resume on the 31st of May, and there are indications of a failed election, would you consider turning over your position as Senate President to an incumbent Senator?

JPE: When, after the election?

Q: Yes, because when you reconvene on the 31st, elections are over.

JPE: Well, we will see what will happen. I'm not going to make a promise at that point. You know Jun, even if you put a new Senate President after the election, if there was no election, that means there is no government in place. What will that person do? He cannot even budget a single centavo, you have only how many Senators at that point. One is in the kulungan, how many are left outside? You cannot even convene the Senate and Congress at that time.

Q: What's the logic behind that? Because the life of this 14th Congress will end when you declare sine die?

JPE: You know all of these are machinations to take power by some people who are allied with the candidate for President, and it shows a degree or lack of understanding of the dynamics of power in this country, you know? At that point, I hope it will never happen, at that point, even I, assuming that I still exist then, if there is a failure of election, I don't dream that I will be respected and obeyed by the military and the police.

Q: When will you declare a Congressional sine die? Will it be after you have tackled the bills?

JPE: Adjourn the Senate? That is on June 4. According to our calendar, it will be June 4. June 4, according to our calendar. We will have a session on May 31st up to June 4.

Q: About yung sinabi ninyo "I don't dream I will be respected by the police and the military". Please expound on that statement, Sir.

JPE: Alam mo, nasa Saligang Batas natin, the military is the protector of the people. If there is no election, they will then decide, can we respect this person to run the country or not? They will decide that among themselves because they are Constitutionally authorized to protect the country. So they have to attest the fitness of that person, to really run the country. Not simply because he was placed there, he cannot even convoke, call a meeting of the Senate because there is no Senate at that point. There's no Senate of which he is a President at that point.

Q: Even the Constitutional provision of succession will be disregarded?

JPE: I do not know. I hope they will obey. I don't know the intent of these people. You know, Constitutions operate only with human beings. A law is a law, but it remains a law, the implementation of which is something else. It depends upon people to implement the law. The law is not self-implementing. It is being implemented by people. Now, you put somebody, as a President, I do not know whether he will be obeyed, he will be respected.

Q: Don't you find it almost funny that during every Presidential election, the No-El scenario crops up? In '92, in 2004, and here it is again?

JPE: It is because of the Constitution we have. This defect is embedded in the Constitution. Had they maintained the old system, where 2/3 of the Senate remain, in other words sixteen Senators must be there all the time, then there's no question about it, because the sixteen remaining Senators were intended to be precisely protectors of the people in the event of these kinds of contingencies. They have a quorum, they can organize a government for the country. But my God, eleven Senators, you have no quorum.

Q: Sir, after the C-5 controversy, do you think Senator Villar is fit to be the president of the country?

JPE: I think it will be unfair for me to make that statement here. Let the people judge him. But I have my own opinion and I will articulate that opinion when I go to the people as a politician, not as a Senate President. And I have a right to articulate it at that point because I'm already playing politics.

Q: Do you see a problem in the case of the disqualification against your standard bearer ?

JPE: I don't know the status of the case against him. The COMELEC has said that he is qualified to run. I do not know whether there is anyone who has filed a Motion for Consideration. Whether there is anyone who will take it up to the Supreme Court.

Q: Someone has taken it to the Supreme Court by the name of Pormiento, if I'm not mistaken.

JPE: Well, let the Supreme Court make the decision. We have studied the matter. I think we developed a good case, so much so that initially the COMELEC took that position. So, let us see what the Supreme Court will have to say about it.

Q: Sir, do you see Erap catching up with the frontrunners in the survey, considering that there is little time left for campaign before election day?

JPE: All my life as a politician, I respected surveys. They portray the political attitude of the people according to those who are surveying during that instant of time when the survey was done. But in the end, it will be the people who will make a final judgment. The final salvo will happen on May 10. At that point, we will know the real sentiment of the people. In this country, there are silent votes that you cannot survey. No matter how much you want it. And these are the people who depend on their leaders to tell them whom to vote for. Why do they depend on these leaders? It's because these are the people na pinupuntahan nila pag may mga pangangailangan sila. Sino 'yung mga leaders na 'yun? Mga barangay captains. Mga barangay kagawad. Mga konsehal, mayor, bise- mayor. Mga board members, vice governor, governor. 'Yang mga 'yan ang magsasabi sa kanilang mga botante kung sino ang dapat iboboto. Maliban na lang doon sa mga kagaya ninyo na mga intelligent voters na tinatawag. Pero karamihan ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na sa rural areas ng ating bansa, they go to their leaders, they go to their family clan heads, at nagtatanong "para kanino ba tayo at sino ba ang iboboto natin?" "Yung mga kabataan iba 'yan. Maaring they exercise independent judgment. So, for a politician, it is risky to just depend on surveys. Kung totoo na 'yang nasa survey, 'wag ka nang gagalaw. 'Wag ka nang mag ko-commercial pa. Bakit ka nagko-commercial ay sapagkat hindi ka sigurado doon sa survey. Dahil araw-araw nag-iiba 'yan. Dito sa ating local at lahat ng elections, 'yung mga bumoboto ay sinusundan nila kung sino ang pipiliin ng kanilang mga leaders. Maliban na lang 'yung may kaya sa buhay na katulad natin, without care. We are free whom to choose. We are independent in choosing our own candidates. Pero 'yung mga nangangailangan ng medisina, nangangailangan ng tulong, nangangailangan ng pangmatrikula, nangangailangan ng pang ospital, pupunta sila sa kanilang mga leaders at magtatanong 'yun. Ang mga taong ito ay bumubuo ng malaking portion ng ating population.

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