Press Release
February 6, 2010

(Transcript of statement at Balitaan sa Rembrandt, Quezon City)

Our problem was hindi nakikinig ang mayorya sa amin. Last Monday (February l), I made a proposal that we should have a caucus so that majority and minority could discuss which bills could be passed without too much debate, or without any debate for that matter. And what report could be considered after discussion, including of course the C-5 controversy. Hindi nila pinakinggan iyon. Narinig ko ang majority leader supported it, but somehow doon sa itaas hindi na.

To my mind, what happened na hindi dumalo ang minority during the last session was attributable to a failure of leadership in the Senate. Because this is the first time that on the last day nagkagulo ang session ng Senado. I don't think it had ever happened. Aside from this, sinabi ni Majority Leader Zubiri gusto niyang mag-caucus but ayaw ng Senate leadership.

There were only five of us in the minority. There are supposed to be 24 senators but minus Trillanes and Ping Lacson who is out of the country. Which means they still had l6, that is much more than quorum required. Because quorum is only one-half plus one. So l3 may quorum na. But they were one senator short of l2.

Our session, according to the leadership calendar, would end on Friday. Nagulat kami sapagkat binabantayan namin ang proceedings, inadjourn na nila. Bakit? Sa tingin ko natatakot si Manong Johnny na baka iniwanan na siya ng kanyang mga kasamahan sa majority and he could be toppled.

(Was there an imminent coup in the Senate?) You know very well that there was. While I was in Geneva, akala nga ni Manong Johnny ako ang nagpakulo. Pero hindi naman totoo, I was not involved. Si Lito Lapid admitted publicly, he signed a resolution (for the Senate reorganization). But wala akong nakitang document na ganoon.

Considering the circumstances, I think the Senate leadership hinati niya ang Senado into hostile camps - instead of having senators work together for the good of the nation. Ang daming bills na naapektuhan - ang anti-discrimination bills ni Congressman Hattaan na walang discrimination among all Filipinos - Christians, lumads, Muslims - ang ganda noon, sinusuportahan ko iyon. Ang gun control bill na sa tingin ko na only policemen and soldiers on duty should be authorized to carry firearms, nabinbin din iyon in addition to several others. Pati early ARMM elections napatay. Kami gusto namin. nagulat kami but itinigil na sa Miyerkules ang session. But ganoon ang nangyari we cannot change what has already been done.

(Did the minority have an agreement to boycott?) What we were doing, we were monitoring the proceedings. Ako mismo, as a matter of fact, I just came from my doctor. I rushed to meet the group that was monitoring what was happening. And before we knew it, the gavel was banged and the session was adjourned.

According to Sen. Alan Cayetano there was an agreement among the minority to oppose the bill providing for a fixed term of office for the chairman and other officers of Pagcor and the bill restructuring the National Telecommunications Commission) Essentially that is true. But ang pinag-usapan bubuo ka ng bagong government agency and you make non-career government officials permanent. Sa tingin ko unfair iyon sa bagong pangulo. Dapat bigyan ang bagong pangulo ng pagkakataon to appoint the new officers of that agency. So hindi ko alam na isinali na ang Pagcor sa agenda nila. Ang NTC alam ko iyon. As a matter of fact, I introduced an amendment na pumayag naman si Manong Johnny, okay ako you revise the charter of NTC. But make sure that the appointing power will be the president who will be elected in May, 2010. Doon sa Pagcor bill, I didn't know because at that time, Monday and Tuesday, hindi pa naintroduce ang Pagcor bill.

(On proposal to call a special session) That is possible, the problem is how to get a quorum. When the election campaign had not yet started, it was difficult to get a quorum. But now it would be more difficult because congressmen especially are now busy in their local areas.

Maraming naantala - pati ang aking proposal for early voting napatay, especially in the ARMM.

(Issue of whether voting on C-5 report should be by simple majority of l2, absolute majority of l6 or plurality of the quorum) As a matter of fact, that was what we wanted to discuss in the caucus, among other things. What specific number are we talking about - absolute majority, qualified majority or just majority of a quorum. These were different variations of the rule for the C-5 report to be approved.

The truth was the C-5 report was not yet ready for approval. We still had to ask questions. Dami pa sa aming magtatanong during the interpellation period - Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Joker Arroyo, Miriam Santiago and me. Biro mo kung tumayo kami all the more important bills would have been sideswiped by the time eaten up by the interpellators. So ang C-5 issue, while they were trying to make it appear that it was the cause, that was just one of the reasons why hindi nakasipot ang minority. But they could still have mustered the quorum.

Had the session not been adjourned, the interpellations on the C-5 report would have been finished midnight of Wednesday kasi ang dami naming tanong. Sinasabi nila there was overpricing - but mismo ang BIR official nagsabi walang overpricing. Sabi nila may diversion - an official of the DPWH submitted statement testified there was no diversion. Double funding sabi ni Atty. Doblon (of Senate legislative budget research and management office) said there was no double funding. At ang P200 million, sinabi ni Villar had not yet been released. As to the difference in the valuation between some properties nearby, well that can be explained by the fact that some properties were commercial, some other areas were classified residential.

(Blue ribbon report on NBN-ZTE) That report was ready several months ago. Of course ang pag-calendar doon, it was up to the majority. They had to do it. And we would have supported it all the way, but it was not taken up. That was what happened. And bakit naman it was calendared on the last day when so many bills were up for discussion and approval.

(Due to non-approval of NBN-ZTE report, there is no basis for filing charges against respondents including President Arroyo) Under present laws you cannot prosecute a sitting president. You have to wait until she is out of office. But of course, ang ibang tao na involved doon puwede nang kasuhan. But the Ombudsman should not rely only on Senate blue ribbon report. They have many other sources of evidence.

Regarding the persecution of Gloria after her term is over, my position is that should not be in the top agenda in the next president. In other words, huwag naman sabihin unahin natin ito. Huwag naman. Let the law take its course. Kung may kasalanan si Gloria, sagutin niya at mayroon nang reklamo in accordance with the rules and procedures obtaining today.

To say that the opposition's number one agenda is the prosecution of Gloria, I think that is a little too simplistic especially for people who want development as a way of solving the problems of the nation.

(On the issue of Gloria running for congressman of Pampanga) My interpretation of the constitutional ban is that you don't only read the words for the ban, you also read the intention. The ban against reelection is intended to prohibit the President from using the vast powers of her office and the huge funds available to her as president in running for reelection. That is one if not the major reason for disallowing her to run. I think the same reason applies if she runs for a lower office. She is still president and she will not let go of that office. So ang pondo ng president puwedeng gamitin sa maliit na territory niya.

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