Press Release
May 13, 2010

Transcript of Kapihan sa Senado with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

Q: Congratulations to Senate President Enrile for having won another six- year term in the Senate.

SP: Thank you for being so hospitable and charitable to me and mostly, thank you to the Filipino people for their expression of trust and confidence in my humble person by returning me to the Senate to participate in the Fifteenth Congress of the Republic of the Philippines. Salamat po sa inyong lahat. Basta gusto ko happy kayo.


Q: When do you convene as a canvassing board?

SP: I want to dispose of the problem as early as possible. But under our rules, we are supposed to reconvene to canvass the votes for the president and the vice president at the end of May. I prefer to do that earlier. So, what I did was first, to notify all the senators to know if they will be in town between now and May 31. Second, I also cause the Secretary General to write in my behalf to the Majority Floor Leader, to consult them of the possibility of convening the Senate earlier than the Legislative Calendar because I have a meeting with the Speaker of the House tomorrow afternoon on this particular issue. But our ability to do the canvassing will depend upon the submission of all the Certificates of Canvass by the Provincial Boards of Canvassers and by the Urban City Boards of Canvassers. So far, what has been delivered to the Senate by way of Certificates of Canvass from the field are 40 COCs of which two are from the local voting centers, and the rest are from overseas voting centers by absentee voters of the country.

Q: Sir, the Senate so far received COCs from Baguio and La Union. The rest are from all the foreign countries.

SP: But we expect this will start to trickle, and then will arrive in a more voluminous number.

Q: Sir in your meeting with the Speaker of the House, are you going to craft new rules or are you going to follow the old rules?

SP: We cannot follow the rules previously used because we are now dealing with automated election. The first thing we are going to discuss is which one we are going to use, the electronically transmitted or the hard copy contained in an envelope that was submitted to the Senate. Now, the Constitution speaks of opening the Certificate of Canvass. These are the hard copies 'contained in a sealed envelope that are transmitted to the Senate. So we have to obey the Constitution. Unless there are strong objections, I will start by opening the sealed envelopes, as the Senate President is authorized to open the sealed envelopes that will be forwarded to me, which will probably contain certain documents including the hard copy of the Certificates of Canvass coming from the provinces and urbanized cities, and the statements of votes, if there are statements of votes accompanying the Certificates of Canvass, and the disc which was used to transmit these documents electronically to the computer receiving machines that I will open in the House of Representatives.

Q: Sir, are we going to see the same "noted" scenes in which we saw during the 2004 canvassing at the House of Representatives?

SP: If the objections are valid, we will have to consider them. If the objections are not valid, I think we will have to rule. The Speaker and I will have to rule on the issue and divide the house.

Q: Will the lawyers of the candidates be also entertained on the floor?

SP: Well, of course, but then we have the Board of Canvassers who will make the decision. And they have to obey the decision of the Board of Canvassers without prejudice to raising the issues somewhere else if they want to raise an issue, if they think we abuse our discretion as Board of Canvassers.

Q: Sir, aside from canvassing, when will the Senate elect a new Senate President?

SP: This will happen when we open our session on the Fourth Monday of July�

Q: That's what I meant, sir. So, will there be an election of the Senate President before the opening of session in July?

SP: That's correct. Under the Constitution, each House for each Congress, must be organized by electing its officers.

Q: That election, sir, must be held before June 30?

SP: That election will be held when we open our session in July .

Q: Sir, how many votes ang kailangan para sa Senate President?

SP: 13 is the quorum.

Q: Sir, what's causing the delay of the submission of the COCs to the Senate?

SP: The explanation of COMELEC Chairman Melo is that all precincts must be accounted for before they can really proceed and prepare the COCs in the municipal level, the provincial level, and the city level.

Q: Sir, what will happen in your meeting with Speaker Nograles tomorrow?

SP: We are going to discuss, more or less, the framework of the Rules. We will have to keep our discussion out from any interference so that we can discuss the matter in a relaxed manner.


Q: Sir, given what you have just mentioned that the chairman of the Commission on Elections has informed you that they are just completing these canvassing results from the municipal level and up, why is it that they are quick to release the results of the elections in the media, especially?

SP: Well, that is not a canvass. That is not an official count. It is simply a consolidation of the ERs that had been transmitted through the Comelec electronically as provided by law. I have no doubt that those transmissions, as far as I am concerned, are authentic and accurate. Otherwise, there would have already been complaints from the political parties and from the election watchdogs appointed by the Comelec because they have copies also of the ERs. But that will not be the basis for the official proclamation of elected people. That is why they are now canvassing in the Comelec. They already have copies of some COCs I think. I do not know why we have not received the same COCs here.

Q: But Sir, those numbers announced by the Comelec to the public are as official as can be.

SP: More or less, yes, because those are based on the electronically transmitted ERs from the various PCOS counting machines.

Q: Sir, after you have opened the official copies of the COCs, will you proceed to the opening of the electronically transmitted copy?

SP: I cannot tell you yet what the rules will be. That is something that we are going to discuss. Maybe, what we can do is that we open the hard copy. For the province of Cagayan for instance, we open the hard copy and it shows the numbers and the elected officials. Then we will push the button and check from the electronically transmitted COCs if they jive. If they jive, that's it. If there's a discrepancy, we will set it aside and discuss the matter later. I'm just saying, maybe, that's a possible approach. I don't know whether it will be the real approach.

Erap and Trillanes

Q: Sir, what could be the reason why your standard bearer is not yet conceding?

SP: Well, the reason is that he wants the official count to be done by Congress.

Q: Is he entertaining plans to go to the Supreme Court to contest it?

SP: No, I don't think so. I don't know but I don't think he will do that. I read that one of those who conceded withdrew his concession, si JC delos Reyes di ba? I think I read it in one of the newspapers. I am just basing this statement on what I recollect in one of the newspapers.

Q: So, sir, the canvass can reverse the initial results?

SP: No. When you canvass, you determine the authenticity of the transmitted documents and the data contained in the transmitted document. Our function is to see to it that the votes cast and the numbers appearing in the COCs will tally. We cannot reverse anybody. We will proclaim the winner according to the summation of the data appearing in all of these documents.

Q: Paano, sir, kung may discrepancy?

SP: I will not anticipate discrepancy, I will not speculate. Huwag na nating lituhin ang bayan. Basta kung ano 'yung nasa dokumento at kung tama sa electronically transmitted data, then we will have to proclaim the winners.

Q: Sir, is it possible for Trillanes to finish his six years even if he is not attending Senate sessions?

SP: He is a senator. He was elected by the sovereign people. We have to respect the mandate of the people unless the Supreme Court or any court will say otherwise. I am not about to deprive them of their prerogatives unless a court of law will say so.

Q: Will Trillanes be allowed to cast his vote during the election?

SP: No he cannot. He's under the custody of the court. He cannot attend sessions unless authorized by the court.

Q: Hindi ba sir mayroon kayo electronic ...?

SP: Only to participate but not to vote.

Q: That includes voting for the election of the Senate President?

SP: I don't think he can participate. He has to answer the court.

Q: Sir, there are pending matters when you adjourned on February. Is the Senate willing to dispose them when you convene again?

SP: The purpose of the Joint Session is only to canvass. I don't think we can dispose of any other matter. I will have to consult the Majority Floor leader and the Minority Floor Leader.

Q: Ilan pa po bang COCs ang naghihintay natin?

SP: I am not sure of the exact number, but it's more than 200 COCs. If I remember correctly, its 276 or 278. I am not sure. All I can tell you is that as far as I am concerned, as Senate President, I will strictly follow the Constitution and the law and not anybody's bidding. I will adhere closely to what the Constitution and the laws of the country instruct me to do. I will not be pressured by anybody or anyone.

Committee Report on C-5 Extension Project

Q: Sir, 'yun po bang pending na pagbobotohan sana para sa Committee Report ng C-5 Extension, matatalakay pa kaya?

SP: Huwag muna nating pag-usapan 'yon. We should quiet the country instead of causing divisions. We just got through a rigorous campaign which divided the country. Now, it's time to heal it. All of these issues must be set aside. I am only a presiding officer in that case. I have no special, personal interest in it.

Joint Session

Q: What step must you take to change from May 31st?

SP: I have to consult with the Minority Floor Leader and Majority Floor Leader and the Speaker if they agree to change the calendar and make the convening of the Joint Session earlier but that is predicated on the presence of a quorum and the presence of the submission of all the COCs.

SP: No special session from the President.

Q: Hindi ba nagprepresent ng problem 'yon because even without holding it earlier, following your calendar, May 31, kung talagang ang bagal ng dating ng COCs and wala 'yung quorum, you'll be stuck to May 31?

SP: Well, it is a Constitutional duty that we'll have to hold a joint public session if the members of the Senate, as far as the Senate is concerned, then I think it is my duty to enforce the rules and I'll have to compel the appearance of the senators to perform their Constitutional duty to canvass the votes for president and vice president.

Mayor Binay leading the Vice Presidential Race

Q: Sir, surprising po ba 'yung pangunguna ni Mayor Binay for vice president or inexpect niyo na 'yon?

SP: Depende kung ilan na lang ang naiiwan na boto. I understand from what I know of the records so far of the election held in May, the total number votes cast is more than 36 million. If that is so, the turnout is a little over 70% and at that time the figures that I saw were correct. What was tallied by Comelec unofficially was already 31 million, only 5 million was left. So, I do not know if that could still affect the standing of the two contending parties for the vice presidency.

New Senate President

Q: Will you contest the next Senate presidency?

SP: I will not. You know, I did not seek this position. It's up to the members of the Senate to decide who they want to become the Senate President.

Q: We were speculating at the press room earlier and judging by the numbers, Villar has it.

SP: Well, if they want Manny Villar, by all means.

Q: What if Villar brings you to the ethics committee?

SP: I'm willing to face the ethics committee. I will defend myself with gusto. You're throwing a fish into the water.


Q: Sir, okay na combination ba ng leadership 'yung Noy-Bi, Noynoy-Binay?

SP: Hindi ko alam kung magandang combination o hindi maganda. Hindi pa natin nasusubukan. Hindi pa natin natitikman. Alam mo sa orchestra, kung hindi mo pa naririnig 'yung tugtog, paano mo masasabing maganda ang sonata?

Q: Sir, but based on their track records as public servants?

SP: I have not studied their track records.

Mar Roxas

Q: May payo po ba kayo kay Sen. Mar Roxas? Birthday niya today.

SP: Wala basta I just wish him good luck.

Q: So sir, may basehan pa para huwag mag-concede si Mar Roxas considering na ang lamang ni Binay ay about 800,000?

SP: Kung 5 million pa ang naiiwan na boto, pwede pa. But medyo mahirap na dahil hindi naman lahat ng boto na 'yon ay pupunta kay Mar. Siguro ngayon hindi na 5 million 'yon. Kakaunti na lang ang naiwan because when I saw that figure, that was about Tuesday night.

Enrile as Senate President of 15th Congress

Q: Will you make yourself available for the Senate presidency again?

SP: I will leave it to my peers if they think I can handle the job but I will not actively look for it.

Bongbong Marcos in the Senate

Q: Will the presence of Bongbong Marcos in the Senate be interesting?

SP: Well, the presence of anybody will be interesting in the Senate this coming session. I'll tell you, if I will become an ordinary member, I will engage them in a total debate this time. Walang sinu-sino. They have to be prepared to answer questions during session. Nobody is immune.

Noynoy and the JBC

Q: President Arroyo appointed Corona. Can Noynoy still do something to nullify the appointment?

SP: I respect the opinion of the potential president of the country, Noynoy, but I think he should instead be thankful that President Arroyo appointed a Chief Justice, because if the sitting president hesitates to appoint a Chief Justice who is retiring between now and the date of the take over by the new president of his position as the new president of this country, Noynoy Aquino cannot appoint a Chief Justice if they follow the logic that they have to pass through the JBC, because there will be no JBC. These people must study the Constitution before they open their mouths. That's very clear in the Constitution. The Chief Justice is the ex-officio chairman of the JBC. If he is not there, the JBC cannot function. In the same manner that the Senate President is the ex-officio chairman of the Commission on Appointments. If the Senate President is not around, the Commission on Appointments cannot convene and hold session. Hindi na ba nila pinag-aaralan yung Saligang Batas?

Q: Will this lead to a possible Constitutional crisis?

SP: No. It does not. Why should it be?

Election Laws

Q: Sir, the past process has been a learning process for all of us, but especially for the legislators. Do you think the election law should be fine-tuned?

SP: We will have to fine-tune the election laws. We have to revise our election law, attune to this new experience that we had regarding the automated election. There are so many gray areas that we have to consider, like in the canvassing. I read the Constitution. It says that the President can open the Certificate of Canvass (COC). What am I going to open, the electronically transmitted COC? It is not an envelope, it is a computer. The sealed envelope that will contain the hard copy and the other documents plus the disc, I would rather open these, the manually transmitted hard copy and compare it with the electronically transmitted.

Q: What about the ballots? Are they still kept where the PCOS are?

SP: Yes, because they are contained inside the sealed ballot box.

Q: Are they being delivered also to the Senate?

SP: What I know is that the Election Returns (ERs) are being delivered. Only when there is a protest will they be delivered.

Q: Noong araw, the ballot boxes were first delivered here and then transferred to the Batasan.

SP: The ballot box that's delivered here contains the ERs.

GMA and House Speakership

Q: Sir, do you see GMA moving to the Speakership position in the Lower House?

SP: I do not know. That's a problem for the House. I do not know the numbers that they have and that depends upon the numbers of supporters coming from the House to support President Arroyo for the Speakership.

Q: Sir, sa Senate, how do you see the composition, sharing?

SP: I have not studied it, I have no special interest to study it. So, to answer that question, we will see soon enough the realignments in the Senate.

SP's Priority Bills

Q: Sir, can you give us the priority bills that you will be pushing?

SP: Same priority bills that I pushed in the 14th Congress --- a revision of RA 9136, the EPIRA, and then my Power Rate Reduction Bill, and then the revision of the law creating the National Telecommunications Commission, to give that Commission more powers in order to arrest the possible misconduct or excesses or abuses of the telephone companies, to protect the cellphone users. And then, I will push through my Anti-Trust Bill. It has been passed by the Senate, but pending in the House. There are many things that we have to do. Maybe we should look into our Bio-fuel Law. I understand one of the drawbacks they are encountering is the fact that you can import ethanol from foreign countries because it is cheaper to bring it in than producing it here. In the case of Thailand, what they did was to put up a tariff wall and I would like to study that, and put up a tariff wall also in the Philippines in order to foster and encourage the utilization of our idle lands for growing raw materials for alcohol so that we can produce our own ethanol.

Q: We can include that in the ____ for nationalized fiscal incentives.

SP: The Incentive Law? I do not know yet how we will go about it, but I will study it. Whether I will include it in the Rationalization of the Tax Incentive Law, or something else. Maybe this will be a special bill.

Q: Can new taxes be avoided in the coming administration?

SP: No, but it depends upon who will bear the tax. The new administration cannot escape the adoption of new tax measures. The question is from whom will those taxes be collected? Will it be collected from the poorer class of the country, or from the richer class of the country? As far as I am concerned, I will resist tax measures that will increase the financial burden of the less capable members of the society. If there is anyone that must pay the cost of government, it must be those people who have the wherewithal to do it. The tax policy of the country must be based on the ability to pay. Not ability to consume, but ability to pay.

Q: There is a proposal to increase VAT from 12 to 15%.

SP: I will not go along with that. I will tell you now, I will use all my skills to prevent that from happening.

Q: Sir, where do you categorize sin taxes, for the poor or the rich?

SP: Sin taxes have a purpose to discourage the consumption of products like cigarettes, alcohol and so forth and so on. Even then, these are consumed by the poorer members of the society. So I think the high income groups do not smoke too much, but the ones who are smoking too much are the lower income groups because of the stressful condition of life for them.

Q: Talk about a smoking president?

SP: Probably he will not agree to increasing the tax.

Q: Obama is a smoker. Sir, the 15% increase in tax is being forced by the IMF?

SP: Why should we be controlled by the IMF? We have to decide our own fate. Of course the IMF would like us to increase VAT up to 20%, because that will be to their benefit. So that we can service our foreign loans, but why should we be dictated upon by the IMF?

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