Press Release
May 21, 2010


SP: Good evening, Ricky. Magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat. Salamat po sa inyong lahat.

Ricky: First of all, congratulations. I understand you won with what is considered the highest ranking you had. So congratulations for that.

SP: I am grateful to the Filipino people that at this point in my life they finally realized that Juan Ponce Enrile is worth voting for.

Ricky: Sir, we are talking about the prospects of the 15th Congress and how friendly or hostile it might be to an Aquino administration. How important is it for a president to have the support of Congress in the first place?

SP: Well, he has to reach out. No one can do that for him except himself. Just to reach out to the leaders and leadership of each House and to the members, and gather enough political support from both Chambers. I am sure that Sen. Aquino, having been a member of the House, having been a member of the Senate, can talk to some members of both Chambers.

Ricky: But historically, Sir, the president has not always had a clear majority in the Senate. I mean, he normally had a majority in the House but not in the Senate. It's a little more complicated, isn't it?

SP: That is correct. In the case of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the last part of her administration, the Senate was not really controlled by her in the sense that she has the majority of the members of the Senate but, by and large, she was able to get the cooperation of some key members and push through needed legislation. I, for one, was a witness of that part, because while I was not a member of the Lakas-Kampi, I supported the administration to the extent that the policies and the laws that were requested were for the good of the country. I think it should be the attitude of everyone of us, that is, country first above self.

Ricky: Why is it, Sir, that it is more difficult to have your way with the Senate than it is with the others?

SP: Well, first of all, they are elected nationwide and they feel that they are almost at par with the Office of the President, the leader of the country, because they were elected by the same constituents. Second, they are less in number and it's more difficult to control a House with a lesser number because each one feels that he is a power unto himself. And then when you get elected to the Senate, you develop a certain degree of independence, of thinking and attitude and outlook. If you are a senator, while you have your own peculiar, special and personal interests, you have to submerge the former for the greater interest of the country.

Ricky: I guess this is also why with this independence, party lines don't really mean all that much?

SP: That is correct, especially under the present Constitution, party is not really that cohesive or dependable. As you can see, parties organized during election time will disappear afterwards and controlling parties during a certain administration, they dissolve along the way. Unlike in other countries, for instance, in England, they have the Conservatives and they have the members of the Labor party and then there are smaller parties but then these are institutions. In America, they have the Democrats and the Republic. We used to have the same thing. We used to have the Nacionalista party and the Liberal party. Again that was put aside when Martial Law was declared and Pesident Marcos organized the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL). Later on when the Cory administration came, for a while there was no election. We had a revolutionary government, in effect. When we had our first election, then there was the party of the president, I think the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) and we organized as opposition, the Grand Alliance for Democracy (GAD). So there was a two-party struggle for political power in the country. The GAD succeeded in electing two senators. There was hardly any member of the party elected in the local levels. We have a multi-party system in a Presidential system. This two do not marry each other.

Ricky: But do you like it better?

SP: No. I would like to have a system where the wielder of the power would represent the majority will of the people.

Ricky: But I would assume that a Sen. Ernile under this set up would have much more autonomy than a Sen. Enrile under a strict two-party system.

SP: Not really. During the era of the Nacionalista and the Liberal, the senators were more or less like that. They were independent even from the administration.

Ricky: Let's talk a little bit about independence because we now have a full crop of senators and it has been widely observed that for example, the Liberal Party, the party of Senator Aquino, is going to have four or possibly five.

SP: I think they have about three. Senator Drilon, Senator Recto, Pangilinan and TG Gingona. So four. Senator Serge Osmena went with the group but I heard him on television that he is not going to support them. That he wants to maintain his freedom and his options to select whomsoever he wishes to support for the Senate Presidency, I suppose. Then of course, Chiz, also worked with the group. So, it is possible you can count six of them. On the other side, we have Villar, Alan Cayetano, Pia, Miriam Santiago, Joker Arroyo, Loren Legarda.

Ricky: Bong Marcos.

SP: Well, I do not know about Bong-Bong Marcos. He has an independent mind. I know the guy. So, you cannot tell where he would position himself. Then you have the so-called administration senators like Bong Revilla, Lito Lapid. Then we have Ping Lacson and of course Trillanes and then you have Angara and Migs and then you have Jinggoy Estrada, Honasan, Tito Sotto and myself.

Ricky: Which means that neither the Nacionalista nor the Liberal Party has a firm majority?

SP: At the moment, no one has the numbers.

Ricky: And in fact, if you look at it, sir, most of the senators are, what I would call, uncommitted to either side at this point.

SP: Some are committed. The Nacionalista Party, I think you can say Alan Cayetano and Pia...

Ricky: Which brings us to the possibility, Sir, that aside from a possible run by Mr. Villar and Mr. Drilon for the Senate Presidency, we may actually see a third party. We are going to take a short break but many people are betting that the third possible contender is no less than you.

Ricky: We are talking about possible groupings at the 15th Congress with Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. Of course, you are already a Senate President and people are actually saying that with the absence of clear majority for either Drilon and Villar, it could pave the way for you as Senate President.

SP: Ricky, I must confess that I am not really seeking the Senate Presidency at this time. In fact when this position was offered to me, when members of the Senate came to me and asked me to lead the Senate Presidency...If the members of the Senate would ask me to continue, then I leave to that. If not, I am ready to transfer the position to whoever has the numbers.

Ricky:But you have clearly enjoyed the Presidency?

SP: Well, yes. Everything I do in life, I do it according to my best lights. I try to improve the system. I try to improve the institution that I handle and make it efficient. I think without appearing to lift my bootstrap, I lifted the efficiency and performance and the image of the Senate.

Ricky:Well, given that neither of the two parties have a clear majority, at least at this stage, how possible, how probable, is it that your name will crop up. That you will be asked?

SP: I do not know yet. Although some have tried to contact me and I have not met anyone except one time Greg Honasan and Tito Sotto saw me and we discussed the possibility but I told them you are free to look after your own interest and make your own decisions as far as leadership of the Senate is concerned.

Ricky: So you won't seek it?

SP: I won't. I will leave it to them. If they want to talk to me and propose a combination of numbers, then maybe, I will sit down with them and see if we can achieve anything.

Ricky: Sir, what do you think of the groupings now? I mean, you didn't have a very good relationship with Sen. Villar because of the investigations and all of that.

SP: In the beginning, I would like to correct that. In the beginning, I was very close to him. In fact when Sen. Angara wanted to unseat him, and Senator Angara is my fraternity brother and I was quite close to him as even before he entered politics and I entered politics. I told him that I do not want to be an instrument in unseating Manny Villar. And then after that, I talked to Manny Villar. I said, there are efforts to unseat you. Later on, Loren Legarda, Dick Gordon, Mar Roxas approached me. So I said, no, I cannot do that. But anyway, when they were persistent, I said, if you have 13 senators with the signature on paper asking me to take the Senate Presidency then I might consider it. I talked to Manny. I told him that I was approached and this was the condition. I was sure that they could not obtain that number. But I was wrong. Sure enough they got the signatures and so I had to go to Manny and told him that this was the situation as I told you. If they can have the numbers then I cannot turn my back on them.

Ricky: People say that when it comes to alignment, you would tend to go with the bloc that would include Drilon and the Liberal party over the Nacionalista party?

SP: I do not know yet. I can say publicly that I cannot join the group of Manny Villar at this point. I would be insincere to what I've been saying to the people. I'm not judging him but there is a case hanging over his head and pending in the Chamber. It will be a problem for him even if he will be a Senate President and it will also be a problem for the senators who will support him because then they will be facing a dilemma. What will they do? Are they going to hide it? Brush it aside? Put it under the rug, so to speak? Or are they going to dispose of it? And if they are going to exonerate him, they will have to answer to history and the Filipino people because the evidence had been analyzed in that document. There was the other issue that was raised against him during the election and that is the problem of his listing of shares in the stock exchange, the PSE issue. So these are things that must be considered. As far as I am concerned, I cannot join them because I would be a mud, or, yeah, puno ng putik if I'm going to use that lingo. So what will happen to me? Either I join the minority or I stay independent. I can function alone as a senator without having to join any group. I did that in 1997 when I was all alone as a member of the Senate against 23 because while Erap was elected with me, he joined the Liberals and joined the majority.

Ricky: But you will have to vote won't you?

SP: I don't have to vote.

Ricky: You can abstain.

SP: I can abstain and I don't intend to vote.

Ricky: So, you're saying that you're inclined, at this point, to abstain?

SP: I am saying that, very likely, I might stay independent. I will not vote or if I vote in favor then maybe I will do that only if I become the minority floor leader.

Ricky: But you are not a single vote. Juan Ponce Enrile carries with him the influence to bring other senators with him, as you have said already.

SP: That is correct. I have a strong relationship with some members of the Senate but I am going to release them if I do not have the numbers. So that they will be free. It's unfair for me to hold them to my side and affect their own interest as senators.

Ricky: Are you saying at this early stage that it's because of your position that you believe that it's probably more likely at this point that you might give them, if you have fewer overt numbers?

SP: I think at this point, nobody has the numbers. No one can really say, I have the numbers, I'm going to be the next Senate President, not even Villar. It's going to be anybody's game.

Ricky: Which means that they're going to have to reach out to you and to the others?

SP: Yeah. It will depend upon the skills of the persons concerned. How they will be able to bring together a consensus to support that personality.

Ricky: Some people have said you could end up with a term showing, kind of, an arrangement of where either Villar or Drilon will be Senate President for the first half of the term. And then, because they have to reach out to independents like you and people who are not aligned to either side that someone from that bloc would also end up having to take the Senate presidency. Again, you're the natural suspect for that. Are you open to something like that? A term sharing?

SP: A term sharing? No.

Ricky: So, you wouldn't want to do that?

SP: First of all, I cannot as I said, but nothing personal about this. It's a matter of principle. I cannot join a Manny Villar-led Senate, I cannot. I do not want to appear as an opportunist or insincere in what I have said to the people. That is a no-no for me.

Ricky: So, what do you think are the chances then that you might be called upon again?

SP: I don't know. I leave it to them. I'm not actively talking to anyone.

Ricky: How much influence do you think President Aquino will have over the alignments in the alliances in the Senate?

SP: Well, I think if Noynoy will talk to some people in the Senate, I think that he will be able to convince some of them because he worked with us.

Ricky: Presumably, he would be doing that on behalf of Drilon.

SP: I suppose so. Well, he should start with Serge because Serge was in his team.

Ricky: So what do you think, and again, I mean, it's early days but do you think at this point that the new administration might have a bit of a honeymoon with Senate, after which people will begin to go their own ways?

SP: As far as I am concerned, my attitude is, I will support the presidency when the policies he will present to us are for the good of the country. I will, of course, voice out my opinion if those policies are not going to serve the interest of the country and there will be some problem. And I think that will also be the attitude of many of the senators.

Ricky: Final rhetoric, sir, about what's shaping up to be the big team in the Senate.

SP: Well, I hope that all of us, both incumbent and newly-elected members of Congress, should think first that we have a country and the people to serve. And that we must submerge our personal interest for the greater good of our country. I know this is probably a commonly-stated principle, that is as it should be, because we are placed there in order to render service to the nation and to the people. In the meantime, I think we should set aside political ranting in the meantime without, of course, foreclosing the search for commonality in order to create a structural liberty to help each other in pushing the country forward. But rhetoric that will hurt other's feelings in creating a division in the country ought to be subdued.

Ricky. All right, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, congratulations again, sir.

SP: Thank you very much.

Ricky: Thank you, sir.

SP: Salamat po sa inyong lahat.

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