Press Release
July 1, 2010

Kapihan sa Senado with Sen. Edgardo Angara

On the race for the Senate Presidency

Senator Villar talked to our group already. The same is true with Sen. Pangilinan. Only Senate President Enrile did not talk to us as a group. But he talked to me personally. We told Drilon and Kiko to please resolve first who between the two of them will officially represent LP. We will have our decision on or before July 15. We promised all those who came to us that we will finalize our talk with them once they have resolved their own internal differences. Sa grupo namin, we will decide as a bloc- by consensus. There are six of us, Zubiri, Honasan, Sotto, Lapid, Revilla, including myself. We will be seven if we include Senator Legarda. But she said that she is committed to Senator Villar if Senator Villar runs. Gringo Honasan, Tito Sotto, Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla, Migs Zubiri. Gringo has one condition: if Senator Enrile will run, he will vote for him.

On their bloc's criteria for choosing a Senate President

Our bloc consists of 1/3 of the total number of the senators who will elect the new Senate President. We are looking for a candidate who will uphold the independence of the Senate. We also would want that the Senate will be identified with reforms. That's the call of the time. We've got to effect changes that the Filipinos so desired for the country to go up. That's why we need a reformist image because we need credibility in order to attract public support for our work. We need someone who will not just criticize for the sake of criticism. We don't want to be an obstructionist. We want to support President Noynoy.

On President Noynoy's pick between Kiko and Drilon

It's internal. That's among party selection. But President Noynoy knows that anointing any of the two LP candidates will have some negative consequences. Basically now, Pres. Noy is the titular head of the Liberal Party, regardless of who has the title of the president or party chairman. As titular head of the party, he can intervene in settling internal differences. Drilon is the party chairman.

On retaining the finance committee chairmanship

Kung ibibigay nila. I can handle any committee but, of course, I've handled finance almost from the day I got into the Senate. So I think I can claim some mastery of budgeting and appropriation. But I also handled education, agriculture, and now my main interest is really pushing science and technology because I see that only in science and technology can we leap-frog development. Huling-huli na tayo. Pretty soon, in two years time, even Vietnam will overtake us because Vietnam has invested heavily in science and technology and in the educational system. We have not done a similar investment.

On the absence of the tax issue in President Aquino's inaugural speech

I think he has articulated it very clearly before the inauguration that he will not impose new taxes. He will concentrate first on plugging the loop holes and in improving tax collection which, I think, is the right thing to do. Although, I disagree with him on taxation because I thought that there are certain things that you ought to do, in good times or in bad, because they are necessary. Some of them is on Sin taxes and rationalizing tax incentives. I think we have freely and liberally given out incentives over the past several decades and no one has really looked at the whole range of tax incentives whether they are obsolete, they are out of date, or they are unnecessary. Some probably did not even serve the purpose of attracting investments the incentives were originally intended. So to me, on Day 1, Purisima should already have a review of all possibilities, including sin taxes, taxes on luxury items and incentive rationalization.

On cutting down deficit by borrowing or raising new taxes

We are obsessed with danger signals. Of course, danger signal ang debt. Danger signal ang deficit. Deficit and debt are the headlines of the G8 and G20 Summits. But we should not class ourselves with the G20 and G8 economies as well as the Euro zone. Ang level of debt of some of the European countries are over 100% of their GDP. In the case of Greece, 110% of their GDP. Kung ang GDP nila ay three trillion dollars, six trillion ang kanilang utang. Tapos ang kanilang debt, in the case of Greece, 14% of GDP. So kung ang kanilang GDP is three trillion, ang deficit nila ay, ilan ang 14% of that. Compared to us, ang debt to GDP ratio natin is only 54% of GDP. Ang deficit ratio natin to GDP at most, if tunay ito P340 billion, is only 3.4 of GDP. So these are all manageable. Of course, they are items of worry because we should not incurred too much debt, too much deficit or beyond our capacity to repay as well as to manage. But these are not too horrible a figure. They are manageable.

On line-item budgeting

Iyong mga GOCCs revenues and incomes, they ought to contribute more to the deficit figures. Dahil some of the GOCCs earned billions and billions of pesos like Philippine Ports Authority, NAIA, LTO. Makakatulong yan sa infrastructure program, sa airport, sa pier, sa roads. Kailangan i-credit na natin yan. Huwag na natin i-consider na these are off budget figures but we ought to credit it to reducing our deficit. Kaya nga sinabi ko manageable 'yung deficit figure. We are already doing line budgeting but hindi 100% line budgeting. We still allow lump sum appropriation. Whether or not it's doable is a big question because every time we introduce budget reform, namamatay. There's such a powerful lobby against reforming the budget system in both Houses.

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