Press Release
July 22, 2010


On directing the Senate Secretary to open the session on Monday.

JPE: I will tell you this. All along, it has been my position that my term as a Senate President would end at noon of June 30 of this year. This is after the election, after the end of the 14th Congress. First I was elected as Senate President during the 14th Congress. Second, my six-year term as a Senator ended at noon of June 30. I said to myself, I am no longer a Senator after that moment. I issued a directive to the Secretary of the Senate that afternoon of June 30, I will not sign any papers as a Senate President or make any decision as a Senate President. However, after I made that directive, the Secretary and the legal staff of the Senate submitted to me a legal study calling my attention to Section 10 of the Rules of the Senate which says that the term of the President of the Senate, the Senate Pro-Tempore, the Secretary and the Sergeant-at-arms begin on their election and end when their successors are elected. Meaning, that we are allowed to continue serving in the capacities to which we are elected by the Senate until we are replaced through the election of our successors. They called my attention to the fact that between noon of June 30 all the way to July 26, there are many things to be attended to by the Senate President and the Secretariat, the Sergeant-At-Arms, and the Senate President Pro-Tempore, to represent the Senate. Because of that, I continued performing the work of the Senate President until July 25th. After that, I said I will not act as a Senate President because it will be just a matter of time for my successor to be identified and elected.

There are several candidates that are looming around, but it seems that there is the possibility that no one would be able to muster the required number of votes so I directed the Secretary of the Senate to be prepared to preside on the opening of the session on the 26th of this month. That's the situation right now.

On holding a caucus before the opening of session

JPE: I took the liberty, with due reference to my colleagues, because nobody seems to be moving to call the members to a caucus. I took the liberty of requesting them to convene in a caucus of all the senators regardless of party affiliation, in the morning of the 26th, at 9 in the morning, precisely to discuss the problem that I presented to you. If there is no elected Senate President on that day, who will represent the Senate in the functions that will happen that day? Who will preside in the Senate in order that we can conduct an election for a Senate President and the other officers of the Senate and at the same time adopt the rules to replace the existing rules? Mind you the rules of the Senate will continue until they are amended or repealed. So, the rules that they are going to use are the current rules until they are amended or repealed. That's why I took the liberty and I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will not take that as a presumptive act on my part because I was simply trying to do what I ought to do as the eldest member of the House.

On talk that JPE is coming up as the compromise candidate and that he has 14 votes.

JPE: The truth of the matter is that I am not seeking the position. I have not sought the position. I have not talked to any member of the Senate to tell them that I wanted the position. I kept quiet. In fact, Nimfa talked to me one time and asked me for an interview and I said I did not want to discuss the Senate Presidency because there are several contenders. I begged off and I never accepted any interview about the Senate Presidency. Since then, until that evening when I replied to some members of the Senate media when they asked me what will happen if nobody musters the 13 votes needed to elect the Senate President, I said it is the Secretary who will preside, because as far as I am concerned, I don't think, and I agree with my colleagues, that no one should hold that gavel. This is a personal opinion on my part. Unless he has 12 votes behind him.

On staying on as Senate President

JPE: I think last week, members of the Liberal Party approached me and they said that no one of us could muster the number. They told me that Sen. Pangilinan cannot get the numbers needed to elect him as a Senate President. There's the danger that we might be faced with no Senate President on the 26th, which is the day of the SONA. So, I told them what I have already told you, that as far as I am concerned, it should be the Secretary that will open the session. In the evening of Tuesday, I was in the hospital for my medical check-up. They visited me in my room at the Makati Med. I cannot reveal to you the senators who visited me, pardon me for that. They told me that there is a growing consensus. As far as they were concerned, there's a growing consensus that they would want me to handle the Senate. I said if that is the consensus, then so be it. But I am not going to go around and talk to all the senators to vote for me even if they want me to render a service for the institution and this country and the people of this country. In that role, I am willing to take it, although my preference is no longer to handle the job because it's really tedious for me. I have to attend to all sorts of problems, all sorts of administrative work. Just to sign enrolled bills, hundreds of them, you have to use 10 signatures. It's a lot of work.

On settling the matter of the Senate Presidency in the caucus of July 26.

JPE: I don't know. What I intend to do, what I plan, is only to call the caucus, and I will inhibit myself because it is the position that I held that is in contention and truly, I am not aspiring for it. (You have said that if you have the numbers, you can handle the presidency?)

JPE: I respect the decision of each one of us. I talked to Chiz, I talked to Frank, I talked to Ralph. They requested a meeting with me and I had to accept their request. I told them the same things as I am telling you now. Some others also approached me.

(Meron bang nakipag-usap sa inyo last week from Angara bloc?)

JPE: Ang nakipag-usap sa akin si Tito at saka si Greg. They are being identified with the group of Ed Angara. I do not know whether they are members of the group of Ed Angara although my reading of them is that they are not, they are independent. Greg and Tito agreed to vote together in favor of a candidate. I have my doubts that Tito will vote for Kiko. I have not talked to any senator identified with the group of Manny Villar. But I heard that there are some there that might work with a group that would emerge to support me for Senate President. I said anybody who is interested to form a bloc to support a Senate President is free to do what he wants to do. And if you want me to serve so that the Senate can function properly then I am willing to take the job. That's what I said. I do not know if I have ten or two or only myself. I have not counted. I'm not going to talk to them (Angara bloc). This is a free game, a voluntary, unsolicited act from the senators. I'm ready to accept the position if they will give it to me. I'm not going to work actively.

On gathering 13 votes

JPE: They have talk to some senators on all sides and they said that if you take the job it's possible that you can get more than 13 votes. Sa aking paningin. I don't know about the others. I cannot commit the others to this opinion. Kung walang president, who will enforce the rules? Alam mo sa Senado every day pag bukas ng session may debate. How can an Acting president make rulings enforceable against any member of the Senate? Sa kanilang paningin 'yung mga unang kumausap sa akin na makakabuo ng required number to elect a Senate President kung ako ay papayag na hahawakan ko ang pwesto na yun, kako nasa sa inyo yan. You have to agree to it first tsaka nila kukunin ang number or they will present to you na may number na 'yun? Ang sinasabi nila mayroon sasama na Liberal, may sasama na mga Nationalista, may sasama na mga independent dyan sa grupo na yan. Hindi ko alam kung sino 'yung mga sasama. Wala akong nakita (na may resolution pinaiikot para mga sign).

On being an official contender for SP

JPE: Ako, pumirma ako ng resolution in favor of Kiko. Sinabi ko kay Franklin kung hiningi mo sa akin 'yung resolution pipirmahan ko rin sapagkat sinabi ko diba? Without any personal consideration involve, for obvious reasons, dahil ang pangyayari dito sa kaso ni Sen. Manuel Villar, siguro naman hindi maiintindihan ng bayan kung ako ay sasama sa pangkat niya kung siya ay ang kandidato sa pagka Senate President because I will look like a heel that I have presided over a committee of the whole that investigated this case and then here I am supporting him for the position after I filed that report. This is not intended to cast any doubt or clout on the reputation on anybody. It's a fact that I would be in an awkward position if I would do that. The natural path for me was to ally myself with the other side, which is the Liberal group and those who are supporting the Liberal group. I said all along that whoever is the candidate of the Liberal Party Kiko, Drilon or Chiz or any body, I would cast my vote in their favor.

On the senators' proposal for Senate presidency

JPE: I said it's up to you. You find out what they want and if you have the numbers, okay lang. This is not a ploy. You can ask all the people here, I already instructed them, I was already planning to move out from my office.

On getting the 13 votes

JPE: I think so. As I already said, If you have the numbers. I will handle the Senate again but for me to actively go around and enter into a bargaining effort with anyone I am not doing that. Ang sabi ko, I would like it to be clearly understood that if I accept this position, at the behest of a group of Senators supporting me to reassume the position of the Senate President, there are no pre-conditions.

On Guingona, Drilon, Pangilinan's proposed arrangement

JPE: Ang nakausap ko lang si Kiko. I talked to him earlier, a long time ago, and I told him to go ahead and get the people. Talk to them because I told him I cannot talk even to those people who are with me because they have their own minds. If I talk to them, they might think that I am trying to influence their decision. I talked to Chiz, I talked to Frank, I talked to Ralph. They requested a meeting with me and I had to accept their request. I told them the same thing I am telling you now. Some others also approached me.

On the C-5 case

JPE: I studied the problem. The case was filed in the 14th Congress. The case was heard by members of the Senate who belong to the 14th Congress. Many of those people are gone. I think six of them--Sen. Pimentel, Sen. Madrigal, Sen. Gordon, Sen. Biazon, Pres. Noynoy Aquino and Sen. Mar Roxas. Six are out. National election was held, new senators are coming in, six of them also--Sen. Drilon, Sen. Recto, Sen. Guingona, Sen. Marcos, Sen. Osmena, Sen... These new ones, they did not participate in the hearing of this case. How can they possibly be involved in making a decision to dispose it? My preference, and I think this will be a justifiable position, is to archive the report that I submitted because it was not passed upon by the 14th Congress and whoever would want to raise the issue anew will have to raise it anew. I was not responsible in raising that issue against Sen. Villar. It just happened that I was the Senate President and there was a resistance of the Ethics Committee to hear the case and so it was decided by the Senate itself to convene itself as a Committee of the Whole to hear the case of a senator of the country and I happen to be the chairman of the Senate at that point and I acted as chairman of the Committee of the Whole. That is the situation.

(If they want to revive the case, could somebody again file it?) They can. There's nothing that can prevent anybody to revive that because Sen. Villar is still a member of the Senate. That affects his position as a senator.

(Kung archived na ang case ni Villar, mas madali na kayong makakuha ng support from NP?) I do not know if I can get although it is a possibility, a strong possibility that some of those people who supported me before who are on the side of Manny Villar would probably support me again.

(Meron na bang kumausap sa inyo sa grupong iyon?) Wala pa. Yung mga kumakausap sa akin, my understanding is that they are in touch with some of those from the Nacionalista side.

JPE: I don't know, I have not talked to Kiko yet. That was before he was aspiring, he was actively campaigning. I have not talked to him since then... Yung mga kumausap sa akin, yung mga iba, they were supporters of Kiko. And they themselves said, 'we are certain that he could not muster the numbers.'

It's their assessment because, first of all, the group of senators identified with the Aquino administration are only six. You have Sen. Frank Drilon, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, Sen. Ralph Recto, Sen. Sergio Osmena, Sen. TG Guingona and Sen. Escudero. Obviously six alone could not muster the number. So they sought out the cooperation and support of other groups. They asked for my support so I said, 'sure.' I gave my word. I do not know about the others. I think they sought the support of other groups. These people also gave tentatively their commitment but they realized they could not realize the required number of votes to elect a President from the Liberal side.

I have not talked to Ed Angara, except once where he and I met with Sen. Drilon. This was a long time ago. Kiko was not yet aspiring for the Senate presidency. We had a meeting. We are fraternity brothers. In that meeting I said, 'whoever among you who would want to be Senate president, I will support.'

On Monday's caucus

(Drilon said the presiding officer will sit beside PNoy in case of an impasse) I respect that opinion, that is his opinion. I suppose we will have to have somebody there but the question is, under what rule can we appoint an acting president, because there is no such thing in the Rules of the Senate that I know of... Okay iyon if it's a unanimous decision. This is my opinion. But if there is somebody who will object, how will you resolve the issue?

(Senate Secretary may open but cannot preside?) Correct. Iyon ang problema diyan.

On Villar's support

Enrile: Wala pa akong contact sa kanila. Nothing personal about my relationship with my colleagues in the Senate. I have no rancor against them, I do not know whether they have any rancor against me.

On Aquino's order to review the case of Trillanes

JPE: I understand that certain opinions have been rendered by my colleagues and I respect their opinion, we have our own individual decisions as lawyers on an issue like this. You have to divorce the position of Sen. Trillanes as a senator from his case. As an elected senator, he is a member of the Senate. Only that he could not perform actively his position as senator because he is under detention and that detention is under the control of the courts. He cannot vote unless he responds to a roll call. But he has been filing bills, and very good bills. In fact, Sen. Lacson and I, if you remember, we are setting up a teleconferencing with him so that he could interact with us and hear his inputs on legislative matters here in the Senate. Now, if a motion is filed by the lawyers of Sen. Trillanes to ask the court to allow him to leave his detention area to come to the Senate to vote for whom he ever so wishes to be a Senate president, and the court authorized that, that is a valid act. The review of his case pending in the courts, I do not know the exact words of the President, I think the President is within his power to direct his alter ego, his Secretary of Justice, to review the case to see to it that indeed the case is a correct case filed against this person.

The Secretary of Justice is the embodiment of the President in the Department of Justice. She is the alter ego.The President can reverse, modify and amend the decision the Secretary of Justice and their is power of supervision and control and the President is the highest prosecutor of the country. I think the people misunderstand the position of the President as a Chief Executive.

As a President of the country and duly elected by the people, is the only person who's commitment is written in the constitution in the form of an oath and what is that commitment. He must support and defend the constitution.

He must execute the laws of the country, he must do justice with every man, he must consecrate himself to the service of the nation. That is the commitment he does as a ruler of this county as the chief executive. There is a degree of injustice being done. He is not telling the court decide this in this way as I want it. No, he is asking he's sub alters to perform their review power to see to it that indeed the proper information is the correct information filed against Sen. Trillanes.

The judge presumptively is supposed to be independent, they are not supposed to be subject to pressure by anybody. They are not under the jurisdiction of the president except for budgeting purposes. They are under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, a collegial body. In the practical matter, if the one sitting in Malacanang whoever that is wants to influence the court, he does not have to block his opinion, the normal thing to do is to send somebody there and tell the judge, 'please, I'm interested in this case kindly say something about it.' But here is a president who, I'm not trying to pander to him, we are talking about an issue, here is a president who said, 'I asked my Secretary of Justice to review the case.'

(They said Malacanang is interested because Trillanes is committed to Pangilinan) I don't think the court would just allow Sen. Trillanes to leave his detention area unless there is a proper motion made and justifiable at that to allow him to get out and vote. If that is really the intention of Malacanang, what is the point in making it public? They could have accomplished that better by sending somebody there and talk to the judge quietly.

If he has been arraigned, then the government can withdraw the case against him provided Sen. Trillanes will give his consent. Why is that principle needed? This is the scenario. Because if the fiscal or the prosecuting arm of the government withdraws the case through a proper motion, and granted by the court without the participation of the accused after he is arraigned, then jeopardy sets in. you cannot find any information against him again.

On Lacson's case

JPE: The difference between Ping and Trillanes is the warrant has not been served on Ping. The law enforcement agents of government are looking for him. In the case of Ping, the courts have not taken custody of him. In the case of Sen. Trillanes, he has been arrested and now confined and he has been charged. Therefore the courts have jurisdiction over him. He cannot get out of his place of confinement without getting the permission of the court through proper motion of his lawyer. The case of Ping, he comes in, of course there's a warrant of arrest that must be served against him and once arrested, he has to either file a petition for bail if it's bailable or he stays in custody then his movement will be restricted and subject to the determination and decision of the court before whom his case is pending. As far at their entitlement to their salaries and to the budget of the respective Senate offices, they must be treated alike. Some people raised the question, 'but they are not doing anything.' Yes, but they are not yet convicted. You cannot deprive them of their entitlement until they are finally convicted by the court.

On toll fee VAT

JPE: I will oppose the imposition of VAT on toll fees because of my belief that these toll fees are user's tax. They are imposed for the use of this road arteries belonging to the government and part of the public domain... therefore whatever you charge the motoring public, it is in the nature of a users' tax because had the government used public funds that entered the treasury to put up that road, you will not impose a VAT. But what happened was, the government asked somebody to construct this road for it and agreed that that concessionaire will charge a fee for the use of the road subject to the regulation of the Toll Regulatory Board to pay back what the government would otherwise would have advanced to construct that road. The road does not belong to the concessionaire, it belongs to the government.

On dwindling water supply

JPE: On a short term basis, I doubt whether we can do much. Maybe what I would suggest to the government is get all their available water transport facilities to go out and secure water from the outlying areas within 100 km away from Metro Manila and serve the poor people that cannot have water. Because to use the facilities of Maynilad and Manila Water that depends upon the availability of enough supply from Angat and La Mesa Dam. On a long term basis, I think it's worthwhile considering the possibility of putting up of a desalination plant as a standby for Metro Manila or better still, for us to treat the water of Laguna Lake to supply the water requirements of Metro Manila.

On the Abads

JPE: In the case of Cong. Abad, she was not given the position by the President. She was elected by the people of Batanes. You cannot consider that as a favor given by Pres. Aquino to the Abads. I do not know in the case of the one who is serving as Chief of Staff of the Secretary of Finance, whether the President was responsible for that. In the case of Butch Abad and the daughter, I think you have to see the qualification of these people apart from the fact that they are close to the president.

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