Press Release
September 7, 2010

TRANSCRIPT OF AMBUSH INTERVIEW OF SENATOR SERGE OSMEÑA III

On the appointment of DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo as Acting Secretary

Q: Bakit po kaya ang appointments nila Secretaries Robredo, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz are only in acting capacities?

Serge: Pinapa-speculate niyo lang ako. Hindi ko rin alam kung bakit acting sila. Pero okay lang naman ang acting eh.

Q: Pero hindi sila obligadong dumaan sa CA?

Serge: Hindi. Ang sina-submit sa CA ay iyong mga permanent Cabinets. Iyong mga ambassadors, generals, etc. Hindi pa sina-submit ang mga iyon. Hindi sina-submit ang mga acting.

Q: Do you find it unusual for an administration with less than 100 days to appoint officials in acting capacities?

Serge: It is unusual, yes. It is unusual because very few people have done it in the past. It's also not good practice. Sapagkat ang constitutional requirements is, kung sinuman ang i-appoint diyan sa Cabinet positions, sa ambassadors and generals must be subjected to the advise and consent of the Commission on Appointments. Kung sa America, advise and consent of the Senate. It's one way of going around the law. So, I hope it's not practiced too often.

Q: May specific period ba for a president to appoint acting secretaries?

Serge: No. The Constitution is very general. It just says any appointment to - it states the position to any Cabinet post, for ambassadors, generals, colonels, constitutional committees like Comelec - must pass Congress through its Commission on Appointments. So, it's very general. But there were certain cases na hindi nirespeto iyong requirement na iyon.

What I am saying is, it's not good practice to go around the law by saying na acting lang siya. He can be acting for the next six years. Theoretically hindi naman pwedeng nandiyan ka ng six years and you're only acting.

Q: Hindi kaya binibigyan lang ng graceful exit si Secretary Robredo?

Serge: Hindi naman graceful iyon. Parang sampal sa mukha iyon, ginagawa kang acting.

Q: Usapan lang ito?

Serge: I do not know. You're asking me to speculate on the personal relationship between President Noynoy and Secretary Jesse. I don't have enough information to give you any input on that.

Q: Would you suggest that the president appoint a permanent secretary?

Serge: Yes. Because he can always remove him. He serves at the pleasure of the president. I can appoint you today and remove you next week. So, why he makes them acting is beyond me. I don't want to make any comments on that kasi baka maipit pa ako sa Malakanyang but I don't agree with it.

Q: You don't agree na may mga acting secretaries at this point?

Serge: I don't agree that anybody should be designated acting anything because anyway, the president has the power to remove him. He can sign the permanent appointment papers of secretary so and so today and fire him next week and nobody will question his power to do that. So, why the designation of acting? Your guess is as good as mine.

On the 2011 budget and revenue projections and Code-NGO zero bonds

Q: Will we have enough money?

Serge: I think so. Pwede namang humiram ng pera eh. That can be sourced from borrowings if we don't sell enough assets through the privatization process. That can be sourced from borrowings. Ganun naman talaga eh. Parang household natin. If we're spending more than what we are earning, siyempre pupuntahan ko iyong kapatid ko at hihiraman muna ako sa kapatid ko. O kaya sa bangko. O kaya gagamitin ko ang credit card ko. Ganun naman talaga ang practice. You fill up the gaps through borrowings.

Q: What's your take on the proposed sale of FTI?

Serge: Hindi ko pa alam kung talagang ibebenta nila iyan. I think they can collect about P12 to P15 billion from the sale of FTI.

Q: Do you think more bonds should be floated?

Serge: Bonds are a form of borrowing. That's another form of borrowing. You just sign an IOU. A bond is a long-term IOU which is signed by government. If the bond itself promises to pay you P100,000 and give you a coupon rate of 7%... bonds are IOU notes, it's a promissory notes.

Q: Okay sa iyo iyong plano nilang mag-float ng zero (0) coupon bonds?

Serge: That's the same. It's a financing scheme. If you float a zero coupon bond, and you charge 10%, it will double in seven years. Whether you like it or not, you have to pay interest.

Q: Despite our experience with the Code-NGO zero coupon bonds?

Serge: Well, the problem there was the process. But zero coupon bonds are very acceptable form of bonds.

Q: How do you prevent another Code-NGO?

Serge: It has to be made more transparent. The Code-NGO was done very secretly. And there was fixing of the bidding so that Code-NGO would win to RCBC Securities. That's what happened.

Q: San ilalagay ang safeguards to prevent another Code-NGO?

Serge: We have to watch the bidding process. But that's really up to the Bangko Sentral and the Bureau of Treasury. Because it's the Bureau of Treasury that floats these bonds in the Philippine government. Tapos sasabihin ng Monetary Board na you are allowed to borrow, or please borrow P10 billion…

Q: Monitoring lang iyon, it cannot be speculative?

Serge: The auction is conducted by the Bureau of Treasury. Nandun ang ayusan, nandun ang magic.

On discounts for senior citizens

Q: Iyong proposal niyo kanina na gawing revenue neutral for senior citizens?

Serge: Yes. Revenue neutrals for senior citizens. Eto ang gawin natin. Hindi ba merong 20% discount ang senior citizens? Tapos exempt pa from 12% VAT? So 32%. Ang dapat ginawa nila ay binigyan ang senior citizens ng 32% discount but not exempt from VAT. Pareho lang ang net effect.

Q: Iyong pagtanggal ng 12%, ibabalik niyo po uli sir?

Serge: Yes. Because it ruins the audit trail. Kaya I never agreed with it. Remember I said before that I never agreed with it kasi nasisira ang audit trail ng VAT. Kelangan ng BIR ang audit trail kasi naloloko sila. The headache it's giving the BIR now is just terrific because of that mistake. And the only way to correct that mistake is to give the senior citizens 32% discount and let them pay VAT para may resibo at makikita ng BIR ang audit trail. Magulo kasi eh.

On the Pag-Ibig housing loans fiasco

Q:Sir, sabi ninyo may kailangang masibak dahil dun sa bogus loans?

Serge: Yes, definitely. P7 billion? Susmarya. Bakit hindi mo naman sisibakin iyan? I'll put him in jail for life.

Q: Sino ang dapat na sibakin?

Serge: I don't know who were the ones who authorized Globe Asiatique to be the ones to qualify the borrowers and to release the money to the borrowers. Self-interest iyan diba? Ako nagpatayo ng bahay tapos ikaw magpapahiram ng pera, tapos sasabihin ko sa iyo bigay mo na lang sakin ang pera at ako na lang magkwa-qualify ng buyer. So he doesn't care whether the buyer qualifies or not just as long as he gets the money and the profit. At ngayon, marami ang hindi nagbabayad kasi marami ang peke pala. I think it's more than 400. Last night I heard on radio it's already 1,200.

Q: Mananagot dun ang Globe Asiatique?

Serge: Yes. Because they signed a guarantee. But what good is the guarantee kung inamin na nila that they don't have the money (to pay). Inamin na ni Delfin Lee last night, "I don't have the money to pay."

Q: Whose the Cabinet in charge of housing now?

Serge: Dati it was Noli. Now it's Jojo Binay, he's in-charge of housing now. Nangyari iyon nung time ni Noli. But you see, Noli has no line function. He just chairs the coordinating committee.

Q: Si Miro Quimbo iyan?

Serge: Quimbo was the chief executive officer of Pag-Ibig at the time.

Q: May courtesy pa ba iyan? Kasi congressman na siya ngayon?

Serge: Yes, I will investigate him. That falls under my committee. I don't care if he's a congressman now. I don't care if he's president or vice president. He has to answer to the Filipino people. I only represent the Filipino people.

Q: Kung wala ng pera si Delfin Lee, ano pa ang pwedeng kunin sa kanya?

Serge: Wala ng property si Delfin Lee. Binenta na nga. That's why you don't allow these to happen. That's why you have safeguards. Because the moment na you give it, you cannot get it back.

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