Press Release
November 9, 2010

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

On the 2011 Budget

Q: Ano po ang schedule ngayon now that you have resumed this week? SP: Well, I think, tomorrow we will take up the resolution.

Q: If it does get approved po, when can we...

SP: I don't know. It depends upon how fast they can process the papers that they will file.

Q: Sir, approved na po sa House 'yung P1.6 trillion na budget. Ibig sabihin ba, sir, mas mabilis na maaaprubahan dito? SP: No. Marami rin kaming tatanungin sa budget na 'yon. You cannot stop the members of the Senate from asking questions and scrutinizing it. We're not a rubber stamp here. We have to perform our jobs for the people.

Q: Sir, ano po ang major concern niyo sa budget?

SP: Unang-una, titingnan namin lahat ng allocations --- defense, education, public works, social welfare, health and so forth and so on.

Q: Sir, sa intelligence fund po for example...

SP: Maliit lang na item 'yon. That's nothing compared in relation to the P1.6 trillion. If you take a ratio, that's a very miniscule portion of the budget. We are going to scrutinize the items especially in the economic sector, agricultural sector, educational sector, health sector and infrastructures and the distribution of the infrastructure funds.

Q: In favor ba kayo na tapyasan ang proposed budget para sa Conditional Cash Transfer sa DSWD?

SP: Well, we have to look at it objectively and find out if it's workable. How can we check the amount that each recipient received and the distribution of the beneficiaries? How much of the beneficiaries come from Mindanao, Visayas, Metro Manila to see to it that the distribution is equitable.

Q: Sir, is it possible that Senate will cut that budget?

SP: It's possible that we can reduce it but whether we will actually reduce it, I do not know because we have the power to reduce. The power that we do not have is to increase. But reduction is a given power of Congress whether that will be exercised or not will depend upon our study of the budget or we may not cut it but we may re-allocate, augment some areas.

Q: Sir, what is the significance of cutting the President's fund?

SP: That is his call. Maybe he does not need that much intelligence fund. I'm happy that he did it because the President is an intelligence user. The Office of the President is not a gatherer of information and you need money to gather information. You do not need money to use information. Now, maybe, in the case of the Office of the President, it is possible that the intelligence fund that will be allocated for it will be utilized for the implementation of the Human Security Act in order to protect the country from possible terrorists in the Philippines. If I remember correctly, the Anti-terrorism Law is under the Office of the President.

On the Appointment of Secretary Robredo and Secretary Paje

Q: Sir, hindi raw po kasama si Secretary Robredo at Secretary Paje sa isinumiteng appointment papers ng Malacañang...

SP: They are acting. They have not been appointed permanently to those positions. When they have been appointed permanently to those positions, their names will be submitted to the Commission on Appointments.

Q: Sir, is that good on the part of the President?

SP: That's the prerogative of the President. Mind you, nobody can question the President on that basis. He might have a reason to put them in an acting capacity. Nobody can question that. Nobody can question the power of the President to issue an interim appointment. Nobody can question the authority of the President to issue a nomination. Nobody can question him in issuing an appointment in an acting capacity to anybody for a government agency under his supervision in courtroom.

Q: Is it a sign, sir, na hindi pa convinced si Presidente kina Robredo?

SP: I don't know. I cannot read the mind of a President.

On Travel Advisories Issued by Other Countries

Q: Sir, mayroon po ba kayong nakikitang wisdom sa suggestion na mag-file ng diplomatic protest because of the travel advisories sa Pilipinas?

SP: Prerogative ng isang bansa 'yung to exclude anybody that they don't want in the same way that they have to respect our decision to exclude their nationals in our country if in the opinion of our leaders, they are detrimental to the interest of this country. I do not know the facts but since you asked me, whether it is in the power of the country to exclude anybody, that's an immigration function. We do not deal with wisdom when we are dealing with nations. It is, as they call it, real politics.

Q: Hindi ba exaggerated 'yung travel advisories?

SP: I don't know. I will not judge another country.

Q: Sir, 'yung prerogative it includes not to inform President Aquino...

SP: No. There's no need. We do not inform even the most powerful country in the world when we exclude their nationals. That's a sovereign prerogative.

Q: Sir, 'yung Malacañang kasi mag-file ng diplomatic protest kasi nakatanggap tayo ng anim na travel advisories.

SP: Let them do what they think they should do but I'm not going to suggest anything. I do not want to suggest anything to anybody.

Q: Sir, what about 'yung travel advisories ng anim na bansa?

SP: If I were the Philippines, I would study the problem myself and ignore them. That is for the people, in the same way that we will tell our people do not go to Iraq or Afghanistan. That's the prerogative of those countries --- to protect their nationals.

Q: Can the government at least compare data with the intel data of other countries issuing these travel advisories?

SP: How can you do that? They are not under you unless we have a treaty with them. We are not the center of the world. It's just a matter of comity as we call it in the international law. Reciprocity 'yan. If we have an agreement with them to exchange information then they can compare information with us. But if we do not have, they can tell you politely, I think you are barking up the wrong tree.

Q: Sir, 'yung complain kahapon ni President Aquino na he was not given ample information about that so-called intel report is not valid...

SP: That's the opinion of the President. I think that we have an understanding with US that they share information with us.

Q: Sir, kasi ang sinasabi ni Pangulo asan...

SP: If it involves war and peace, security issues, I do not know whether criminal activities is within the context of our mutual defense treaty.

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