Press Release
April 7, 2011

Transcript of Kapihan sa Senado
Press Conference with Senator Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri

Opening statement by Jun Bote Bautista

S/Migz: (reads his opening statement; kindly refer to separate copy/email please) Let me clarify, however, that this committee report is still being routed for signature of members of these committees (environment and health). Advanced copies were given to them the other day and we will be giving advanced copies to the media today.

Jun: Has the FPIC been supplied with copy of this report? Reaction?

S/Migz: Actually, we have only released these findings today to members of the Senate committees on environment and health, to the media and even the residents of West Tower who happened to be here now don't have a copy of this report. It is just being presented to you as we speak. So I believe the FPIC has not gotten a copy but we will furnish them a copy as well and their legal counsels.

Just to state for the record, the committee had conducted an extensive investigation on the subject. We included in the report the statement of FPIC, nandito rin po ang statements ng West Tower Condominium residents, nandito rin po statements ng scientists' katulad ni Dr. Arcilla ng UP-NIGS, we also have statements of different stakeholders - they are all recorded here. But what is important is the admission of FPIC itself that they are cause of the leak. Number two: it is the findings during the on-site inspections. Number three: the findings of the government agencies on violations of clean water and clean air acts and the implementation of the penalty provisions of these laws. And number four, and I believe what is very important, is the long term effects this has had to the residents in the area. Napaka-kawawa po ang mga residente dito sa mga lugar na ito. Nuong binisita po namin ang West Tower hindi po kami makapasok sa loob, sa ilalim, pati na sa basement pati na po sa kapaligiran dahil sa napakatinding baho dulot ng amoy, ng fumes nitong gasolinang ito na nakukuha po sa basement ng West Tower. As of today, the residents of that area have not been able to return home, meaning a loss of income, residency, they have to rent elsewhere, kailangan nilang lumipat, sila po ay naging squatter dahil sa nangyari sa kanilang tahanan, kawawa po kasama na po ang mga residente sa tabi ng West Tower Condominium na hanggang ngayon ay nagrereklamo at nag aangal dun sa napakatinding baho dulot nitong gas leak na ito.

This is a test case of environmental degradation. Kailangan po umaksyon na po ang korte dito, ang ating iba't ibang executive offices like the DENR and other agencies tasked by government to implement the laws. We need to implement these laws, if not i am worried that more industries might abuse their powers, abuse their reach among our friends in the different agencies concerned and therefore more abuses like these could happen in the future.

The filing of the pipelines measure (filed by Sentor Zubiri today SB 2788) already puts in place the different standards required for companies that are involved in this type of industries. Napakahalaga po nito may standards na po na inilagay natin at mayroon po tayong penalties na napakabigat kapag hindi sila sumunod dito.

Jun: Who will enforce these recommendations? Esp the compensation and inspections?

S/Migz: As of the moment, the DOE and DENR may be able to lead agencies to inspect these pipelines from Pandacan to Batangas. Dito naman sa remuneration package i believe mayroon na po silang finile sa ibat ibang korte - lower courts and the SC - on the danyos ika nga para sa nangyaring perwisyo na dulot nitong oil pipe leak sa kani-kanilang pamilya. So iyan po ay ibinigay na po natin sa korte na magdecision. I am not in a position or the committee is in a position to say how much should be given to each family.

Jun: hindi pa ba nacocontain ang leak as we speak?

S/Migz: as what we have heard form the last committee hearing, which was last month ago, tuloy tuloy pa rin ang nakukuhang gasoline duon sa ilalim ng West Tower. As to plugging the leak, according to the FPIC and their group of scientists they have successfully plugged that mongo sized leaks found near the West Tower according to their panel since they are tasked to do clean up operation.

That is why there is a necessity really to tingnan po natin ang buong stretch nitong pipelines eh alam niyo Manong Jun mas matanda pa ang pipelines kesa sa akin. In most structures, you look at the structure integrity of buildings, steels, cars, of different types of equipments they have a life span or shelf life and according to their initial studies, initial shelf life would be able to rech up to 70-80 years but there should be a periodic inspections, eh bakal iyan eh at prone to corrosion for whatever explanations they may give and chemical reactions. So this inspection should be done at the soonest possible time lalo na at nayayanig po tayo ng earthquakes halos araw araw. Nuong isang araw lamang po meron pong earthquake na 6.2 nakaramdam tayo sa Richter scale so i think it is about time to inspect.

Butch: Ballpark figure on damage claims?

S/Migz: I would not know that may be you would like to interview them later on...personally i do not know what their agreement is with FPIC, i would leave that to them. The length of time of their eviction, for example they were evicted forcibly last year and so for every month they left home they should be remunerated for that, if the rental payment is so and so per month then it should be followed. But what should we look into is the long term effects can they still return to their homes? Iyan po ang katanungan diyan. Last hearing natin ang FPIC mismo nagsabi ang clean up will take 3-4 years or may be even as long as five years so where will they stay for the next five years dahil ang amoy nitong fumes ay delikado at pati po iyung gasoline will case fire.

Butch: apart from west tower tenants, can the adjacent resident seek damages also?

S/Migz: it is not for us to decide on how much they should claim, but they may seek damages since residents near west tower ay pumasok din po ako dun eh at napakatindi rin ng amoy duon eh but it is up to them to make that decision.

Cely: wala kayong estimate lang ng damage?

S/Migz: Mahirap magbigay ng estimate kasi pag mababa magagalit ang West Tower at pag mataas magagalit ang FPIC so the committee is not in a position to come up with these findings since we did not hire anyone in the real estate industry to give us an estimate on that, what we decided is to look into are the facts and figures only and violations on the laws that we enacted. Meron ata sila finile sa lower courts or SC that's for them to decide.

Duon sa violations sa Clean Water Act at Clean Air Act, meron andun sa committee report for the clean water act for every possible daily violation is if i am not mistaken is 200 thousand ata ang maximum violation per day but for clean air act i am not sure at this point in time but it is in the committee report. I will present this sa plenary pag balik natin sa session for approval by the members of the Senate.

Sammy: If FPIC decides to close shop?

S/Migz: that's for the court to decide.

Nimfa: bakit civil liability lang at wala pong criminal liability?

S/Migz; meron po dito criminal liability dito sa clean water act at clean air act that's why we are directing the EMB to already come up with final report on the violations of these laws. DENR will file the case.

Jun: Paano residential areas?

S/Migz: definitely they can claim, but it is up for them...not for me to decide i am here to present the facts that there are possible violations of the law.

Jun: just got a text here na P2.5B daw ang damage according to case filed in Makati RTC.

S/Migz: Ito po ay recommendatory lamang. Ang gusto natin ay ang DOE na mismo ang uutos sa kanila na buksan ito at inspection ang 117km pipeline para lang magkaroon ng katahimikan ang mga residente sa lugar na ito lalo at dinadaanan po tayo ng napakaraming lindol at it is about time that we inspect these pipelines. Ang clean up ay under DOE, DENR will come up with the recommendations on the violations of the law pero DOE ang lead agency.

Makakatulong po itong committee report sa Writ of Kalikasan.

Ang problema po wala po tayong batas na nagsusupervise dito sa ating oil pipelines kaya po magfile tayo ng panukalang batas sa araw na ito na nagbibigay ng clear cut guidelines sa mga ahensya ng gobyerno dahil nagtuturuan din po ang ahensya ng gobyerno nuong naghearing kami eh sabi ng DOE ay wala po kaming guidelines, at ito po ay nangyari itong nuong bata pa kami at teenagers dahil itinayo po ito nuong 1960 plus under the proposal of the committee the DOE and DENR will be the lead agencies. So at this point medyo gray area pa po ang participation ng gobyerno dito.

How many have signed? Will find out and it is still being reviewed by the senators.

The reason why the DOE took over the jurisdiction of the case is that the oil and gas in under the DOE at wala po sa jurisdiction nila ang violations sa Clean Air at Clean Water so duon papasok ang DENR specifically the EMB. At kung meron pong violations on these iyung per parts per million dito sa hangin...and the clean water it is obvious the water table of Makati ay contaminated na po hindi po natin maainom ito kung kayo po ay mag deepwell at iinumin yan madidisgrasya po. So definitely there are violations and it is up to the DENR on the criminal aspects of it.

Dapat may corporate social responsibility itong mga kumpanyang ito, dapat ingatan nila ang pagdeliver nitong hazardous materials na ito at tulungan nila itong mga taong apektado nito. We are not saying that they should shut down itong pipelines na ito what we are saying is that dapat ma inspect ito at walang leaks para magkaroon na ng sistema para kapag mangyari ito muli ay alam na natin ang gagawin agad hindi tulad nuon na dalawang buwan ang denial nila eh milyon milyon litro na ang nawala at apektado na ang residente.

Butch: can oil companies sue FPIC?

S/Migz: I think so parang dealer ka ng alcohol product nasa contrata na kapag nabasag at tumaob yan ang namamahala ay dealer so in the same aspect the FPIC is liable for this if they want to file a case.

Jun: on ARMM? The House has filed for postponement on third and final reading. What's your sense in the Senate?

S/Migz: Alam n'yo po I have been in the Senate now for four years at napakahirap pong pumasa ng legislative agenda pag maraming tumututol alam ko po dito sa bill na ito napakatindi po ng apprehension ng ating mga kasamahan and i can count about 8 or 9 senators at this point in time that are against the postponement of ARMM for the main reason na dapat hindi po matuloy ang planong appointment.

Ang sabi nila limang beses na postpone, tama po , opo , lima pero not once, never in that period of time in that period of time ay nagkaroon po ng appointment of kanilang leaders that is tantamount to the violation of autonomy, violation of the organic act which gives the people of the ARMM the right to choose their leaders and now we are planning to subvert that right, to quash the right of these people to choose their path and destiny kaya't maraming tumututol na senador.

Sa tingin ko po out of lack of material time ay baka hindi na lulusot yan dahil May 2 ang umpisa filing of candidacy for those who want to run for ARMM elections eh sa May 9 po tayo babalik at magdedeliberation pa at nagformal motion kanina na dapat magkaroon ng consultations sa Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Cotabato City at Marawi City limang lugar po ang pupuntahan namin so pag ka ganun sa tingin ko so sa tingin ko dahil sa lack of material time it may be difficult at this time to push for that agenda. I would rather suggest that we continue with the polls on august 8 and at the same time look at the proper reforms that can be placed in ARMM during the two years that we are deliberating in the 15th Congress.

How can we fast track legislation with the case of Ombudsman Gutierrez pa....

Alam mo iyung sinabi ni Sec. Robredo na three reasons ay napakahina iyan. Unang una iyung auditing ay ginagawa na ngayon at nakikita na nila ito without postponement, do their work in auditing at my suggestion pa nga is to appoint commissioner Heidi Mendoza to head the audit of ARMM para walang question or bahid, Pangalawa iyung clean up of voter's list ginagawa na po ngayon yan, the Comelec can require all voters to re-register now in the next two months before the elections of ARMM with proper funding hindi kailangan i postpone, they can do that without postponing. Iyung sinasabi nilang violence eh di ilagay mo sa state of emergency iyung ARMM, increase the number of our armed groups there, come up with dismantling of the private armies, the power of the police and the AFP still lies within the hands of national government they can do that without postponing ARMM elections and appointing officials of their preference. Iyun ang nakakatakot dun gusto nila mag appoint na tao na tao nila eh hindi pakikinggan ng mga tao dun yan sabihin nila sino ka? So iyun po ang mangyayari duon lalo na sa ARMM that is a recipe for disaster so these re flimsy excuses to postpone the ARMM. Autonomy is the key word here which means hindi natin sila guguluhin. Kung gusto nila professional managers, that's fine we will support him, but let us not subvert the will of the people by curtailing democracy by not allowing a clean and honest election in the ARMM.


Jun: Are you still lakas?

S/Migz: I am independent and have not joined any political party.

We can not give you any details on the impeachment case. Let the people be assured that the decision that i will make will be for the benefit of the Filipino people and nothing less. So it will not be because of a political party or any agroupation pushing me to vote whether for or against the impeachment.

She: On tax evasion case vs Cong. Mikey Arroyo?

S/Migz: If there is a tax evasion case filed against Cong. Arroyo, then he should answer this case, get the best lawyers possible, the BIR ahs to do their job and let the court decide on this particular issue, there's a tax court for this issue.

She: any political vendetta?

S/Migz: If the former members of the last administration have nothing to hide then they have nothing to fear. if the BIR or any agency sees possible violation of the law no one should be exempt. But let me stress, dapat gawin din yan sa mga kaalyado, allies of this administration who are possible violators of the law there should not be a trend of only one particular organization or party.

On blackmail allegations of Sen. Allan?

Naintindihan ko ang position ni Sentor Allan,medyo matindi po ang appointment ni Chairman Brillantes sa Comelec. I respect the decision of Senator Allan to take a more pro active approach. Kasi yun din sinabi ko dati sana ina-appoint natin ay someone without party leanings, ay sana professional or an expert on electoral law but at the same time without any particular political party being represented unfortunately we already have the appointment of Chairman Brillantes. Ang akin lang siguro pwede mag mediate ang ating Senate President or committee on suffrage to come with a hearing to invite the chairman so that both parties can shed light on these accusations.

Tina: On US AMB Thomas turned over cheques to govt related to Ligots?

Wed like to thank the ambassador for that type of response within their jurisdiction and hamon natin sa US govt and i'd like to appeal to the ambassador ay isama na ang bahay, condo at ari-arian sa US kunin yan at foreclose, speed up forfeiture case, kunin ng US govt and turn over the money to the Phil govt so hindi lamang po bank accounts pati ari arian ng Ligot couple. Pera? It will probably go to the national treasury depende na sa gobyerno may process iyan but i can't tell you how it will go.

Flor: ngayon daw implementation ng lrt and mrt increase?

S/Migz: Matitigas talaga ulo ng MRT at LRT na ito eh, kailangan muna nila ma justify itong increase na ito at kailangan muna nila malaman na halos lahat ng metro rail systems ng ibat ibang gobyerno ay subsidized ng kanilang gobyerno para matulungan ang kanila kababayan. Kapag inaangat nila iyan by 100 percent or 50 percent magaalburoto po ang mga residente ng metro manila at lalo pong makikita natin ang approval ratings ni presidente na babagsak. This is a perfect storm to happen in Metro Manila. I am against the privatization of LRT and MRT.

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