Press Release
May 16, 2011

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

On the RH Bill

Q: Ano po ang future rito ng RH Bill?

SP: Well, ako, ang posisyon ko ay very clear. I'm not going to vote in favor. I have my own arguments, position. It involves my faith, my notion on how to develop the country in relation to the growth of population.

Q: Sir, 'yung religious group na against sa RH Bill may mga banta sila na civil disobedience...

SP: That is their right to the extent that they do not go beyond the line. We went through that during the time of President Marcos. Nagkaroon ng civil disobedience.

Q: Pero you suffer the consequences, sir?

SP: If you go beyond the line. You know, there must be a rule of law in the country. It's always the law that must govern the conduct of everyone from all of us in politics including the citizenry. If we do not respect the rule of law, then this will be a disorderly society. This will become what Hobbes says, "a society in anarchy or in a state of war unto itself."

Q: So sir, kahit against kayo sa RH Bill hindi kayo pabor sa ganung mga...

SP: No no. Hindi ko masasabing hindi ako pabor because the Constitution defines the rights of the citizens, the limits of what they can do and cannot do. So, if they think they are acting within the law, then, so be it. Now, if the prosecutors think that they have gone beyond the law then they have to hail them to Court and provide the evidence.

Q: Sir, even if some in the Senate leadership are against the RH Bill, are you still committed to have it debated on the Floor?

SP: Of course. We will not censor any Bill here. It must be open for debate but I'm just telling you my personal position. In terms of the population aspect of this, economic impact, I'm more concerned about the security aspect of this issue. I do not want gurkas to come here and defend us in case of war.

Q: Sir, how soon do you think you can start the deliberations?

SP: It depends upon whether they can pass it in the House. When it comes here, then it will go to a Committee. If the Committee will report out the Bill then we can start discussing it.

Q: Pero sir, the Senate has its own version di ba?

SP: I don't know if we have a version here.

Q: 'Yung kay Senator Miriam po.

SP: I don't know. I haven't read her Bill.

Q: Sir, may idea kayo kung ano 'yung majority sa mga senators, pro or anti?

SP: I don't know. I haven't talked to them. I'm just talking about myself, my own personal position. I don't hide it from anybody. I take that position, I defend it.

Q: Pero sir, mayroon kayong assessment about the possibility or impossibility of having it passed?

SP: I don't know. For me to say that means I have talked to the others but I have not talked to them.

On the ARMM Election

Q: Ano 'yung possibility ng postponement ng ARMM election?

SP: We are waiting for the Chairman of the Committee on Local Government to submit a Committee Report, if he can submit it, for discussion on the Floor.

Q: Do you think we still have time to discuss the postponement?

SP: Time is getting short but we will try anyway. That's why this morning, when I met some members of the Commission on Elections, I told them to prepare just in case we could not make a decision whether to postpone or to continue.

Q: Sir, there were reports that President Noynoy called you to hold the postponement.

SP: He has not called me about this Bill. I was not in the luncheon. A Daily says that that will affect the independence of the Senate. That's crazy because if they study my position on issues, I'm not a lackey of anybody. I take a position on a given issue, if it coincides with the position of others, then we are together. If not, then we are in opposite positions. In the case of the plea bargain, I have taken a position that the Sandiganbayan is correct and it is within their jurisdiction to make a decision. Now, you can elevate it but in a criminal case, you cannot appeal a decision against the government. Once the Court says not guilty, then that's it. When the Court says guilty, then the respondent, the accused can elevate it for judgment by Higher Courts. If it concerns facts, you go to the Court of Appeals. If it concerns a question of law, you go to the Supreme Court. But the government cannot appeal a judgment of acquittal. No motion for reconsideration if they've studied their law well.

On the Appointment of Mar Roxas as Chief of Staff

Q: Sir, some of your colleagues have expressed their opinion regarding the appointment of former Senator Roxas as Chief of Staff.

SP: You are correct, opinion. It's an opinion but the opinion that matters is the opinion of the appointing power, his needs. I do not presume and pretend that I know the needs of a President.

Q: But under the law there is no such position daw po...

SP: The President can create positions.

Q: You don't see any conflicts with discharging the duties of the ES and the COS?

SP: There will be conflict if they do not define the jurisdiction of each. They must define it very well so that there will be no overlapping.

Q: Sir, 'yung issue po ng partisanship?

SP: Well, you cannot remove that even among Cabinet members there is rivalry. Rivalry to the ear to the President, rivalry na ma-picture sa Presidente. Maraming ganyan. Dinaanan ko lahat 'yan.

Q: Sir, hindi ba counter-productive 'yun?

SP: Any friction inside the government is counter-productive. It affects the efficiency of the government.

Q: 'Yun na nga po ang concern, sir.

SP: Sa Marcos government, that rivalry ended up in EDSA. It's a matter of history. Bakit nangyari ang EDSA? Dahil nga nagkaroon ng factionalism sa loob ng gobyerno.

Q: Sir, sino ba ang nag-faction?

SP: Ako, I must admit that I took a position and there's a reason. I'm going to write about it so that the people will know if I exit here and go somewhere else, the people will know why.

Q: Sir, was it you and General Ver?

SP: It's me against the world of General Ver and some others.

Q: But sir, the Executive Secretary should always be the top person even if Senator Roxas is appointed Chief of Staff, he should be under the Executive Secretary?

SP: The Chief of Staff is a person the President will work with to discuss issues. The Executive Secretary is the administrator of the Office of the President.

Q: Are they in equal footing?

SP: I do not know whether they are in equal footing. You know, when you are near the ear of the President, marami kang maibubulong. I cannot measure the distance of one or the other to the President.

Q: Sir, sino ang Little President at Bigger President?

SP: The Little President is the one that exercises the powers of the Presidency and that is the Executive Secretary. Yes, he is the direct alter-ego of the President all-over the bureaucracy. He administers the Office of the President. They conduct analysis of all papers that would go to the desk of the President for his signature and decision. Now, of course the Chief of Staff, when asked by the President to study, can submit a different recommendation and in the end, it will be the President that will make the decision.

Q: So sir, kung 'yung factionalism noon nagbunga ng EDSA dapat bang maging maingat si PNoy ngayon?

SP: Hindi naman magbubunga ng EDSA 'yun. It will only be discordant. Wala na 'yung EDSA na 'yun. Tapos na.

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