Press Release
October 11, 2012

Transcript of Ambush Interview of Senator Franklin M. Drilon

On the rumor Senate coup attempt

Once and for all, I deny that I am involved in any effort to change Senator Enrile. No such thing. I know where this humor is coming from; it is not from me and I disavow any intention to replace SP.

It was a thank you dinner that the President gave to the senators who are very supportive during the impeachment trial. Very cordial, social dinner, no legislative agenda was discussed.

On the framework agreement with the MILF

On Monday, the framework agreement will be signed and it offers well for peace process. Ngunit, marami pang gagawin. The devil is in the details. After the framework agreement, the annexes will have to be negotiated. Pag-uusapan pa ang mga annexes, medyo masalimuot pa iyan marami pang pag-uusapan. But with the framework agreement, then chances of success are very good. After the annexes are completed and signed before the year is over, the next Congress would have to tackle the new organic act which will now change the form of government in the autonomous regions. This new organic act will have to be ratified. There will be a lot of details; a lot of consultations. There is transparency in the negotiation. We will work within the framework of the Constitution.

The government now and after the agreement is signed will still be a presidential form of government because we will have a president who will have supervision over the local government including the head of the new autonomous region in Mindanao. There is nothing in the Constitution which dictates the form of government in the local government; as long as it is ratified by the people affected in the region it will have a force effect of law and not in contravention of the Constitution.

The head of the Bangsamoro since the territory will be much larger than a province will be higher than the provincial governor.

Certainly, they are part of central government structure.

On the sin tax bill

Ang usapan namin ni Senator Recto, I will propose amendment on the floor. We will debate on it and we will submit to the body for consideration. This is the report of Senator Recto. This is how he views the sin taxes. We obviously have a different view. We feel that the rates that are proposed in the committee report are not sufficient. One, to deter smoking, to reduce the number of smokers in the country, and to prevent our youth from getting into this habit. But obviously we have differing views. I recommend that there should only be two tiers or two levels: the low and the high. The low should have a tax rate of P15 and the high should have P30. After two years, there should only be one rate (for the high and the low in tobacco).

On the alcohol, my only concern is we comply with the WTO standard because our failure to comply with the WTO standard we signed last year could put us in trouble. That it should not be discriminatory. The rates should not be discriminatory because that is the whole problem when we lost our case before the WTO. Whatever that system is, it must not discriminate by reason of local and foreign brands.

On the first year, it should be nearer the desired target of P60 billion. (The proceeds to be generated from the sin tax is factored in the 2013 budget) in the sense that we would want to cover more Philhealth beneficiaries. Right now, we can only cover 5 million and we want to double that and add to our health needs through the infrastructure requirements of our hospitals.

Ang target natin ay we want to pass it before we start the debates on the budget. That is about mid November. Kaya yun. We just have to move quickly. My agreement with Senator Recto and other senators is that we will finish the sin tax debates before we commend the debates on the budget on mid-November.

On the AMLA amendments

We will be able to finish the AMLA amendments. We are supposed to finish the AMLA amendments by next week because there is a scheduled conference of the FATF to review compliance of domestic statutes with the FATF recommendations. That conference takes place next week; we must finish the amendments next week. Otherwise, we will be blacklisted which means there will be an enhanced examination of the remittances our OFWs. I was the Senate President when we passed the AMLA in 2001 or 2002. It was extremely difficult, but we were able to do it because of the concern that it could result in difficulties for our OFWs. Remember that OFW remittances amount $21 billion a year. This is vital to our economy that this flow of foreign receipts will not be interrupted.

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