Press Release
December 23, 2012


SENATOR ANGARA (SEJA): Galing lang ako sa Baler at in-announce ko sa mga kababayan ko sa Baler na hindi na ako magpapatuloy tumkabo sa pagka-gobernador. Unang una, ito ay tinalakay at pinagusapan sa pamilya at saka some of my old friends dito sa Maynila. Unang una, kung ako ay mag-gobernador at siguradong mananalo, ako ay kailangan to be able to be a good governor, to stay in Aurora so matatali ako doon and I will be unable to fully fulfill my international commitments. Dalawa ang malaking international commitments ko, ang una ay yung my being elected to the International Executive Board ng Christian Democrats International or Centrist Democratic International (CDI). Ito ang pinakamalaking political alliance sa buong mundo sapagkat halos lahat ng ruling parties sa Europe at sa Latin America ay member dito sa alliance na ito. You can Google it. Ako ay in-elect bilang Vice President for Asia Pacific at we will be hosting an Executive Meeting dito sa Maynila maybe May or June. Pangalawa, in January next year, I will be hosting, I will be the sponsoring head of the Anti-Corruption Conference [of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC)] and this is global. Right now we have almost 300 delegates and participants registered to us and we anticipate 450 members of parliament all over the world as well as NGOs involved in Anti-Corruption Program attending this program. This is the only international body based in Canada that is focused on anti-corruption measures. Right now, I am the Vice Chairman of this and I just got back from Mexico and I have been asked by the Executive Board if I'm prepared and willing to assume the leadership of this international anti-corruption body immediately after the Manila Conference. So, thirdly as you know we have the Angara Centre for Law and Economics. The international advisory board who is composed of international economists and political scientists who have already brought several of these prominent people and we will continue to do so on a regular basis. This alone, not to count on my national commitments and my local commitments, would really tie me down and I think it is unfair for the people of Aurora that if I become governor, I will become an absentee governor. I think that is not the style I pursued in my public life. If I have a responsibility I assume, I would do it singularly unobstructed by any undertaking except to do it in my work. So that's the main reason really why we decided, my family, close friends and I, decided that I will be substituted by Mayor Angara, the head of the Mayor's League in Aurora who has been, I think an outstanding mayor of Baler and he is an achiever and I am positive he will get elected as governor and I can support Aurora including, as well as the country through this international organization and my work here in Manila, I think I will do a better job of providing the back-up support to the people of Aurora. Now, it's not true, as I think some of my friends from Baler have written that the reason that I am quitting the race is because I was offered a government post, although I am prepared to help the government, I am not prepared to accept any cabinet position of that sort. I am prepared to help the government on the specific assignment like what I did for the President when I went to Mexico two weeks ago to attend the inauguration of the Mexican President. And I have met with four top business groups in Mexico and I think I have convinced them to come and see the Philippines. If you want, I can ask permission, I will give you a copy of the report I rendered to the President to show the extent of the work I have done inviting businessmen, inviting key political leaders in the government as well as leaders of culture and prominent journalists to visit the Philippines or write about the Philippines because as you know I am spearheading the establishment of a Galleon Museum here in the Philippines. Two years ago I brought the first lady of Mexico, Madam Margarita Zavala, the wife of the outgoing president. With Mexico and the Philippines agreed to build a museum, a galleon museum here in the Philippines. Those of you who are history buffs will know that the Galleon Trade, the trade between Manila and Acapulco, and Acapulco and Manila, were the longest running maritime route in the world. And that was the precursor og globalization, of trade, ongoing now. So I thought that's very symbolic, as well as a real symbol, a real sign, of the going relations between Mexico and the Philippines which I'm trying to restore, as in Philippine-Spanish.

Q: Sir, two questions from my end: 1) Didn't you anticipate all those reasons before you filed your COC, and; 2) kung kinausap kayo ni PNoy na, or may meron paguusap kung may iooffer na sa inyo dahil handa naman kayong tumulong?

SEJA: Some of these practical problems, yes, I've thought even before I filed the, my certificate of candidacy, and the media of Aurora knows that I hesitated to run. In fact I don't want to run. I've served this country for 34 uninterrupted years, from the UP [presidency] to now. So I said I think I've already given half of my professional life. I'd like to do something else, move on, but my, the leaders there prevailed on me to run. Despite my misgivings about being tied down and being unable to fulfill my international commitment. But now after serving the political situation in Aurora, then I can, I'm confident in saying that the substitute who will run for me instead, will be the next governor and Aurora will still be in good and safe hands.

Q: Walang naganap na pag-uusap sa inyo ni PNoy, sir?

SEJA: Wala, wala.

Q: As of this time, or any mentioning of the position offered?

SEJA: Wala, wala. Q: Anong pangalan ng kapatid n'yong mayor?

SEJA: Dr. Arturo Angara

Q: Sir, you said you were ready to help the government on specific appointments, would you be open to an ambassadorial post, if ever?

SEJA: Mukhang, siguro, I probably won't accept that permanent thing. Yung task force mission-oriented type, because I think I'm fairly experienced in negotiating things, and getting arrangements, so I think I'll be good in doing that. But being posted for a regular period of time I think is already beyond my plan.

Q: But as an adviser to the president?

SEJA: Yes, yeah. You know the Philippines is really poised for take-off. As you can read today, Standard and Poors has upgraded our economic status from stable to positive. Positive is already near investment rate. All these signs point to the Philippines taking off as among the 10 Asean countries. There are two ASEAN countries poised to take off. One is Indonesia, the other is the Philippines. In fact when I was in Mexico, it was the headline news in Mexico, the next seven, diba may developed countries, then pre, and then next seven. And top of the next seven is the Philippines.

So all signs point to us becoming really a not necessarily a tiger, but close to that, if we just focus our attention to it. There's so much still to be done in terms of reform. We've not completed the reform needed for us to have a sustainable growth. If you, I've seen the economic and political history of the country for the past 34 years I've been in public service. I've seen the boom and bust type of economic development. When I was Senate President we've put together probably the most substantive reform agenda and find around our economy to the point of us also being classified as nearing tiger status. But the Asian crisis of 1997 is not our goal. But we are also in that situation. I think the government, our president needs all the hands-on-deck he can, all the assistance he can muster.

Q: Sir, nakaimpluwensiya po ba sa desisyon niyo in any way to withdraw from the race yung APECO?

SEJA: Ah not at all, not at all. Kasi number one, yung APECO, this I can say with confidence, no one in Aurora of serious and credible reputation opposes Aurora. Those who are opposing Aurora are from the outside. And even the IPs that they travel around wearing, ano bang tawag dun, most of them are not even... kilala namin yung mga Dumagat dun eh. So in other words, the so-called opposition to APECO are mostly coming from external forces. We're not bothered at all, convincing our own people in Aurora, and the people of Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Southern Isabela, and Eastern Nueva Ecija, of the distinct benefit that APECO will bring.

When we thought of APECO, I'm the author of that, not my son Sonny. It was my sister Bella at that time sitting in the house. When we thought of it, we never realized what it would become right now. What is it now? It has a strategic value now. As you can see, the South China Sea has been closed off by the Chinese.

Hindi ba kahit yung Kalayaan Isalands natin na-claim na nila as part of their province and they have issued a regulation that they can board any ship that enters that area? Samakatuwid, may tollgate na sila doon. So the South China Sea that used to be the principal navigation route used to bring crude oil from the Middle East to Japan, to Korea, to us, is closed off.

The Pacific is the most important maritime route again, as it was in the Galleon days. That's why, we just read again in today's paper, the Americans are deploying almost half of their military, as well as their naval and air forces to the Pacific.

APECO is the only international pier and airport on the Pacific, the only free trade zone on the Pacific. That's why it acquired that strategic value. If the prediction of Secretary Paje is true--and I belive him--that there is much gas in the Benham Rise which is an island submerged in the Pacific and the closest province to that is Aurora, then this airport and seaport is even more important.

Hindi naman namin naisip yan nung binuo namin ito, ang iniisip lang namin noon, "Aurora is an undeveloped area." It his home to the poorest 20 percent of the population and it will benefit not just the people of Aurora but also the neighboring landlocked provinces of Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela. Now, those provinces are benefiting directly from this alternative route and they now have access to the sea. But more than the economic gains, we did not anticipate the strategic value of this area.

So, it is not associated at all with APECO. We are prepared to defend it and argue with anyone.

Q: Gusto n'yo po bang matutukan ang kampanya ni Cong. Sonny?

SEJA: Alam mo yang polling, talagang up and down yan eh. Hindi naman idle yung mga kasama mo na tumatakbo, hindi lang mga kasama kundi pati mga kompetisyon. And besides, Sonny is still within that winning circle. Of course, as a father, I'm very concerned that he maintains that winning position, that he will be within the first 12, even four months away from the elections. I certainly would want to help him and introduce him to the network I have all over the country but that's a fatherly instinct, not the main reason.

Q: You have not accepted any Cabinet position?

SEJA: Wala. Wala namang inoffer sa akin. I don't want to mislead, but there's really nothing.

Q: What if in the coming days...

SEJA: I don't want to be presumptuous. My frame of mind right now is I'm willing to help the administration in specific ways, in a task-force mission/assignment. Like the mission I accomplished for the President, I went to Mexico to represent him in the inauguration of their new president and invite him to make a state visit here in the Philippines--in which I succeeded. I got a positive reply from the new Mexican president to come in visit the Philippines next year. That kind of assignment: specific, time-bound, but to be tied down again after 34 years of uninterrupted public service, I'm probably not inclined to do so.

Q: This decision is kind of abrupt...

SEJA: You have to make that decision in time for the deadline of substitution--tha last day is today, eh. If I don't make that, I will be forced to go through with it.

Q: Nung nag-file kayo, masasabi ba na nag-aalangan kayo?

SEJA: No, I was reluctant. I didn't want to go into local politics after 34 years of public service--I think that's enough service to our country and besides, as I said, I have plenty of projects that I'm pursuing. I'd rather do that than become a local official, but the people and the leaders of Aurora wanted me to run. I accepted that reluctantly, but I have no regrets. I'm sure that the substitute candidate will be the next governor of Aurora.

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