Press Release
March 14, 2013

Excerpts of Kapihan sa Senado with Sen. Serge Osmeña

Q: As an ally of the Aquino administration are you helping the senatorial candidates of Team P'noy?

Osmeña: Selective po 'yung tulong ko. As a matter of fact, I am also helping one or two friends in UNA. So, I've been selective in my choices but this is advisory lang. Hindi naman tayo involved sa campanya nila day-to-day. But when they call, I give them advise on their campaign, their tactics, their movement, the media placement. I have not been exclusively on Team P'noy candidates, I've also been giving advice to my friends at the UNA slate.

Q: Can you give the names of those you help in Team P'noy and Team Una?

Osmeña: I will create enemies if I do that. Malalaman naman niyo yan. Minsan na memention 'yan sa diyaryo. But that's a friendly advice kasi marami naman tayo kaibigan so hindi naman sasabihin you'll only advise those in Team P'noy. May long-time friends ako sa UNA. Kung tumatawag sila, hindi naman ako sasabihin.."I cannot help you." Since this are not critical advice, I can just tell them how to say time, save money, save energy by designing their campaign in certain ways. Sometimes they follow my advice, sometimes they don't, okay lang.

Q: Sir, according to reports, you have been helping Bam Aquino and Grace Poe?

Osmeña: Since that's out of the bag, they're the ones who said it, yes, I've been helping them also...

Q: Sir, will the President ask for your help on Cebu, baluarte ba ito ng opposition or administration?

Osmeña: Cebu is Aquino country. Cebu is Cory Aquino country. That's why we were confident that P'noy will win by a landslide there in 2010 even if he did not campaign there.

Q: Is Team P'noy's senatorial target of 12-0 achievable or impossible?

Osmeña: Well, nothing is impossible. Is it achievable? Is it realistic? No. Not realistic because there are also very strong candidates on the UNA side. The 12-0, that's a propaganda claim. Siyempre nag cacampanya kayo, sasabihin 12-0, eh wala pa ako nakikita 12-0 in my entire life. Even at the height of the cheating in 1967. Ninoy Aquino won and he not only won, he was No. 2. We were only electing eight senators then. Ang labas doon 7-1, talo ang Liberal Party but Ninoy Aquino was No. 2. It's really hard to achieve a 12-0 target although a 9-3 would be fantastic . Noon 2007, ang labas doon parang 10-2. Bugbog ang LAKAS-KAMPI, dalawa lang sa ticket nila lumabas, si Joker at si Angara, the rest were known or thought to be opposition. Maskin 'yung dalawang independent nanalo, si Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, who was a Liberal party member and Sen. Gringo Honasan, who always ran as an independent, were perceived to be anti-Gloria.

Q: Sa mga latest survey ngayon, 'yung results 9-3 or 8-4, sa tingin n'yo 'yung na maging result pagdating election?

Osmeña: Anything can happen. When you take a survey, 'yan preference survey yan, it's like saying if the elections are held today, how will you vote? But it does not giveyou an accurate description of the results of the elections too much from today. Iba naman 'yon. That's only as of today. Would that be an indication of the results of the elections in May? More or less I would say it's getting there. But of course anything can happen, somebody might stumble, somebody can make a mistake, there might be issues that might come up that will affect the entire slate, for example, the Sabah issue, if it's mishandles or if it turns out badly, it might affect the entire complexion of the campaign. No one can say with any degree of confidence that 8-4 or 9-3 will be the result of the election.

Q: Sir, will the candidacy of the re-electionists who voted for the Reproduction Health will be affected by the Team Patay or Team Buhay posters?

Osmeña: No. very minimal. You must remember two things, No. 1, 82 percent of the country were in favor of the RH bill and No. 2, that will now be considered a dead issue. That was a hot issue only up to the voting but after the voting, whether it would have been won or lost, it would have been a dead issue already. Trying to dig up old skeletons is not gonna help matters any and I do not think it's going to affect even by one or two percent the votes of those who voted in favour of the RH bill.

Q: Sir, your assessment of the campaign strategy of Team P'noy and UNA?

Osmeña: They both apply the same strategy. They 're going all over the place, they're holding rallies, they're trying to get on media. They're campaign operations are exactly the same. That's not their strategy, that's their campaign operations. Strategy is composed of the campaign plan and their message. May the better man or woman win but I see no difference on their modus operandi.

Q: Sir, are you the reason behind why the ratings of Bam Aquino and Grace Poe went up in the latest survey?

Osmeña: No. I will not take credit for that. No comment. You know, the only one who can best judge that would be those within their campaign staff at hindi naman ako kasama sa campaign staff nila. Once in a while they will come to see me and I will teach them certain things but whether it was the factor that helped the ratings, no. Grace has been campaigning very hard. She's been learning the issues and she's been doing well with her position in so many issues and she's very impressive. And so with Bam. Bam is a brilliant young man and he is going to go places. The common denominator between these two is that they are young, they are well educated, they are intelligent and they have a clean record. And to top it all, most of our voters are very young also. I guess the appeal has been there and the connect has been establish and I think they will continue to rise in the surveys.

Q: Sir, 'Yung SWS survey on UNA candidates?

Osmeña: Hindi mahina ang UNA candidates because people just like to look at the surveys just based on rankings. That's an inaccurate way of analysing a survey. Halimbawa ang ranking ko No. 8 and I'm at 36 percent, ang ranking mo ay No. 15 and you're at 34 percent, we're practically tied. Tignan mo very, very close 'yung No. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. It could be any one of those. It can change overnight. 13, 14, 15. One or two percent will not really make a difference. The accuracy of the survey is about plus or minus 3 percent .

Q: Sir, you are not taking credit for the rise of Bam and Grace and you are only giving advice. But how come they are taking your advice?

Osmeña: Maybe they like the way I think.

Q: Sir, what's your forecast, will it the senatorial slate be dominated by the administration candidates?

Osmeña: it looks that way. Like I said the surveys taken yesterday is not a definite indicator of what will happen in May but it gives you a trend and nakakaroon na tayo ng trend. Maraming surveys na and siguro sa last four surveys nakikita niyo ang trends. And it's important to look at trends. If the coalition between the various individuals, including the independence, the Nationalista Party and the Liberal Party holds out then definitely they will have the numbers in the next Congress. Madali naman it figure out kasi alam niyo naman kung sinong senador sa kaninong groupo and you could easily count that it five minutes. And it looks like the P'noy administration will be able to garner a majority.

Q: Sir, so definitely there will be changes in the next leadership in the 16th congress?

Osmeña: I think that was a given already even since two months ago. After the 2010 election there was no coalition between the Nationalista and the Liberal so there were really three to four factions dito sa Senado and the Senate Presidency is just a matter of alliances between the factions of senators, there was the JPE faction, the Liberal faction, the Liberal had only four members in fact- Drilon,TG, Recto and Kiko and then the Nationalistas, were even more, there were seven of them, later on joined by Trillanes so there were eight. But since it was the aftermath of the elections and it was Aquino vs Villar in those elections, the Villar - Aquino group did not come together but later on, as alliances developed and the Nationalista and Liberal agreed to form a coalition, they could have changed the leadership already right after the Corona trial but they did not. However, we knew already that there will be changes in July when the new Congress comes about. We can practically be definite it will happen, yes. The division today is between UNA and Team P'noy. Nalalaman naman kayo kung sino nasa UNA, sino mananalo at kung sino nasa Team P'noy.

Q: Sir, sino matunog maging next Senate President?

Osmeña: President Aquino already announced or floated the name of Sen. Drilon and I think Sen. Drilon is well qualified to be the next Senate President. And Sen. Drilon's relationship with Sen. Enrile is very, good. I don't see any problem on that happening. Of course, there might be a dark horse who might have ambition but I don't see anything at this time.

Q: Sir, when JPE suddenly declared the Senate Presidency vacant, why did he suddenly do that? Osmeña: Well, I do not know what was in his mind because I didn't ask him and he didn't volunteer to tell me but I would imagine that from a tactical point of view, he wanted a immediate vote of confidence and he got it.

On the change of leadership in the Senate

You can practically be definite it will happen, because the division today is between UNA and Team Pinoy. Nalalaman naman ninyo sino ang nasa UNA, sino ang mananalo sa eleksiyon, at sino ang nasa Team Pinoy. It is very heated with the mathematics.

On whether the coalition between LP/NP/NPC is not limited to the campaign

Depende yun. If they are nice to each other, yes, tuloy-tuloy yan, but I don't see any reason now why it should not because nakikita naman natin that they are all getting along very well and that there are no huge ideological difference between those groups. Yes, I expect it to hold.

On who will be the next Senate President

President Aquino has already floated the name of Senator Drilon and I think Senator Drilon is well qualified to be the next Senate President. Senator Drilon's relationship with Senator Enrile is very good so I do not see any problems on that happening. Of course, there could be a dark horse who might have ambitions, but I don't see anything at this time, anyone coming up.

On why Enrile declared the Senate Presidency vacant

I do not know what was on his mind because I did not ask him and he did not volunteer to tell me. I would imagine, from my tactical point of view, he wanted an immediate vote of confidence and he got it.

On concerns about the continuous application of the cash transfer program and that it is being used by the administration to influence voters

That is true. I would imagine that they would come up with such an accusation and I think, please confirm this, that the COMELEC said they must suspend the CCT during the campaign. I am not in favor of postponing the CCT, because yes, a person cannot postpone his hunger for three months, but again, the law is certainly very funny when it comes to overlaps. Sasabihin ng COMELEC, who has the power to say so, to say, and decide, that that could be vote buying. So, just like we suspend public works projects during the campaign period, I think the COMELEC has the power to order the suspension of the payment of the conditional cash transfer. Is it fair to the poor? No, it is not fair to the poor.

On whether the country is energy efficient for the summer

Let us not talk about the entire country because that is a different grid, like Mindanao is not connected to the Luzon-Visayas grid. Mindanao is always going to have a crisis during the summer months and it is now having a crisis. It is short by 164 megawatts of its peak demand every day. That is a very big shortage, and some cities have eight hour brownouts. Zamboanga City, I got two calls from Congresswoman Beng Climaco, who is a member of the Joint Congressional power commission, and she was asking if there is anything the JCPC could do about it. I told her Beng, our solutions are the solutions we had twelve years ago, when we passed this Bill into law. We told Mindanao that you cannot depend on Agos-Pulangui forever, and that you would be suffering shortages. Why? Because the demand for power everywhere, not just Mindanao but everywhere, would always continue to rise, and it normally rises historically by the same amount that the gross domestic product increases. The more buildings you put up, the more houses you put up, dumadami ang population, etc., dumadami ang mga business, there is more consumption. Sino ang magco-cover niyan? At that time, ang laki ng sobra ng Mindanao. Yung installed capacity of about 950 megawatts for Agos-Pulangui, that is certainly more than enough than what they needed, but we told them if you project it ten years, you are going to reach a break-even point. Now, if you do not watch your watersheds and allow it to deteriorate and it starts disappearing, if you do not desalt the rivers every now and then to make sure that the flow of water is sufficient to feed the capacity of the turbines, you will have problems. That is exactly what happened, so three years ago po, nung kumakampanya po tayo doon sa Mindanao, they had four hour brownouts already. Sinabi ko sa kanila, kasalanan ninyo ito. I tried to help, I was active and I warned your congressmen na you are asking for a ten year exemption but that ten years, talagang ipit kayo niyan. Now it is nine years, ayan, meron na kayong power problem. Bakit po? Kasi, the hydrology of Lake Lanao and the Pulangui River is also subject to climate change. Hindi lang yun, every summer, you really have less water. Rainy season, more water, summer, less water. Bumababa yung level ng Lake Lanao, bumababa naman yung nagfi-feed a power stations. What happens? You can have a shortage. When you have a shortage, you start blaming the national government, hindi po tama yan because you already had solutions in place for you to be able to be part of the national grid. Now, tinanggihan po ninyo yung interconnection between Leyte and Surigao. Sabi ninyo, no, you guys in the Visayas just want to steal our cheap power. So kinansel po ninyo nung 2004 yung interconnection. Eto po ang nangyari. We have a surplus of 354 megawatts in the Visayas, you have a shortage of 164 megawatts, we could have fed that power to you if we had connected the submarine cable. Now, it will take five years to activate that plan. Kaninong kasalanan yun? Power, you need to plan for a long time. It takes three to five years to put up a power plant. You cannot say uy, bukas ha? Hindi baterya ito, hindi Eveready na pwede tayo pumunta sa sari-sari store, bumili ng baterya at we say okay, eto na. Hindi pwedeng ganoon, and since these are very huge investments, average of $2-million per megawatt, you put up a minimum 200 megawatt plant, that's $400-million. That's a lot of money. Now, if somebody is going to invest $400-million, he wants to know that he will get his money back in 25 years. Hindi niya pwedeng bawiin in one year yan at two years. Gusto niyang makita ang polisiya. What are the policies like in the next 25 years in Mindanao before I start? What is the growth rate? What will be the regulatory regime there? Wala, because they did not plan it. Now they are asking me how they will solve this. I said I still have the same solutions that we gave you 12 years ago. We have to implement it as soon as possible but it is not going to happen overnight. Ngayon, bumubili kayo the most expensive power. Kasalalan ninyo yan. Bakit? Yung power barge, P12-P14 per kilowatt hour. Magpapatyo lang tayo ng coal plant dito, P5 per kilowatt hour lang yan. So now, dinadala doon yung power barge, bayad sila ng P12-P14 per kilowatt hour, which is what we wanted to avoid because we want investors to go to Mindanao.

On whether it is reasonable for NAPOCOR to impose additional universal charges during summer The universal charge of NAPOCOR has been there for a long time. That is the whole problem, napakabagal ng ERC mag-approve. They are just trying to play catch-up with what they already paid out four to five years ago. The universal charge is composed of several sub-charges. There is the stranded cost, standard contract cost, standard financial cost. There is the up and down fluctuation of the dollar-peso exchange rate. There is the subsidy to the small public utilities group, yung mga isla na hindi connected sa main grid. You are talking about Palawan, Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Camiguin, Bantayan Island, etc. Sina-subsidize natin yan. Bakit po? Kasi, masyadong mahal ang power nila doon. Ang nalalagay lang ng NAPOCOR doon, yung mga diesel plants. Napakamahal ng diesel plants. It is about P12 - P21 per hour so sina-subsidize namin ng P7 per hour, so you and I are paying the balance of the P7 to subsidize NAPOCOR to supply power to the small islands. Unfortunately, we have 7,107 islands, about 1oo bigger ones are populated, and we have to supply power to them. That has been a national policy for a long time and we have to subsidize that because the other countries and the foreign investors will say na 'tignan mo 'tong mga Pilipino na 'to'. They cannot even plan their projections properly. We have to even start in genset. Dito lahat ng maliliit na pabrika merong genset just in case.

On power shortage

Yes, I would say to a certain extent that it is unavoidable. Now, like I said, certain things will happen like brownouts. There's a sudden breakdown of a plant that is unpredictable. But kung liliit ang reserba ninyo, let's say we go down from 24 percent to 18 percent next year, then you can expect that there will be some brownouts. I think we will have enough 2017-2018. We will be tight in 2014-2015 and a little better in 2016. The only big plant that came on stream is a 600 megawatt GM powerplant in Bataan. We're hopeful na yung mga coal plants na pinaplano like the Redondo plant in Subic and there's not gonna be a problem with the additional plant in Calaca and the expansion in Pagbilao and the proposed expansion of Masinloc. If there's no delay, they are going to have enough power by 2017.

Q: What's the current production and consumption?

Osmena: There are three numbers that I will give you. There's what they call the installed capacity or rated capacity. Ito po yung nakatatak sa turbine na 100 watts. That is roughly 18000 megawatts. Then there's what they call dependable capacity kasi many of the plants are luma na. In dependable capacity, we are looking at about 14000 megawatts. Luzon has about 8200 megwatt dependable capacity and our peak naman here is about 7000 watts during summer.

Q: What would be the gravity of the power shortage?

Osmena: You don't want to. But in 1992, we in Manila, we are going through 12 hour brownouts. That from a point of view of personal utility and comfort. The rest of the world will be losing confidence in our economy and say that these guys could not even manage one of the most basic industries required to keep an economy growing. We don't want to see a repeat of 1992.

On Senator Chiz Escudero and Former President Joseph Estrada

Anybody in the stature of former President Erap Eastrada who campaigns against you, if it is true, will always affect. Whether it will be a sizeable injury or an injury we could shrug off, we don't know. This is not the first time that this happened and Chiz knows how to make lambing to Erap. I expect by next week wala na yun. Tampuhan lang yun.

On the Committee Report on the Behest Loan investigation

The chairman's report is finished. I am just waiting for Senator TG to find time to finish reading it because it is half an inch thick. I know he is busy in Bukidnon campaigning for Team PNoy and his own local candidates. He is here now in Manila and I called him requesting to finish reading the report. He promised by this weekend matatapos na yun.

The recommendation is legislative in nature. The amendments would want to see in the Securities regulation code, the General Banking Act, the BSP Charter, the Charter of the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Landbank of the Philippines. We also have some referrals to the ombudsman on certain criminal violations that the committee felt should be looked into by the Ombudsman. The committee is not qualified to say that there is probable cause. The committee can certainly suggest to the Ombudsman that certain violations have been committed both criminal and administrative and that the Ombudsman should look into it if there is probable cause to file charges.

Q: Possible violations nino po?

Osmena: We are talking about Roberto Ongpin, Rey David, the entire old board of the DBP, officials of the DBP. They violated the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act specifically giving undue advantage which is against the law or signing contacts that are disadvantageous to the government. There are instances that we found proof of insider trading. We found proof of price manipulation and shortswim profits. Many are not familiar of the short swim profit but this is a violation of Section 23.2 of the Securities regulation code.

On filing the necessary legislative measure

That's our homework after those hearings. We are preparing amendments to those various laws and we will be filing them in July.

On filing the committee report

We will submit it on June but I don't think we can debate it on the sessions in June because they cut down our session to one day. So, there will be a lot of farewell speeches which is not the most interesting to hear.

I can always file a bill without a committee report, di ba? A bill is a bill. There are four thousand bills filed in the Senate. This just gives everybody an overview of what the committee found out during those nine long hearings that we conducted with regards to the DBP-Philex-DVRI Scam. Now, do we need the imprimatur of the Senate on the committee report? No. Why? Because several committee reports don't even get to the debate stage. Alam mo, bina-block 'yan. You have one or two senators, they can block the debate and we don't really care about it because the filing of the bill is more important. The corrective or the amendatory bill. Now, doest the Ombudsman need the committee report from the Senate to file against those people? No. As a matter fact, the Ombudsman case was already filed even before the committee started hearings. Ours is just an aid in legislation, not in aid of criminal prosecution because nandoon na. It took them a long time. Finally, last November, they made it official. They filed a case with the Sandigan and they even went so far as to freeze the accounts of all those mentioned in the Ombudsman case. So, you don't even need this for the Ombudsman to file a case. It's just a supplementary report and we're going to use this as a basis for our judgment to recommend amendments to existing laws and to tighten up the system.

On the Sabah crisis

Alam mo, the problem with the Sabah crisis is we're talking of two cultures --- the culture of international law, adherence to international law, international treaties and obligations and second is our unique Philippine culture of "awa". Nandoon ka sa bansa ng iba, ganoon po ang layunin nila, that is their law. You violate it, you know the penalty for that. 'Yung isa mayroon pang pending P40 million na blood money. My God, how many Filipinos are there and how many times are we going to pay the P40 million. Our hearts go out to them, syempre. But we have to make them understand that whenever you go to other countries, you have to abide by their laws. The "awa" system does not work in their country. I'm hopeful that we can strengthen our diplomatic approaches to the government of Malaysia to allow us and give a little leeway to understanding that there was no threat to their national security, it's only a police matter when you have a bunch of armed men going to one barangay and taking it over. But of course, it's a slap on their national sovereignty and we have to pay the price for that.

On the conspiracy that the Sabah crisis is to humiliate the administration

There could be but still the first problem is we have 250 brothers and sisters there. Let's get them out in one piece kung pwede. 'Yung conspiracy, we can investigate that later.

On sabotaging the MILF-GRP peace talks

Well, that could be in the back of the mind of Sultan Kiram because he was not included in the peace talks. But whatever it is, the main problem is that we have lives at stake.

On the new pope

From what I read about our new Papa, he's on the conservative side and I tend to be on the liberal side so I hope that he would moderate his conservative views because the Church have to catch up with modern times. The crisis that the Church is undergoing now because of the sexual abuses, financial scams ongoing have to be dealt with by the new Pope. He's going to have a lot of headache in the next few years and let us pray that God will give him the strength to overcome all this problems because if I were him I don't want to be pope because this is not the time to be pope when there are so many problems facing the Church. Having said that, God bless the new Papa and may he live long.

Tagle was an outside favorite and even if he is not Filipino, he would have been a good candidate and a good pope. He's very young and if this new Pope will resign in 10 years, we might have a Pope Chito.

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