Press Release
May 23, 2013

Transcript of Kapihan sa Senado with Sen. Franklin M. Drilon

On the Senate Presidency.

Today, I met with Sen. Manny Villar, the president of the Nacionalista Party and the Nacionalista Party will stay with the coalition contrary to all these speculations. Sen. Villar assured us that the NP will continue to support the President and his legislative agenda in the Senate, that there will be a common candidate of the coalition in the Senate and we will discuss the different committees that the members of the NP will like to hold in the Senate. More than 13 senators will choose a common candidate.

In the previous 2010, Sen. Enrile became the common candidate on the Sunday before the opening of the session.

On the identity of the common candidate.

I am not authorized to talk about it beyond what we have agreed. We discussed the committees, we discussed the commitment of the NP to support the President, the administration and the legislative agenda of the President.

On speculations that there are two contenders to the Senate Presidency.

Sa palagay ko hindi mangyayari.

On the reshuffle of committees in 16th Congress.

There will be committees that will be vacated by the graduating senators. For example, the Committee on Agriculture will be free because Sen. Kiko (Pangilinan) is graduating, the Committee on National Defense will be free, the committees held by Sen. Angara will be free because he is graduating... so these are some of the committees that we will have to allocate in the next Congress.

On the basis of the assignment of committees.

Certainly, the senators will choose their proposed committees on the basis on what they feel are their areas of competence and where they feel they can contribute to nation building.

In case more than one senator is interested in the same committee.

Everything can be resolved through discussion and give and take situations as we have found in the past Congresses. We have been through this before and always, we have come up with the common understanding in so far as the desires of the different senators to head the committee is concerned.

On whether the coalitions' common candidate will be a sure winner.

Well, the administration and its coalition will have the majority block so it's a logical assumption.

On whether he and the President had discussed the Senate Presidency.

Of course, as our party leader we keep him informed on a regular basis but he does not intervene.

On the scenario that a senator will not be assigned a committee.

Well, the tradition in the Senate has been that we tap the expertise of each the senator. I would like to continue that tradition. The senators will like to continue that tradition.

On whether the coalition will accept UNA candidates.

As I said, all the 24 senators have their own strengths and as I've said, in the traditionally in past Congresses, all the senators have committees, except those who opt not to have one like Sen. Joker Arroyo.

On Bong Revilla and the Public Works Committee and Lito Lapid and the Tourism Committee.

I haven't talked to them. I have not talked to Sen. Revilla or Sen. Lapid since the campaign. I have not talked to Sen. Revilla about the public works committee. I do not know how he feels about this.

On whether he had talked to some senators and their preferred committees.

A few of them but not all of them.

On whether he talked to other senators as LP administrator of as contender for the Senate Presidency.

I talked to them as a senator and also as an administration senator and as Sen. Drilon. I do not need authority from the President. I have my own mandate.

On whether the number of LP members will be a consideration during the assignment of committees.

Of course, the first consideration is the preference of the various senators and whether or not there are other contenders for the committees, and in their own judgment whether they can contribute to the legislative agenda which may fall in the jurisdiction of that committee.

On giving the minority senators major committees. Traditionally, and for the past several Congresses, each senator would be given his committee assignments. Of course, we really cannot satisfy everybody but we try to achieve a consensus to the extent that is humanly possible.

On talks between the Drilon and Enrile blocks on their desired committees. I am not in touch with them.

On having a meeting with PNoy around 2:30pm yesterday. We only discussed the Thanksgiving dinner which took place last time.

On the assurance that admin coalition will remain intact.

Admin coalition will remain intact. All of us would like to see our country move forward, leaving behind us the election disagreements and start moving forward as we have lots of work to do.

On the expectations on the new composition of the Senate in the 16th Congress I expect everyone, including myself, have a lot of challenges ahead of us. Let us address these challenges once the message becomes clear. Thus, I believe that the message of the people to Team PNoy with its resounding victory is that the people would want to provide support to the President so he could continue with the reforms he started two years ago.

Priority agenda of Team PNoy

There are a number of agenda, but basically we would ask the views of the different senators of the new Congress. And, if they authorized me, I will sit down with the leadership of the House and work out a common agenda and present it to the President for comments.

Allegations against COMELEC, Chairman Brillantes and Intel fund Panahon pa ni Hesukristo, may mga conspiracy na. On the other hand, I am not surprised. Conspiracy seems to tickle the mind and it is a very attractive topic that attracts the minds of the people.

I am not surprised that another conspiracy is being raised. Having said that, that alleged manipulation would entail conspiring with all the survey outfits for the last three months. Surveys of firms, to note, had always projected a 9-3, at worst an 8-4 and sometimes a 10-2. But, it always consistently projected a victory by Team PNoy. Conspiracy manipulations are very ridiculous and do not serve a good purpose. It is very difficult to imagine that there is a nationwide manipulation.

I would therefore suggest that UNA issue a formal statement conceding the victory to Team PNoy because they have not questioned the result of 9-3. We can move forward, start our work in order to start serving the people. In that, UNA can support the legislative agenda of this administration and continue to act as fiscalizer of this administration. The reluctance of UNA to concede their defeat in this election, gives all the opportunity to this conspiracy theories to surface.

Team PNoy campaigned hard and represented the platform of the government. People supported the President and his programs. The President enjoyed a very high trust rating which is reflected in the results.

On bringing the protest and the complaint to the United Nations They are free to do what they want. But, we are a sovereign nation and have our own processes. As I said, we have to put a stop to this in order to serve the country better. UNA can take the lead and act as the statesmen they are.

On speculations that the new Senate will be a rubberstamp Senate.

I do not know how many of you have covered the Senate for some considerable period of time. Have you ever seen a Senate which is a rubberstamp of any administration? We stand proud of our record as an independent entity. I challenge anyone, instead of speculating, look at the history of the Senate.

Will it be a cooperative Senate?

We will exercise our independent judgment on any issue that is brought to us and as a body, we will exercise our collective judgment.

On Senator Cayetano as contender for the Senate presidency.

Just to put that to bed, I have sat down with Sen. Manny Villar on the issue of Senate leadership.

On asking COMELEC and the DFA to explain the low turnout of overseas absentee voters.

We will ask the appropriate committees, we will file the appropriate resolution and review the Overseas Absentee Voting Act, review how it is being implemented by COMELEC as the lead agency, and the DFA as the support agency. Our estimate is that we spent over P1,300 per capita for each vote cast by our overseas Filipinos. I am getting initial reports about the inefficiencies, particularly in the addresses indicated in the voter's list, and therefore the voting by mail has not been effective and has resulted in just about 15 percent of the registered voters casting their ballots on election day. This is dismal to say the least. Also, we must rekindle the spirit of our Filipino overseas workers to participate in the electoral process in our country. We noted that apart from reports of inefficiencies in the system, for example, the erroneous addresses appearing in the voter's list, or the failure of the voters to inform the embassy of their change of address, or the physical distance of the polling places to the place of residence or workplaces of our Filipino workers, many of these circumstances conspire or adapt to the dismal performance of our overseas voting system. We will sit down and review with the COMELEC and the DFA why we have not succeeded in generating a higher voting percentage on our overseas compatriots.

On the OFW's primary concern with the distance of the consular office to their place of work or residence.

That is one of the concerns that have cropped up. We have to open our minds to this system given the advances in information technology but let us not forget that the sanctity of the ballot must not be compromised. Yes, I am open to suggestions. I just want assurances, I repeat that the sanctity of the ballot will not be compromised by such systems.

Another concern of the OFWs is the lack of initiative from embassies to encourage them to vote.

I agree, may problema talaga yan. Talagang may problema ang ating overseas absentee voting implementation. Whether or not we have to amend the law, I do not know yet. What we know is that the performance of our absentee voting system leaves much to be desired. Where the shortcoming or fault is, whether in the law, the COMELEC, or the DFA, we do not know yet, but certainly, it is not in the budget because we have provided enough budget.

On whether the lack of interest stemmed from the fact that the election was not a presidential election.

That is not. It is very low, 15 percent. The fact that it is not presidential is not a reason.

On whether the budget for the elections will be audited regarding the implementation of overseas absentee voting.

Yes. Both the DFA and the COMELEC should. When the session opens and in the appropriate committee hearing, whether in the budget or electoral reforms, we will ask them to explain how the budget was spent.

On the allocation of a bigger budget for the CCT program this year even with reports of a higher number of poor Filipino families.

Point number one, the survey as you know is the reflection of the sentiments of the respondents at the time the survey was taken. Point number two, the CCT beneficiaries this year would be approximately 3.8 million families. The number of families in the lowest 20 percent quintile of our population is 5.2 million Filipino families, therefore, the CCT cannot even cover at this stage due to budgetary constraints, not even 20 percent of the poorest of the poor in our country. Therefore, that survey should be taken in that context. As we said, it is a reflection of the sentiment of the respondents at that particular time. The CCT only covers 3.8 million families versus the lowest 20 percent of our population which is indicated to be 5.2 million per national household targeting system for poverty reduction data. So, I am not surprised at that result of the survey. We will have this in mind and we will ask for a more detailed explanation from the DSWD to address this particular data. There are also other data by the World Bank which indicated that the conditional cash transfer or the 4Ps program is meeting the objectives for which it was set. I don't think that you should equate the result of the survey done by the SWS with the success or failure of the CCT program. The CCT program will continue and we will allocate more budget for the program in order to cover more families. The target is to cover 5.2 million families. It does not mean that we will not exercise our oversight functions in order to check on the implementation of this program. The DSWD has just submitted to me, as chairman of the Finance Committee, their report for the first quarter of this year. We will continue to monitor this program.

On what to expect at the resumption of Session in June.

There are some bicameral committee reports which will be presented. One particular report is the ratification on the juvenile justice system. There are some amendments to the juvenile justice system. I was informed by Sen. Chiz Escudero that the bicam report for the amendments on our juvenile justice system is being prepared and will be submitted during the June 5 session in order that it can be ratified.

More on the bills of the graduating Senators?

Traditionally yes. The speeches of the ones who will graduate.

On who else besides the Nacionalista Party has Senator Drilon talked to.

I have talked to Senator Villar. The others, I am not authorized to reveal their names. Lahat naman ay importante sa atin, hindi lang yung may block.

On whether a resolution will be signed by the Senators on the Senate presidency.

May botohan, there will be a formal election on July 22 on the new set of officers. The Senate President, the Senate Secretary, the Sergeant-at-Arms. There will be a voting. That is required by the Constitution. There will be an election to elect a new set of officers for the 16th Congress.

News Latest News Feed