Press Release
June 20, 2013

Transcript of Kapihan sa Senado with Sen. Bongbong Marcos (Part 1)

On the problem of informal settlers along waterways

The problem is relocation. We all know that the relocation of a community is not that simple. When you relocate a community, you have to build facilities and prepare the relocation center. It has to be accessible and close to people's jobs. There have to be an access to health services, schools and markets too. Hindi natin pwedeng sisihin ang local government lamang. The relocation problem has arisen because of the rise of organized syndicates. We should dig into that. It is really deeply in trench. It is not a simple problem. Politically, it is very difficult to just relocate the informal settlers because of political reasons. It has political cause to anyone who is running as a candidate.

On the recent flooding problem

If we are talking about the problem of the flooding that we have been seeing in the past few weeks? It really boils down to the simple fact that since Pepeng and Ondoy we have done absolutely nothing to fix the flooding. Nothing has been done. There is No new spill way; No pumping station; there is no reforestation in the highlands surrounding the city. Wala tayong ginawa. Dati, dalawang araw pa bago magbabaha, pero ngayon dalawang oras lang na medyo malakas lang ang ulan, bumabaha na at nagpapauwi na ang mga eskuwelahan. We have to come out we a really more aggressive solution to the problem. The problem has many dimensions. We have to build creeks. We have some very active measures to undertake.

On why the informal settlers have not been relocated because the local officials are asking not to relocate them because of the upcoming election

Hindi naman sa alaga. Boto kasi yan. Talagang ini-encourage nila ang squatters para meron silang core group na botante. You have to understand that. We have to consider cost of relocation. You have to see to it that the place where you relocate the squatters again has food, water and medical and school facilities.

On the partnership of VP Binay and Sec. Roxas to relocate the settlers

I hope they will succeed. It has been tried before. But, I have not seen the VP and the Secretary work before. We should watch and see the partnership.

You see, we have to have a combination of political will and of actual planning. We don't have a proper land use plan. What land use plan we have ay hindi naman natin sinusundan. We have to understand what every piece of land we have to use.

Honestly, I have not seen any major program to alleviate the problem of flooding. We do not have simple procedures in place. We have to take a really long hard look of the problem. It has something that we have tried to do before but the problem has overwhelmed us already. Dumadami kasi ang mga tao sa Maynila and marami nang baradong estero at ilog lalo na ang mga dinadaanan ng tubig.

You can see that the problem is getting worse. We have to plan... we have to look deeper. Actually, the plans are already in place. We just have to review it again baka magamit pa natin.

'Yung tubig, diyan din dadaan 'yon at sumusunod lang sa lupa 'yon, 'yung tubig sumusunod lang sa terrain. Unless we have some very active measures that we are going to undertake, it will only get worse.

Hindi naman sa alaga 'yung mga informal settlers, maiintindihan ninyo, boto rin 'yan. Mawawala lahat 'yon. There are some local governments na ine-encourage nila na pumasok ang squatters para meron silang core group na botante. The political will, somebody who's willing to expend political capital to do the relocation. Then, again, hindi lang sa pulitika 'yan. That's part of it but as I said, it is not as simple. For example, if there are 100 households na may court order na nga na squatters sila. Mayroon ka ng relocation center. Paano mo gagawin? Unang-una, the prospect of the police na usual na nakikita natin na sinisira 'yung mga barong-barong. Pinapaalis 'yung mga tao. Nag-aaway-away, nagkaka-riot. This kind of thing is something nobody wishes to have. Secondly, the cost of relocation, although there are some funds available, essentially, ang local government ang maghahanap niyan. If it is not in the confines of your own jurisdiction, you have to get the agreement. This is one of those things that the national government, in the name of revolution, has passed on to the local government without giving any support. This was not originally part of the local government's function. This was the function of the housing authority, NHA, to find areas for relocation.

On VP Binay and DILG Secretary Roxas solving the problem of informal settlers

Well, I hope they succeed. I've never seen the Vice President and the Secretary work together so we have to watch and see how that partnership will work out. Lahat naman 'yan alam na natin. There are no secret problems here. We all know what needs to be done. It's a combination of political will, of actual planning. Ang problema kasi is we don't have a proper land use plan. Mayroon ngang land use plan, hindi naman sinusundan. That's why it is essential that we understand precisely every piece of land is supposed to be used for. We simply don't have a plan. Relocation, sino ba ang mauuna? Inevitably, it's always Metro Manila because nakikita natin at nararamdaman natin but there are also other areas in the country that also need help. It maybe has nothing to do with the flooding but relocating the squatters. How do we prioritize them? Hindi na pwede 'yung nagre-react na lang tayo. Huwag nating isipin na kung ano lang 'yung nasa Metro Manila, 'yun lang ang problema. Metro Manila is an important part but it is only one part of the Philippines.

On the solution of the government

I have not seen any major program to alleviate the problem of flooding. Can you imagine the last time we had this problem ang naging problema is hindi nag-coordinate 'yung City of Taguig at MMDA para doon sa pinatayong bomba sa pumping station. We do not even have those simple procedures in place. So, we have to really take a long hard look at this problem and it is something that we tried to do before but siguro it has overwhelmed us already. Dumami ng dumami ang tao sa Metro Manila, blocked na estero at ilog, dinadaanan ng tubig, that's why it's escalating.

On flood prevention

Nagtuturuan sila for the last two days. I think it's hard to ascribe blame that simply because it will take the efforts of many, many entities; many, many government agencies to get this right and my policy for these things, pag may problema, let's fix the problem not the blame. Ayusin muna natin 'yung problema then we can go back and see who misbehaved, kung sino nag pasahol, kung sino nagbigay ng permit na hindi dapat, mga ganoon. Pero saka na natin balikan 'yun pero unahin ang kalagayan ng mga tao na nag babaha, 'yung mga bata na hindi makapasok sa eskwela, sinususpindi nga ang klase. All of these problems are immediate and we have to take care of them first before saying it was him, or her or somebody else. Our priorities lie in solving the problem.

If they are determined and they have already assessed exactly what they need to do, maybe they have hindi pa lang na implement, pero kung mayroon talaga silang magandang plano...kasi malaking usapan ito hindi... you are trying to control the flow of water from the islands to the sea and you are talking about natural forces, and natural forces is by definition extremely large forces. Six months sounds to me like a very short time. If it is going to be a long term solution, it has to be studied very, very well. What's their plan? They say they can fix it in six months, by doing what? We haven't seen.

On clearing waterways

That's not enough. That's part of the way of solving the problem but that's not enough. Clearing the waterways, again, if there are squatters along the waterways what are you going to do? Balik na naman tayo doon sa problema. Alam mo sa Metro Manila, hindi lang mga squatters na babara sa mga estero at saka mga waterways. Mayroon na talagang mga action development, housing development na nabigyan permit na nagtayo sa mga pinagdadaanan nag tubig kaya doon sila nag babaha. Then the drainage problem is also a very large one. Halungkatin mo 'yung atin flood control, mga drainage na ginagawa na nakabara din, kailangan paramihin. It's not that simple but kung talagang desidido ang pamahalaan magagawa naman ito. Kaya naman umabot tayo ng ganito ay dahil noon yong Pepeng, Ondoy, wala tayo ginagawa.

On alleged reports that it will take 22 years for the master plan to be done

Masyadong naman yata mahaba 'yon. 'Yong six months baka masyadong mabilis. That's next generation already. I don't see why it should take that long. The only flood control program that I am familiar with was done in my mother's time when she was governor of Metro Manila and that took less than five years. And, that was a significant improvement. So, I think as long as we understand what we are doing and desidido naman ang pamahalaan, hindi naman dapat tumagal ng 22 years and if it's going to take 22 years then that's not a proper response anymore by government. Napakahina naman ang government natin if it's going to take 22 years to respond. In three years lang hindi tayo natatapos, then mag babago ang leadership...nag umpisa na in three years tapos kung ayaw naman nung susunod... Sa 2016 bago na naman ang presidente tapos kung ayaw ipagpatuloy, so hindi natin dapat patagalin ng 22 years. That is simply not good enough. The people expect us to do better than to wait 22 years before their areas stop flooding.

Is change of leadership another factor for delay? For example, Aquino scrapped GMA's flood control program when he took over.

'Yun naman nga ang sakit natin, pag may bagong leadership tinatapon lahat ang ginawa nung nakaraan, kahit maganda, kahit hindi. So, maybe we should learn from this experience and really come to our senses and be intelligent and mature about it at kung talagang mayroong kailangang gagawin, gawin natin. We should not only think about political expediency. We should do what we have sworn to do and that is to serve the people. That should be the first priority not the political situation or how to gain a political advantage over your predecessor. That should take second, third or even fourth priority when it comes to such calamities such as this.

On what Congress can do to solve the problem of illegal settlers

I don't think so. I think the executive has every means available to solve this problem. It is in the executive department not only at the national level but also the local level. For example yung mga violation na sinabi ko na wala na ngang kahoy dito sa paligid ng Metro Manila that's all illegal. All that logging was illegal. Nagtatayo na nga sa waterway ng development. We don't need a new law. That's clearly not supposed to be done pero nangyayari pa din. As usual madaming magagandang batas pero nasa implementation yan. The implementation belongs to the executive and as I said not only at the national level although this is essentially a national problem, the weight should fall on the national government, but also on the local government units. Yung mga executives kailangan din nila maunawaan yung kailangan nilang gawin. Sasabihin ng PAGASA, lahat ng ahensya ng national government na kayo lahat sa lugar ninyo, ito ang sitwasyon, ito ang kailangan ninyong gawin. Hindi naman dun lang sa isang lugar because we're talking about natural phenomena here.

On adjusting the work hours

What about the other offices? The rest of the world is operating at 8 to 5. Hindi yata solusyon yun. I don't think that is going to work. For example, government offices papalitan mo ng oras from 7 to 3. Hindi pwede because government offices work with each other. The other government offices will be 8 to 5 and other will be 7 to 3. Parang mahirap makita how that will work. It will end up that people will stay until 5. Now in corporate offices, banking hours will have to change. It sounds to me parang suntok sa buwan baka sakaling it will work. Hindi naman ganyan ang pagplano natin sa ganyang sitwasyon.

On whether population growth and failure to reforest are the causes of flooding

Definitely. Anytime there flooding in the lowland areas, it is because of the denudation of forests. It's been shown over and over again over the last hundred years that's basically the situation. If you nude your forest, what will happen is that the top soil will be washed away. Your lowlands will be flooded and you cannot control the flow of the water simply because there is nothing there to absorb some of that water as it comes down from the mountains. Nagugulat nga ako, kasi dapat one of the first solutions to the flooding is to reforest the watershed. Always reforest the watershed. That is the first thing, and the reason why it is the first thing is because it is the one that takes the most time to take effect. Magtatanim ka ng kahoy, it will take three, four, five years bago lumaki yung para talagang maramdaman mo yung effect na inaabsorb niya yung tubig bago makababa sa lowlands. So, that is the first thing that needs to be done. We do not talk about it enough, maybe because it is such a big problem. The illegal logging that has been allowed to go on in the last twenty, thirty years, will have to be reversed. The effects of that will have to be reversed. That will take a great number of trees, a great many people planting those trees, and some time to allow the trees to grow and to feel the effect of those trees, of what the effect of that reforestation will be pagdating sa flooding. Malaking bagay yung reforestation. The very first reaction kung nagkabaha, reforest the watershed kung saan nanggagaling yung tubig. That is the number one thing you do. Then you can go down and talk about spillways and pumping stations, etc.

On whether it is wise to legislate the barring of informal settlers from voting in the local elections.

That seems contrary to our usual, and you cannot disallow somebody from voting. That is not a privilege, that is a right. I cannot see how you can remove that right, that is a central pillar of democracy. Every man, every woman, is allowed to vote. Hindi pwede yun, I could not subscribe to something like that because that would be taking away the people's right to suffrage and that is just unacceptable. Yung sindikato ang dapat mong habulin, hindi yung pangkaraniwan na tao na naghahanap lang ng matirahan. It is not their fault, they are being victimized by syndicates. The syndicates are the ones that you need to run after, pero ang problema, pag hinahabol yung sindikato, kinakampanya yung kalaban nung kung sino ang naghahabol sa kanila, kinakampanya doon sa kanilang mga informal tenants. It is not a simple problem that is why six months sounds to me, considering ito lang yung napag-usapan natin pero yung anim na buwan, how big is a tree after six months? Wala pa. It has not really taken effect yet. Maybe six months to finally implement, it should even be less than that. Hindi naman nag-iba yung hugis ng lupa ng Pilipinas mula nung 45 years from now. Those plans have already been in place, so maybe, as I said, it is time for us to visit those plans so that we will know kung meron bang applicable dito sa situation natin ngayon.

On the amount of funds to be used for the disaster management plan.

Good, at least desidido sila na may gagawin. Now, let us just make sure. Throwing money at the problem does not necessarily solve it. Let us see what the plan truly is. It is a multi-dimensional problem, will it include responses to all in all those dimensions. As I said, ngayon pa lang we have been talking for about twenty minutes, ang dami na nating na-identify na areas na kailangang bigyan ng attention para mabawasan itong problema ng flooding.

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