Press Release
July 4, 2013

Transcript of Kapihan sa Senado with Senator Edgardo Angara

On granting temporary access to our military bases

As long as it's not permanent basing, that can be allowed. That's permissible kasi our political situation has drastically changed since we pass the no foreign bases way back in 86. Since then, especially in our neighborhood, the territorial conflicts are drastically increasing every other month. The security groupings are changing every year. I think there's enough justification for providing our economic and security allies access to our military bases.

Depende sa agreement. I don't think if I were the US or Japan, I will utilize the bases on permanent basis. That would violate Philippine laws. They will not receive a warm welcome in the country. So, parang negated 'yung purpose nitong temporary basing.

On requiring the Senate approval to grant temporary access to our military bases

That doesn't require the Senate ratification I think because they are not concluding any treaty or international agreement. If there is an international agreement, it must get the Senate concurrence.

On the Palace letting the Senate know about the plan

That's part of the oversight function of the Congress because after all, Congress provides the funding and appropriations to the Executive including government corporations like Subic or Clark. The Congress has a right to ask the Palace to provide it the quarterly periodic reports.

On the basis of granting temporary access

One, the Philippine military is undergoing modernization. Modern can get effective. You cannot get effective, militarily up-to standards unless you do exercises with experienced militaries. Kung tayo lang ang magpa-praktis among ourselves, para tayong mga Chinese players na gusto nating ipadala sa Olympics. Sila na lang nagpa-praktis. But the idea is to get experience from partners to help conduct clinics because military exercises are like clinics. You learn from each other. You learn whether your equipment, gunnery and machines are inter-operational, that these machines can be exchanged from one to the other. That's the learning part of these kinds of military exercises.

There's a pending proposal from halimbawa Singapore, not the entire ASEAN. It's a per country basis. We can learn so much through joint exercises, joint cooperation. As a matter of fact, we sent many of our military officers to Australia for training. Singapore used to send many of the pilots to train in Clark. I think Singapore is ready to accept naval officers for training. They have a very good naval fleet. The idea in the modern world is that warfare is so advanced, so sophisticated, that one should coordinate and collaborate with your allies.

On the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan

Actually, this is an old proposal. Even in the mid 1990s this proposal was already floated. The youth representation really started way back under the Martial Law, the kabataan barangay, and therefore, we may be the only country that allows representation that young in legislative bodies. I think it is an ideal case and it may ultimately win. But going back to that system of sectoral representation, I think we ought to review our sectoral concept of representation because it's not simply the youth, we have the councilor, we also the women, we have also the Partylist. The Partylist originated in Europe and the concept of a Partylist is to establish parties, that aside from their district, they can also nominate a partylist candidate. But ang botohan doon is for the party rather than individuals. That is the philosophy behind the Partylist because there are people who are outstanding , like the scientists or professors, who will never get elected, in terms of popularity they will not get elected, so they invented this system of representation, this so-called Partylist so that each party can have a choice of his members who are experts on certain fields. Not because they are woman, not because they are youth, not because they are members of the councils, etc., but because of expertise and that enriches policy making. Example ang dominant technology ngayon is the internet, then any established party in Europe can consult among the ICT experts, that they can put in parliament. Ganoon ang idea ng Partylist pero sa atin naging sectoral na lang like women, marginalized, etc. So, we really ought to review beyond just the youth representation, the system of sectoral representation rather than expertise representation.

I read that Rep. Belmonte is going to propose a Constituent Assembly to look at certain amendments, short of political amendments. We might as well include the quality of representation.

On Miriam proposal to revoke and repeal cybercrime

Well, that's one viewpoint but as you have seen, the hottest issue now is the hacking and spying on individuals, on governments, on industrial secrets, etc. Baka next time the hackers will be invading your bedrooms and will have you 7/24 on his Skype, makikita n'ya So, you will bare all na? There must be some limit so that civilized living will be possible on this planet. I still believe we need a cyber-law regulation.

On penalizing cyber crime

It's consistent. 95% of the cybercrime is good. Only 3 provisions in libel law. The one degree higher penalty. At saka, iyong right of the justice department.

On Senator Angara's son pushing through the amendment of the bill

I hope he does together with everyone who want to push through the bill. It is not an easy task. Passing a law like that is very difficult because people usually take time to accept such kind of new law.

On the TRO issued by the Supreme Court on cybercrime prevention law

Yes, which I think good because it gives everyone a pause for reflection.

On being a DFA Secretary

Mahirap sagutin iyan but there is no offer. But, even if I will not be a DFA Secretary, I will not stop serving our country and our people. In my 34 years of uninterrupted public service, I think I like to do something on my own free will wherein I go in my own sweet time. Iyong tipong walang susundin na agenda araw-araw. I will leave that to the younger generation.

I have three activities which I think is enough to fill up the rest of my remaining 40 years of life. Ito ang agenda ko for the next 40 years of my life.

I am the president and chief executive of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC). This is an association of about 700 active members of parliaments of congress from 67 countries all over the world which is based in Ottawa Canada.

We are organized continentally. There is an African, Latin American chapters, Oceana, Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia and Central Asia.

Last month, I was in 3 places Azerbaijan, Paris and Spain which I spoke to parliamentary groups. As part of my job, I will be out of the country every two weeks which will really occupy my time.

I was elected as the Vice President for Asia of the Centrist Democrat International (CDI). It is former Christian Democrat and People's Parties International which is the largest political alliance on earth.

Then the third one, we have this Angara Center for Law and Economics. It is a policy study group. Nag aaral kami ng mga problems confronting our country and we suggest solutions. And so far we have mounted 3 round tables and brought up astounding winners and some of them are Nobel Prize winners.

On the issue of charging the corporate income tax to the consumers by Maynila and Manila Water.

This is not new because Meralco used to pass on their income tax to the consumers and they lost the case in the Supreme Court. Hindi kinampihan ng Supreme Court, sabi ng Supreme Court, huwag ninyong ipasa sa consumers, that is your own responsibility. Parang ganito ang prinsipyo niyan. Water, parang electricity yan, public utility. Kung susundin mo yung prinsipyo ng Meralco case, they are not authorized to pass on their own income tax burden to the consumer. Meralco was required to repay P28 billion. They were required to refund. Mahirap mag-speculate based on the claim of someone complaining, that is why you need a policy group. I am sure the Senate tax study group will study that.

Kailangan mapag-aralan natin yan that is why we don't shoot from the hip on the basis of speculation. It is such an important issue, and it has terrific financial implications to both consumer and provider.

It is on the concession agreement that they can pass on their corporate income tax to consumers.

You cannot just agree between two contracting parties that yung income tax ko, sa kliyente ko ipapasa. Taxation is a matter of law. Ano ang sinasabi ng law? Kung sino ang tinutukoy na kailangang magbayad, yun ang magbabayad regardless of private arrangement.

MWSS has regulatory functions sa mga water concessionaires, what can they do to correct this?

Of course they can do that. They can decide preliminarily yes, I think we made a mistake. They are giving the concessionaires the right or the privilege to pass on their income tax to consumers and it is a legal mistake. They can do that, and who ever feels aggrieved can appeal to the Supreme Court because the Supreme Court will be the final arbiter. Katulad nung sa Meralco, it's a consumer lawsuit.

Q: Pero sir, hindi ba napaka-unfair nun sa mga water consumer?

Marami tayong mga firsts sa Pilipinas. Kailangan na merong grupo na nag-aaral para pag iprinesent mo yan talagang solid yung argument mo and facts.

Q: You used to be Senate President and the 16th Congress is going to open in several weeks. Given your experience and hindsight, what can you tell the next Senate President?

I can only relate to you my personal and institutional experience when I was Senate President. Ang sense ko just studying our legislative history, lawmaking is a waiting game sa atin. Halimbawa, sabi ng batas ay taxation at appropriation, kailangan hintayin mo muna ang house, wala kaming ginagawa, hinihintay lang talaga muna naming. Pangalawa, we pass a law here, wala naman counterpart sa House. Kaya it takes time kasi you have to wait for the House to pass a bill before the proposal becomes law. Kung may kaibahan pa, you have to get together in a conference committee. Masyadong protracted ang policy making dito and its understandable because we are in a Presidential System and to top it all we are in a bicameral Congress. Nakaisip kami ni Neptali, sabi namin there must be a way dahil at that time was 8 hours brownout in 1992. Hindi tayo makakatulong na malunas itong power shortage na ito unless we expedite legislation. We come up with this solution. We put up the LEDAC, Legislative Executive Development Council composed of the Senate President, Speaker, the Majority Leader and kung sino ang author nung priority bill na ought to be discussed. With that in two years time, we just expedited 14 priority bills at the time Ramos started his administration. The growth of the country was -1 percent. At the end of three years, after passing this 14 priority bills, the economy turned around and we solved that brownout problem. The first lesson is think of a mechanism. Second, internally what I did in the Senate is every Monday morning may meeting kami, ako, Pro-temp, Majority and Minority Leader and anyone who's the author of the bill being discussed during the week. Internally, yan ang ginawa ko, calendaring and prioritizing of bills every Monday morning. Kung hindi mo gagawin yon, you may pass 100 bills but none of them may address pressing issues.

On the Committee he wants Sen. Sonny Angara to chair

It's up to him. Since he handled Education and Economics sa House, maybe that's what he would like. As you know, a junior Senator is second choice lang sa mga committees of choice. Hindi natin malaman what kind of committee will be assigned to him. But I think he would do well because he has both degrees in Economics and Law and he has experience in Education, he will do well in those areas.

On how to stay as Senate President

Yung Coup de Etat sa Senado? It's part of the landscape. You just expect that being Senate President is at the pleasure of your colleagues. As long as during your watch, you are able to do what you think ought to be done for that period, I think you would have done. I am very happy looking back because I have seen the SWS survey of the Senate from the 8th to the 14th Congress and luckily, my presidency which spans the 9th and 10th Congress was considered the most productive.

On Committee assignments

That's part of people skill. That has nothing to do with your skill at lawmaking. Above all, you must have a sense of what is in the larger interest not in the interest of all but the larger interest of the people. Madali naman magka-consensus dito. Matatalino naman usually ang mga nae-elect na senador. You must bring them in to the discussion. That's what I taught the succeeded in doing whether the opposition or critique, you bring them in.

Do you think Senator Drilon can handle that?

He is a very experienced legislator, he is a very experienced lawmaker and his success at managing his party and managing a successful campaign, I think is a very good indication that he can be a very good executive. Next to the president is titular. Next to the president is Mar, and he is the vice-chairman, so he is the third-ranking. It is not just bayad-utang. Among the senators belonging to the party, he is probably the most senior, so hindi ang bayad-utang.

On whether he really wanted to be president after FVR.

I never aspired to the post I ultimately held. I never aspired to be UP President but I became UP President because it was offered to me. I never even aspired to be Senate President, but sila Ka Blas and all asked me to be. So, I didn't deliberately, unconsciously aspire to be president of the Philippines when I was Senate President. Maybe, back in my mind, I would like to be President not for the high honor, but for the potential of such a position to do even better for your country and for your people. If I trace my professional career, I never aspired for any position that I ultimately held. I never aspired to be leader of the Bar, but the lawyers elected me leader of the bar, then UP President, then Senate President. I didn't even want to be Senator, believe it or not, because I was UP President, when President Cory asked me to run for the Senate. I was still a seating UP President and I have planned my retirement from UP. I have two Fellowships from the East-West Center in Hawaii, I would be the resident scholar. In Kyoto University, I would be the resident scholar in Kyoto University. These are two outstanding universities. I had my retirement planned from UP. Not as Senator, not in politics. Having come from the academe, that really changed my professional trajectory 360 degrees because I was a professional lawyer. I was a career lawyer, I have been a practicing lawyer. Having gone to UP, it changed my world view. I wanted to widen that experience, deepen it by being, for one year, on sabbatical from whatever I was doing, maybe write something about managing a university or writing about the future of the Philippines, something like that, because I was a history buff.

Categorically you did not consider being the president of the country?

No. It may have occurred, but I did not consciously and deliberately seek it out. I never planned for it. I am happy to get the position I am handed, and do the job as well as I do, because of the potential of the job to do good in that position. Being president of course, the potential for good is so limitless, and is just limited by your energy and imagination.

On the Supreme Court issued TRO on the plea-bargain agreement between the Ombudsman and former Major General Carlos Garcia.

Because I am a lawyer, I hesitate to comment on a pending case because I do not know enough about the facts.

The mere issuance of the TRO, does that mean that the Office of the Solicitor General have merit on the case?

Yes, because it is very hard to get a TRO from the Supreme Court unless there is some pressing, compelling reason to delay the final consideration.

On the Filipina drug mule who was recently executed.

Dapat naman. I tell you, the drug menace among the youth is growing and yet not publicly, widely known, because parang yung mga drug lords na nahuhuli, yung malalaki, somehow they are able to escape, they are able to bail. The message sent out is that this si not such a serious matter, but the creeping plague on our youth from drugs is intensifying without the public being alerted to it and without the authorities paying enough attention to it.

On whether the DFA is doing enough for our OFWs.

Over-all, I think we have a very energetic, very well-driven, very well-motivated secretary and he si doing an excellent job. Yung mga ganoong police matters, hindi na sa kanya yun.

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