Press Release
December 4, 2013


On the confirmation of DENR Sec. Ramon Paje

Q: ???

Serge: ... pagkatapos in-assign ko po sa isang negosyante sa Manila, sa Cebu o sa Bacolod, umaangal ngayon 'yung mga taga-roon. This is in Zamboanga Norte. And I think Cong. Cerilles has a similar problem in Zamboanga Sur, kaya umaangal siya doon. Kabigatan niyan, Cong. Cerilles used to be secretary of the DENR during the time of President Erap Estrada, so he knows how things should be and how things should be done. So, the committee will have to decide. Hanggang ngayon kailangang pag-aralan 'yung mga accusations na itinapon sa hearing, pagkatapos we have to wait for the written response of Secretary Paje.

Q: Gusto niyo rin po bang magtanong ng mga questions? What about?

Serge: Oo, marami. About the environment. Particularly his management of the Philex Padcal spills. Kasi gusto ng mga stakeholders dun, sa Task Force Padcal, at least magkaroon ng commitment na talagang 'yung palalakasin ang safety measures ng DENR dun sa mga mining areas. Kasi the Padcal spill is already the third spill from a Philex mine. May nangyari earlier in the late 1990s dun po sa Negros atsaka sa Zamboanga. So this is not the first time.

On Sen. Miriam's response to Sen. Enrile

Q: Sir, 'yung mamayang hapon na speech ni Sen. Miriam, will you attend the session and listen to her?

Serge: Well, yeah, I will attend the session.

Q: Do you think that it's about time na may mag-intervene na between JPE and Miriam?

Serge: Marami yatang nag-i-intervene pero hindi naman yata... alam mo naman...

Q: Kailangan pa ba 'yun eh malalaki na sila?

Serge: Let me say this. The Senate is great entertainment. Nag-e-enjoy lahat kayo. Alam ko 'yun.

Q: Pero sir, marami kasing nadi-disappoint na parang gutter na, masyado ng personalan, wala namang national significance iyong pinag-tatalunan...

Serge: Alam ko. But you know, it is better to allow member, short of personal insults, which happens also, it's better to be tolerant rather than to put a muzzle on the ability of members to express themselves. So, it's like a free press. Whether you can have too much press or too little press. I would rather have too much press and suffer the consequences of that, because the moment you start controlling the media, you will start controlling the freedoms of the Filipino people.

Q: Anong implications niyan sa image ng Senate?

Serge: Not good. I don't like it. And I hope they will behave in a more gentlemanly and lady-like manner, befitting the dignity of an institution like the Philippine Senate.

Q: This is not the first time na may ganyan?

Serge: No, this is not the first time. And I predict it will not be the last.

Q: Kung hindi makabubuti sa image ng Senate, dapat bang i-tolerate pa iyan?

Serge: Well, I would leave it up to the leadership of the Senate to take the steps. Senate President Frank Drilon, I think, knows what he has to do. Now, whether he will be successful in doing it, it's your guess and my guess.

Q: Kailangan na ni Senate President...?

Serge: Well, always, the Senate President is supposed to keep order and decorum. So, hindi lang order, but also decorum. So meron diyang mga comments na, 'out of line,' magkakaroon ng mga motions to strike from the record dahil offensive. So it is up to the Senate President to exercise his discretion in determining, or at the instance of a motion from a fellow senator, whether something is within bounds or out of bounds. So, we are hopeful that Senator Drilon would be able to do that.

Q: 'Yung speech ni Sen. Enrile, hindi naman na-stop, may mga personal attacks din naman sa speech niya...

Serge: Well, yes. Maybe he should have, but I will not second-guess him. Unfortunately, it will only make matters worse because you throw one insult, the other guy throws two insults at you, then it becomes three, and then becomes four, and then you don't know when to stop. So I think that maybe, as time goes on, cooler heads will prevail because it's hurting the image of the Senate.

Q: How can we expect to Senator Drilon to stop Sen. Santiago if he did not stop Sen. Enrile?

Serge: I don't know. That is a question you have to ask Senator Drilon.

Q: But knowing Sen. Miriam, maaawat ba siya o mapipigil ba siya?

Serge: Well, you know, they can always suspend the moment something gets out of line. The Presiding Officer can always suspend the session. The microphones are turned off. Ginagawa iyan sa ibang parliaments.

Q: If Senate President Drilon allowed it, how does it reflect on his leadership? He did not stop Sen. Enrile from attacking Sen. Santiago on the floor?

Serge: I don't think he really attacked Sen. Santiago personally. Like I said, it was borderline. But what I hope is that if this does not help the image of the Senate, if this does not help legislation, if they just want to attack each other, they can just go to the PIMRO. (Laughter). And they will get the same amount of publicity, anyway.

Q: What is your relationship with Sen. Santiago?

Serge: With Sen. Santiago? I don't know. I haven't seen her and talked to her for a long time because she doesn't come to the Senate. But it's not like, we're throwing knives at each other, no. Nagpipitikan lang kami.

Q: Hindi ba nasasayang ang oras ng Senate?

Serge: Nasasayang ang oras ng Senate. But at the same time, we're providing entertainment. So you guys have stories for tomorrow.

Q: May sinasabi siya nung nakaraan, hindi naman lawyer pero may sinasabing so and so...

Serge: I am not pretending, I was making a suggestion. And she disagreed with it. But of course it was triggered by her comment earlier that the hearing of Napoles would just turn out to be a circus, di ba? She got irritated when I said that it's always a circus whenever she's here.

Q: Were you slighted when she said that?

Serge: No. I feel my knowledge in policies in several areas is above average naman...

Q: Is there such a thing as tolerable at hindi tolerable sa privilege speech, I mean, what is tolerable knowing how she speaks?

Serge: You know, what is tolerable or not tolerable depends upon the attitude of the entire population at a given point in history. Let me give you an example. 200 years ago, a lady could not show her ankles, but she can show her upper body, plunging necklines... now, it's tolerable na, it's accepted. But still, I still worry that if somebody is reading this transcript 30 years from now, I would not be proud of it. Baka basahin ng mga apo ko 'yun, kung buhay pa ako noon, baka sabihin nila sa akin, 'Lolo, did this really happened?" I will be embarrassed to say yes. It's unfortunate.

Q: Baka tamaan kayo ng stray bullet mamaya?

Serge: I am always prepared naman.

Q: Sabi po, ibubunyag daw po ni Sen. Miriam 'yung relasyon ni JPE at his Atty. Gigi Reyes?

Serge: That's too personal na. That's not the business of the Senate. Otherwise, more than half of the Senate would be in jail if you bring out those things (laughter).

Q: Kung yung mga kaso niya nung panahon ng Martial Law years, relevant pa ba 'yun?

Serge: No, that's not relevant to the subject matter at hand. But she's out to hurt Sen. Enrile for hurting her last week, so what else is new?

On Blue Ribbon committee hearing on Napoles scam?

Q: Are you in favor of terminating it, as vice chairman of the Committee?

Serge: No, I am not in favor of that. It's because there are still other senators who want to call the same witnesses who were called. So you cannot say, 'this subject is already closed.' But I think Sen. TG Guingona will consult first with members of his committee. I heard only, I read newspaper reports that he is terminating his phase. And I read also in newspaper reports that some senators don't agree. I myself don't agree. Leave it open first. The Malampaya (scam) is related also. It's the same thing, it's just another source of fund. Whether it's General Fund, or Malampaya fund, or Pagcor fund, it's still the same kind. It's misuse and abuse of the rights, like under the pork barrel that was given under previous laws. And it's also fraud and plunder. So, NO, I am not in favor of saying, 'well, this part is closed, you cannot ask questions on that anymore.' I think the people will object.

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