Press Release
July 23, 2015

Transcript of Kapihan sa Senado media forum
with Senate President Franklin M. Drilon

SPFMD: Good morning, this is a good way to start our Third Regular Session of this Congress.

Q: I heard you met with House leaders this morning? May we know kung ano pong pinanag-usapan?

SPFMD: Yes, nakipagpulong po kami sa Liderato ng Kamara nang Representante. This is our regular monthly meeting to monitor our legislative agenda and we realized that effectively six months are remaining in our regular sessions and there are a lot remaining in our plate that we intend to achieve as much as we can.

We have a six-month window starting July 27 and up to Dec. 18, anim na buwan po iyan, puspusan ng trabaho at maliban lamang sa short break namin sa Oct. 10 up to Nov. 2, we will have the rest of the year in session. We have the break on Oct. 10 because that is the filing of candidacy and the All Souls and All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. So, we come back on Nov. 3.

We have agreed that for the last six months, on top of our agenda we will give the highest priority to six measures. These are the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the 2016 National Budget, the creation of the Department of Information, Communication and Technology, the amendments to the built-operate-and-transfer law to strengthen our private-public partnership, the PAG-ASA modernization, and the FOI.

Apart from that, there are about 15 other measures which we will closely monitor and push but we don't want to raise expectations as we said we have only six months and therefore, we will be meeting once every two weeks in order to complete the work on the six priority bills and the 15 other measures which we have agreed to monitor.

Q: Sir, did you set the target to approve the BBL and the proposed 2016 budget?

SPFMD: Well, the proposed 2016 budget we will enact before the year is over. As in the past five budgets, we have always finished it by Dec. 31 and we have never operated on a re-enacted budget. Insofar as the Bangsamoro Basic Law, on the part of the Senate, I had a meeting with Senator Recto and Senator Marcos yesterday. Senator Marcos told us that he will be ready to file the report on Aug. 3, that is one week after the SONA. When this report is presented on Aug. 3, I will ask for a caucus with all senators so that we can set our time table.

Q: Is there a possibility that it will be approved by Sept?

SPFMD: I don't want to have any... the timeline will be discussed in a Senate caucus on Aug. 3.

Q: Sir, will there be a senators' caucus before the resumption of session on Monday?

SPFMD: No, it will be on Aug. 3 when the BBL report is submitted. We will discuss it in caucus, particularly on the timetable.

Q: Sir, what do you expect on Monday?

SPFMD: We expect on Monday the formal opening of the Third Regular Session of the 16th Congress and then we suspend the session to listen to the State of the Nation Address at 4 p.m.

Q: Sir, doon sa proposed 2016 budget, will you assure that there will be no more lump sum appropriation?

SPFMD: Well, that is a commitment that we will make. The Senate President did not have any insertion in the 2015 budget.

Q: Kasi sir si former Senator Panfilo Lacson said he is going question before the Supreme Court 'yong nakita n'ya mga lump sum appropriations sa 2015 budget.

SPFMD: That is the privilege of Sen. Lacson.

Q: But are you confident that ayon sa Constitution 'yong 2015 budget?

SPFMD: Yes, I am confident. Insofar as the lump sums are concerned, I think Senator Escudero will be able to defend that.

Q: On FOI, the Senate has already passed it but did the House of Representatives commit?

SPFMD: That is one of the Top 6 of the legislative measures that we have set to pass. But, let me again repeat that we will be working as a priority the six priorities for at least once a month I think, plus other 15 other measures which we will monitor including the tariff and customs modernization act, the national ID system, the TIMTA, the prepaid SIM card registration and etc. so there are other measures which we have agreed to monitor closely and which we will be meeting once in every two weeks to monitor the progress of all of these measures.

Q: On the House of Representative leadership inclusion of FOI on their priority bills

SPFMD: That is tantamount to the House of Representative's commitment to really give priority to the six bills. I cannot commit the House. But, we included it in our priority measures. That is part of the six that we will work on.

Q: On PNoy's last SONA on Monday... What are the legacies of PNoy that he can be proud of?

SPFMD: Marami. I think that the five years that the President had so far has been a very productive relationship in so far as the Congress is concerned. Many reform laws which for years had been on the legislative meal. Just the other day, the President had signed, as you have been aware of, the Fair Competition Act which had languished in the legislative meal for almost 30 years.

Same with the companion measure which is the amendments on the Cabotage Law. And, just to recall quickly, the Reproductive Health bill was passed during his term. The matter of the Sin taxes which again for years languished in the legislative meal which resulted in exudes excise tax system. The matter of the graphic warning, the law which are reformed the GOCCs and made it as instruments of national development resulting in a very substantive dividends to the national government instead of merely being subsidized, the opening up of our economy particularly the allowing foreign banks to come in, allowing foreign equity of foreign banks.

So, there are number of measures passed which are really consistent and in support of the reformed agenda of the President so that whoever sits in Malacañang in 2016 cannot revise what we have passed as laws... the policies that are in place and few other measures which we will pass so that the reformed agenda of this administration will be continued in the next administration.

Q: On the groups that are asking to include an apology of the President for the sorry state of the LRT and the MRT.

SPFMD: I am sure that there are some sectors... you mean the opposition?

Q: Sir, some progressive groups.

SPFMD: Progressive groups. Oh you know, it is political season and it is expected but I do not think that there are basis to that.

Q: Sa maya't mayang pag didiskaril ng operations ng MRT?

SPFMD: Does that require a presidential apology? No. That requires maybe more closely monitoring of the MRT. I am among those who are closely monitoring the operations of the MRT and one who expressed concerns about the services the MRT provide. I sympathized with the riding public.

Talagang may pagkukulang ang DOTC and MRT management dyan. Siguro ang kailangan ay talagang monitor closely and have executive measures for the next six months or three months in order to have MRT provide better service.. Q: On who were present at the meeting with House leaders

SPFMD: Present were Senator Recto, Senator Honasan to represent the Minority, Speaker Belmonte, Congressman Boyet Gonzales, and Congressman Ronnie Zamora. Both the Minority and the Majority were represented in both Houses.

Q: Did you have a private conversation with House Speaker Belmonte?

SPFMD: Wala naman.

Q: On the MRT's woes

SPFMD: Closely monitor in order to alleviate the difficulties of our riding public.

Q: Isn't it being suggested that Abaya resign?

SPFMD: No. Abaya is a very decent and competent bureaucrat, maybe he should just closely monitor and supervise the bureaucracy in the MRT.

Q: On LP's reservation in Club Filipino for the endorsement of Secretary Mar Roxas

SPFMD: Hindi ko alam. Ako may reservation ako for lunch sa Makati Shang sa Sabado, pero hindi ko alam, I have not reserved. Somebody may have reserved for me, I have not reserved personally.

Q: Wala pang specific date yung endorsement?

SPFMD: Wala. As I said, between the 29th and the 31st. Tatlong araw lang yan, o tatlong tulog na lang. Maghintay na lang tayo.

Q: But 100%, it's Sec. Mar Roxas na po?

SPFMD: Well, let us just wait. I understand your insistence on this news but I think I have responded to that. As I said it is barely a week from now, let us wait for it.

Q: Do you consider Gov. Vilma Santos and Cong. Leni Robredo for the vice-presidency?

SPFMD: Both are very qualified but that is a matter for whoever the President will endorse as presidential candidate to decide.

Q: So it is up to Sec. Mar?

SPFMD: That is correct.

Q: On Mar Roxas-Alan Cayetano tandem

SPFMD: I do not know. We have not discussed it.

Q: But that is one of the options sir?

SPFMD: We have not discussed it.

Q: On the breakup of the admin coalition

SPFMD: I do not know where the breakup is coming from, there is no such thing.

Q: Kung sakaling mag-decide si Sen. Grace Poe, considering na member sila ng admin coalition, and Sec. Mar Roxas, hindi o ba mahahati?

SPFMD: Hindi mahahati because the President is the leader of the coalition.

Q: Are you open to maintain the relationship with the coalition?

SPFMD: We always want to preserve our coalition that brought the President into power in 2010, and brought nine of the 12 senators to the Senate in 2013.

Q: Kung hindi mahahati ang coalition, does it mean na hindi na lang tumakbo si Senator Poe?

SPFMD: What we are saying is that there will be no breakup in the coalition.

Q: Even if coalition members will endorse other candidates?

SPFMD: We have to discuss with our coalition partners. They are not under our supervision and control. We impose party discipline on the Liberal Party but we have to convince our coalition partner on the candidate that will be anointed by the President.

Q: May commitment po ba ang lahat ng political parties na kasama sa coalition na they will remain admin allies?

SPFMD: There is no commitment from the coalition parties. We have not discussed that but it is our desire to preserve the coalition. It is the President's desire to preserve that coalition but the matter of staying in the coalition is a decision by our coalition partners.

Q: So, wala ngang assurance na mape-preserve ang coalition?

SPFMD: There is no assurance. We desire for the coalition to remain intact. That is the objective of the President.

Q: On getting a vice president not from the Liberal Party

SPFMD: That's purely speculative at this point. All we are saying is we're trying to preserve the coalition because that is the coalition that assisted the President of the reforms that he has done in the last five years.

Q: How do you preserve the coalition?

SPFMD: By talking to them.

Q: Sir, hindi na dinaan sa party convention, nomination, ang pagpili dahil si Senator Mar Roxas lang naman ang nag-express ng intention.

SPFMD: Si Senator Mar Roxas lang naman.

Q: Pero sir, paano sa senatorial?

SPFMD: 'Yun ang pag-uusapan. That one will be decided in coordination, discussion with the other coalition parties.

Q: Pero sir, right now, sino 'yung mga nasa initial list?

SPFMD: Walang nasa initial list. There is no initial list.

Q: Marami po ba ang nag-eexpress ng intention na mapasama sa senatorial lineup ng administration party?

SPFMD: There were a number who said in the media that they may decide to be in the senatorial slate.

Q: Sir, do you expect na 'yung ratings ni Senator Roxas will go up kapag naendorso na siya ni Pangulong Aquino?

SPFMD: Yes, because if you look at our political history, this President has the highest acceptance, approval rating on the last year of the President's term. In the last administration, the presidential endorsement was considered a kiss of death. Here, you have a situation that after five years of governance, the President enjoys a very high rating. In fact, even Vice President Binay has sought the endorsement of the President. It is of common belief that the reason why he left the Cabinet is that he realized that he will not be endorsed by the President.

Q: Pero sir, historically ba tinitingnan ng mga voters kung sino ang nag-endorso o kung sino lang ang kandidato?

SPFMD: The surveys would usually include who is the person who can influence you most in your choice of the candidates. That is a valid poll taken by the polling agencies.

Q: Sir, ano po ang expectations ninyo sa SONA at sa last year ni Presidente ngayong several Cabinet members are expected to resign dahil tatakbo?

SPFMD: Those in the executive branch who would want to throw their ring in the political arena would have to resign after they file their certificates of candidacy in October. Now, who would replace them? Given the fact that only six months would be left by that time, the career undersecretaries would be in place, would be a good choice to continue with the program that they familiar with for the remaining term of the administration. The reality is when you get somebody new, there is a learning curve, by the time he learns that there's a job, it's over. My view of having been in the Cabinet, the best official to replace in effect an acting capacity for six months will be the undersecretary who knows the ropes and wouldn't have to relearn the whole thing.

Q: Sir, right now, how many cabinet members po ba yung kailangan mapalitan dahil they are running for elected positions?

SPFMD: I do not know.

Q: Sir, you have mentioned before MMDA chairman Tolentino, Justice Secretary de Lima?

SPFMD: I hear Justice Secretary De Lima. I hear TIEZA General Manager Mark Lapid. They have not really declared. Bali-balita lang.

Q: Just in case, automatic administration senatorial candidate po sila?

SPFMD: There are no automatic entitlements here.

Q: Sir, yung expectations niyo po ba sa SONA?

SPFMD: I would like the President to tell us in his SONA, to tell the people what are the actions that he will do in the next one year in order to preserve whatever gains were made during the past 5 years which involves also the measures that he would like to see Congress to pass on the last year of his administration.

Particularly, I would like to hear the President outline what he intends to do in order to improve basic government services like the MRT. I would like to hear what the President will say in order to hasten government spending because of the specter of an underspending which harms our economy. These are among the few things that I would like the President to say.

Q: Sir, would you like to comment Ombudsman cleared PNoy of any liability on the Mamasapano incident but recommended filing of charges against the PNP Chief?

SPFMD: The Ombudsman simply basing her action on the basis of evidence. Remember that our Ombudsman is a former Supreme Court Justice. She follows the trail of the evidence not the trail of the political noise.

Q: There are perceptions na What do you expect - talagang - i-cclear?

SPFMD: That's why I said the Ombudsman follows the trail of the evidence, and not political noise.

Q: Former Chief Justice Renato Puno said that while we are talking on who should be the next captain of our ship, it is crucial daw to examine the condition of our ship. Parang nakikita niya na there is necessity to change the political system in our country by revising the 1987 Constitution?

SPFMD: We can debate on that after this elections. It's too late to debate on that today. Realistically, if somebody can suggest to me how can we change our political system until the May elections, talagang magaling sila.

Q: But Sir, there is necessity to change the political system?

SPFMD: Let's debate on that in July 2016.

Q: Yung Cha-Cha on economic provision nawala na rin? Hindi na rin naihabol?

SPFMD: Basta we have six now. The Cha-Cha, with six plus 15 others that we would like to monitor but the Cha-cha is still in the House. We have not discussed it in the Senate. Realistically, its difficult.

Q: Ideally, mas maganda po kapag next administration nalang umpisahan?

SPFMD: Yes. Umpisahan sa Year One, Day One of the next administration.

Q: Will you pursue yung sa Cha-Cha on economic provision?

SPFMD: Yes, I will support that.

Q: Sir, si Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said she is considering to run for President. Do you think serious si Senator Santiago?

SPFMD: We always take Senator Santiago seriously.

Q: On former PNP Chief Alan Purisima

SPFMD: As far as I read in the papers, he has already been dismissed from service. It doesn't mean that they are already free. They are still working on the evidence.

Q: How about the MILF and BIFF fighter involved in the Mamasapano massacre? Isn't it sad that they are out there, still free?

SPFMD: But it doesn't mean that they are free. Maybe they are still working on the evidence.

Q: May reservations na daw po sa Club Filipino.

SPFMD: Ako may reservation sa Makati Shang sa Saturday. Hindi ko alam sa Club Filipino.

Q: Sa Club Filipino po ba gaganapin ang endorsement?

SPFMD: Hindi ko pa alam.

Q: How do you think President Aquino will go down in history?

SPFMD: He will be remembered in history as someone who remained true to his mandate of good governance, and what we have achieved today can be credited to the basic premise of good governance.

Q: Pwede niya pa ba ipagmalaki ang Tuwid na Daan, now that may issue ang PDAF at DAP?

SPFMD: Pwede niyang ipagmalaki na hindi niya tinotolerate ang ganong klaseng katiwalian.

Q: Kelan magiging klaro po ba ang lahat ukol sa 2016, kung sino ang maglalaban-laban?

SPFMD: Sa filing ng certificates of candidacy.

Q: Si Secretary Roxas, kailangan na po ba mag-resign after he announces?

SPFMD: A reasonable after that. Hindi naman pupwedeng manatili siya duon pagkatapos siyang ma-endorse at matapos niyang sabihin na "Tatakbo ako."

Q: Hindi ba magiging isyu pa iyon?

SPFMD: Kaya nga dapat mag-resign na siya after a reasonable time after he is endorsed so it will not be an issue against him.

Q: Kailan po yung 'reasonable time'?

SPFMD: A reasonable time is what a reasonable mind would accept.

Q: Mayroon po bang Mar-Drilon?

SPFMD: Saan pupunta iyon?

Q: Si Duterte po ba, hindi kinokonsider na Vice-Presidential candidate?

SPFMD: As I have already said, the vice presidential candidate preferably is the choice of the presidential candidate. Because he will have to work with the Vice President everyday.

Q: Nag-uusap po ba kayo ni Secretary Mar?

SPFMD: Naguusap kami araw-araw.

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