Press Release
October 13, 2015

Excerpts from the ANC Headstart Interview with
Senate President Franklin M. Drilon by Karen Davila

Q: You are +42 percent in the satisfaction ratings of the latest SWS survey, the highest in government, even beating the President. What do you attribute it to?

SPFMD: I was interviewed by several times by ANC, that's why (laughs). Well no, the people saw that we were really trying to deliver what was thrust upon us, trying to deliver the policies this administration stood for, and indeed we have done a lot of work insofar as supporting the good governance platform of the government. And, the people saw that, our sincerity in running the affairs of the Senate.

Q: Is it a matter of you work on the budget, or the BBL, or overall?

SPFMD: It's over-all. You can't pinpoint a particular item, but the fact that we are conscious of what people thought of good governance, and the policies that we have put on. Like, for years we could not put on the "Sin Taxes" or the excise taxes, the matter of the Reproductive Health Bill languished in the legislative mill for years, we were able to do that. We were able to reform the GOCCs which have been abused in the past administrations. The Fair Competition Act, which again languished in the legislative mill for years, we also passed the law exempting the 13th month pay from any income taxes.

All these taken together, the people that indeed we contributed and did our share in good governance.

Q: But you do admit that you don't think that the Bangsamoro Basic Law will pass?

SPFMD: It didn't pass when we closed our sessions last week, but we will work on it and by the end of the year we should be able to put it on and what is now that we have to do is that - since today we have filed our certificates of candidacies. Because of the absence of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, then what will govern is the present Law on Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao, and therefore, we will be electing come May are the old set, are the position of the ARMM governor, as is.

Q: Governor Mujiv Hataman can run again?

SPFMD: Hataman in fact will run again as ARMM governor and the rest of the positions will be up for grabs. Now in the course now of the debates we cannot assure that the BBL will be passed and as far as the Comelec is concerned, it is the present law, which establishes the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with the governor, the vice-governor and the Assembly, we have no choice, and the Comelec has no choice.

Now what we will have to do is that we have now to provide what transition there will be. It can be done because remember, once we pass this law, we have to have it ratified, it has to go through the ratification process. In fact, the next issue is should we have the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law after we pass it as part of the elections. In May 9, do we put a question, "Are you in favor of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law?' After that there will be a transition period.

So all of these things, since we were not able to pass it on time, we must now provide new policies, new rules insofar these are concerned, including I am certain, that once the Bangsamoro Law will take effect, we will abolish the ARMM government, and those who are elected and who will be re-elected under the present law will just have to face the fact that their terms will be cut.

Q: Hearing from you, the process, that they would be seating for at least three years.

SPFMD: Hindi naman. Not necessarily that they would have to seat for three years. Because I have said, we can provide that upon the effectivity of the law that we will pass, the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the set of officials who will bill elected in the May 2016 elections will have to give way and end their term. They don't have to sit there for three years. The transition can be earlier than that. What is important is that we soon provide in the law as to what sort of transition there will be.

Q: Then why don't have the next elections in 2019? So that we will save money?

SPFMD: That is a policy direction that may not sit well with people from that region. You know, they entered into a peace agreement, they want the peace agreement to be implemented at the earliest possible opportunity through ratification and the implementation of the new Bangsamoro Basic Law. It can be done, if that is the only question, but we have to consider the policy issues and how the people of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao look at this.

Q: The LP slate was introduced yesterday. This would look like a walk to the park for you. It looks like it is gonna be easy, with you at top five right now.

SPFMD: No, I'll work hard. I am thankful that all of the surveys would place us at the top five for the past one year, but we are not overconfident. Notwithstanding that good perception, we have 61 percent of our people in the survey are looking with good favor at our performance, and we have a net rating of 42 percent, I'm happy and I'm thankful that the people has recognized what we have done.

Incidentally, this is something that we are all looking at, that's why I tell my colleagues in the Senate, "Pwede ba magtrabaho muna tayo ngayon bago ang kampanya?" Let's try to finish what is in our desk, because the best way of campaigning is to show people you are working.

Q: Eh ang dami mong kasamahan na tatakbo?

SPFMD: In the first time in history, five or six of my colleagues are all running for higher office, aside from those of us running for re-election. So it is really difficult. We still have quorum, by the way, and in fairness to my colleagues, they come to the Senate and make sure we have quorum. But we miss their wisdom in the interpellations. You know, most of them are-

Q: Nasa probinsiya?

SPFMD: But I'm willing to live with it.

Q: You gave out 12 names yesterday, with relatively unknown names in the national scale - Nariman Ambolodto, who si DILG Undersecretary for Muslim Affairs and Representative Cresenta Paez, a Co-op partylist representative. Why choose both of them when you can choose from many others that are known? What was the basis?

SPFMD: We wanted to project an all-inclusive Senate slate. We run under the platform of good governance and inclusive growth, and we have to have sectors represented. I think we are the only slate right now with such a combination of people who can represent every sector. By the way, the others are having difficulty of filling the 12.

For example, Cresente Paez is representing the cooperatives in this country. The coop is one group that can claim that they truly contribute to the expansion of the national economy and create jobs for their members.

Q: The have been called fillers by some critics.

SPFMD: Of course, we cannot avoid that. They came in at the last minute. Because Francis Tolentino left and Mayor Bistek here in Quezon City said, "I'll run for re-election." So these are the things that which you cannot avoid.

Q: Earlier the LP said that they would leave a spot for Manny Pacquiao. What happened?

SPFMD: I haven't talked to him directly, but the messages we were getting is that he would prefer to wait for Mayor Duterte to decide because he is from Mindanao and feels that he has a better chance with Mayor Duterte. I don't blame him, because Manny Pacquiao's numbers are not certain. He is in the lower sixth, eighth, ninth or tenth. He could be dislodged in the course of the campaign. So we don't blame him, if he feels that his political opportunities are better served with Duterte.

Q: Did you ever get into talks with Manny Pacquaio?

SPFMD: Not me personally, but I would know of some of our people, some of our campaign staff, some members of Congress talked to him.

Q: Another one - Roman Romulo. He is actually a member of the Liberal Party, until today he said he wanted to run in the Senate but the people were surprised that two unknowns in the Senate slate but no Roman Romulo.

SPFMD: He was the one who made the choice to run with another presidential candidate. He talked to me, and I said that I will help him. He came to my office, we talked a few weeks back, and I said yes, I will help him. A few weeks after that, he was in Dumaguete City campaigning with another presidential candidate.

Q: You mean Senator Grace?

SPFMD: Yes, he was in Dumaguete with Senator Grace. But a few days before that, he came to me. We see these as signals that they will not want to be with us.

Q: Do you consider him to be un-loyal?

SPFMD: No at this point, everyone will be trying to assess where he would be best suited. I'm being fair to them.

Q: Has he resigned from the party?

SPFMD: No he has not resigned, but he has effectively removed himself from the party.

Q: So what do you do with the political party system here in the Philippines? Do you carry cards?

SPFMD: We don't have to carry cards.

Q: But you do know what I mean right?

SPFMD: Yes. In fact, ang biro namin ay this is not a "tsaleko-wearing organization" na afterwards you remove and change it again. That is one of the difficulties we have in our political system. Our political parties continue to be based on personalities and after the election, either you have a party which expands or which collapses because these are based on personalities. Our party is 70 years old.

Q: You have stayed with the Liberal Party for a long time now. You have even been through that Drilon-Atienza issue.

SPFMD: Yes, difficult as it is, we would like to encourage political parties based on platforms in government. Difficult I must say, I'm not saying we have succeeded, but we will keep on trying and we do not abandon that quest to have a real political party based on party platforms. We're continuing to recruit, we give seminars all over the Philippines.

Q: On what the Liberal Party is all about?

SPFMD: That's correct, and what the principles of the Liberal Party will be. I will not deny that up to this point, things can be difficult.

Q: You have Grace Padaca who said that the LP is already compromising and is leaning towards endorsing non-party members just to get the much-needed support for Secretary Mar Roxas.

SPFMD: I dispute that, that is not correct. I do not know what Grace is referring to, Grace is a good friend, I was the one who recruited here to the Liberal Party. We do screen people coming into the party. We do vet them. This is not a perfect system, may nakakalusot diyan, but that's the system and it is up to us, to the party when they get to be in power.

Q: Where there others that wanted to join LP but you didn't consider?

SPFMD: Yes there were but I don't want to mention names. Yes, including those who are included in the winning circle or "magic 12."

Q: Kung "Daang Matuwid" daw bakit niyo kinuha si Mark Lapid?

SPFMD: Bakit anong masama kay Mark Lapid? Mark has done his work in TIEZA and he has helped a lot. He has helped in building infrastructure for our tourism industry and he could stand on his own.

Q: What happened to Mark Villar? At one point his name was mentioned as being included in the LP slate.

SPFMD: Mark Villar has decided to run for re-election in his district so out of the question. We considered him.

Q: What about Kim Henares? I heard she was one of those that could have been included in the slate.

SPMFD: Kim said she was not prepared. She is concentrating on her job to enlarge our National Treasury.

Q: Mahirap daw mangampanya si Kim Henares.

SPFMD: Maraming negosyante na ibig tumakbo si Kim, magko-contribute pa.

Q: Jericho Petilla, this surprised some people considering his ratings and some people were questioning his performance as Energy secretary, Serge Osmena being the first critic.

SPFMD: In fairness to Ikot, he has learned fast and he left the Department of Energy an expert in the energy field. He comes from a political family, the Petillas of Leyte and he is exposed to governance, having been governor of Leyte for three terms, undefeated. Remember during the time of the previous administration? He was one of those who was initially in the slate of then President Arroyo. He really wanted to continue his public service in the Senate and we believe he is terribly competent.

Q: A while ago you mention Sen. Marcos, they wanna ask you about the photo where Erap and Enrile were there. How do you feel about the photo?

SPFMD: Surprised. For example, Senator Enrile, we know that Sen. Gringo is his protégée and yet, he cast his lot with Bongbong. Up to now, I have no answer to that question, because I know Gringo respects Enrile and would not make any move especially in his political life without consulting Enrile. But here comes Enrile raising the hand of Bongbong. That says something I don't know and I can't figure it out. Is it a hit on Binay? Remember Binay, Enrile and Estrada are UNA's three kings. Ngayon ay iisa na lang. Nauuna na lang si Binay. Wala na siyang kasunod.

Q: I don't think people saw that when they say that photo. Nobody saw the three kings angle.

SPFMD: Yes. They have abandoned Binay. The three kings ay now iisa na lang.

Q: Leni Robredo right now, although she has not declared yet when the latest survey was taken, you have 43% for Escudero, 19% for Bongbong and you have Allan, she was included in the survey but there was no declaration yet. What is the strategy for Robredo to take over the senior so to speak candidates?

SPFMD: Picture in your mind, you have Allan, Bongbong, Chiz, Sonny Trillanes, Gringo, and Leni Robredo. Six. Who does not belong to this group? It's Leni.

Q: So, that's the marketing?

SPFMD: Yes. Number two, you should hear Leni when she speaks. She is not only very powerful, but she also puts across a very sincere image, of a very sincere person who would want to do good for her country. Indeed, she is the face of good governance.

Q: There is no question about Leni Robredo as a person but I'm talking about the strategy to make her numbers rise. Unlike Binay who was also 4% then, he had the sister cities and went to the Boy Scouts and went around. What will you do?

SPFMD: Unravel in a few months' time, we will simply expose Leni.

Q: You don't think that this will be very hard?

SPFMD: Ang sabi ko nga, one week is too long in politics.

Q: Who do you consider as Roxas' strongest opponent right now? Let's say Duterte not running.

SPFMD: Mar's strongest opponent will be Grace.

Q: Not Binay?

SPFMD: No. Why? Because you look at the surveys. When you look at surveys, do not look at one survey in isolation. You look at the three or four surveys before that. And when the survey starts going down consistently, that is a danger signal. That unless something happens which will prevent that line from going down, you're in trouble.

Q: So are you saying Binay in that situation?

SPFMD: Yes. Grace has plateaued a bit. But Mar, he started at four percent but now he's at 20 or 22 percent. But so his numbers are going up, and that is what is important, when you keep on improving your surveys as you get near to the finish line. That's very critical.

Q: Meaning, it will be Grace and Mar in the end?

SPFMD: Yes, yes, yes. But our advantage is that we can build machinery all over the country, a vote delivery system, which the others may not have or may have weaker machinery. We have the endorsement of the president. He is the only president for the past five presidencies who has the highest trust rating at this stage of the administration. I have looked at the others and they are much lower.

Q: The Comelec wants to hold a presidential debate, what's your stand on this?

SPFMD: I fully endorse it, and I will be disappointed if it doesn't push through. I am asking the Comelec to push through with that and the media outlet should give it primetime slot. This only happens once every six years, when we choose our leaders. This is only time that we can choose them, and we should pick them based on what their stand on issues and platforms are, not based on their popularity. Hindi lang kung sino yung pinakagwapo o pinakamaganda diyan.

Q: What are Roxas' achievements in his six years in the Aquino administration?

SPFMD: I don't think that people can complain that the crime situation deteriorated. I think he handled peace and order situation quite well during his time as DILG secretary. In DOTC, he really inherited a mess there. The legal issues really prevented him from taking quick actions. There was a court case. Disputes are taking place on the MRT, etc. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to stay that long.

He risked his life in that typhoon Yolanda, but it was very unfair because there was a lot of nit-picking on the part of the media, which highlighted only the negative aspect. The fact that he was there, his presence there, directed the massive rescue operation.

Q: How about the income tax reform? No less than the CEO of Forbes saying what the Philippines should do and he said it should slash taxes. What's your take?

SPFMD: There is basis for that. In fact, I had sat down with Sen. Angara and Cong. Quimbo and I had a briefing on this. They make sense. I guess it's a question of how much impact on our revenues could we afford to absorb at this stage. But by large, as a concept, there is basis for a review of our income taxes. I endorse a review of the income tax system. It's a question of how much the government can absorb in terms of revenue losses. But it is not as if the government loses everything, because it goes back when you spend the extra when you have you increase the value-added tax collection.

Q: On the anti-dynasty law?

SPFMD: It is in the committee on justice.

Q: Do you think it can pass?


Q: Why no?

SPFMD: Let's face it, lack of time.

Q: You don't have that problem because you're the only Drilon in government?

SPFMD: Yes. I have fully endorsed that, kaso medyo talagang malabo. I think Mar Roxas doesn't have relatives in politics. I will personally push it because it's good for the country.

Q: You don't have the support of the congressmen and senators?

SPFMD: You know, we didn't have the support when we passed the Sin Tax Reform Law. We didn't have the support when the President pushed the RH bill. But you should not underestimate the power of presidency.

Q: This one not during PNoy?


Q: How about the FOI?

SPFMD: We passed it in the Senate. We supported that.

Q: You see the President signing this when?

SPFMD: I don't really know, because he can only sign it when it is before him. But right now it is with the House of Representatives.

Q: Any final message?

SPFMD: Again, we go through the exercise of the presidential elections. Please choose our leaders well because what our country will be depends on the kind of leaders we elect.

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