Press Release
October 5, 2016

Transcript of Ambush Interview of Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III

Q: On supposed plans of Senator Richard Gordon to file an ethics complaint against Senator Leila de Lima.

SP Pimentel: Huwag na kayo lalayo sa mga 'balak,' let's wait for a formal or official act from the person involved before we can comment or we can react.

Q: May mga sinabi po ba sa inyo si Senator Regarding his plans?

SP: Wala po, pagdating po sa plans wala po. Anyway, everything in the Senate is formalized, and so we should wait for the formal actions of the persons involved.

Q: May intention po ba kayo na kausapin si Senator Gordon at si Senator de Lima para hindi na umabot sa ganung punto?

SP: Inumpisahan ko na nga kahapon, pero sa maikling panahon lang ang paguusap namin. I'll try to talk to the involved persons again today. I've talked briefly to Senator de Lima and Senator Gordon, sa maikling panahon lang, separately.

Q: How do you define "unparliamentary acts"?

SP: That is not a fixed concept, so it depends on the situation. Meron sigurong mga clear na unparliamentary acts, like you are cursing, you are shouting, you are speaking out of turn in a very loud voice, drowning the chairman's voice, mga ganun, these are very clearly unparliamentary acts, pero mayroong mga nasa gray area. What is clear is that we have a system if somebody has a complaint, we have the Ethics Committee to go over the complaint.

Q: Paano po yung mga demands for apology both ni Senator Gordon at Senator de Lima?

SP: Yung mga request or demand for apology are directed to the senator involved. Nasa sakanya nap o iyon, if they want to apologize.

Q: Would you recommend na magayos na lang sila kesa pa magfile ng complaints?

SP: Nothing is impossible in the Senate. May mga anim na taon pa kaming magsasama, yung iba dyan may anim na taon pa. We should learn to coexist with each other, but we should also appreciate the differences because we are expected also to debate, and to have differences.

Q: Sabi ni Senator Gordon, bugbog-sarada na si Senator de Lima, so he would just pray and focus on finishing the investigation.

SP: That's good.

Q: On comments for the President to be more careful with his statements

SP: Let him be himself, he is more effective, tignan mo, edi nanalo sa eleksyon eh. Let him be because he is more effective, he is not pretending to be somebody else, and in due time we all learn from our experiences, we all learn from our mistakes or we also take into account the feedback of the public, so there will be some adjustments in due time, and allowing for the personal style of the president to be also seen.

Q: At risk na po ba ang ating diplomatic ties with the US?

SP: I don't think so, I don't think so. Hindi naman, countries are not that shallow.

Q: Pero sinabi po ni President Duterte ay hihiwalay na daw po tayo sa Amerika. Ano po ang implication niyan?

SP: Hindi naman hihiwalay, to cut off all ties with America. That will not happen. Ang gusto niyang sabihin, we should have an independent foreign policy. We should not be seen by the rest of the world to have an umbilical cord connected with the umbilical cord of the United States.

Yun lang ang gusto niyang sabihin, that we will have an independent foreign policy. We'll be friends with Russia, we'll be friends with China, what's wrong with that? We're also friends with India, Pakistan, Brazil, Peru etc.

Q: On the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between PH and US

SP: The EDCA is a formal agreement and the way to terminate the formal agreement is found in the agreement. So sundin lang po natin yung procedures doon, I think there will be a notice from the executive branch - because in charge ang executive branch sa foreign relations especially military agreement ito.

The notice will come from the executive branch - DFA, DND or even the President, kasi siya naman ang head of the executive branch - and then the effectivity of the notice of termination will come years or months after the notice. So there's a procedure at sundin lang po natin yung procedure. But tandaan natin, even the first step ay hindi pa nag kick- in, hindi pa ginagawa so there is nothing to talk about. Wala pa pong termination to talk about.

Q: If ever hindi po ba kailangang konsultahin ang Senate regarding the termination bilang treaty ratifying body?

SP: Hindi, hindi na po pagdating doon kasi ni-ratify na namin yun, even the terms of termination, inapprove na po namin yun. Wala na po iyon, kasi even the terms of how to terminate was already approved or concurred in by the Senate.

Sa system natin ngayon, in the unitary system of government, the President is the country's chief diplomat and the executive branch takes charge of foreign relations. Kaya nga sa ating Charter Change initiative, pwede nating ayusin ito. We can give more power to a new Senate to be more involved in foreign policy or foreign relations.

Pero sa ngayon, we have to stick to the 1987 Constitution, foreign relations is the domain of the executive branch, the participation of the Senate is to concur in the ratification of treaties already ratified by the president.

Q: Doon po sa West Philippine Sea issue, cinonsult po kayo sa National Security Council meeting. Wouldn't it be prudent to also consult you in this issue?

SP: Ok, yung pag-consult sa political leaders through the LEDAC or through the National Security Council is a call of the president. Judgment call na niya po iyan. We could not force him to put that in the agenda, we could not force him to call a meeting of the National Security Council, but if he does, we hope that he will put in the agenda so he can get our opinions. But non-binding pa rin, he forms the decision as the head of the executive branch.

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