Press Release
October 19, 2016

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Aquilino "Koko" L. Pimentel III

Q: Follow up lang po sa suspension order ni Senator JV Ejercito, kasi may finile ang prosecution sa Sandiganbayan.

SPPimentel: We will answer the motion if required by the court to respond to the motion. I will just telegraph now what the contents of the answer will be. Number one, when we received the order, we referred it to the Senate Committee on Rules. The Senate Committee on Rules has not reported out an answer or come back to me. That would be my answer.

Q: Sabi po ni Senator Tito Sotto, they will wait for the decision of the court.

SP: If I will get that officially from the Senate Committee on Rules, that will be incorporated in the answer if we are required by the court.

Q: So hindi po ba dapat immediately executory yung suspension order?

SP: Hindi, actually if you read the order of the Sandiganbayan, sila mismo hindi sure kasi may nakasulat doon: ", unless a motion for reconsideration will be filed, or has been filed." Ibig ko sabihin, if the Sandiganbayan wants categorical answers from us or actions, then they should also give categorical orders, not orders with a comma, and requiring us to conduct our own investigations if a motion for reconsideration has been filed. That is not our duty.

It should be the court who should tell us that if nagexpire na yung period for motion for reconsideration, not throw to us the responsibility of finding out if "Hey, suspended senator, did you file a motion for reconsideration? Has your period expired?" Why is that responsibility thrown to us? That will be part of the answer.

Q: How come yung ibang suspension orders, immediately na-execute naman ng Senate?

SP: Wag ako ang tanungin ninyo diyan, because I became Senate President in July 25, 2016. I cannot answer for the actions of past Senate Presidents.

Q: On timeline for the suspension order

SP: Opo, basta anytime magreport na yung Senate Rules Committee. Then I will be guided by the report, well not bound by it, but guided by it.

Q: So wala pong time limit yung pagrespond doon sa suspension order?

SP: It is better to be sure than to rush and then make a mistake. Ganoon lang po iyon, because I urge the Sandiganbayan to reread their communications to the Office of the Senate President. Nakasulat doon, "suspended unless, he has filed a motion for reconsideration." So ano ang ibig sabihin noon, magiimbestiga pa ako? Or if the period has expired, I will have to find out when is that period and when did period end?

Q: Si Secretary Lorezana said that he is not sure what the President means regarding his pronouncements on the US, because he does not consult the Cabinet. What can you say about that?

SP: They see each other every week, kami ni Presidente, we rarely see each other. When I see him, I'll ask him. Ang importante is, the independent foreign policy is actually mandated in the Constitution. It's very good that for the first time, we have a president who is now emphasizing that concept in our Constitution, that we must pursue an independent foreign policy.

Q: Kayo po, what is your personal stance on this pronouncements against the US?

SP: I believe that the President has been saying these things precisely as part of his emphasis on the independent foreign policy. At this stage in our life as a nation, we should realize that there are other powers or points of view other than the American point of view, which we should open ourselves to.

Yun ang aking interpretation diyan. Because that is the first step into having an independent foreign policy. If we do not accept that or realize that, then we will never have an independent foreign policy, because we will always tow to the American line.

Q: Should the opening to the other countries necessarily entail moving away or antagonizing them?

SP: No, let the Philippines be a friend to all nations.

Q: On the President's controversial pronouncement

SP: Style po ng Presidente yan. Buti nga yon eh, he telegrams his punches, he tells us what is in his mind. So yun, we have more time to think about his possible positions in future issues .

Q: Sir yung "friend to all nations" mukhang hindi ganoon ang dating ngayon eh.

SP: I believe ganun kasi sinabi naman niya na wala siyang galit sa US, sinabi naman niya yun eh. Actually totoo iyon, he just emphasized our need and his desire to pursue an independent foreign policy. Masyadong nakadikit ang pusod natin sa pusod ng Amerikano.

So pinapakita lang po niya, na it's time to move back. Ultimately hindi tayo magka-ayaw, at imposible tayong magka-ayaw because our ties to the US are people to people.

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