Press Release
December 12, 2016

Transcript of interview of Senator Francis 'Chiz' G. Escudero (FGE)


DAVILA: On Hotcopy this morning, the Senate is giving more teeth to the Anti-Money Laundering Act or AMLA by amending its current provisions to include the casino industry as recommended by the Paris based financial action task force which will assess the country in June next year.

And joining us in the studio this morning is Senator Francis 'Chiz' Escudero; is the chairman of the committee on banks and financial institutions. Welcome to Hotcopy Senator Chiz, thank you for coming!

FGE: Hello Karen, Good Morning! To all of our televiewers a pleasant morning as well!

DAVILA: Alright now, this may not be as sexy topic as...let's face it the hearings at the Senate and the House in the recent days. But here is the Senate coming out with a genuine reform when it comes to the AMLA. Why is this important to us?

FGE: This is important to us Karen not only because we are being reviewed in June as you mentioned and if they review us and give a less than a favourable recommendation meaning for us to be included in the gray list or in the black list then it will primarily affect our financing institutions in the country more particularly the OFWs.

DAVILA: So if it will affect the country...

FGE: It will affect the country because money won't flow as easily into the country from foreign investors and then it might give our OFWs hard time in so far as remitting their money is concerned by subjecting this money in so many inquiries and questions if we are in the blacklist.

DAVILA: I have with me right now, I always wanted to show the viewers so that they are encouraged to actually Google, research, read for themselves just like the executive summary last week. This is the actual sponsorship speech; you can find this in the internet on the reforms for the AMLA. And the number one: Including casino operators; junket operators. Let's start with casino and operator first, why is that important to include?

FGE: That's a recommendation of the FATF and APG a group of anti-money laundering because so much money passed through the casinos. At yung nangyari sa Bangladesh heist...

DAVILA: tama...

FGE: ...iyon ang eksaktong ginamit. Ginamit nila yung facility ng casino para magpasok ng pera, para malabas din yung pera. And Karen it is known fact too that a lot of people use casinos to be able to bring money from one country to another. So halimbawa, may gusto magpasok ng pera...

DAVILA: You know a hundred million figure...

FGE: A hundred million...merong remittance fees yan, may mga questions na dadaan kung dadaan sa bangko yan pero kung sa casino ngayon, no questions asked yan. Pwede kong ipatalo kunwari o pwedeng ipanalo kunwari hindi nababantayan kung sinong mga regulatory agencies much less PAGCOR. PAGCOR has nothing to do with it whatsoever right now.

DAVILA: So just a review of the 81 million dollars I think that Bangladesh lost. The ones that were brought to the casinos were never recovered.

FGE: Were never recovered.

DAVILA: Okay, that's gone.

FGE: Wala na yun and for many other reasons Karen: number one, walang power to issue a freeze order ang AMLC ngayon, they have to apply to Court of Appeals. If the Court of Appeals should grant it. And if Court of Appeals takes time, by the time mag-freeze order siya wala na yung pera, wala na.

DAVILA: Okay number two: junket operators.

FGE: Same, junket operators aren't like casinos in so far as being land based, in having a building and having a structure. Junket operators are actually middlemen...

DAVILA: Okay. Some like Kim Wong...

FGE: I'm not sure about his business. But they have players which they bring in, the players play, if they lose, the junket operators will pay; if they win, the junket operators get the commission.


FGE: So they are technically an independent casino operating through a pool of players. They are actually land-based or building- based.

DAVILA: But then how would the AMLA for example be able to monitor a junket operator. I mean, it seems to be that this people can do their business privately. They don't have to report how much money is going in.

FGE: We are requiring casinos under the amended version of the AMLC: to adopt what we call a CDD rule--a customer due diligence rule. And they have to have their own risk assessment analysis too. For example, if you are a casino: you have to know all of your clients whether the junket operators brought it; whether he is a walk-in; whether he is a regular patron; you have to know your clients based on the official document. Meaning a license or a passport that's how they do it in Singapore. In Singapore, thriving so far as far as their casino industry's concerned.

DAVILA: So you mean to say in Singapore even the casinos are under AMLA.

FGE: In Singapore they're compliant Karen. In Singapore you can play but the residents are not allowed to play.

DAVILA: In Singapore.

FGE: In Singapore. So if you want to play in any casino in Singapore you have to present a valid passport so they can establish who you are and that you are not a national.

DAVILA: What about Macau?

FGE: Same.


FGE: They are also compliant.

DAVILA: Macau?

FGE: Macau is compliant too that's why I think the revenues went down so far as Macau is concerned.

DAVILA: So you are saying, for example Hong would be in Macau. But Indonesia, Malaysia it's all the same.

FGE: Malaysia is not a part of FATF as far as I know. In other countries which is part of FATF will be covered by this rule. But they follow the same rule, five hundred thousand thresholds to ten thousand dollar threshold it applies in Macau; it applies in Singapore as well.

DAVILA: Now, how much money is moving around our casinos in the Philippines on average.

FGE: Right now, we don't know.

DAVILA: Really.

FGE: We have no idea.

DAVILA: Are you serious?

FGE: Let's based it on PAGCOR's share. PAGCOR's share per year from casino operations about 28 Billion pesos. Their share is 5% of net. So compute backwards, I don't know how much that is.

DAVILA: If 5% of net so 20 billion. But it is something like...

FGE: Two hundred billion probably.

DAVILA: Or more...

FGE: Four hundred billion.

DAVILA: Of the money going around the casinos. Okay. So casino operators will be included, the junket operators in the AMLA and this is very interesting. This affects regular Filipinos who do not gamble, real estate agents. Why?

FGE: It's a recommendation of the APG as well because it involves higher...

DAVILA: And brokers...

FGE: It involves higher values but let me clarify Karen: casino operators, real estate brokers, dealers of precious metals, dealers of precious stones, lawyers and accountants and so far as their clients are concerned but only when it comes to cash transactions exceeding five hundred thousand.

DAVILA: Let's say you are a real estate agent when do you report? I mean how does that work?

FGE: If you have a cash transaction exceeding five hundred thousand pesos...

DAVILA: ...let's say you give a down to land...

FGE: If you give a down to land in excess of five hundred thousand...again Karen cash...

DAVILA: Cash...

FGE: So if you are a real estate broker and you don't want to be covered then require all of your clients to pay in check.

DAVILA: I see.

FGE: If I am a lawyer and I'm putting up a trust and if I am not violating any lawyer-client privilege, then require all your clients to pay through checks. And they will not be covered anymore and they don't have to report anymore. Because we are trying to push people to use the banks. Not only to improve their business but so there will be a paper trail.

DAVILA: Tama...tracking...

FGE: So if you sell jewels or diamonds or gold or whatever, you don't want to be covered, you don't want to report, you don't want the hassle; then go and pay in check.

DAVILA: Why is it an art included in the AMLA?

FGE: Art? We included catch all phrase because my problem Karen is...

DAVILA: You've seen I mean I don't want the art brokers to hate me right now I buy art but you are seeing just how much are being sold.

FGE: They are Karen.


FGE: The proposal originally only includes car dealers. That is why I asked them what about art? What about those selling airplanes? What about those selling helicopters?

DAVILA: They are selling 30 million pesos for auction.

FGE: So we included the proposal to include persons dealing in high value goods. High value goods will be defining as anything exceeding up to million pesos. So you are covered too if you accept payment in cash, you have to report. But if they pay in check, they don't have to report. So if you buy a painting worth ten million, if you pay in check the art dealer does not have to report anything. But if they pay in cash in excess of five hundred thousand then they have to report that to AMLA.

DAVILA: If they don't...

FGE: If they don't they are subject to the penalties under AMLC radius in between four months to six years and a fine of highest to one million pesos.

DAVILA: Okay so this number two is you are including dealers of high value goods. This would include the art, the jewelry, antiquities...

FGE: Everything that you are selling in excess of one million.

DAVILA: Even watches...

FGE: In watches ang haba ng debate naman diyan. They said jewelry and then I asked them: Can you define jewelry for me? They said, if the value of the thing is being sold is in excess of sixty percent from a precious metal or stone...

DAVILA: Oh My God.

FGE: But what if you are buying a watch based on its brand?


FGE: Like a Patek, a Rolex...

DAVILA: That may not have...

FGE: ...they may not have precious metal or precious stones, that would still be jewelry right? They said no in our definition, I said it should be covered. That's why we simply put if you are a dealer in high value goods in excess of one million you have to be covered and you have to report if someone pays in cash.

DAVILA: Okay that's quite technical. Okay so just a clarification the covered transactions would now mean cash exceeding five hundred thousand and not a million.

FGE: Not a million. Any amount we put in excess of five hundred thousand by way of threshold like the original version of the law. One thousand three hundred I think for dealers on precious metals and precious stones. I think 1.8 million or 2.3 million originally proposed for real estate brokers dahil mahal na ang lupa dito. My problem with that is it's not compliant. Any amount in so far threshold is concerned that is in excess of five hundred thousand is simply not compliant.

DAVILA: Okay number four is: this is the deal breaker I think where you can actually monitor illegal money coming in the country, the requirement on suspicious accounts.

FGE: Suspicious accounts Karen an example would be since the threshold is five hundred thousand then I get to pay five times a day four hundred ninety thousand. They get to pay you once a week, every day for one week or one month four hundred ninety thousand just so that they won't be reported. Clearly that would be suspicious that has been going on for about five or six months that is clearly suspicious.

DAVILA: So the bank manager in RCBC during the Bangladesh hearing you would say in a way was not acting for rightly. Because people are saying why they did not report as suspicious account?

FGE: I think she considers it suspicious that's why she sought clearance from the main branch and the main branch gave her clearance.

DAVILA: Okay. So in a situation like that what would happen given the new AMLA law?

FGE: Under our proposed legislation if it is passed Karen, medyo maraming nagrereklamo dito. Any covered person can actually freeze or hold the transaction for not more than five days.

DAVILA: Any again?

FGE: Any covered person let's say the bank? They think it's suspicious, you are lawyer and see it suspicious, if you are a dealer of precious metal you think it's suspicious.

DAVILA: You are authorized just to hold it.

FGE: Well you are a private person, a person is buying you can say can you just check this out for a while. You are given five days and you have to decide I don't want your money; I don't want your business.

DAVILA: Is this the part that's very contentious to many lawmakers.

FGE: I think the part that's contentious to many lawmakers especially a few of them would be the expanded powers of the AMLC. A lot of them concerned that it might be abused by the AMLC. Especially given the current wars being waged by...

DAVILA: Politically...

FGE: Yes. But we have some provisions and penalties if they do it if they do it for political purposes. In fact, there's a limitation on AMLC law that we are not touching. AMLC cannot investigate any candidate a year before elections.

DAVILA: Really?

FGE: It is in the original law.

DAVILA: It is in the original law?

FGE: Kasi nga maraming Congressman or Senador na takot na baka magamit sa pulitika. So may ganung limitation na, sobra-sobra na siguro yun.

DAVILA: How does the strengthen AMLA affect the bank secrecy law.

FGE: That is totally separate bill. In fact Karen if you ask me if I am in favor of repealing totally the bank secrecy law, Republic Act number 1405. Because we are the only last of three or six countries in the world that still has that law. And when I ask the banking sector, the banking industry, the BSP they told me that it is not a factor anymore as far as people keeping money inside the banks. Before it was a concern, in fact it was passed RA 1405 was passed at that time sometime in the 60's to encourage people to put their money inside the banks. But that is not the issue anymore in fact as I said we are the last three to six countries in the world that still has such law.

DAVILA: I think the two others the Middle Eastern countries...

FGE: Alam ko nasa Africa...

DAVILA: Something like that... I remember...

FGE: if you to ask me I'd rather repeal it. That's my preference in fact I'm heading towards that in so far as coming out of my major report is concerned.

DAVILA: So you're not afraid of anyone peeking in your bank accounts.

FGE: No. If you're not doing any illegal anyway, if you are not hiding anything; may kasabihan nga pag walang tinatago, walang kailangang katakutan; walang kailangang katakutan, yung walang tinatakot.

DAVILA: So, four is you clarify the requirement on the suspicious transactions indicated. Okay we talked about that. Now, the use of the term predicate offense to replace unlawful activity. What would a predicate offense be?

FGE: A predicate offence is a specific technical term. It only refers to the crimes in laws, a violation which was committed as enumerated in the AMLC Law. So, dinagdagan namin yun Karen, pero yung dinagdag namin hindi naman dahil ine-expand talaga namin. Some laws were passed after the AMLC Law was passed - Cybercrime Law, Safety Devices Act, napasa yung mga batas na yun after.

DAVILA: Actually, you even mentioned all the predicate crimes to money laundering, you really talk about them, illegal gambling even firearms and ammunitions, cybercrime.

FGE: Napasa yung amendments na yun after. Ngayon, maraming concern doon sa provision on NIRC.


FGE: Kinonsider namin na predicate crime yung tax evasion.

DAVILA: It should be.

FGE: As it should be.

DAVILA: I agree.

FGE: But a lot of people are concern about it.

DAVILA: So, do you see... I mean, clearly you want to professionalize, you want to improve the standard of... I mean not just the AMLA but essentially how we pay the state.

FGE: It's tightening up of the news actually. And those who are engaged in illegal activities should rightfully become concerned and scared. But those who are not shouldn't be afraid of anything. Quite frankly Karen, again, do you know how many bank transactions we have in excess of 500,000 a year? About 33-Million.

DAVILA: Imagine.

FGE: So, we are talking of thirty-three million and five hundred thousand and above transactions in 365 days. So, that's approximately a hundred thousand a day.

DAVILA: Basta 33-Million, a year.

FGE: So, about a hundred thousand a day roughly or eighty thousand a day. Hindi naman talaga kayang puntiryahin ka kung gusto. Unfortunately, AMLC had a program, a software na kaya nilang i-define na yung risk analysis so if it's based on this and this put together then it's a red flag. But that software wasn't approved. I think they failed to buy. Kasama sa underspending ng previous administration yun.

DAVILA: So, in a way Senator, do you honestly believe it is law makers themselves that don't want to push for this?

FGE: There are many businessmen too who are concerned, Karen. So, of course their representatives, they might serve as the representatives of business interests, certain lobby groups but there's nothing illegal about that, it's a good input too. But at the end of the day, ano yung kapalit ba? Maba-black list tayo, mas mahihirapan yung mga businessmen doon na makakuha ng puhunan, makapagpasok ng foreign investors, maaapektuhan pa yung mga OFWs natin. Or we comply and make sure that it is compliant not only whenever the FATF reminds us. Ilang beses na ba natin inamyendahan, Karen. We passed two amendatory laws in 2012 and 2013, this is now the third, 2016, R.A. No. 10167 and R.A. No. 10356 - both to be compliant and now we're at it again and we're running after deadline again so might as well pass a worthwhile meaningful piece of legislation that's compliant.

DAVILA: But the revision of the AMLA, will this improve tax collection?

FGE: Will it improve tax collection...

DAVILA: I'm curious, because if it instills fear, could it be enough to drive you to pay?

FGE: It may. In fact, the original proposal was anyone who wants to compromise any tax obligation he should open up his bank accounts. Because if you are reliable to pay a billion and then you compromised with the BIR, I'll just pay 200-Million and then the BIR says okay. Then the BIR should have the power to look into your bank accounts too. Nandoon pa lang sila nun e. But we are looking at, if it's a valid case for tax evasion already not being suspected of tax evasion, meaning a case has been filed. Then they can look into it already.

DAVILA: Okay. Another revision in the law is you are granting the AMLC more powers.

FGE: Yes.

DAVILA: And one power you are granting them is to file directly before the Court of Appeals a petition to issue a freeze order.

FGE: Actually, more than that Karen, we're giving them the power to issue ex parte a freeze order not exceeding thirty days on their own, if they find it to be suspicious, if they find there's a basis of a predicate crime is being committed.

DAVILA: This is granting them more teeth. This is giving them power.

FGE: And we're also giving them subpoena power which they do not have right now. Our problem Karen is alam na ng buong bansa 'yan, let's say ng diyaryo, ng media na nagnakaw si ganito, may pera si ganito.

DAVILA: Walang magawa ang AMLC.

FGE: Walang magawa ang AMLC. They have to knock on the doors of the Solicitor General's office and say, hey can you draft a petition. So, sasabihin ng SolGen, sige akin na yung ebidensiya, ano bang meron ka? I-evaluate nila, file sila ng petition, they may or may not grant it. Ito, it's subject to abuse, I agree... I am concern about that too. But if they commit any abuse Karen, then let's run after them.

DAVILA: I think the right term is it's subject to abuse by the sitting administration, whoever it may be because it might add pressure powers on AMLC.

FGE: Yes and no, Karen, because we made sure in the previous laws that AMLC administrators serve for a fixed term. In fact, the current AMLC head was not appointed by President Duterte. In fact, he berated them about two weeks ago for not giving details about certain drug lords who they found out to have billions of pesos inside banks.

DAVILA: So, hindi binigay ng AMLC?

FGE: Hindi ibinigay ng AMLC, so it's insulated in a way.

DAVILA: In a way, their professionals, we have to look at them as professionals.

FGE: In exchange for the higher powers we are willing to amend it further and provide higher penalties too in case any member, official, or employee of AMLC would abuse their powers and functions.

DAVILA: But let me just say, the powers you want to give AMLC are to file before the Court of Appeals...

FGE: Directly.

DAVILA: Freeze order directly, issue a subpoena, this one - freeze the proceeds. So, you're giving them power to actually freeze money.

FGE: Only within thirty days, within which they have to apply for a freeze order with the courts.

DAVILA: Of select predicate offences.

FGE: Yes.

DAVILA: Okay, and you were giving them power to inquire in bank accounts?

FGE: Yes.

DAVILA: And investments?

FGE: Yes, covered ang investments, covered ang trusts because if it's only a bank account then what do you do? You put up a trust fund. It's not a bank account, it's a trust fund being handled by a trustee. It's technically not covered, we are covering that too, we are covering insurance companies too. Diba kukuha ako ng insurance sa anak ko for 100-Million Pesos, and I pay the premiums, hindi ko kailangan i-declare, hindi ba investment yun? Kumikita ng interes yun. It's like a bank account too, it's like a saving deposit too so it should justly be covered.

DAVILA: And this one is quite interesting, I think this is a first, if this works. You are giving AMLC a 20%, in a way it's a cut, a 20% cut on forfeited assets and many people believe that this is how government be.

FGE: That's not the first attempt Karen. In the previous administration, upon the recommendation perhaps of the secretary of budget at that time, the president vetoed all proposals of a similar nature with the Bureau of Immigration, with the Office of the Ombudsman, with the LTO. And in this case we're trying to propose it again and we'll see if President Duterte will not veto it. But we put a cap, Karen.

DAVILA: And where does the 20% go? Does it go to the AMLC staff?

FGE: It goes to the AMLC itself, not for benefits but for them to be able to do and carry out their job better and more efficiently. But we put a cap, not in excess of double the higher appropriation and the two preceding years.

DAVILA: It seems to me, before we go to a quick break and talk about other issues.

FGE: A, may other issues?

DAVILA: Marami tayong issues. Is that this particular, I mean the one you want to pass, it strikes me as you don't want this to pass compromised. This seems to be a law with courage.

FGE: Kumpleto siya, Karen. Nandyan na lahat para hindi na sila bumalik sa amin, para next year may deadline na naman kayo, kailangan na naman ninyong magpasa, why do it piecemeal? And also, I'll be open about it, you always aim high and shoot low if ever. You do not propose a piece of legislation that only addresses a piecemeal the problem and then you end up passing another law later on.

DAVILA: This seems quite complete.

FGE: We are trying to do everything all in one.

DAVILA: Good luck to you on that. Okay, we'll continue our conversation with Senator Chiz Escudero. We'll be asking more issues.

--- BREAK ---

DAVILA: Alright, we're still on Hot Copy and still with us our guest, Senator Chiz Escudero. And we just discussed on the first half of Hot Copy, these are all the revisions of the AMLA, the Anti-Money Laundering Law and I think you should Google it, read it so you'll see for yourself just exactly what they're trying to do in the Senate to tighten up this law. On other issues...

FGE: May other issues talaga?

DAVILA: Yes, other issues. You have not attended the hearings on EJK?

FGE: I have.

DAVILA: You have?

FGE: A couple.

DAVILA: You've read the executive summary, I mean the report.

FGE: Not yet, because I don't think I am a member of either of the two committees hearing.

DAVILA: Alright. Now, some points of that committee report.

FGE: I haven't seen it ha?

DAVILA: Yes, you haven't seen it. So, Senator Richard Gordon have said that there is not enough proof of state sponsored killings, there's not enough proof on Davao Death Squad, and of course at the end of the report, he does give an advice and admonished President Duterte to some degree. You have Senator Trillanes saying the report was essentially a cover up, it's a piece of garbage, and it's out there to protect the President. Some senators are saying that the hearing was short, just six hearings is not enough. What were your thoughts on the hearing?

FGE: Personally Karen, I don't think there was enough evidence to prove one way or the other, any of the findings established by the committee. They said there wasn't enough proof to say there were any EJKs but there's also not enough proof to say that there weren't. Perhaps more hearings could've been conducted, only that there was pressure from both sides for the hearings to end already.

DAVILA: Really?

FGE: Yes, because it was starting to become personal, not really literally bloody but figuratively bloody among the senators. You can already see who each one was for except for a few. Diba, kapag may nagsalita... ay, against ito, ay ito pabor 'to. Parang hindi narin healthy atsaka maganda.

DAVILA: And you didn't sign, why didn't you sign the report? Because it's quite interesting, I saw three that signed the report with reservations. I also read that a lot of senators, I have the list here who didn't sign the report.

FGE: I don't think I'm a member, Karen.

DAVILA: Do you have to be a member?

FGE: To sign, yes.

DAVILA: To sign, okay.

FGE: To sign the committee report, because they haven't given me a copy of the report so I don't think I'm a member.

DAVILA: What do you think should the Senate do?

FGE: Hindi ako kinuha.

DAVILA: But when it comes to Senator Leila De Lima?

FGE: What do you mean?

DAVILA: I mean, you have the House saying that the Senate should admonish her at some point.

FGE: There are some issues involving Senator De Lima. One, the show cause order of the House. Personally, I don't think the Senate should have anything to do with it. It's a letter signed by the chairman of the committee of the House addressed to Senator De Lima. Nothing is being asked of the Senate. They're not asking the Senate to do anything. It's an order addressed to a member of the Senate. So, whether Senator Leila follows it or ignores it, that's totally up to her.

DAVILA: Should she go?

FGE: That's totally up to her, Karen. For me, I don't think she should because of inter-chamber courtesy, and the proper outlet would be, not for me to tell the House what to do because I'll be violating the inter-chamber courtesy as well. But a remedy could be for them to file an ethics complaint which Senator De Lima can answer in the Senate now has something to act on. But not for that particular show cause order to be acted upon by the Senate. Some senators wanted the senators to decide on it. I disagree. It's addressed to her. In fact, copy furnish lang si Senate President Pimentel. So, the letter is not even addressed to you, copy furnish ka lang so there's nothing for us to really act on.

DAVILA: And right now, the House has not filed an ethics complaint against her?

FGE: No, but that's one of remedies they can use if ever. If they want the Senate to act. Again, I'm not suggesting, I'm not telling them what to do, it's an option.

DAVILA: Okay. Now, in the last trip of President Duterte, was it to China or Japan. I saw photos of you on the internet that you were with him.

FGE: That was Vietnam.

DAVILA: Okay, my sources tell me that you are now advising President Duterte. Is that true?

FGE: No, that's not true. Perhaps during that trip we had a good conversation but actually a friend of mine from the previous administration asked me, so, you're already with President Duterte in his trip to Vietnam.

DAVILA: Because I mean, let's face it, you ran with Senator Grace, you're very close to her and people are saying why is Senator Chiz in the presidential flight?

FGE: My answer to that would be...

DAVILA: Because admit it. Let's face it you ran with Senator Grace, you're very close to her. And people are asking, 'why is Senator Chiz in the presidential flight?'

FGE: My answer to that Karen, it's the first time actually. In my 18 years in the government; both in the house and in the senate. It's the first time a president invited me to join an official trip.

DAVILA: So, you were invited of course?

FGE: And number 2, I'm of the firm belief that outside the four walls of our country we should not wash our dirty linen in public. Oposisyon ka man o administrasyon, pagdating sa labas isang bansa tayo. Isang gobyerno tayo. Hindi na dapat dinadala doon kung ano ang away at hindi pagkakaunawaan. And for those who are complaining, Karen, simple lang sagot ko: most of the LP for example who are saying these things are the majority, excuse me, if you don't mind, I'm with the minority up to now.

DAVILA: Up to now.

FGE: So, my joining the trip notwithstanding I remain In the minority in the senate.

DAVILA: Does president Duterte, I don't know, anti-US retort does it worry you?

FGE: No, President Duterte has the ability to do a 180 on any issue. In fact, a day before the election from the day itself counting the votes for president I was having coffee with some officials in the US embassy and they were expressing concerns about his rhetorics. About what he was saying against the United States. I told them 'who knows he might win and they might hit it off." And they were going at that time. Well, the survey says, then we were slowly but surely watching the numbers coming in. I go 'see' who know they might just hit it off.

DAVILA: They did.

FGE: So, apparently Karen it's not really anti-US. Apparently it was

DAVILA: -anti-Obama.

FGE: Probably. But it's not anti-US really. And number 2, for me if this is rhetoric's in able to Philippines to be in a better position to bargain with the US. Because quite apparently Karen, we have not been treated that fairly by the US for the past so many years compared to their other allies.

DAVILA: This is very interesting for a sitting senator to say.

FGE: I'm echoing where he is coming from.

DAVILA: Okay. But, do you believe the 2?

FGE: Example. Bangladesh, the United Stated military is about 300 million. Israel, last year about 12 billion.

DAVILA: But then you have to remember Israel is the one ally in an area where we understand it needs to protect itself.

FGE: Agreed. But the one ally they have here too for the longest time. Longer that Japan at least.

DAVILA: Go on. This is interesting.

FGE: Longer than Japan. In this area where they are having troubles with the incoming superpower: China. Both economically and military. At sa tinagal tagal na magkasama tayo, it's frustrating to say the least, Karen.

DAVILA: Exactly.

FGE: For example. They gave us second hand ships like the cutter class that they gave the previous administration. They gave us that secondhand 30-40 year old boat and they counted it as military aide for us. But, in order to refurbish it we spend about 15-million-dollars for it. Magbibigay na rin lang kayo ibigay ninyo na rin iyong 15 dollars para ma- refurbish. Tayo pa rin ang gagastos.

DAVILA: I see.

FGE: I don't understand and get it. When the United States have problems with Guantanamo, when United States have problems with human rights violation supposedly in middle east. In Iraq. As an ally, the Philippines didn't say anything. Probably we whispered to them. Again, not defending. But perhaps this for President Duterte where he is coming from. Tayo wala pang limang buwan, wala pang apat na buwan, una pang ngangawngaw, una pang nagreklamo iyong ally natin. I think we have good reason to say, 'dahan dahan naman.' I thought we were friends? Let our enemies cry foul but our friends should try to talk to us in private. Tell us this, say this to us. But not that way probably the first ones to threaten us. Threaten us to stop sending aides, they will stop giving help. It just doesn't sound good.

DAVILA: Yeah. So..

FGE: For an ally that we've had for the past 60 years.

DAVILA: So, clearly you feel, I mean we are-the US is only treaty ally that we have with the mutual defense treaty. The president has no plans to I think to cancel the treaty. I don't see that in any of his speech but you believe that we should be asking for more, stronger military aide.

FGE: whatever kind of rhetoric the president is making, but then that will give us a better bargaining position, I'm all for it. But I am not in favor of cancelling, abrogating, turning back on our treaties. No. But for us to be able to revisit it. Perhaps with the view to strengthening the relations, to making it more fair, more at par, more equal, why not.

DAVILA: Okay. Now the president is saying we should get our weapons from China. China is giving us 25 years as as a grant to pay for it. Is that wise?

FGE: That's an option.

DAVILA: is it? Will it work with what we have?

FGE: but why we should we be limited only to the United States? Why, Karen? I mean hindi naman natin kaaway-

DAVILA: I mean do the weapons go together even China, Russia, US weapons.

FGE: Alam mo kung ano joke usually. Ang Israel, ang ginagamit kapag emergency ay armalite pero kapag talagang putukan na ay gagamitin nila ang mga usi nila. At saka iyong mga--

DAVILA: Okay, I get the point,

FGE: So, at the end of the daw we should not be limited to one supplier .whatever deal we can have with any other country as long as it is compliant with our requirements, why not Karen. There's no ban for us in buying to them anyway. It's only out of respect perhaps that we've been buying from the US. It's only out of respect perhaps that since all of our generals were trained in the US, they were all made them, made familiar with their equipment. So, that's why we keep on buying from them, too. But, there's a whole world out there that probably will sell us cheaper and more relevant equipment that can adapt to tropical places.

DAVILA: Okay, let's move now to Leni Robredo. It's quite interesting. But now we have the vice president's camp saying that there's a plot to steal the vice presidency. You have the Duterte camp saying, you know the yellows 'want me out.' Senator Kiko Pangilinan saying how is that even possible, were disseminated. Is this worrisome for the nation. I mean that you have possible threats to the vice presidency and then you have talks of Bongbong Marcos coming back. I mean, were it extremely polarized at this point?

FGE: Several things. It's nice to look at it from the outside looking.

DAVILA: Yeah. I would say that.

FGE: Number one. The protest filed against Vice President Robredo is pending before the PET. The president has nothing to do with it. Malacañang has nothing to do with it. The PET is comprised of justices of the Supreme Court. Perhaps, for he is enabled to appoint nine already by that time in the span of six years. Then you can say probably he might have a hand or influence in it.

DAVILA: But will it be dependent on the numbers at the end? I mean, the justices the vote counts?

FGE: Definitely. But, I don't think a hearing has been conducted already. In so far as the PET protest-

DAVILA: Marcos.

FGE: Senator Marcos is concerned. And that's the only way they can removed the vice president. The other way is via impeachment. And I don't think the vice president has committed any impeachable offense.


FGE: So far, the most politically charged thing that she did was her resignation. Clearly, that's not impeachable.


FGE: In so far as plots against President Duterte's concerned, I am not aware of any. But, what's saddening me is the fact that, 'bakit ba palaging sa kung sino ang nakaupo?' Why can't we be satisfied with whoever is sitting there. And simply helping him or her do his or her job. And in that sense, I appreciate Vice President Robredo. Clearly, she's showing an absence or lack of interest which makes her attractive, more attractive actually--

DAVILA: I agree.

FGE: including President Duterte while he was running- is the absence or lack of interest, structurally get it. I cannot say about some of her part., I cannot say about something about of her party. But, she herself clearly is disinterested. And it's the character that we should see officials in government. Whoever is there, it should not matter. The success of this country cannot bend on you or me or whoever is sitting there. Our success should be achieved regardless of who is sitting there.

DAVILA: okay. Very quickly. Death penalty, are you open to either hearing the death penalty or your anti-death?

FGE: I'm against that.

DAVILA: your anti- death but your President Duterte who is for it. Are you open in any way or no?

FGE: Of course if it's a debate I will participate in the debate and ask relevant question, Karen. Very simple questions actually about it. How will it guarantee and is it really a deterrence on the Commission of Human Rights?

DAVILA: Okay, are for the lowering of the age of the criminal liability because you have House Speaker Alvarez wants to pushed that with the Juvenile Justice Law? He wants it at nine.

FGE: I was the chairman when we passed it Karen. And I think there is enough room for us to review it. Why? We increased the age when the JJ Law was passed previous to my term under Senator Drilon. But, children now are wiser at a younger age than before.

DAVILA: But, you want them in jail?

FGE: it's not a question of them being in jail but having the liability to face the responsibility for their actions.

DAVILA: So, it could be community work? It's not necessarily in jail?

FGE: In fact the previous law Karen ,was actually perhaps It was ahead of its time; the previous law, the Child and Mutual Code. What is that law say? Anyone below nine is immune from suit, criminal liability rather. Anyone, above or below 18 will have a suspended sentence. So, if you're found guilty--

DAVILA: Say, you stole a phone?

FGE: If you are 10 or 12 and you're found guilty. You will have a suspended sentence. Meaning you were found guilty you should suffer the penalty let's say for months or 2 years, they'll suspend your sentence. They will go rehabilitation.

DAVILA: But then?

FGE: Upon reaching 18 you will now be returned to court. So that the court will decide. Let's erase his criminal liability if you done well for yourself and all records will be extinguished.

DAVILA: I've never heard that.

FGE: that's under the old law.

DAVILA: This is good.

FGE: it's the PD passed during Marcos's time. That was the law we were following at that time.

DAVILA: What' wrong with that law?

FGE: Perhaps, it was ahead of its time. We don't have enough rehab facilities. We don't have the DSW as strong as it is now. But, perhaps it's a good time to revisit that law and implement it and used that law instead.

DAVILA: Alright, we have enough time. Last question, when can you and Heart can have a baby? Wala na it's the end of the show.

FGE: Next year.

DAVILA: Are you planning?

FGE: Next year we are planning. We are exercising and doing responsible parenthood.

DAVILA: But, you have two kids.

FGE: I have two kids in my previous-

DAVILA: You have two kids and you want of course a child with Heart?

FGE: Definitely. Next year, Karen. We also want to enjoy our lives together na kami. Of course, with my kids, too.


FGE: At the same time para may katulong na rin kaming mag-alaga doon sa baby. Dahil may ate at kuya na. mga 10 or 11, Karen.

DAVILA: Our last question here is from Caroline , our producer here. Is Senator Chiz EScudero has actually changed his life by doing yoga everyday?

FGE: Not everyday. Since two weeks ago.

DAVILA: Has yoga changed you life -

FGE: Pasko na e. Hindi kapag pasko wala muna. Kain muna.

DAVILA: But, seriously you do yoga? Seriously, has it made you calmer, nicer, what's it's done?

FGE: Healthier. It's a good way to maintain your weight.

DAVILA: I mean, does it help you find peace? I'm curious.

FGE: I don't need to find peace.

DAVILA: What are the effects for you?

FGE: No, it's a different kind of yoga. It's hot, I don't think you will find peace. It's the different kind of yoga. Iyong mga 'uhm'uhm' na ganoon, hind ito iyon.

DAVILA: Okay. But, clearly you are now a yogi, that's clear.

FGE: As long as I cannot complete all the forms, I don't think I can claim to be one.

DAVILA: Senator Chiz Escudero, thank you very much.

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