Press Release
February 5, 2018

Interview with Ms Karen Davila

KAREN DAVILA: First we hear federalism. Now we hear a hybrid form of government. What is this to you and what is your understanding?

SEN KIKO PANGILINAN: When we went through the process of conducting our hearings, we had four questions. One, should we have Charter Change? Two, if we do have Charter Change, what has to be changed? Three, if we are to do Charter Change, do we go through the ConCon, Constitutional Convention, or the Constituent Assembly? And number four, if it's a constituent assembly, do you vote separately or do you vote jointly? So these are the four questions that we laid down during our hearings and I guess that matter of federalism and hybrid federalism will refer to kung kailangan magkaroon ng amendments, and ano ang dapat i-amyenda. Dito, based on our hearings, iba-iba rin and punto de vista. Some say we don't need federalism. What we need is greater decentralization. Providing more resources to local governments.

Right now sinasabi almost close to 80% of the entire economy and the entire funding of the country is centralized. It's in the national government. Mga bente porsyento lang or less ang napupunta sa lokal. And that's why the development is so skewed in favor of urban centers to the detriment of the development of the countryside, which is why poverty is so acute in the countryside. These are some of the issues. Ang understanding ko diyan, and PDP-Laban Institute wants federalism. But even in our discussions dun sa hearing, those who are proponents of federalism are even saying dapat siguro may stages of federalism. Sabi ko ang tawag ko dun ay federalism by installment. Hulugan. Stages. Mayroong mga nagsasabi, as I pointed out earlier, rather than federalize, we should decentralize further. So these are what we are tackling as we go through our hearings sa constitutional amendments committee.

KAREN: During your hearings, can you please keep us up to date? How many hearings have you had? Who do you invite?

SFNP: Under my watch we've had two hearings and we intend to bring it to Cebu, to Cagayan De Oro, and to Baguio. But prior to my being chair, it was Senator Drilon who was chair and he had two hearings too. So the combined material that we have put together is based on four hearings. What was your second question?

KAREN: Who do you invite? Cause people might be asking they could be inviting only anti-federalism sources...

SFNP: No, no, no. In fact, in the first hearing, Presidential Legal Counsel Sal Panelo was there. Chief Justice Puno who was appointed as consultative committee chair on chacha was also there. Chief Justice Davide, Nene Pimentel-- Senate President Pimentel who favors chacha. We have made it as inclusive. We have brought opposing views. In the succeeding hearing, we had sectoral groups-- farmer groups, anti-mining groups, fisherfolk, labor groups. So the process is as important as the outcome. Hindi pupwedeng madaliin. Hindi pupwedeng kami-kami lang. Hindi pupwedeng puro pulitiko lang and nag-uusap. Kinakailangan 'yung mga eksperto, kinakailangan 'yung mga sektor. So that's what we've been doing. At kinakailangan demokratiko. Ibig sabihin, I may have my personal views but we need to have the debates. We need to have opposing views heard in an intelligent, reflective process. It's how democracy is. Hindi pwedeng murahan, hindi pwedeng paninira, hindi pwedeng pananakot. These are anathema to a democratic process.

KAREN: In several interviews you've had, you did say that it was too early to change the Constitution.

SFNP: I didn't say it was too early. I said I have reservations against changing the Constitution. But because I am chairman of the committee, sabi ko nga I will have to momentarily suspend my own personal views. Besides I'm only one of eleven members of the committee. And we've had a Senate caucus. And I agree with the Senate consensus that we have to process this properly. Up to that extent, I am doing it as best I can, making sure it is inclusive, it is participatory, so that the trust in the process is there. And if you have a trust in the process and you will also eventually have some acceptability or unacceptability in the outcome.

KAREN: Let's talk about the constituent assembly. Cause as it seems it will be, more or less, it's going to be that form... that's how voting will be, at least for now.

SFNP: At least the preference... my understanding is the preference of the administration is Constituent Assembly.

KAREN: What I wanted to ask you, in a Constituent Assembly set-up under the Constitution, do both Houses have to get together at the same time or can the Lower House vote among themselves first, if they get 3/4, then you vote after?

SFNP: Well, that's actually a point of contention. Because we have heard leaders of the House of Representatives saying they can go ahead of cha-cha without the Senate and that's not gonna work for us in the Senate. We believe that Charter Change is such an important process. We will have to vote separately. There has to be a check and a balance to one another. It is a bicameral Congress-- there is the House and there is the Senate. So sa atin, and position ng Senado, it has to be voting separately. As to the process, the House and the Senate, I believe, can go ahead and make their proposed amendment, three-fourths vote. If they have it passed, the Senate will also have to come up with its version and pass it with three-fourths vote. If there are differences, in the same way that we pass a bill, we go into a bi-cameral conference committee and then thresh out the differences if possible. And whatever the outcome is, we bring back to both Houses and they have to ratify. And then ultimately, dadalhin sa taumbayan para maratipika. The 1987 Constitution was ratified 31 years ago and close to 17 million people, or over 70% of the voters, voted yes to this Constitution. So ultimately, kinakailangan talaga maging participatory ito, dapat marinig ang pinakamalawak na tinig ng ating mga mamamayan. That's why we are bringing it to different parts of the country. Para talagang participatory. Dahil ultimately, and taumbayan din ang magpapasya kung gusto nila ito o hindi. Kung hindi mayos ang proseso, ang naging kasaysayan ng charter change sa ating bansa, kapag hindi maayos ang proseso, kapag mayroong agam-agam ang taumbayan na ito'y makasarili, at pansariling interes lamang at kapangyarihan ang tinutulak, it does not progress. Natututulan at nauuwi sa pag-reject ng taumbayan.

KAREN: So, technically, what you're saying is the House, because they have a super majority, can already, if they wanted to, make their amendments, on their own, propose it rather. Vote, but it's not final. They'd have to wait for the Senate.

SFNP: That is our position na it has to be voting separately. And three-fourths sa Senate, three-fourths sa House. Kasi merong nagmungkahi, na kapag sinama mo kasi yung 290 plus na congressman at 24 na senador, and three-fourths ng buo na yan is 230. Ibig sabihin, kahit wala na yung Senado, 230 votes, three-fourths na yun, so sinasabi nung iba, eh basta yung sinasabi ng Saligang Batas, kaya kahit wala yung Senado, pag tinuloy ng Kongreso, eh okay na yan.

That's where the contentious, controversial process, dun pumutok eh. Kaya ang sinabi ng Senado, teka muna, why will we go through this process kung number one, hindi yan ang sinasabi ng Saligang Batas, and number two, ano ba ang agenda? Dahil mayroon tayong naririnig nun, no elections at term extensions.

Eh kung ganito, teka muna, akala ko ba federalism? Akala ko ba economic provisions? Ngayon, No-El. Ngayon, term extension. Sino ba ang makikinabang dito? Yung taumbayan ba o yung mga nakaupo? Yun lagi ang palagay ko magiging contentious. But there was an agreement among the Senators, at least the leaders, na ceasefire muna dun sa usapin na iyon and we go through our hearings

KAREN: Do you have a timetable of some sort because you have SP Pimentel also saying that a standalone plebiscite in 2019 for constitutional change would be better than piggybacking it in the barangay elections this May.

SFNP: Ah masyado nang huli ata this May. Kasi even the Comelec has said na they need six months for them to be able to process any plebiscite. So, we're already on the second of six months if it's going to be in May--or third. So kulang na sa panahon. I don't think kayang ihabol. And I don't think it should be this coming May. Masyadong maikli ang panahon para ipwersa or itulak ang ganitong klaseng, napakahalagang bagay. We need more time.

KAREN: But you think a plebiscite in 2019, a separate one, one that's on its own. Not piggybacking also with the elections in 2019.

SFNP: Well, pati yung dinedebate, although I think 2019 might be a more manageable process. We will come up with a more manageable process. But even that is dependent on many issues.

Yung last consensus namin sa Senate, yung meeting. Kasi si Senate President Koko was quoted as saying na I gave a commitment to him na March. That is correct. We discussed it initially. I said perhaps March. But this is between me and the Senate President. My other colleagues in the Senate are not privy to this. In other words, if they say, yes, kaya ng March, then fine. But if some of them say teka muna, ba't minamadali, then we would have to process that also with the members of the Senate.

And based dun sa caucus ng Senado. Ang maliwanag dito, hindi pwedeng pwersahin. Hindi pwedeng Senate voting jointly with the House. And wala namang napagkasunduang voting separately eh, doon sa meeting ng House and Senate leaders. Wala.

KAREN: Wala pang voting?

SFNP: Wala. So if you ask me, at any point na lumabas itong issue na, teka muna, ipipilit itong voting jointly, you're not gonna have the Senate participating in that.

Kaya nga Senate President Pro-Tempore, si Senator Recto said, kung ganoon ang usapin, ang paniwala niya it is dead in the Senate.

Marami pang pwedeng mangyari dito. Pero ang mahalaga rito, balikan natin yung tao. Tayo, pwede tayong magdebate pero kinakailangan kasama sa debate kailangan kasama sa proseso, kailangan sa pagpapaliwanag yung taumbayan because ultimately, sila naman ang magraratify nung kung anuman ang mumungkahi, kung mayroon man.

KAREN: But let's talk about practical terms. We've seen the Bangsamoro Basic Law. It went through last Congress, hindi naging batas. And then now, it's the priority pero it hasn't even been made into law. If something as the Bangsamoro Basic Law which is one area only has not even flown what are the chances of the whole country?

SFNP: Well, I think the Bangsamoro Basic Law, totoo nagkaroon ng problema sa legislation pero sa pangkabuuan, the peace talks, the negotiations marami nang naabot eh. So hindi naman siya zero.

KAREN: But that took how long?

SFNP: It took some time. The path to peace is not easy. But I'd like to think, at this stage, we've learned from previous experiences, in terms of how to get the law enacted. And the Senate and the House are committed to seeing this through. Hearings are already being conducted by Senator Zubiri so I'd like to think that we will be able to at least in the Senate get this out of the way. The other hearings that I would like to begin conducting. We have been designated by Senator De Lima is the anti-dynasty bill because in two hearings, committee on constitutional amendments, issue of dynasties has always cropped up. Meaning, why would you federalize if 80 percent of all these areas are being held by political dynasties. So we have to address that issues of dynasties. And we we will begin conducting hearings on this Electoral Reform Committee measure. And if I'm not mistaken, it's scheduled for Thursday.

KAREN: Do you agree with former Chief Justice Hilario Davide that if federalism pushed through, you're seeing actually more political families, the same families cropped up and become more powerful take the same areas.

SFNP: Well, that is a serious cause for concern. And that is why we are proceeding in parallel effort of hearing the anti-dynasty bills that have been filed in the Senate. So that we can see how. Mayroon kasing panawagan din na to show your sincerity, you pass the anti-dynasty bill first. In a way, I see the validity of their concerns. So we are doing this in parallel in tandem. In fact sabi nga nila, it's actually a monopoly of not only the local economy but also the politics. And when there is a monopoly, chances are, your development will not be sustainable because only a few are benefiting. And that is why you have so much poverty. Skewed lalo na sa rural areas.

KAREN: CJ Davide also said, if this administration is insisting on federalism, why not make the Bangsamoro Basic Law the test case? Would you agree to that? See first if it works.

SFNP: Well, ang problema din kasi sa Bangsamoro Basic Law, sinasabi ng marami, nung mga eksperto, may limits at this stage because of our constitutional limitations. So that's why they're saying--

KAREN: You can't make it a test case.

SFNP: You can up to a certain extent. But you still need to revisit the Constitution so that a number of issues pertaining to greater autonomy and local self-rule will be more--right now kasi may mga sinasabing kontra yan sa ating existing provisions of the Constitution. This also has to be processed and if need be amendments be undertaken.

KAREN: Should amendments just be made? I mean the US Constitution, although it's 200 years old, has had 27 amendments already. And you have experts saying they're minor amendments. In other words, it's not revising the whole system of government.

SFNP: Yes, in fact, our Constitution provides for either amending it or revising it. At yung mga ekperto na rin yung nagsasabi, when you amend the Constitution, yan, pwedeng constituent assembly, kasi nga amending lang yan. Pero when you revise the Constitution, ang mga ibang eksperto nagsasabi, dapat yan constitutional convention. And you're right. The United States did not go through a revision. They went through piecemeal measures, submitted it to the people for ratification, that's why they have Amendment 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8. So, pupuwedeng ganoon ang proseso. For example, bakit amendment at bakit hindi revision? O ano ba yung revision? Ano ba yung amendment?

A shift from a unitary-presidential to a presidential-parliamentary-federal, yan, revision yan kasi ang dami mong babaguhin. Pati yung three branches of government wala na. Kasi nga the executive and the legislative will be merged eh. So, hindi na siya three branches of government. Hindi na siya amendment, revision na ng ating Saligang Batas at istruktura ng gobyerno. Pero halimbawa, yung tinatawag na amendment na, yung economic provisions, sinasabi kasi right now, may 60-40 requirement ang ownership of some of our industries and some of our--

KAREN: --property essentially.

SFNP: Yes, and the exploitation of natural resources, meron pa nga 100 percent. Now, ang sinasabi nung ilang mga eksperto, pupwede nating i-amend at ilagay, na itong mga economic provisions on ownership, yung restrictions, etc., pwede nating ilagay yung term: "as may be provided by law, or as may be provided by law." In other words, nandiyan pa rin yung 60-40, pero yung provision, ang dadagdagan mo lang: "or as may be provided by law."

KAREN: Which would change...?

SFNP: Which would mean that Congress can now amend it to 80-20, 75-25--

KAREN: I see, with that one phrase.

SFNP: Yes, so that one they say, hindi yan revision. Amendment lang yan. So, pupwedeng piecemeal yan at ibigay na sa taumbayan para maratipika. So, yun ang binabalangkas ngayon but I'd like to stress--

KAREN: Doesn't that make more sense to first test an amendment because when you think about it, you're talking about 30 years--31 years of the same Constitution, you've never even tried one amendment.

SFNP: In fact, ang interesting nung sinabi ni former Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza. Sabi niya: "Democracy is evolutionary. It is not revolutionary." And he says revision is actually radical and revolutionary. So he says it should be piecemeal amendments. And therefore, yun na nga, to test it, the piecemeal amendments rather than a revision of the entire Constitution. It's more stable. And it's more predictable.

KAREN: And in terms of behavior of those sitting, you can test each other. Are you able to do it?

SFNP: I'd like to think, how have countries struggled and moved away from developing nation status to developed nation status? Predictability, consistency, and 'yung hindi pabagu-bago ba.

KAREN: Stable.

SFNP: Stable, steady. 15-20 years of consistency in policy, predictability in policy, and continuity, hindi yung pabagu-bago. So, pagka ganoon, you know, South Korea did that, Thailand did that, Taiwan did that, Hong Kong, Singapore, they had consistencies in policy. So it's more stable, it's more predictable, it's more manageable in that sense. So these are some of the issues that we are processing as we conduct our hearings.

KAREN: Before we go to quick break, one of the suggestions of CJ Davide is this: If the issue is to put more money to improve the economies of the provinces or rural areas, then amend the Local Government Code, instead of 60 percent going to the national government and 40 to the LGU, he says amend it. Make 20 percent go to the national government, 80 percent to the LGU or pick a number.

SFNP: Or you do it in a five year period or tranches. It's like the salary standardization law. 25 percent in the first year, another 25 until it's completed 100 percent in four years. So you could do something like that. In a period of six years, you calibrate the releases and increase the releases to local governments directly over time. Yeah, pupwede yon and you can do that by amending the Local Government Code. In fact, one of the experts said: The Local Government Code is mandated that Congress review it every five years. But since 1991, there has been no review.

KAREN: Exactly.

SFNP: So, yan ang isang hamon. And I'd like to the point, the experts have said more than 80 percent of the nation's wealth and resources and the funding of government resources, 80 percent is in the central government. 20 percent lang are disbursed to the local government. And that's why people come to Manila, come to urban centers because that's where government programs are made available. You have to really change that kind of distribution of resources. It's not gonna work. It does not work. Poverty is still in a--well, it's a high of 25 percent. One of the highest in the context of ASEAN. Other countries in ASEAN have brought it down to single digit poverty levels. We haven't. And that's really a concern. And that's why they're saying, the inequitable distribution of resources, making local governments disempowered in the process and are unable to really deliver, but I'd also like to stress--

KAREN: Can the committee on local governments in the Senate do that while you are hearing?

SFNP: Strictly speaking, they can do that. In fact, former Senator Joey Lina who was in the hearing last time, he said, the creation of the regional development councils, it's there. There are regional development councils and he was challenging na the executive department, if you want to fund the federal states initially, you fund first the regional development councils. You submit a proposed national budget that places more money in these regional development councils.

KAREN: In other words, without the term federalism, you can still act. That's the point.

SFNP: Yes, that's what the experts are saying. That's correct. Some of the experts. Some are saying no. So that's what we have to now process.

KAREN: Alright we'll continue our conversation with Senator Kiko Pangilinan after our short break. Stay with us.


KAREN: Alright still with us on Hot Copy, this is the second half of Hot Copy. We have Senator Kiko Pangilinan. Today, Senator Antonio Trillanes says he will file a resolution to probe the hidden wealth of President Duterte. Now, they've done this before with Vice President Binay. But I've wanted to ask you, with the times today, do you think--do you support this move?

SFNP: And also before that with Senator Villar, remember?

KAREN: Ah, yeah.

SFNP: So, it happens in the Senate.

KAREN: Do you support the move?

SFNP: Well, I think it's a valid issue. Do you have a President who has billions of pesos of transactions in a bank account? I think the people deserve to know the truth. But whether or not it is going to fly in the Senate, that's another question.

KAREN: That's a good point.

SFNP: Because after all, they have a supermajority. So, ako, it continues to be a valid issue. We all deserve to know the truth. But whether or not the Senate will step up and help in determining the truth is another question altogether.

KAREN: As an ordinary taxpayer, you often wonder, what are Senators and Congressmen answerable for when it comes to documents? Like the documents that Senator Antonio Trillanes has. You have the AMLC denying they were the source. You have the Ombudsman saying it wasn't for release, it was given to them. Should investigations be held without the source being verified first?

SFNP: (inaudible) This is the issue of his wealth, and now they're suspending the Deputy Ombudsman because of that, what is this? What is the truth behind this? Is this really because Deputy Ombudsman Carandang was violating the law or was it because he was in pursuit of the truth? And if he's in pursuit of the truth, why should he be suspended? Like I said, these are valid questions that would be best, you know, it could be, it should be looked into because they have the supermajority. Of course, that's something that remains to be seen.

KAREN: Would you think that the President should sign a bank waiver.

SFNP: Well, he said he won't. But that's why sabi nga natin we are interested in the truth because the President ran on a platform of anti-corruption. So we'd like to know. Never mind if sabihin mo na I don't deserve to know the truth but I think the people do. Ultimately the people deserve the truth but what is the truth? And how do you find it? How do you get to the truth?

KAREN: Okay, when it comes to the Ombudsman defying President Duterte's order for the suspension of Deputy Ombudsman Carandang, you have two sides of the story. There's an existing Supreme Court decision, 2014 yan. Talk about that because SolGen Calida he was quoted as saying, there might be a constitutional crisis.

SFNP: Under our legal system, these rulings of the Supreme Court form part of the law of the land. And so the Supreme Court ruling said you cannot suspend the deputies. And so the Ombudsman is simply upholding the ruling of the Supreme Court which is part of the law of the land. So she is just upholding the law. And for this, we have given, well, I mean, I support that decision.

KAREN: But Secretary Sal Panelo said that when a President gives an order, there's a presumption of regularity so he claims the Ombudsman should follow it and then take it to the Supreme Court for them to reiterate.

SFNP: I don't see where the presumption of regularity will apply, how it will apply, when there is an existing ruling of the Supreme Court which is part of the law of the land. Because the other side to it is that Ombudsman Morales who is a former Supreme Court Justice will also be accused of--you know there is a ruling of the Supreme Court, you know that this ruling forms part of the law of the land and you are not upholding it. So, ako, ultimately, we can debate interpretations but the Supreme Court has an interpretation. And it is an interpretation that says your deputy ombudsman cannot be suspended by the President. So, cuentas claras. In other words, that's why you have a Constitution because you can debate everything until kingdom come, ika nga. But what is said in the Constitution, and how the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution, that is clear. You cannot debate that. Until it's overturned. But it is not yet overturned so that is the rule governing this particular case.

KAREN: So under the existing Supreme Court decision, the only one who can actually discipline the deputies is--

SFNP: The Ombudsman.

KAREN: Herself.

SFNP: Yes, and the Ombudsman, on the other hand, if she fails to discipline her deputies, can be held to account in a process of impeachment. I mean that's how our democracy works. The Constitution first, the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary under the Constitution and also the other constitutional offices. They're all under the Constitution. It's not the President first, the Constitution and then we're all under the President. It doesn't work like that.

KAREN: You're hearing possible changes in the Constitution, should we, should we not, how should we do it, and you have the House that says by March, they might vote on the impeachment of Chief Justice Sereno, which would mean first quarter of this year or start of the second quarter. It will reach the Senate. And that will take a lot of time.

SFNP: Yes, that's true.

KAREN: That's a lot of time.

SFNP: And of course we still have the BBL, and of course the Charter Change, so we will see. I've been around a long time, well, relatively a long time in the Senate, this is my third term, to know that sometimes, things just proceed elsewhere, somewhere. So sometimes, you don't know what to expect. We'll see how this thing unfolds.

KAREN: Alright, last words. When it comes to, well, now you have local governments already like Quezon City, I saw footage of Mayor Belmonte, she's already talking about federalism, educating different changes on each method going down the barangay level.

SFNP: Well, this is good. We should discuss this. Sabi ko nga ultimately, ang mga magdedesisyon dito hindi naman ang pulitiko eh. Ang magdedesisyon kung sasang-ayunan na niya kung anumang mga pagbabago sa Saligang Batas ay ang taumbayan. So dapat sa umpisa pa lamang, sila ang sinasama sa mga diskusyon. Tanong natin sa kanila, gusto niyo ba walang eleksyon? Tanong natin sa kanila, gusto niyo ba yung mga nakaupo madagdagan ang termino nang hindi tumatakbo? Gusto niyo ba appointees na lang ang mga local governments? Mga ganon. Gusto niyo ba hindi na pwedeng piliin ang president dahil ang pipili na lang sa ating mga lider, based on some of the proposals, ay yung mga pulitiko mismo sa isang parliamentary form of government. But ang sinasabi, gusto ba ninyo mayroong parliament, mayroong presidente? Lahat yan tatalakayin. Lahat yan dapat kasama ang taumbayan, kasama ang mamamayan sa pagbabalangkas. And this ultimately, I think ang kinakailangan ding masagot nitong debate sa Saligang Batas, madadagdagan ba ang trabaho? Magkakaroon ba ng mas murang presyo ng mga bilihin? Maaayos ba ang traffic sa urban centers? Dahil hindi lamang Metro Manila ang matindi ang traffic: Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, Metro Iloilo, etc. So lahat ito, may saysay ba ito sa buhay ng bawat mamamayan? O ibang interes ang itinutulak dito at hindi yung interes ng mas malawak na populasyon ng ating bansa?

KAREN: Or would emergency powers for the President just would it have helped instead of a drastic revision in the Constitution?

SFNP: That's a big question involving a lot of legal and constitutional and even policy questions. Maybe in the issue of traffic, except that--

KAREN: Would you have been in favor?

SFNP: Well I was open. But eh hindi rin tinutulak eh.

KAREN: Yeah. Actually, the irony hindi natuloy.

SFNP: Kaya nga. Magdadalawang taon na, no. Although priority dapat yun. So hindi itinutulak. Even Senator Grace Poe I think publicly has said--

KAREN: She was open too.

SFNP: Yes, but sabi nga, it's not being pushed or it's not being pushed enough. So wala.

KAREN: Alright, well on that note, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, thank you for coming to the show. Thank you.

SFNP: Thank you very much. Salamat.

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