Press Release
July 23, 2019


SONA 2019

SEN WIN: Let me give you my point of view in the entire SONA speech, this is a very clear message that the President is going to be very serious about corruption and it is still pervasive in the government system, destroying our society, destroying the government itself. The message is very clear that the President is going to be tough on corruption because he feels, and I also agree with the President, that corruption is the one that is also connected to drugs, poor services and poverty. This the root cause of many ills of our society. I suppose in terms of poverty, I think the President dabbled a little bit in some of our anti-poverty programs especially on agriculture. He mentioned the coco levy fund which will be used to jumpstart agriculture. It is a good start. Agriculture is a very complex industry, the mere fact that he mentioned coco levy as a tool to jumpstart agriculture, I see some light in boosting our agri in the next three years.


Q: What kind of light do you see given the coco levy fund had been vetoed by the President?

SEN WIN: Let me segue to Landbank, that's a strong message that the President wants Landbank to focus on its core mandate which is to lend out to the agriculture sector. He actually made strong points to even destroying Landbank if they don't perform their mandate. These are a few strategies that the administration will employ to jumpstart agriculture because agri has been a laggard for the last six years. Of course, we want to see more details because it is a complex industry but refocusing Landbank to lend more because access to capital for our farmers has been a big problem. If you are a farmer and you want to buy fertilizer, it is very difficult for you to do that. The use of coco levy to jumpstart the agricultural industry, maybe a portion of that fund--all of that will be discussed in detail later on. But the concept is there, and the message is very clear to the legislators that the President wants to pass the remaining legislation that has not been passed in the past three years. These are very difficult pieces of legislations and it demands a lot of debate and a lot of study and the President feels that these pieces of legislations are essential to perform its mandate.

Q: The President was saying like, I need an honest man for the coco levy fund. How difficult is it to have somebody to utilize the funds?

SEN WIN: The concept here is to use the funds to make sure that the returns are bigger that what the funds are right now. So there are several concepts that we are talking about, first is to use the proceeds for the interest. He mentioned that he wants to invest it, to deposit it and use the proceeds from that deposit to invest in the productivity of agriculture. We have to make sure that the productivity is really going to be productive because a lot of times, we invest, but nothing happens. Of course, investing that money can also be a source of corruption, if you buy expensive fertilizers, machinery, then eventually, you are just wasting the proceeds so he needs somebody who understands agriculture and an honest person to invest properly. The Senate's proposal is to come up with a committee to manage the funds but to execute the funds itself at the agricultural level, we need someone who understands agriculture.

Q: Which would have been perfect if you can get somebody who is specializing in agriculture or in investments from the Board that will manage the funds. I think it was Secretary Nograles who said he was a little uncomfortable with the funds because it is big and he likened it to the Road Board Users fund.

SEN WIN: At the end of the day, if you were to compare that to the Road Board, the Road Board was misused. The funds were there but it was misused. The same here if you will misuse the funds, then nothing productive will come out.


Q: That's why he doesn't want the same fate as the Road Board. What about the security of tenure which he talked about during the press conference?

SEN WIN: These are silent messages. For example, by not mentioning the SOT bill, this is quite controversial with the business sector as well as the labor groups and the business sector feels that this will affect their businesses and affect the profitability of their businesses. There's a heavy lobby to veto this bill but we feel in the Senate that we worked out an SOT bill that is a win-win solution for both the labor groups and the business groups. A bill that is flexible enough for the business groups to execute and it will not hamper on their operations.


Q: Death penalty is one of the first he spoke about when he delivered his SONA. I know you had filed a bill on re-imposing the death penalty--?

SEN WIN: Yes, but limited to drug lords which is high volume drug trafficking. In my last years as a Mayor, I've seen drug lords hire the best lawyers to defend themselves, they have the money. Kahit nasa kulungan na sila, they can still transact and operate their businesses. So my view here is let's go finish the root cause of illegal drugs which is the drug lords. That's why my death penalty bill is limited to drug trafficking which is the drug lords.

Q: You don't agree with it should include plunderers?

SEN WIN: Well, that one can be discussed but I think it will stand a better chance in the Senate if that is limited to high volume drug trafficking because this type of individuals have the capacity to defend themselves. If they get convicted, death penalty will eventually end the root cause of drugs. We are not talking about grams, we are talking about hundreds and thousands of kilos of drugs. I would like to focus on that. That's the root cause of our crimes like rape, a lot of them are connected to illegal drugs.

Q: Are you open to including plunderers in the bill?

SEN WIN: I'm open to it. We have to discuss about it and see what are the merits of including that but my focus right now is reducing drugs, hopefully, eliminating drugs in our country and let's go to the source--the drug lords.

Q: When you look at the composition of Senators right now, does it have a better chance to making it pass in the 18th Congress?

SEN WIN: Looking at the attitude of the Congress during the 17th Congress, there were seven bills on death penalty that were filed. I think three or four of them were limited to high-volume drug trafficking. You can see the appetite for this type of legislation. And my personal opinion is it stands a better chance if we limit it to high-volume drug trafficking.


Q: He also talked about ROTC which is in line with the bill that you filed.

SEN WIN: We sponsored a bill to reinstate ROTC in grades 11 and 12. The reason for that is only 70% of our senior high school go to college so if you want to teach everyone or our youth leadership, discipline and preparedness, it has to be in senior high school. On top of that, if you remember during our ROTC days, it was 1st and 2nd year college so that's exactly right now the senior high school which is grade 11 and 12. It is the same age range. Hindi naman natin binago yun. I have to emphasize the concept here is to teach our youth discipline, leadership, and preparedness. These are the essential tools that they need not only to be prepared military but also during disasters and when you look for a job.

Q: Is there a need to review the kind of [ROTC] training that they hold in schools now?

SEN WIN: We need to reinvent ROTC. Hindi na pwede ang ROTC dati. The ROTC 25 years ago is totally different from now. For example, climate change and disaster preparedness, we have to include that. We need every abled-body to help out during these times. We also built in a very strict safeguards to prevent abuses and maltreatment to students as well as the adults. We have a grievance committee in all of the schools and we make sure that within 30 days, the resolution of any complaints should be out already. Dapat mabilis kung hindi ay the disciplinary actions will not be effective.

Q: What are the chances of this, making in the Senate in the 18th Congress?

SEN WIN: I think with the new set of Senators, we all know the PDP group has expanded, I think they have five members right now, this stands a better chance and again, the President has mentioned this, Sec. Lorenzano is very passionate about this and I feel that this is now essential to give our youth additional skills, we're not wasting the time of our youth, we're helping them by giving them extra skills to help them with their everyday lives.


Q: You are going to Chair the Education Committee?

SEN WIN: Basic Education Committee--

Q: Hahatiin niyo na ito?

SEN WIN: We will create two because in the lower house that is the set-up so we are following that set-up and it just so happens that I came from the local government which is largely centered in basic education and Joel, TESDA ang kanyang background so yung skills namin is really fit for basic education and Senator Joel for higher education.

Q: So from how do we understand it, there will be two education committees?

SEN WIN: There will be two education committees, one focusing on basic education which is early childhood, elementary, senior high school and Senator Joel will focus on higher education which is all the colleges and techvoc.

Q: What do you want to focus on basic ed?

SEN WIN: I want to put accountability in education, meaning, is k-12 working for our Filipino people? We added two years in k-12, adding two years also means adding costs to Filipino parents but are we producing graduates that are employable? Are we producing graduates that are needed in the industry? Are we producing graduates that excel in our colleges?

Q: Are you saying we have to re-evaluate this sir?

SEN WIN: We have to make sure that K-12v is performing on its supposed to be performing. I am for K-12, in fact, when I was in the local government I really felt that K-12 is necessary to make us competitive globally but K-12 in its itself if not executed properly, can be added burden for both government and also the parents so we have to make sure that K-12 is functioning and being executed properly.

Q: So you are going to take a closer look at it to improve it? Not to scrap it?

SEN WIN: To improve it not to scrap it--

Q: So papalakasan mo siya?

SEN WIN: We want to make sure that K-12 is performing and is being implemented properly. It's a huge program, very complex program because it starts from Grade 1 all the way to senior high school and at the end of the process it will produce graduates who can be employed and graduates who can go to college. So we need the right measures to make sure that it's preforming properly.


Q: West Philippine Sea, his statements, was it definitive for you?

SEN WIN: Well, the President is very clear that he wants to take the diplomatic route in dealing with West Philippine Sea and he wants to, in his words, confine it to the boardroom, confine it to the conference room when we talk about the West Philippine Sea during the cabinet and that's the direction that he wants and for me, what is quite satisfying personally, is his assertion that WPS is ours, no if's, no but's. I hope we can assert heavily on the interest of the Philippines but for nowó

Q: Do you question when due time is sir? When is due time?

SEN WIN: This is a balancing act and the statement of the President is quite strong, this is the strongest statement that I have heard from him in the last three years. The strategy and the route is very clear that he wants to take the diplomatic route and he wants to balance it and at one point assert it heavily.


Q: Charter Change, the President didn't mention it during his speech--

SEN WIN: Again, It's a silent message that Charter Change is off the agenda and I think it's a very good decision because if you talk about Charter Change in the next three years, forget about these bills, forget about all of this no--

Q: You will be busy discussing this and of course voting jointly or separately, questions before the SC--

SEN WIN: Just look at the bills that he mentioned, Land Use, rightsizing is also controversial, creation of different departments is also controversial because you are now creating new bureaucracy in government--all of these demands time to debate and time to study and if we now inject Charter Change definitely all these bills that were mentioned will be very difficult to pass.

Q: So you are not for Cha-Cha?

SEN WIN: I am not for Charter Change especially for the next three years--


Q: Sorry to interject his sir but when the President mentioned the Department for Resiliency or Water, do you think these are answers to the problems we are facing? To create another Department for these issues?

SEN WIN: My hesitation is when you create another department you create another bureaucracy also and you will make government top heavy. You want the frontliners to function, as quick as possible but if you add layers to that frontliners, you will make it very difficult for them to operate. I'm not saying no but we have to study this very carefully. I am for a lean and mean efficient government but creating more departments will not make government lean and mean.

Q: unless you collapse the old one, or possibly put them together in one department--

SEN WIN: Correct, the set-up right now, for example, the proposal for Department of Disaster Resilience is embedded in the Department of National Defense through OCD, that's how it functions right now, so that's lean and there's a chain of command that follow but if you create a set of departments that needs to interact with other departments to function--that creates bureaucracy.


Q: The Senate, is this going to be an exciting 18th Congress with the composition now compared to the 17th Congress?

SEN WIN: I think a lot of the laws that were mentioned yesterday, it has a great chance of passing. The composition has changed, PDP has more numbers right now, NP has more numbers right now, this combined, I think 9 members, all of these stands a better chance of passing but again we need to be very careful because these are controversial, these are bills that will affect government and services and we need to make sure to analyze them carefully.

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