Press Release
February 11, 2020

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III

On the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement

SP Sotto: That means that the termination will be after 180 days. In 180 days after the receipt of notice, pag natanggap yung notice, kung natanggap yung notice ngayon, in 180 days terminated yung agreement.

Q: But the Senate still wants to, yung kahapong inadopt ninyo na resolution, do you still want to...?

SP Sotto: Pinasa namin yun. That is the sense of the Senate. The sense of the Senate is for the President to reconsider because we want to review the VFA. Well, it appears that the President does not want to review the VFA, and that he does not want to consider. It's as simple as that.

Q: Will you still send the resolution to Malacañang?

SP Sotto: It is only proper that we will send the resolution and of course, remember, there is also another resolution pending in the Senate wherein members of the Senate were asking or looking at the possibility that what it means is that we approve, we ratify, we should also be consulted when it is terminated. That is the thinking of some of us.

Q: There was a Senator who said that he was willing to elevate that thinking to the Supreme Court. Will you support that motion?

SP Sotto: Yes, why not? So that we will be able to once and for all find out whether the provisions that we include in the new resolutions that we passed is correct, di ba? Kasi meron na kaming nilalagay na ganoon ngayon sa mga resolutions namin.

Q: Do you share the same sentiment na dapat nga talagang may concurrence from the Senate yung pag revoke?

SP Sotto: Siguro. I am inclined. I don't need to say that I am 100 percent behind it, but I am inclined to support it because in this case, we thought a review is proper. We thought that we should have been consulted and we were giving out our sense that it should be reconsidered, knowing that there are very serious implications on EDCA and the (unclear) so we thought that we should have been consulted but nevertheless, the chief architect of the foreign policies is the President, the buck stops with him, so be it.

Q: Will you continue to discuss the resolution?

SP Sotto: Yes. I am inclined to support that resolution that we look into that. If need be, then let us ask the proper courts to decide.

Q: Can the Senate still reverse the withdrawal?

SP Sotto: I don't think so.

Q: (Unclear)

SP Sotto: What I am saying is I am inclined to support the resolution of the Senate saying that we were tasked by the Constitution to ratify, we should also be given the power to, we should also have the right to ratify the termination.

Q: Are you still hopeful that within the 180 days, he can still change his mind?

SP Sotto: I'd rather not venture into second guessing the President.

Q: Pero yung review na gagawin ng Senate, itutuloy pa rin even if terminated na yung VFA?

SP Sotto: If terminated na, there is no use to review.

Q: Ihihinto niyo na po?

SP Sotto: Oo, but at this point hindi naman sa directly ihihinto kungdi we will look into the intent of Resolution 305 muna. Because Resolution 305 says that we should be not only consulted, but we should also be asked to agree with a termination because we were asked to agree on ratification.

Q: What can you say about this, kasi it seems like hindi kayo binigyan talaga ng Presidente ng pagkakataon, or hindi kayo pinakinggan dito sa Senado despite your appeal to just go on with the review and wait for the recommendation.

SP Sotto: Ano ang masasabi namin? Let me just try to get muna the sense of the members of the majority, to find out more or less. Especially, as far as Senate Resolution 305 is concerned.

Q: Do you think the Supreme Court should play a role...?

SP Sotto: Palagay ko may possibility na makarating sa Supreme Court yung issue namin, which is we should be consulted before termination.

Q: You will support that pag umakyat ng SC?

SP Sotto: Yes, I will support.

Q: Will the Senate initiate that?

SP Sotto: Most probably. I will not be surprised if one of our members would elevate it.

Q: Di ba meron na sa SC nun during the last Congress?

SP Sotto: Hindi ko matandaan.

Q: (Unclear) Ihahabol yun sa VFA?

SP Sotto: Oo, because the decision of the Supreme Court becomes law, di ba? Ganun yun.

Q: Hindi ba pwedeng istop sa Supreme Court kung may pending na (unclear), yung resolution will stop the termination?

SP Sotto: Ang nakalagay sa agreement kasi, when the other party gives notice, it is deemed terminated after 180 days.

Q: There is still time kung 180 days. Are you going to file an injunction before the Supreme Court?

SP Sotto: I will talk with the other members of the Senate first or we will take it up in caucus.

Q: Do you see the Senate moving to reverse the Palace's action?

SP Sotto: Hindi naman sa reverse kungdi you know, the thinking of some of the members of the Senate is if we were asked to ratify, by the Constitution, then it means that we must be able to ratify also upon termination.


Q: Many of your colleagues are asking your counterparts to hear the ABS CBN franchise. Do you join the call?

SP Sotto: I say this in response to those asking me na sabi, why are we giving up the right of Congress to allow to approve franchises. Para daw ang nangyayari doon sa quo warranto, we are giving it up. I don't believe that, because what we can do, even with the quo warranto, is Congress passes the franchise, brings it up to the Senate, we discuss it, we either approve it or reject it. We are not giving up anything.

Q: (Unclear)

SP Sotto: No, it can't stop us. No quo warranto can stop the Congress from approving a franchise.

Q: In that case, the House should actually act (unclear)?

SP Sotto: Yes. Dalhin nila dito, we will act on it swiftly.

Q: Going back on the VFA and raising it to the Supreme Court, will that not put Congress at loggerheads with the Executive branch?

SP Sotto: Hindi naman, talaga namang meron talaga tayong separation of powers so it is just automatic.

Q: Are you for approving the franchise personally?

SP Sotto: Alam naman nila kung ano yung kalooban ko when it comes to broadcast. Alam ninyo naman ang kalooban ko doon pero aakyat sa amin dito, I am not pre-empting anything, but I have always been supportive of any broadcast media, whatever channel that is, or whatever radio station that is.

Q: What is your belief? Pag hindi umabot, hindi naapprove ng Congress yung franchise, can ABS CBN still operate? Provisional authority by NTC daw?

SP Sotto: Yes. Even provisional authority is not necessary because as long as there is a pending franchise, or pending bill for extension of franchise, they are deemed extended. Ganun yun.

Q: Even if magbreak kayo sa March 14?

SP Sotto: They can still operate. If it is not approved until March of 2022, that is the only time that it is terminated. As long as may nakafile na bill, it is deemed extended. Nakafile eh, kahit na (unclear) ulit yan. It has happened so many times in other franchises.

Q: (Unclear) of law?

SP Sotto: That is the operation of law.

Q: Wala daw legal basis?

SP Sotto: Hindi lang nila narereview. I used to be chairman of public services in the 10th Congress, (unclear).

Q: (Unclear) Congressional extension?

SP Sotto: It is deemed extended, no. Until matapos yung 18th Congress, kung nakapending pa rin at hindi nireview. Ang akala ninyo ba pagdating ng March 14, kailangan hinto na sila? Hindi, no, that is not true. That's not correct, better check on the copy of law covering franchises. That has happened so many times.

Q: Baka pwede ninyo po mareview kung ano yung franchise na ganun?

SP Sotto: Sige, iche-check ko pero I am very sure of that. Tanungin ninyo yung mga experts on broadcast.

Q: Nangyari na before na paso na yung franchise, basta nakapending?

SP Sotto: Nakapending. Ang masama, napaso yung franchise, at hindi pa nagfafile, magfafile pa lang. Terminated ka. Pero yung may nakapending na (unclear), inabot ka ngayon ng whatever, hindi mapasa-pasa, it is deemed extended.

Q: Pano kung halimbawa, pwede bang habulin yung committee who did not act on a pending bill?

SP Sotto: Hindi, it is part of the power of Congress. Ang mangyayari diyan, kung talagang ayaw ng Congress na bigyan, ideny na nila yung franchise.

Q: Para mas clear?

SP Sotto: Oo. Ayaw pala nilang bigyan, eh di ideny nila.

Q: And then sa court na?

SP Sotto: Oo. Iba na yun, terminated na. Pero nakapending, hindi terminated yun.

Q: Any court to determine that...?

SP Sotto: No, (unclear).

Q: The company concerned can refile the franchise?

SP Sotto: It is already filed.

Q: After 2022, kung halimbawa adopted?

SP Sotto: Nakafile pa rin yun.

Q: Kung tapos na yung 18th Congress?

SP Sotto: In 2022, wala pa ring nangyari? Yun na yun, doon siya deemed terminated. Hintayin nila yung bagong Congress, magfile ng bagong franchise.

Q: (Unclear) magdecide ang Supreme Court sa quo warranto?

SP Sotto: Walang kinalaman yun. Sa franchise? Eh kung magpasa ng franchise ang Congress, the quo warranto is for the old franchise. (Unclear) does not matter.

Q: Ang argument daw, pag nag rule yung quo warranto, igrant yun, ano ang irerenew ng Congress, eh it did not exist to begin with? Yung ABS CBN?

SP Sotto: May nakafile na bill eh, eh di may pending siya na bill for a franchise.

Q: New franchise ang lalabas?

SP Sotto: Pwede nilang amyendahan sa committee yun. Yun ay kung gusto nila talaga. Ganun lang kadali ang usapan.

Q: Paano kung (unclear) for renewal? Paano kung nagdecide ang Supreme Court na wala yan from the start?

SP Sotto: Kaya nga what I am saying easily in the committee ang proposal nila amyendahan nila, (Unclear) file a new franchise.

Q: It will be considered as a new filing?

SP Sotto: In my opinion, yes.

Q: Given the importance of this issue, and you have this regular meeting with your House counterparts, would you feel it necessary to also check on them?

SP Sotto: Oo. Wala pa nga eh. We haven't been called into the mini LEDAC, but perhaps it's just proper that I initiate it already. I might initiate it already para magkaalaman na. Mabuti na yung magkaalaman.

Q: Initiate the?

SP Sotto: The mini LEDAC. Para malaman na natin, para (unclear) na natin ang gagawin ng House.

Q: Kung ano yung position nila?

SP Sotto: Oo. Ano ba ang nangyayari. Nag-aantay ba kami sa wala or what? Because you know, at the moment, we are handcuffed. Until it reaches the Senate, we cannot do anything about it, kaya nga I try to avoid giving out a comment on whether I am in favor or not, kaya ko iniiwasan talaga yun, kasi wala pa naman sa kamay namin, we can't do anything about it. We can only voice opinion, and sometimes our opinion are not, really does not matter to other people.

Q: Ano ang info mo sa House? Wala ka bang nakausap sa House?

SP Sotto: Wala eh. Wala, hindi namin napapagusapan.

Q: Paano kung nagdeadlock?

SP Sotto: NPC? Very supportive yun.

Q: (Unclear)

SP Sotto: Bihirang bihira. I am trying to recall a franchise na hindi inapprove (unclear). Iniisip ko nga. 1998 pa ako sa public services, that means in the Senate, the chairman of franchises, wala akong matandaan. Hanggang ngayon iniisip ko nga. Merong mga franchise na hindi binigyan. Hindi yung nagrenew? Wala akong matandaan na (unclear).

Q: You intend to talk to Speaker Cayetano?

SP Sotto: Mini LEDAC sana, para mapagusapan namin paano itong mga nakapending na (unclear).

Q: (Unclear) for mini LEDAC?

SP Sotto: Hopefully next week.

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