Press Release
June 30, 2021

Excerpts from the Kapihan sa Manila Bay with Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon

SFMD: Talking about politics, today's deadline would carry the conflict between Sen, Pacquiao and the President and the PDP-Laban. It is not very often that you hear the family of the founder of PDP-Laban Sen. Pimentel saying the PDP-Laban will implode. I am not surprised at this statement because, as we talk, there is already a PDP-Laban 1 and PDP-Laban 2. PDP-Laban 1, I'd like to think, is the original PDP-Laban formed by my good friend, the late Sen. Nene Pimentel. The other is headed by Sec. Cusi. I would not be surprised if Sen. Pacquiao wakes up one morning in July and he is no longer the president or the acting president of PDP-Laban. This development will have serious implications in the 2022 elections. The ruling party will be split, which reminds me, when President Cory endorsed Pres. Ramos as against Speaker Mitra. That split, that's not a very correct description, the party in power. Iisa lang ang naiwan sa amin noon ni Pres. Cory, si Dodo Cagas. Here we see history is being repeated. The party in power is being split into two. How this would affect the 2022 election would be a matter that will be discussed in coffee shops and in the media in the next several weeks. I expect Sen. Pacquiao to be removed as party president. The signal is that the President told Sec. Cusi to go ahead and convene the party in Cebu last month.

Q: That will affect the LP?

SFMD: Certainly, it will not harm the LP. But it takes a lot of work for us to be able to take advantage of it. Firstly, the opposition must have only one candidate. Once there is a consensus as to who the principal player will be in the opposition, then it will be the role of whoever will be anointed to try to consolidate the ranks of the opposition.

It will not harm the opposition to have the split... Kapag nahati ang administrasyon, given all the resources, given the troll farms, given the resources that they have, certainly, a split will help the opposition.

Q: As LP vice chair, can you speak if that would open up Pacquiao for membership or being adopted into the LP?

SFMD: The increase in the membership of the LP, or any political party for that matter, is a natural consequence of an election. Unfortunately, we have no strong political party in our environment today and it is still personality based. Kapag election dumarami, When election comes, dumarami ang mga sumasali at kapag natapos na ang halalan, everybody gets attracted to the President as a person in power. I am not saying the party in power but the person in power.

Q: Can you update us if you are aware, how is the strength of LP right now?

SFMD: We are continuing to organize. I admit, we were disseminated after PNoy left the presidency and I attribute it to our very weak political party system.

Q: Will you open your doors for Pacquiao should he lose the presidency of PDP-Laban?

SFMD: Our concentration is to prepare if in the eventuality that VP Robredo runs for President. Kung hindi siya tumakbo, we are open to alliances and we are open to discussion. That's all I can say.

Q: It is not a yes or no or maybe it can happen. Anything is possible in politics.

SFMD: Anything can happen except that we have certain principles and platforms in the party. We stand for certain principles.

Q: Let me go back to the time of PNoy and you were the Senate President then and you were a major partner of his administration in the passage of landmark laws that benefited the country especially in terms of the economy. Can you give us a rundown of these landmark laws?

SFMD: I am confident that history will recognize the contribution of PNoy and his contribution in the development and wellbeing of the country when he was in power. This can be attributed to many policies that we passed. For instance, the Sin Tax Law. PNoy led the government in removing the loopholes in the Sin Tax Law. I was the acting chairman of the committee on ways and means and it's so difficult that we only won by one vote. It's a very difficult law. It reformed the tax structure. The President also worked on the very controversial RH Law. We also worked on the budget. It expanded and provided money for 4Ps where over 4 million families were given cash assistance.

We also passed the DICT, CMTA. All of these contributed to a robust economy so that when the President came into power, we were known as the Sick Man of Asia and, by the end of his term, we were known as the tiger economy in Asia. The economy expanded by an average of 6.2% and the highest being in the first quarter of 2013 when our economy expanded by almost 8%. We were recognized in the global competitiveness report. We advanced in our ranking. We were able to attract very good FDIs with about $20 billion in FDIs during the period of his presidency. Unemployment was reduced. Inflation rate was maintained at a very good level. All of these were achieved because of the reforms that the President asked Congress to do.

Another thing is the K to 12. Today, you report in the media the very precarious educational system that we have. Nahuhuli na tayo in comparison to other countries. This is a concern which we saw to address through the K to 12. PNoy also built around 90,000 classrooms during his term.

I am confident that when history is written, all of these achievements will be recognized. Certainly, he contributed a lot. It is good governance. That was the key. It is good governance that the President had as the basic tenet of his presidency that brought us to where we were at the end of his term.

Q: Sadly, these good things he left were not remembered more. He had to contend with his past mistakes that were more glorified than the good ones.

SFMD: We have to contend with that especially in the age of trolls and in the age of social media when this incidence is magnified. That's a challenge for us. The development of trolls starting in the 2016 elections and continuing today in a very intense level is a challenge. I am cracking my head on a daily basis on how to overcome this, because it is totally unfair. The viciousness of the trolls is something that is regrettable, to put in the mildest term but condemnable is the most appropriate description. Wala ng konsensya itong mga troll managers na ito.... This is the kind of environment we are operating in. We do hope that the death of PNoy will challenge Filipinos to look inward and ask themselves: ano ba ang nangyayari sa atin? Why are we satisfied with what the troll farms feed to us? My wish is that this election will be more enlightened and will go beyond the troll farms.

Q: On legislative agenda

SFMD: The most important piece of legislation in the coming Congress is the budget. The next year will be very critical in terms of the budget. This is an election year. We need resources because of the pandemic. The economy suffered. A lot are unemployed. A lot are hungry. Our economy shrunk. All of these are because of mismanagement.

I hope that we can remove the fat in the budget and devote it to resources that are needed like funding the ayuda. We must fund that and remove the fat, such as the anti-insurgency fund. I am afraid that given the statement of the administration, it will be increased in next year's budget. To me, it's totally unnecessary. We can devote it to 4Ps or the ayuda which is totally unfunded. I will be looking at the budget next year. Our resources will be limited. We must look at it closely.

There are other pending bills such as the liberalization of the Retail Trade and the amendments to the Public Service Act. Both of these critical bills are not authored by the administration but by yours truly. I wrote these bills. The Retail Trade is now in bicam. The amendments to Public Service Act, which will allow equities in many industries without amending the Constitution, would be able to pass the Senate maybe during the third quarter of this year. These two bills are among the first that I filed since this Congress started.

Q: On the BIR issue

SFMD: The way the BIR interprets what we passed is entirely wrong. What we will do is amend the law to make it extra clear so we leave no discretion to BIR to decide on this issue on the private schools. We support this amendment and we are confident that SB 2272 which clarifies the tax on educational institutions will be passed.

SFMD: What's your take on meeting with the Little President (ES) on the LEDAC?

SFMD: He performs his task of whipping the Congress into the policy direction that this administration may want. We do not know how exactly it will end by the end of this Congress. For example, we read in the news that the President declared neutrality on the issue of BARMM election. Initially, we thought that the President wanted the election to be reset only to be confronted with a policy decision not to. We will debate whether to postpone or not. This is important because this involves the continued viability and stability of the BARMM as an autonomous region as mandated by the Constitution. This is one of the policies we have to work on quickly.

Q: I know that BARMM is also a legacy of PNoy. What is your stand on the postponement?

SFMD: My view is that we should consider favorably the postponement of the election in BARMM, because the BARMM bureaucracy is not yet ready. My personal view, it is to the best interest of the BARMM that the election will be postponed. It is up to Congress now but remember that it is subject to the approval or veto of the President. He cannot claim neutrality here. If we decide to postpone it, either he will approve or veto it.

Q: How soon will LP hold the convention?

SFMD: If VP Leni decides to run for President, the convention will be a formality because there is a consensus that VP should be our presidential candidate.

Q: Exactly one year before a new president sits in Malacanang, what for you should be voters' standards when it comes to choosing the next national set of leaders?

SFMD: I think the legacy of PNoy of good governance is something we should look at in the new administration. Remember the tagline kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap. Good governance... I think that is the platform that we'd like to see. Just look at recently, what did Sen. Pacquiao have as an issue? Corruption. Again, that is a very valid issue.

Q: Do you see the need for the Senate to continue its investigation on how the government spends the budget in addressing the pandemic.

SFMD: Certainly, yes... Among the issues that we read in the media today is the call to extend Bayanihan 2. We can extend and extend but if we do not have the funds to back up the budget nothing will happen. The budget is simply an authority to spend. To be able to execute it you must have funds. Why is the President reluctant to call for a special session? Because there are no funds to back up the budget.

Q: How do you assess the government's ability to fight corruption?

SFMD: The judgment will be made by the people in May when the election time comes. If we are to believe Sen. Pacquiao, the government failed (in the fight against corruption). Again, the conviction of former BI commissioners is proof that there is still corruption. Even the President admitted that.

Q: I was so surprised when you mentioned that there was an attempt to insert a provision in the BFP bill. What's the final score of that bill?

SFMD: As of now, the bicam report has not been ratified. All of us support the need to modernize the BFP. We were open to funding the modernization program. Just recently, during the big fire in Antique, the chief fireman in the region said he's praying for the rains to come. That manifests the inadequacy insofar as our firefighting capacity is concerned. We were ready to support the bill but when we were about to end the debate, I think it was Sen. Tolentino who introduced an amendment which will arm the 29,000 firemen all over the country as part of the modernization program. Hindi po pumayag yung 13 senators. So, the bill was passed in the Senate without this rider to arm firemen. It was introduced in the bicam and again the Senate rejected it. That's why I am flabbergasted by the policy being floated to arm vigilant groups and I will propose it. I believe the senators will support it. It will not solve hunger, unemployment and poverty. It is good governance that will solve these problems.

Ichu: All my friends are calling me up, ang sabi sakin, Ichu, why don't you ask Sen. Frank why he is not even nominated by 1Sambayan because he is the most qualified among the opposition ranks? Sige, ang sabi ko magiging guest ko si Sir at itatanong ko iyan. You deserve to be nominated. You were not ignored by this 1Sambayan ba 'yan? Never mind. Yung LP dapat should consider you.

SFMD: I don't want to push... I don't want... I leave that to their judgment maybe. I cannot speak for them. I have not planned to run for President. I do not have the resources to run for President. People ask me, media ask me, what are your plans? I plan to be a researcher of media I respect like you effective 365 days from now.

Ichu: I didn't realize it. Kasi they called me up, why don't you ask 1Sambayan, why are they not even nominating the most qualified man in our present time kasi nga medyo flip-floppy si VP Robredo and there is the big man, the shadow of the big man. I can vividly recall when we were trying to convince you to run for Senate noon kasi yung fellow cabinet members already positioning themselves. You then as justice secretary were flooding yourself with work. Ang sabi mo nga, pabayaan mo sila sobrang tiwala sa surveys.

SFMD: Thank you very much Ichu for having me. Indeed, I look forward to sessions with you as it challenges me intellectually. I do appreciate the questions you raised.

Ichu: Ano na ang magiging role mo sa LP if you won't run.

SFMD: As I said I will retire. That's it... I have been in government for probably 33 years. Let others who believe they can serve have the chance... Give others a chance.

Ichu: On that note, I'd like to thank Senate Minority Leader Drilon, who has been a very dedicated public servant through these years. I have known him since I was covering Malacanang 30 years when he was still undersecretary in the labor department and he rose to the rank and became executive secretary then went back as justice secretary, and then senator. He is really the man to look at for those who are still trying to get somebody to run for the Liberal Party standard bearer. The big man is there. The big man has a big shadow to follow.

News Latest News Feed