Press Release
May 11, 2022

One News Ph Agenda Interview of Senator Win Gatchalian with Cito Beltran on the 2022 elections

SEN. WIN: First of all, thank you to everyone, to all our kababayan who continued to put their trust in me, thank you. Maraming salamat po.

Q: My first question here and I am not trying to rock the boat here in you this morning but if you recall, you started with Ping-Sotto tandem and then you left that and joined BBM-Sara, that's all water under the bridge but how is that situation, are you all good, does everyone accepted that pulitika lang yan? Or do you still need to go back to Senator Ping and Senator Tito Sotto and say mga 'kuya, pasensya na kayo' and restore your relationship?

SEN. WIN: Cito, as a background, I started off with three groups. Uniteam, then you have the Lacson-Sotto team and then the Pacquiao team. And for me, personally it is very hard to, it is my first time to be a guest candidate in all three different teams. It is very difficult for me, I realized that so I decided to join just one team so that I can campaign fully and focus on one team. Because one team is enough, the schedules are physically demanding so it is impossible for any candidate to go to all three rallies in all three teams. Moving forward, I have very high respect for Senator Lacson, for Senator Sotto and Senator Manny, all of them are great legislators. All of them are great people and all of them are friends. I am going to visit them one by one personally and thank them personally and of course ask for their advice on how to move forward. I worked with them, especially Senator Lacson and Senator Sotto, I worked with them on many many pieces of legislation. And I would like to continue to work with them in the coming years.

Q: You said it yourself that being a guest candidate in three different teams is hell or very difficult, what are your thoughts regarding that practice because this election taught us many things. It taught me personally that we don't have political parties because our political parties are only politicians, members of congress, and no ordinary people like ourselves. For you as the candidate, should we continue allowing this practice? Or what other practices should we disallow in future elections?

SEN. WIN: Well, Cito, that is a great question. And it relates to what is happening right now. I'll answer that from a macro point of view. Bongbong Marcos and Sara will be the first majority voted President and Vice President. Meaning they will have the ultimate mandate of the people, meaning their political capital is really big and very strong. And they should use that to implement reforms. Reforming our political party system needs a lot of political capital because a lot of politicians are benefitting from the present setup right now. There's no political party so to speak in our country. It's a personality based system. Meaning people gravitate to politicians, people gravitate to certain personalities, but not gravitate to political parties because political parties are abstract in our country, we don't know what's in the box. We know the brand. We know Lakas, we know NPC where I am from but we don't know the ideology or the direction. So in short, Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte should use their huge political capital to reform our political party system. Or in place, an ideology-based political party system. A political party system that is strong, a political party system that will be the vehicle for change or further reform if necessary. Not personality based, not patronage-based system.

Q: You are going back to the Senate and after every election, there are these musical chairs in every committee. And you are a second termer, so that makes you a senior so to speak, what position are you gunning for? or what committees are you gunning for?

SEN. WIN: Cito, I am still in the process of identifying Committees that I like to chair but definitely it will revolve around Education and the Economy. These are the things I am very passionate about. So without identifying committees, I will focus on these two aspects. And also when I say economy that involves energy, trade and commerce goes with it and so on and so forth.

Q: Does it follow? because for instance Robin Padilla, he was a clear leader in this election, he posted as the number one senator. Does he get to choose any position he wants? or at the end of the day, he will get teka muna bata ka pa, you cannot choose.

SEN. WIN: Definitely he will get an opportunity to choose his committee, his being number one has a very persuasive role because he is number one, and congratulations to Robin. I think his advocacy on Muslim participation is resonating. In fact whenever, because we are both in the Uniteam, I've heard him speak about Muslim representation in the Senate and that seems to resonate to our people. And actually he is correct, the last Muslim senator that we had, it'is been quite a while. And it's about time that we have one Muslim senator that will represent aspirations of our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Q: Going back to those committees, one of our researchers posted this question: if you go back to chairing the Committee on Education, what do you intend to do about historical revisionism? Let's take the politics out of it, it is a serious concern as far as Filipinos, when you and I and everyone else is dead and gone.

SEN. WIN: Well, number one, if you talk about revisionism, Cito for the last 30 years, DepEd has been writing or has been promulgating our curriculum. And the curriculum is based on what historians tell us. For the last 30 years, our kids have been reading history as what historians told us. And moving forward, I don't see a need to revise anything. It has to be factual as what historians tell us and what experts tell us. And whatever they tell us that should be in our textbooks.

Q: Okay, what is your position regarding the bills that were left hanging, particularly the sim card registration and social media bill?

SEN. WIN: That should be separated, Cito. The prepaid sim card registration is a very straight forward bill. I will refile that. In fact, I am one of the principal authors of that so I will refile that. Social media registration is a much more complicated process. First of all, for example, ibigay ko sayo ang some details. Facebook is in America. Tiktok is in America or China. Instagram is in America, how can we force them to register their users and how can we police them using our laws. So it is a much more complex or complicated process. To get the prepaid sim card registration bill, let's file that as a separate bill. If we need to file the social media registration and if the process is feasible then let's do it because I also agreed that trolls should be banned or this type of trolling should be banned in social media because it creates a lot of problems in our society.

Q: A little reverse to the education concerns, as we know education in the COVID year has been so dependent on internet, now do you have any plans or strategies to get the telcos to spike the services because some people said let the telcos alone just liberalize everything so that we can have a serious network because I think there's this issue with DICT etc. that you know, yes you have a government agency but it does not have the capacity to do it.

SEN. WIN: That's one thing Bongbong Marcos, President-elect Bongbong Marcos is quite passionate about. I've heard him talk about the internet and connectivity quite a bit. And I would push for new technology. Cito, I've given up with cell sites and wire connectivity. It is very difficult in our country. I have talked to SpaceX about launching satellites to broadcast internet. This is a newer technology or latest technology that we should tap into. Meaning our law should liberalize satellite-based internet technology. SpaceX is just one. There are so many satellite-based internet technologies that want to come to our country. Wag nating pahirapan sila, let them come in, let them set up landing sites here or connectivity sites. Welcome them to come in because putting up cell sites, putting up wires, it's not gonna work here in our setting.

Q: What is your reaction, speaking of foreign companies, SpaceX etc, JP Morgan reported as putting the Philippines in the bottom or their list as potential investment. There is a concern that after what happened in the election, we are going to see a reduction of foreign direct investments or confidence in the economy.

SEN. WIN: I haven't read that report but I beg to disagree with that report. For three reasons: number one, the past administration has liberalized our economy through various laws, we have the PSA, Public Service Act. We have the Foreign Investment Act. We lowered down our tax rate through CREATE. All these three laws will attract investments in our country. Number two, our private sector is very strong. One thing about our country is the private sector driven economy and that is good. As a former businessman, we do not rely on the government, in terms of catalyzing business. Businessmen have taken into their hands to catalyze the economy and that's good. It's like the Taiwan model where the private sector moved their economy. In our country it is in the same direction, the same setting. Number three, our fundamentals are very strong. Even though we borrowed a lot during the pandemic, we are slated to grow around six to seven percent in the next few years. This pandemic is a temporary aberration. But our reserves are quite high, our exports are quite strong. Our OFW remittance has grown in the last few months. So our fundamentals are quite strong. All these three basically will jumpstart our economy. Of course, the government need to pump in more money but the fundamentals are in place, in order to grow sustainably in the next 10 years.

Q: Even the best of government and systems fail if it is unable to address the needs and expectations of the population. Now, you are a politician, what would be the greatest concern and should be the priority of the BBM administration as far as campaign or platform expectations though.

SEN. WIN: In my personal analysis, the most important thing here is how to bring back the economy to the pre-pandemic level. That is a priority, that should be the priority of the next administration. And we have low hanging fruits that we can tap. Number one, tourism. I've been going around the country a lot lately and to my discouragement, air traffic has gone back to pre-pandemic level. It is a good sign but it is a bad phenomena. But it goes to show that people are raring to go, the increasing demand in tourism, we need to tap that. But we need to fix infrastructures, we need to fix those delays but that is a low hanging fruit.

Q: We were talking about low hanging fruits that the BBM administration should pick, what are these aside from Tourism?

SEN. WIN: I've recommended tourism to him, tourism because that is a gem that we haven't exploited in our country. And we can do that without fixing infrastructures, without fixing the delays. Delays are really causing a lot of problems for tourists and it's not making it easier for tourists to move around the country. So for example, places like Palawan, Cebu, improve connectivity. You don't need to pass through Metro Manila in order to go to Palawan, encouraging more airlines to fly straight to Palawan, straight to Bohol. We have new airports there. In short, this is what I recommended to him to jumpstart our economy because tourism is actually one of the fastest ways to invigorate the countryside because money will go straight to the pockets of our people there.

Q: What are the best job creation projects because while tourism hires a lot of people, I think we are essentially leveled up unless we go on a tourism boom and further infrastructure. But aside from that, what are the best vehicles for job creations?

SEN. WIN: BBM administration vowed to continue the BBB, the 'Build, Build, Build' program and as we all know in the last six years, the BBB program has been highly successful, in terms of number one, building countryside infrastructures and number two, creating jobs. It has created six million jobs in the last six years so the multiplier effect of infrastructure is quite significant and they vowed to continue that. And that's another economic strategy that they will embark on in creating jobs.

Q: I just got an unexpected message, it is nice to know that our friends are watching. From my friend, Senator Win, what about PPP as an option for our infra project, especially now that we have a huge fiscal gap?

SEN. WIN: Yah. I would recommend PPP also. Definitely that is a very good question because right now we have a very high debt level and need to pair it down for a bit. So in order to embark on a massive, to double the BBB program we need private capital to come in and PPP is a way to encourage private capital but we need to fix the process. Ang hirap ng PPP. It takes about three years just to get them a notice to proceed. So a lot of private investors are discouraged because the PPP will probably take two years and after two years it is election time already. So we need to fix the process. In fact, I have a law to streamline PPP so that private capital can jump start right away.

Q: Will that be limited to PPP because earlier we are talking about telcos, the Elon Musk company and that has been the complaint of many investors, both local and foreign that while the national government has this great vision or idea, the minute they go down to the local government, down to the LGUs, all the corruption takes place.

SEN. WIN: You are absolutely correct that there is disconnect between national and local. And we need to streamline some of the processes there. For example, we need to replace the barangay clearance with an automatic appropriation mechanism. The barangay clearance is actually, if you build a P1 Billion infrastructure project, you still need to get the barangay clearance because that is the revenue source for barangays. We can replace that for another revenue source for our barangays so that you will not have to go to each barangay just to get that. We need to streamline that. Number two, we also need to streamline pre-employment requirements. For example, the NBI clearance. The NBI clearance is such a pain for many of our ordinary citizens. We treat everyone as criminals in our country but I'm sure the people who get barangay clearance, probably less that 5% of them actually are or there's actually a red flag on their NBI clearance.

Q: Especially if the barangay official will be held criminally liable for improperly endorsing or clearing someone who is to be known a felon or criminal.

SEN. WIN: Yes. So we need to streamline the processes. Number one, replace the barangay clearance. Number two, do away with the NBI clearance because these are two hurdles for employment and also for infrastructure.

Q: And okay I just remembered in terms of job generation, one of the most crucial sectors is agriculture. And unfortunately, I cannot see on the line up of the Senate a true proponent of agriculture especially with Kiko Pangilinan leaving the Senate. Of course, there's Cynthia Villar but I think she is gunning for Senate President, what are your views on those two things? Senate presidency of Villar and Agriculture.

SEN. WIN: Well, Cito, that is a good observation. Agriculture is an important sector in our country and the Senate will participate in terms of taking care of our agricultural sector. For example smuggling. Smuggling is killing our agriculture sector. Competitiveness, our rice competitiveness we need to make sure that the RCEF is going to the right hands. We will make sure that the agriculture sector will never be left behind. Instead our farmers will be competitive and will be able to compete internationally. For the Senate Presidency I will reserve that for now. I think it is too early to talk about that.

Q: The reason why I was asking that is because I read a statement or piece of news that Senator Bato had mentioned that possibility. Have you heard of any rumors that Cynthia Villar will be the next Senate President?

SEN. WIN: I haven't talked to any senators yet because we just got off the elections yesterday but I haven't heard of anything yet.

Q: Final point to discuss with you Senator, you, at one point you visited Sara Duterte and you had volunteered yourself as a potential VP choice should she run for President. That I presumed indicates that you are close friends or have access. Where do you think Sara Duterte, aside from being Vice President, do you see her taking an active cabinet position and what should that be?

SEN. WIN: I will recommend to her DepEd, Department of Education. Again, we go back to the mandate. She is given more that 60 percent of the votes. In terms of political capital that's huge. That's a lot of political capital she can use to reform our education system. Our education system needs reforming, we need to fix many many things. Just to go back again, we came in last in the PISA results, we came last in many many international results. And we cannot do business as usual in the next six years. Someone should take charge and reform many of our processes and systems in order to improve our education system so I will recommend to her to the Department of Education but of course she is a mayor, she has a lot of experience being a local government official, she can contribute in other departments for example, DILG, DSWD or a portfolio that she can be effective because of her local government experience.

Q: There is also a suggestion or some people have said she might go for Secretary of Defense giving her affinity for the military or passion.

SEN. WIN: I think she made that statement a while back but I am not really sure on what direction to go about that. But in my opinion what's important right now is to use her political capital. Make use of that, exploit that, make that effective in things that we need a lot of reform because in political capital you can do many many things. In my opinion, education is one of those sectors that we need to push many reforms.

Q: Any recommendations for cabinet positions?

SEN. WIN: Names?

Q: Some people suggested retaining Mon Lopez for DTI for his stellar performance, anyone else?

SEN. WIN: I haven't thought about but off top, Mon Lopez is a good choice. He is pro MSMEs, in fact, MSMEs have grown in the past six years under his leadership and they injected innovation in terms of MSMEs. He is the only person that I can think of right now. What's important in the next six years is not business as usual but a cabinet team that can bring in innovation, that can bring in reforms they can bring a different direction. I go back to political capital because that is unique. 60% of votes that these two leaders will get is something that we can use in the next six years.

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