Press Release
June 29, 2023

Kapihan sa Senado
June 29, 2023

SENATE PRESIDENT JUAN MIGUEL "MIGZ F. ZUBIRI: Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. It's nice to see all again after a really grueling visit to Washington. First of all, i-report ko lang po sa inyo, kagagaling lang po natin ng Washington, DC for a series of meetings with US legislators and government officials to discuss US-Philippine partnership and cooperation. In line, of course, with what the President stated during his working visit to the United States. Bale, follow-up lang po ito sa working visit ng ating Pangulo na we doubled up our efforts with senators and congressmen.

And during that visit, I was able to meet Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland; we had a very successful discussion there on how to strengthen Philippine-US relations, hindi lamang sa aspeto ng defense, of course, most importantly, the economic side to it: How we can expand more economic activities between our two countries. Well, aside from GSP+, ang pinag-uusapan nga nila is free trade agreement between the Philippines - kasi GSP+ maraming bansa iyon, eh. That's about 30 countries, it's one bill that would include 30 countries, which is hitting a snag right now in Congress, dahil alam mo 'yong mga Amerikano, leaning more to "America First." But they're willing to do certain trade - as per our discussion, 'no -- looking favorably at certain trading partners like the Philippines because we are key strategic allies. So napakaganda non, napakaganda ng balitang na 'yon.

I met with Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Tim Scott of Carolina. At the same time, we also met with Cong. Gary Palmer of Alabama and Cong. James Moylan of Guam - and I have good news for that meeting. We also met with Cong. Michael Lawler of New York, Cong. [Coleman] Radewagen of American Samoa; we also met with the president or the head of the Philippine-American caucus, who is Cong. Robert Scott of Virginia. We also met Cong. Gregorio Sablan of Northern Mariana Islands, who happens to have a wife that's from the Philippines. 'Yong asawa niya ay taga-Pampanga, kaya alam na alam niya lahat ng pagkain ng Pampanga noong binanggit ko.

So, we continued our meetings and discussions, we also extended a hand of invitation to them for the APPF. Matagal nang hindi sumasama ang US contingent sa Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, and hopefully, there will be one or two congressmen from the US that will attend this particular forum. It's going to be us who will host, the Senate will host, together with our co-host, the House of Representatives. This will be on November 23 up to 26. So magandang hakbang 'yan kung pumunta sila dito at makasama natin.

We also met in the Pentagon, for the first time - napapanood natin 'yan sa pelikula, 'yong Pentagon - we also met with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Lindsey Ford, and we discussed full support for the AFP Modernization. And also, we discussed with other key intelligence officials on the, of course, the situation in the Pacific, the side of the Pacific. During those two meetings, during those several meetings, we came up with certain number of measures that we need to amend and support.

Of course, for the defense side, 'yong PDIDA, which is the Philippine Defense Industry Development Act. The United States wants us to strengthen our defense manufacturing capabilities in our country, in situ, within the Philippines. And they're willing to convince their arms manufacturers to move shop to the Philippines to partner with Filipino companies na dito na gagawin itong mga defense materials na ito, which, sa tingin ko, ay pinakamaganda dahil syempre, madagdagan natin ng trabaho ang ating mga kababayan, and 'yong mga parts at mga pangangailangan na pwedeng i-source dito sa Pilipinas, gagawin na lang po dito sa ating bansa. Kaysa mamimili po tayo ng armas na kailangan ng AFP, galing pa sa abroad.

And part of that, also, is we need to amend the modernization of the AFP, particularly, on the portion on "brand new," baka kailangan na nating palitan ng "modern equipment." And then we also have to amend the Procurement Law, because cheapest is not the best for military equipment. Kasi kung cheapest ay baka naman bumagsak ang eroplano 'pag binili natin nang mura. At the same time, "brand new" is not necessarily practical para sa ating bansa dahil 'yong apat na bagong eroplano, alam niyo naman, ang Air Force po, under the Horizon 3, ay gusto pong mag-modernize ng kanilang air force fleet - four, brand new airplanes ay katumbas ng six or 12, one squadron, of slightly-used airplanes from friendly countries or ally countries, like, for example, the Netherlands. The Netherlands wants to sell their F16s, which are slightly used, only 10 years old, 12 years old. Sa aircraft body, bagong-bago pa 'yan. Because they want to replace all their airplanes with F35 Raptors, iyon 'yong mga bagong stealth fighters ng Estados Unidos, so gusto po nilang makipag-deal sa Pilipinas, and the price of the 12 is katumbas ng dalawa, o tatlong bago. So, I think it is something to look into, that the military, as long as it goes through the proper testing, proper, of course, mga, what you call, product testing and review, sa tingin ko, pwede nang bilhin ng ating Air Force 'yon. At least magagamit pa natin 'yong sukli, dahil mas mura, sa ibang prayoridad ng ating gobyerno.

So, these are some of the bills and I want to say, I mentioned the PDIDA, we mentioned the modernization, and mayroon pang isa...that was three. So, iyon, it was quite a successful working visit, and I'm looking forward to more extensive cooperation with the United States, not just sa defense, but also on the issue on the economic upliftment of our people. Alam mo, lahat ng kausap ko diyan, talagang no-brainer sa kanila, unang-una nagpapasalamat sila sa akin, nagpapasalamat sila sa amin ni Sen. Tolentino sa dagdag na cooperation, added cooperation and friendship, balik sigla ang US-Philippine relationship. And because of that, lahat sila, they are all in agreement, they are all in agreement that we need to do more economic development for the Philippines. Ang sabi nga nila, 'yong mga American companies na gustong lumipat galing sa China ay dapat pumunta sa Pilipinas. 'Yan ang pangako nila sa amin, na they will try to convince their counterparts in the business sector na if they are moving out of China to look in the Philippines for investment opportunities.

And the good news I mentioned about Guam, 'yong kay Cong. James Moylan of Guam, matagal ko na siyang kaibigan, I met him here, member of the state legislature of Guam, and then we became close friends, and then now, congressman na po siya ng Guam. Many bases of the United States in Okinawa are closing shop and moving to Guam. And because they are moving to Guam, Cong. Moylan is insisting to the US government that they hire Filipinos to construct the new bases and they are looking at 10,000 workers, 10,000 to 15,000 Filipino workers to go to Guam and help build up the bases because they need to build the bases as soon as possible. Ang ganda po ng balitang iyon, kaya ako'y tuwang-tuwa kay Cong. Moylan on this particular issue. Sabi ko sa kanya, "Aba, 'pag sinabi niyo 10,000, sigurado 30,000 ang available, ang pupunta dyan." Of course, they'll discuss how to get the H1 visa, I think H1 or H2 visa, it's a working visa, and sila, they're trying to get the State Department approval to hasten the proceedings para magawa itong mga bases nila sa Guam by Filipino workers. Wala po silang workers, konting tao lang po sa Guam, hindi po nila kaya, so they need about 10,000 to 15,000. That's the good news that we bring into the table today, and hopefully, I'm working with the office of Cong. Moylan of Guam to make this happen, and get at least 10,000 to 15,000 Filipino workers to work in these bases in Guam.

CELY BUENO: So Sir, congratulations na naging fruitful at successful ang inyong 3 weeks ba, na working visit sa US?

SP ZUBIRI: Yes, yes.

CB: And as you promised, you are now ready to answer all our questions of different issues -

SP ZUBIRI: Nako, mainit na mainit ang talakayin, of course.

CB: This is our second Kapihan, sir, after na buhayin namin itong Kapihan sa Senado.

SP ZUBIRI: Ah yes, I forgot, the other bill. The third bill was an anti-cybercrime law. Because they were pointing out that there were several facilities in the Philippines that are prone to cybercrime, 'yong internet tapping, hacking. So, sabi nila, we have to strengthen it. Our cybercrime law is more of 'yong crimes against individuals, 'di ba may Anti-Cybercrime Law tayo, 'yong 'pag binlackmail, ganyan. Hanggang dyan lang 'yong atin. Ang gusto nating gawin, anti-cybercrime law on a large scale, 'yong mga companies, government facilities na sina-cyberhack, dapat mayroon tayong batas on how to number one, compel government agencies to make sure that they have a strong anti-cybercrime program, para sa ganoon, and also oversight of Congress and government agencies, in this case, the DICT, to make sure that these government agencies are secure with their information; as well as compelling telecommunication companies, Globe, Smart, DITO, and internet providers to make sure that these internet providers also have a strong anti-cybercrime measure, or hardware, software. So iyan ang gagawin nating priority din.

CB: Will you be the one to file that bill?

SP ZUBIRI: Me and Sen. Tolentino, we committed - nag-commit po kami ni Sen. Tolentino na i-file itong bill na ito, I already asked my staff to prepare these measures. But humingi din ako ng copy sa kanila, I asked them to give us copies from other countries, I think they're giving us copies from Scandinavian countries na napakaganda ng kanilang legislation when it comes to anti-cybercrime measures.

CB: And now, Senate President Zubiri is ready to answer all our questions on different issues. Una muna, Sir, after signing the enrolled bill of MIF bill, what is now the status of the bill?

SP ZUBIRI: Maganda siguro let me clear the air on allegations of tampering. Maganda siguro na wala pa masyadong nagbibigay ng magandang klarong explanation dito.

Unang-una, there's no such thing as tampering. There was never a plan to tamper, there was no sinister move to tamper the measure. There was no tampering that took place. We just want to put into record, that we just reflected the true intention of the provisions, as reflected in the Transcript of Records. Let me repeat, we just reflected the true intention of the provisions as reflected on the Transcript of Records.

The Enrolled Bill, yung pinirmahan ko sa Washington D.C., is the truthful reflection of the intent of the members of Congress. Iyan ang intent of the majority when we approved this. A true reflection of the Transcript of Record.

Now, may mga tanong na bakit naman may naidagdag, kung tapos na ang boksing. Sa totoo lang, let me give you the timeline of the event, morning of Wednesday, 2 in the morning tayo natapos, diba? Nag Third Reading tayo 2AM of Wednesday, May 31. Nagpatawag ng meeting ang House of Representatives, 11 in the morning at the Manila Golf Club to meet with the Legislators. Let me put on record that that was not a Bicam meeting. That was only a meeting of members of [the Senate] and members of the House. That was not an official Bicam meeting. We just discussed provisions there, about the provisions. And in that discussion, they said that they will adopt the Senate version. Between two in the morning to 11 in the morning, wala pang tulog ang mga staff natin, wala pang tulog ang Secretariat, yung pinadala doon is a draft. It was not a final, enrolled bill. It's just a draft. After checking the draft, we saw that there are inconsistencies on Section 50 and Section 51, which I actually, to be honest about it, was an honest oversight by the staff. Honest oversight by the Secretariat and the staff of Sen. [Mark] Villar. Because the Author, and that has been done by my staff, hindi naman ako dati palagi Senate President, ngayon lang ako Senate President, I have sponsored many bills and after we approved these bills in plenary on Second and Third Reading, nakatutok yung staff natin para to make sure na lahat ng pina-approve natin sa Floor ma-reflect doon sa bills na iyon.

Dahil siguro umagang-umaga na, that's the last day of work, it was an honest oversight of our Secretariat. When we saw that, Sen. Mark Villar sent us a letter and the letter is with me. And the letter - and this is normal guys ha, and I will present to you why this is normal in legislative processes. The letter says:

"This is with reference to the Enrollment of SB 2020 and HB 6608, otherwise known as the Maharlika Investment Fund of 2023, sponsored by the undersigned. Upon advice of the Legislative Department, and in the interest of clarity may we respectfully propose the measure reflect the sense of Section 50 and Section 51, under a single section."

Ginagawa po ito ng mga Sponsors always and I will show you several bills that this has happened in the past.

[READS LETTER] Last paragraph. " (inaudible)... and this is to reflect the intent as may be gleaned upon the Transcript of Stenographic Notes, when proposed amendments to the Deputy Minority Floor Leader was considered. Thank you."

The correct proceeding after that was to show or reflect the true intent of Congress na isang provision lang. I know because I presided, diba? Ininsist ni Sen. Hontiveros na gawing 20 years yung Prescription Period. I clearly recall sabi ni Sen. Mark Villar, hindi, 10 years lang and he was firm. And it is here, I have the Transcript of Records and Sen. Hontiveros just thanked him. She did not put it into a vote, she did not insist. That was the true intent of that provision. It was an honest oversight of our staff, that they did not reflect that. They thought it was two provisions.

Iyan ang kalalabasan niyan. There was no malice or ill-intent to tamper as they are saying or amend the measure. As long as it is not an Enrolled Bill, when you say "subject to style" - that is why when I declare "subject to style", in plenary and all Senate Presidents have done this from Sens. Drilon, Sotto to even Sen. Koko, when they announce "subject to style", that gives the Secretariat the power to look at or adjust the commas, periods, the wordings. Because when we say it on the floor, hindi naman lahat abugado, so we don't give the legal language. Pag sinabing "subject to style", yung mga abugado sa Legislative Department natin dito, nilalagay na po nila yung right language. It is only when it is Enrolled, where before I sign it is properly reviewed, when it's an Enrolled copy. I just want to clarify this: What the body approved on Third Reading was a bill with amendments introduced and adopted in plenary. There was no printed Third Reading copy since this was a certified measure. And we do this. Kapag certified measure yan, after Second Reading, diretso na sa Third Reading. Diretso na yan sa Third Reading. The Certification does away with two things: the requirement to have three readings on separate days and number two the requirement to have a printed Third Reading copy before approval.

Sometimes we say, "Bigyan mo kami ng clean copy bago tayo mag Third Reading on the same day". But in this case, it's not a requirement by law or by our rules. There was no printed copy that was on its final form when we voted to approve the Maharlika version because of the lateness of the hour because basically it was two in the morning at that time.

As presiding officer, I directed the Secretariat to take note of the amendments, subject to style. Let me repeat: The Enrolled Bill now, which was signed by myself, which is now at the House of Representatives is the truthful reflection of the intent of the Legislators. Iyan ang totoong intention.

CB: Pero, nasa House na ngayon, sir for signature?

SP ZUBIRI: On the way, wala kasi pasok kahapon, so today. And wala silang pasok today, but it is pending with the House Speaker na.

CB: Are you saying na dumaan sa tamang proseso, kung mayroon mang inayos pagdating doon sa Section 50 and 51?

SP ZUBIRI: Yes, dumaan sa tamang proseso and I will give you many, many examples.

CB: Kasi some of your colleagues and other senators are saying na yung na-approve sa Third and Final Reading, touch move na iyon at hindi na pwede galawin.

SP ZUBIRI: That's not true. Because even with the budget, when we pass the budget on Second and Third Reading, hindi pa tapos ang budget ah. Alam ninyo na naman yan. How many years have you been in Congress, in the Senate, Ate Cely? 2004? 19 years!

CB: Walang ganunan, sir! [Laughter]

SP ZUBIRI: Hindi, itinatanong ko lang. [Laughter] Sa 19 years mo na, ikaw yung Dean natin dito. Marami sa inyo, 5 years, 10 years na, you notice when we approve the budget on Second and Third Reading, ano ginagawa ng LBRMO? Inaayos pa nila, nililinis pa nila. And that is not a violation of our Rules. It happens many times.


CB: Kasi sir yung na-approve sa Third Reading, na-upload sa website kaya doon nakita na bakit may dalawang magkaiba na Prescriptive Period.

SP ZUBIRI: Yes, but as long as it is not an Enrolled Bill, it is still subject to the true reflection of our colleagues' intent, and style corrections and editorials.

I will give you one example guys ha? Ito bato-bato sa langit, sana huwag magalit. Yung bill po ni Sen. Jinggoy, my dear friend, and he is already vacationing, nagusap kami kahapon. The bill of our distinguished colleague Sen. Jinggoy when he sponsored the AFP Professionalism Act. It was approved on Third Reading, March 6. March 21 the Bicameral Conference was held in the Senate. Approved na sa Bicameral Conference Committee Meeting. That morning, Sen. Koko, our distinguished Minority Leader, continued to give amendments. Continued to give amendments, tapos na po sa Bicam Report. Tapos na po. We approved it na. With due respect to my Minority Floor Leader.

On March 22, he continued to further give amendments. Ratified in the afternoon of March 22. But even after that they continued to do perfecting amendments. As a matter of fact, I have the letter here signed by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on the amendment requested by Sen. Koko, on March 29. This letter was dated March 29. The bill was already ratified on March 22. Let me read:

[READS LETTER] "With reference to the enrolled copy SB 1849, House Bill 6570 otherwise known as "An Act Further Strengthening Professionalism, Promoting the Continuity Policies of Modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, amending for this purpose RA 11709". Upon the advice of the Executive Director for Legislation I propose a polishing amendment to delete the phrase..."

Case in point. And I can cite many other cases and these are precedents in the Senate and in the House of Representatives.

We amend the Rules. Sometimes the Rules are amended when we look at precedents. That's why hindi ba si Sen. Frank Drilon, when he was Minority Floor Leader and I was Majority Floor Leader, he will always ask me on the Floor: "May I ask the Majority Floor Leader, has there been precedents about this move that we will make?" And I will cite, diba? On so and so we have already done this, when we recalled the Bicam version back to the House of Representatives so that we may open it back to the Bicameral Conference Committee. Mga ganoon. That is one example. I remember this was the Coco Levy Fund, kasi nasubmit na sa Malacañang, pina-recall namin para amendiyahan muli at buksan muli yung Bicameral Conference Commitee. Noong nalaman ni Sen. Drilon na mayroon na palang nagawa na ganiyan dati sabi niya, "OK, then I agree to this process."

This process is not tantamount to falsification. This is the usual legislative process we go through. We are only reflecting the true essence on what was discussed in plenary. Until it is signed by me, under an Enrolled Copy, it can still be corrected subject to style. I want to clear this: Every bill approved with or without printed copy undergo the process of Enrollment. If this process were unnecessary, then bills would be signed by the Speaker and the Senate President on the same day they are approved. Bakit hindi pirmahan on the same day? Kasi tinitignan natin po muna natin, subject to style and style amendments. Baka pag dating sa Palasyo, ang daming palpak, mapapahiya po ang Kongreso at ang Senado niyan. Again, let me repeat, it has been done in the past, most recently, amendments of Sen. Koko Pimentel, our Minority Floor Leader given after the fact that it has been ratified already by the Bicam.

CB: Sir, magiging kwestiyonable lang kung may ininsert na hindi napagusapan sa plenary?

SP ZUBIRI: Yes, yun ang iligal. Yun ang falsification. For example, pinagusapan na 20 years, ayaw ni [Sen.] Mark [Villar]. Tapos ginawa lalo ni Mark, all of the sudden, five years, e wala, hindi naman pinagusapan yun sa Floor. That is illegal. That is unconstitutional and that is a major problem.

CB: So no need na po ibalik sa plenary para ayusin yung magkakontra na sections?

SP ZUBIRI: No. Not necessary. It is not necessary. As far as I am concerned, hindi na kailangan. Again, with due respect to the parties involved, I am just quoting what has transpired in the past and there are several, marami yan. Baka kasi sinasabi ninyo na binobola ko lang kayo.

CB: So sir confident po kayo sakaling may mag question po nito?

SP ZUBIRI: Yes. There is legal jurisprudence but before I go to that, allow me first to give you the list:

- Amendments to the Foreign Investments Act

- Vape Bill

- Anti Terrorism Law

- Bayanihan Law

I have the list here, I can also give you a copy of this out of transparency and of course the Budget Bill, as I mentioned earlier itong sponsorship ni Sen. Jinggoy. So these are some of the measures that had gone through corrections after looking at the intent of the legislators on the Transcript of Records.

Now, legal jurisprudence. Of course, I do not want to debate with Sen. Koko Pimentel, being a Bar topnotcher. I am just a... kung sa Visaya, "murag abugado." Parang abugado lang. Just my extensive years of experience as Majority Leader under Sen. Enrile, under Sen. Sotto had prepared me for these particular issues. There are jurisprudence on internal processes of Congress. For example, Morales vs. Zubino and the Civil Service Commission. Very clear that the... declined to rule on matters involving the internal processes of Congress. And it says: "We cannot go behind the Enrolled Act to discover what really happened. This is a portion of a direct quote from this Supreme Court decision.

"The respect due to other branches of government demands that we act upon the faith and credit of what the officers and the said branches attest to as the official acts of the respective departments."

Ibig sabihin niyan, pag Enrolled Copy, wala na po silang decision diyan - what have transpired before the Enrolled Copy. There are several pa: Joker Arroyo vs. Speaker Jose De Venecia. As a matter of fact, the Court disagreed and dismissed the Petition. And it reasoned why: "the Court declined to Rule that only when the internal Rules of Congress or concerned parliementary rules are procedural and merely procedural and with the observance of Courts of no concern"

Meron pang Tolentino vs Secretary of Finance. Meron pang isa, Philippines Judges Association vs Prado. Ito po yung mga jurisprudence na binanggit ko po. I can give you a copy of this particular issue so this may be clarified.

I mean, if it was a provision that was controversial, for example, kung yung getting back the pension funds na diba, tinanggal na. Tanggal na, hindi na pwede yan, they're completely banned from the MIF, tapos ibinalik iyon? Ayun magkaka-leche leche na, pati ako I'll be up in arms. But this is a very simple styling correction. It was basically our staff that got confused. It was an honest to goodness oversight by our staff that they put two provisions, one 10 years, one 20 years. When we pointed it out to the sponsor sabi ng sponsor, Sen. Mark Villar: "Hindi ah, 10 years lang yan." And I agreed with him when I called him and said: "Yes", because I presided. And I clearly saw that you did not accept the amendment of Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

With all due respect to all the players that are claiming that it is tampered, it has not been tampered. We are only showing the true reflection of the Transcript of Records.

CB: Sir, there are calls for the President to veto the MIF bill, but recently the President said he is ready to sign the bill. Are you confident na hindi ito ma-veto?

SP ZUBIRI: The veto power is prerogative of the President. I do not want to dwell on the prerogative and powers of the President. I do not want to short guess what the President will do.

Q: Is there a need to amend the rules na lang? Why not just amend the rules?

SP ZUBIRI: Maybe we do not need to amend the rules but what we will be doing in the future is making sure that, for example, we pass a version on Third Reading, as presiding officer, I will make sure na mayroon na tayong clean copy. We don't have to amend. Kasi moving to amend the Rules we have to publish the Rules once again. As presiding officer, we will just be clear about that.

Q: Kahit priority measures, sir?

SP ZUBIRI: Yes. Kahit priority measures. I mean mabilis lang naman yung clean copy unless of course mahabang mahaba siya. For example, the budget. It is very difficult. The budget is two books like that. It is very difficult to print that out for a clean copy immediately.

Q: (inaudible)

SP ZUBIRI: The House wanted just to adopt our version e. So it was upto us to come with the true reflection of Congress of the Senate. Ayaw na nila mag Bicam at the time. Again, the provisions that were there is not a deal breaker as far as it was discussed on the floor, it is not a controversial provision. It is just to clarify, ano ba talaga, 10 or 20 years? If we look at the transcript, ang sabi ni Sen. Mark, its 10.

According to my legal team, the bill will even survive without the prescription period. In other words, maski wala yang provision na yan it will survive because the general rules on prescription. It does not necessarily have to go through a Bicam. Tsaka, pagdating sa Malacanang, daan pa yan, they are reviewing it. The legal team of the President is still reviewing the measure. We also have to wait for their findings on reviewing the measure.

CB: Noong in-adopt ito ng House, hindi na nila nabasa yung copy ng Senate?

SP ZUBIRI: I think they read most of it. I presume. I dont want to... Hindi naman ako member ng Bicam. It is best to ask the members of the Bicam.

Q: Is "subject to style" absolute? Lahat pwede?

SP ZUBIRI: No. Subject to style is styling amendments. It has nothing to do with the intent. For example, lalagay mo diyan... Example lang ito, hindi ito yung Maharlika. Sample lang ito: "Gusto ko ilagay sa batas na ang parusa ay parusa ay 20 taon na kulong!" Diba, 20 years ang pagkakulong. Pag sinabi mong subject to style, hindi nila pwedeng gawing 30 years, hindi po pwede nilang 15 years or 10 years, dapat 20 years yan pero gagawin yung legal terminology. For example, sasabihin ni Sen. Robin Padilla: "Dapat ang pagkakulong niyan ay 20 taon!" Ang sasabihin ng sponsor: "I accept the amendment, Your Honor." Then I say: "Amendment accepted, subject to style." Yung "subject to style" diyan yung legal phrasing niyang 20 years na yan.

The how it will be placed in the provision, the legal phrasing or the right way of saying it. Kasi Tagalog din ang pagkasabi, dapat naka English. That is subject to style. But the intent cannot be changed. Subject to style does not mean you have blanket authority to amend the intent of those provisions. Kaya napakahalaga, as far as I am concerned as a sponsor, mayroong ways of protecting it. How? Dapat yung staff mo, sponsor author ka, yung staff mo nagbabantay. Pagkatapos i-approve yung amendment na yan, pag-gawa ng clean copy, nakabantay yung staff mo. In my case, si Dave Torres ang nasa tabi ko, yung Head of Legis, tinitignan niya yun. "Hindi po, ito yung sinabi sa floor, dapat ito yung ilagay diyan. Kapantay talaga sila with the Secretariat.

Pero, sometimes, we work at two or three in the morning. Pagod na pagod na... Lalo na sa budget, diba? Sa budget, we work three weeks straight, matatapos tayo two to three in the morning. You will have human error. There will always be human error. Sometimes there is honest oversight. Ang mahalaga diyan, there should be no intent or wilfull malice to change provisions or the true intent of what was discussed on the floor. Dapat walang ganoon.

CB: Walang liable sa ganoon sir, sa honest mistake?

SP ZUBIRI: Wala naman liable sa ganoon. As far as I am concerned there is no liable for that. It's human error.

Babalikan ko lang yung transcript. Very quick. Hindi ba kapag sinasabi ng senator sa floor: "I would like to put this on record, in the transcript of records, so that if there is a question of legality, the Supreme Court can always look at the intent of this motion or provision." Hindi ba? Palagi nila nilalagay yung on record. That's why napakahalaga ng Transcript of Records.

Q: Have you heard from Speaker Romualdez why the House havent yet signed the Maharlika Bill?

SP ZUBIRI: I think yesterday and today, walang pasok.

Q: Sir last week hindi enough yung time to sign it? It just came back when sir?

SP ZUBIRI: We just came back. Diba, napirmahan ko sa Washington, yung dinala namin.

Q: It just came back when sir?

SP ZUBIRI: This week, Tuesday.

It will be signed soon. The Speaker committed to sign. He told me that he will sign.

Q: (Inaudible)

SP ZUBIRI: As far as the Speaker is concerned when I spoke to him, he said he will sign it so there should be no problem. Walang pasok yesterday and today, lalo na bukas Friday, so baka Monday pirmado na yun. As a matter of fact, we might have a meeting with the Speaker next week before the LEDAC. By that time, Im sure he would have signed it. But i dont want to guess. I think you should ask the Speaker na lang.

Q: (Inaudible)

SP ZUBIRI: No, wala naman. But they have a copy of the Enrolled Bill. And the Secretariat, according to my staff, Secretary to Secretary ang nag-mi-meeting.

CB: No need to explain to them? Kasi may nagrereklamo doon sa proseso...

SP ZUBIRI: Sinulatan ni Sec. Rey Bantug yung Secretary ng House expalining nga yung process that I mentioned to you today. Acceptable naman sa kanila.

Q: Paano lumabas yung story nung nagkaroon kayo ng "Viber Session"?

SP ZUBIRI: Hindi Viber session. Maraming nagtanong sa Viber group namin kasi may Viber group ako with majority senators on ito nga yung nagka-doble doble. Sumagot naman si Sen. Mark, meron akong sinulat, hindi yan totoo, ito ang totoo. Lahat naman sumagot. "Acknowledged, SP; Yes, SP." There's nothing wrong with that. We do Zoom, don't we? The House of Representatives does Zoom all the time in plenary. May I just put on record; the senators go to work every day. Monday to Wednesday nandito kami. We dont do sessions on Zoom. If they allow it, we allow naman under our Rules to be able to answer and discuss things electronically. There should be no problem. Kasi clinarify lang namin doon sa Viber group yung discussion doon sa two provisions na bakit nagka-ganoon. Sinagot naman ni Sen. Mark na "Hindi tama yan. Pinaaayos ko na. Dahil hindi naman iyan ang pinagusapan sa Floor." Ang importante diyan, kung ano ang pinagusapan sa Floor, yang ang lalabas sa Enrolled Bill.

Actually, mas masama pa nga kung iniwan natin yung dalawang provision na iyon. That was not the reflection of the true intent of the law. Mas nakakasira pa yan. Inayos natin yung true intention of the provision in the new Enrolled Bill.

Q: Paano siya kinorrect?

SP ZUBIRI: It became a single provision na lang. It is corrected by coming up with a single provision of 10 years, hindi 20. 10 years lang.

Q: Nawala na po yung Section 51, sir?


Q: We were told po na pinag-combine so nandoon yung dalawang sentences from section 50 and 51.

SP ZUBIRI: There is no mention of section 50 and 51, it is just one section. Pinagisa lang yan. Just one provision of 10 years prescription period.

Q: Na-adjust na po yung mga numbe?


It is under Section 50: [SP READS PROVISION] "Prescription of crimes and offenses. The crimes and offenses punishable under this Act shall be prescribed in 10 years. However, the right of the State to recover properties unlawfully acquired by the person involved nominees or transferees of embezzlement, misappropriation of funds shall be barred by prescription latches or estoppel."

That's it. Just 10 years. That what was discussed on the floor.

Q: Napag usapan Ba yung request ng US na i-accommodate natin yung mga Afghanistan?

SP ZUBIRI: Yes. Ako on a personal capacity as the Senate President I think it is the right thing to do for humanitarian concerns. I was once the vice chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, I'm still the board of governors of the Philippine Red Cross. As a humanitarian, a believer in saving human it is the right thing to do. As humanly as possible. Why? Hindi naman po sila lilipat dito sa ating bansa. Ang request lang po ay parang half-way house na kung saan sila po ang gagastos ng lahat, ang Estados Unidos. Gagawa po sila ng housing, gagawa po sila ng facilities na pag alis po after 60 to 90 days pag-alis po ng Afghan refugees papuntang America, maiiwan po lahat yan sa Pilipinas. Kaya yung nag sasabi na: tatayuan pa natin sila ng bahay, tatayuan pa natin sila ng mga pasilidades, hindi po totoo yun. Ang magtatayo po, ang Estados Unidos at maiiwan po iyan as asset na ng ating estado, ng Pilipinas. So, I was told that last week in another halfway house 200 afghan refugees were already boarded into a C-130 plane. This was told to me by one of the officials of the government.

We'll not anymore mention the name because that might be some secret discussions. But that told me: Sir, last week we have 200 Afghan refugees in a C-130 ready to leave Afghanistan, Kabul to go to another country, halfway area while being processed for the United States. Alam mo pina disembark sila, yung 200 at hindi nila mahanap kung saan po sila. Men, Women and little children. Now, they cannot be found, they cannot be located anymore. The reason why they were unloaded they have no understading why. It could be anything, from harassment to abduction to whatever... We don't know that fate of these 200 Afghan refugees. That is the situation now in Afghanistan, with the Taliban. I guess kung identified ka na tumutulong sa Americano, patay ka. So Maawa naman tayo sa kanila. Isn't it the right thing to do? Let me state for the record.

We have done this in the 1930s with the Jewish people. Noong nagkaroon po ng patayan sa world war 2 in Europe, President Manuel L. Quezon opened the doors of the Philippines and brought them into the Philippines to seek safe refuge. Ang ganda po nating yan, The fall of Saigon in Vietnam. Naalala nyo yung Puerto Princessa dati ang daming mga Vietnamese boat people na nandoon? It was opened by President Marcos to allow them to come and to relocate in Puerto Princesa. And that is why Puerto Princesa is known for a lot of Vietnamese cuisine. There is a Philippine-Vietnamese village. It was the right thing to do and I think if these men, women and children are being slaughtered for supporting another at that time, and they are being now repatriated to the United States, I think it's the right thing to do for the Philippines to allow them to come up with a halfway house here. What is important is it is immediate. Kase isa-isang hinahanap na sila at tinatarget for persecution. Kawawa naman sila. So if you ask me personally, I do not know the legal impediments to this, but if you ask me personally, we should do it, it's the right thing to do.

Q: During your meeting na mention kung gaano karami ang mga Afghan nationals na dadalahin dito at gaano katagal?

SP ZUBIRI: They didn't mention the number, but hindi naman ganoon karami. Kase meron po silang halfway house the Germany, meron sila halfway house I think other countries like Qatar, they have several countries that are like the halfway house processing center for these refugees and you know we are signatories to several United Nations (UN) statutes in helping these refugees... Ito pala, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), recognize the right of person to seek asylum. But actually they are not even seeking asylum.

They are not seeking asylum in the Philippines, temporary lang po sila dito, while all their papers are documented and they are going to be vetted out, kase may mga security analyst dito na nagsasabi na baka may pumasok diyan like Taliban. Alam mo, kapag na vet out na ng State Department ng US yan, napakahigpit sila sa vetting process, napakahigpit so mas mahigpit pa sila sa atin sigurado. Sigurado ako dito kase we're going to ask the Americans again, our allies, ito ba ay may terrorist links? For our safety we're going to ask them, but they've been vetted out already by the US State Department and Homeland Security before they can even enter the Philippines. Kaya guys let's put ourselves in that situation, kung nagka-gyera tayo dito, hindi ko na lang babanggitin kung sino, pasukan tayo dito, dahil malapit po tayo sa Estados Unidos, sabihin ng Estados Unidos: Lahat kayong mga Pilipino welcome kayong lumipat sa US and we need a halfway house. I'm sure we'll appreciate this gesture that they will do for us. So, I think that the whole point here, it's the right thing to do.

Q: (Jojo Sicat's qustion) about Taliban (inaudible)

SP ZUBIRI: Hindi naman siguro. Anong gagawin nila? They're having problem surviving as a country. So I don't want to comment on issue on the Taliban and akin lang diyan is that right humanitarian thing to do. Actually ang sagot nga ng State Department, Undersecretary Nuland is that the Philippines has a history of helping people. Has a history of helping people. Kaya and ganda eh. So, nung binanggit nya yan I totally agree. Remember, dahil nga dyan sa ginawa natin nung 1930s sa mga Jewish people of Israel, may Visa-free status ang Filipino sa Israel. Number 1 caregivers ng Israel Filipinos, they welcome Filipino workers in Israel and we can go anytime you can get a ticket go to Israel once you enter the border, Filipino no problem, pasok. Ganun nila tayo ka Mahal.

Q: On claims thre is a possibility that Afghan nationals are US operatives na gagamitin sa pakikipag gyera if ever magkaroon po ng gyera between China?

SP ZUBIRI: I don't think so they only gonna stay here for 90 days. Ang sabi nila sa sa akin they gonna be there between 60 to 90 days no more. And enclosed yan. It's holding facility. Hindi sila makakalabas.

Q: There was an assurance talaga na hindi sila makakalabas?

SP ZUBIRI: There's an assurance na hindi sila makakalabas. Confined sila at babantayan ng ating mga taga Bureau of Immigrations, na hindi ko na alam kung papalabasin ng Bureau of Immigrations yun. Alam mo naman may mga 'Raketeer" din dun sa kailangan mabantayan ng maayos yun kas yugn POGO nga lumalabas kugn saan saan. So dapat yan mabantayan ng maayos.

Q: Have you talked to Sen Imee saan po kaya nangagaling yung ganitong desire nya to look into the issue. Even the VP is against it.

SP ZUBIRI: I respect their opinions one way or the other. But, ang akin diyan is I haven't spoken to her I'll probably will in the future when we see each other kapag may mga meetings kami, I will mention it to her that, that's my personal opinion. As I've said it's my personal opinion. It's not the opinion of the Senate. I have not discussed this with my colleagues at all. But for my personal opinion bilang isang volunteer ng Red Cross, at dating vice chairman ng Philippine Red Cross, It's the right and humanely thing to do.

Q: Is it ultimately the President's decision?

SP ZUBIRI: Well the President has to allow it of course, if he doesn't allow it nothing happens.

Q: Basically, we have the President's sister and the VP and the Senate giving this advice to the president... (inaudible)

SP ZUBIRI: I leave it to the President, that's an executive decision so... Me and Sen. Tol shared the same view and also several of our colleagues that I have spoken to.

I'll give you an example, galing ako ng states I went to Utah nakabisita ako sa Black Rifle Coffee. Itong Black Rifle Coffee was set up by veterans, I don't know if you heard of it but it is now the fastest growing coffee in the US and nagpapatakbo nito ay veterans of all different wars. When we went there they were so proud in saying that part of our workforce are Afghan nationals and I met with them. Ito yung nag guguide sa kanila habang special forces nag aano sila, ito yung mga translators nila and I met with them, they are so happy. They told me, you know sir if we stayed back in Afghanistan my whole family and I will be massacred. They were so happy, what are they doing now? They're brewing coffee ang ganda there are kids so young they have hope for the future otherwise; they would have been massacred.

So sabi ko nga that's a great example of a humanely thing to do.

Q: On the concern of Sen. Imee was that parang shrouded daw in secrecy all these talks abroad in this issue?

SP ZUBIRI: Well, in fairness when I went to the State Department they asked me about it kung pwede. I guess you know also the reason why they don't want to come out with this out loud is because of the safety of the 20,000 Afghan refugees that are waiting there. Biruin mo kung ilabas yan sa international news all these countries naglabas ng statement" "We will house the Afghan refugees, baka lalo silang babarilin, baka ma firing squad sila ng mas maaga. So that is why there is secrecy because there is safety involved in this. Because they have to be flown out. I think they have one halfway house in Pakistan, they have a halfway house in Germany, Qatar. So, they are looking at these other route also with the Philippines.

Q: So na mention po ba why the Philippines? So the state department is asking your support?

SP ZUBIRI: Yeah, they are asking our support and they asked me first how I feel about it. Syempre gumaan ang loob nila nung sinsabi ko as a Red Crosser, as a humanitarian who believes we should have (Inaudible) humanity. I said I have no problems with it. I personally think it's the right thing to do. Noong sinabi ko po yan, then they explained ito lang naman ang nirerequest namin na malipat sila diyan for only 60 to 90 days and it's not all, kase marami naman silang halfway house all over the world.

So, parang hinihingi lang nila a few thousand Afghan refugees. Ang kailangan lang gawin is at the soonest possible time, hindi malalagay sa alanganin ang kanlang mga buhay, dahil sinabi nga niya na last week, may dalawang daan na, na dapat lilipat na sa Pakistan to check na yung mga papelas papunta Estado Unidos, hindi na nila mahanap pina-disembark na sa eroplano at hindi na nila mahanap. Coming from them that must be gospel truth because people say it was an official meeting with the State Department.

So, ang sabi nila at no expense to the Philippine government gagawin nila lahat ng facilities at lahat ng facilities will be returned to the Filipino people. It's going to be owned by the Filipino people. Pwede nating gamitin yan for housing. Pwede natin gamitin yan for halfway house for the Bureau of Immigration kase sa daming illegal na pumapasok na mga POGO operators baka pwede na nilang ilagay doon para secured yung mga facilities na ito. So, I mean there's no loss for the Philippines whatsoever.

Q: Why the Philippines and after being processed here saan sila dadalhin?

SP ZUBIRI: Because they consider the Philippines as a close friend and ally. They are also trying to seek support with other countries around the region but they feel that Philippines is a close friend na pwede nilang makausap and I think there is nothing wrong with that.

Q: On the resolution about landing of a certain aircraft last June 26?

SP ZUBIRI: I have no comment on that because I have no clue, I have no information on that.

Q: Was there an understanding that US aircraft can just land?

SP ZUBIRI: We are treaty allies. We have EDCA, EDCA sites. We agreed to VFA the Visiting Forces Agreement. The VFA allows US government aircraft and personnel to visit the Philippines for training for whatever purpose. That is needed to strengthen our alliance with the US, defense alliance and we have EDCA sites, meaning that we have enhance defense cooperation agreement sites all over the Philippines including one four kilometers from my house in Cagayan de Oro but I don't mind.

Q: Why Do we need to accommodate them, is it safe for us?

SP ZUBIRI: Because they are human beings. Your blood and their blood are both red your children and their children are also "musmos" na kailangan tulungan at bigyang protection. Because it is the right thing to do. You are talking to the wrong guy. I am a Red Crosser so, lahat kayo may kasalanan man o hindi dapat mabuhay. Again I've been a Red Crosser for 20 years I think when Henry Dunant founded the Red Cross in the battle of Solferino, bumaba siya sa carriage niya nakita niya nagpapatayan yung dalawang he didn't ask are you Swiss, are you French, are you Italian? Hinde, tinulungan nya lahat. That's the Red Cross concept, so I believe in that. All the issue on being... I don't want to comment anymore on the Taliban and the Afghan people and this could happen, remember that President Duterte in his presidency also welcomed the Rohingya from Myanmar. He even said we welcome Rohingya, you could come here, sinabi ng President Duterte yan. So our country is known for its humanitarian causes.

Q: Do you plan to communicate what you just said kay Sen Imee?

SP ZUBIRI: If I see her. We respect naman individual opinions of every Senator. Iba yung istilo ko sa ibang mga liderato ng Senado, I'm not a dictator. I do not impose what I believe in to my collegues and I think that is why they like me. I'm a consultative leader and I get consensus. So, there are members of the Senate that feel differently, but that is not the consensus. The consensus will come out and there might be another majority decision but we respect every individual Senator's rights and opinion. So, kung ayaw na ayaw niya then I respect her she might have her reasons and I'm sure I respect those reasons and my reason is my personal opinion my personal reason for supporting this.

Q: Do you agree na hindi kse maayos ang explanation ng DFA about this issue?

SP ZUBIRI: Isa pa yun I think may problema din yung messaging ng DFA. I think ayusin din ng DFA yung kanilang messaging talaga and eventually, the chief architect of foreign policy is the President. So, if the President says to the DFA and NICA to pursue this for the best interest of the country, then so be it. You can give your opinion, you go against it or not but the architect of our foreign policy is the President. So the buck will stop with him if you will agree to it or not.

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