Press Release
August 3, 2023



SEN. WIN: I'll start with education and you are absolutely correct that we normalize schooling in the country. Normalize in the sense that we have gone back to face to face classes. However, that is a very basic part of our schooling culture. The issue of summer break, in fact it's not summer, it's a rainy break. The break of students right now is between June, July, August and under this new calendar students will be going back to school by August and we found out that 80 percent of our constituents want to bring back the traditional summer break wherein our learners will go on break in April and May. And admittedly there are benefits to that, they can spend more time with the family, number 2 they can play with their peers. In the development of a child it is important also to socialize.We are going to conduct a hearing as to benefits and other issues pertaining to when our learners should take a break. We will discuss the issues and benefits. If the benefit outweighs some of the issues then we will talk about how to transition slowly. Admittedly, we cannot do that overnight, we have to transition slowly. That is one of the trivial, simple but one of the most talked about issues in education. At the same time we are also doing full blast in EDCOM. As you know we have convened EDCOM 2 and we are talking about how to address the issue of the education crisis in our country. I call it the education crisis because it is bigger. And we have identified 28 priority areas in which we will look deeply together with PIDS as our research arm. The end goal of this is to improve learner outcomes and also solve some of the fundamental problems for example reading, you mentioned earlier that the World Bank released a report in learning poverty in which 90 percent of our learners cannot read a simple story so that is quite alarming, if you cannot read you cannot move to the next level. So we will address the issue as well as improve learner outcomes as our main direction. So in a nutshell those are what we have been doing in our basic education and EDCOM is actually one of the most important activities that personally I have been attending. Sana naman, but this is our chance to improve learner outcomes and improve our education system. Sana this will be the last of this education commission.

Q: On College students cannot read

SEN.WIN: Well I have not read that article.

Q: On DepEd's learning camp

SEN. WIN: They have what they called the national learning camp and the national learning camp is meant to address learning loss during the pandemic. Admittedly, during the pandemic, there were two years of school closure, this affected the cognitive abilities of our learners meaning reading and mathematics. So the national learning camp of DepEd has already commenced and the goal of that is to address fundamental issues, learners learn to read, find those who cannot read and help them. Number 2, numeracy, trains our learners basic Mathematics so that they can improve and they will not have problems going to the next level. But the college one, I have not read that but I know for a fact the National Learning Camp has already commenced to help our learners.


Q: On Grading system

SEN.WIN: Yah, it is the most important that the critical stage of a learner is during kindergarten, all the way to grade 3. So this is when students should be trained and taught properly in fundamental subjects, such as reading and math and now we have included GMRC as a mandatory subject. So these three should be really emphasized during Kindergarten all the way to Grade 3.

Q: Does it need legislation to include GMRC?

SEN. WIN: Very good question. In the past when I say in the past, many many years from now. Good Manners was taught as a subject but over the years it has been embedded in different subjects so they don't have specific subjects in GMRC. But GMRC was embedded in different subjects. Now we are bringing it back to the old concept wherein it will have a specific subject solely for GMRC. It's legislated subject but other subjects like Math, Science , they are not legislated. We leave it to the DepEd.

Q: What is the status of the bill?

SEN. WIN: It was already approved. And it's being implemented already, it will be part of the new curriculum that will be launched by DepEd. It will be launched this month, August.


Q: Nabanggit mo ang EDCOM 2, is K-12 part of EDCOM 2?

SEN. WIN: Yes, it is part of that. We found out also that there is big dissatisfaction with Senior High School. If you remember, we added Kindergarten and then two years for senior high school. And we found out 50% of our constituents are dissatisfied with senior high school. Now we are introducing a reform what we called Batang Magaling Act, our senior high school will be given free assessment and if they passed, they will get their National Certificates that they can be used for employment. Even though they are being trained with techvoc, the assessment portion is left for their own. Without the certification no one will hire you. The first one that employers will look for is the TESDA certification. We are now going to make it mandatory and free for our senior high school students to take the assessment. So that when they graduate, they will have two documents, diploma and their national certificate. The national certificate if they take tech-voc, will enable them to look for meaningful jobs.

Q: This require another legislation?

SEN. WIN: This requires another legislation. It's not being done right now, but it's the reform we are introducing so that our senior high school and our parents will find senior high school productive for their family.

Q: Ano pong status?

SEN. WIN: It was sponsored on the floor and we will debate on it and hopefully our senators will find merit to make this into law.

Q: Wala pang house counterpart?

SEN. WIN: Meron nang house counterpart and we are waiting for House to also debate on this.

Q: You principally authored and sponsored this law?

SEN. WIN: Yes, we actually wrote that law from ground up but through many consultations and my experience as former mayor and my consultations also with education experts.

Q: On the recent pronouncement of DepEd on going back to online classes during calamities

SEN. WIN: I agree with you. The reality is the schooling of our children will always get distracted because of climate change and weather and also natural disasters. In other words, the education of our children will always be disrupted. I support DepEd's move to come up with alternative modes of delivery including online. But online is not for everyone. But Deped can come up with alternative forms. For example the self learning modules, they can organize small learning groups in their community. They can also do distance learning, some teachers go to communities. We have to prepare ourselves for any eventuality for teachers to continue to teach and our learners to continue to learn. That's a reality we have to face. That's why you are right that we have to make this a formal policy ready, maybe through a law that will enable our learners to continue to learn and enable our teachers to continue to teach.

Q: Will you initiate and propose legislation?

SEN. WIN: Actually we started drafting, medyo complicated lang siya but we started drafting a bill that will institutionalize alternative modes of delivery, different forms to help our students switch from traditional form to alternative form. We also have to understand where our students are coming from. The traditional form is you go to school, you interact, but what if you have this type of bagyo na sunud-sunod. You have school cancellation for two weeks. They cannot just stay at home. They should have some form of alternative delivery of education and those should be institutionalized and teachers capacitated.

Q: It requires a lot of resources?

SEN. WIN: Yes. Definitely. It will require systems procedures and resources especially training to make sure that teachers and principals are trained to different modes.

Q: On education budget

SEN. WIN: We have to also understand, I have looked up the DepEd budget for many many years, and it is always not enough. It is because students' population are growing. It is growing by 45% and we all know that our population will hit at 110 million this year or next year. In other words, our population is growing and our students population is growing. When population is growing, you need more classrooms, books, teachers. And of course the budget is also growing but we also have other needs such as infrastructure. We also need to innovate how to address basic inputs such as classrooms, teachers and books. And what we are going to expand is the voucher system of our basic education. For example right now the voucher system or the ESC, it's only limited to Junior High School and Senior High School.But we will expand it to accommodate Kindergarten to Grade 6 so that this will be available for all basic education students. For example, I'm a parent, I have the option of going to private school depending on the capacity.

Q: That will require a lot of resources again?

SEN. WIN: That will require a lot but it's not going to be new resources but we are going to shift some of the resources. For example, instead of building more classrooms maybe we can allocate those funds to more vouchers so that areas where they have excess capacity in private schools, can go there. We will just shift resources but not exactly add resources.

Q: My fear over this soft assistance, they are more prone to corruption.


SEN. WIN: We have to have very strict safeguards. So far in my analysis, the voucher system is being managed more efficiently by PEAC. Its Philippine Education Assistance Committee. It is created by an executive order if I'm not mistaken and that group is the one assigned to manage the funds but also look at the quality of the school. For example, if they are not doing so well in terms of quality they will not receive funds. There's a quality aspect as well. Hindi naman lahat binibigyan. In other words, private schools are also incentivized to improve their quality. Because of that you get the opportunity to service our kids through the vouchers.

Q: Capacitate the teachers, as we all know our teachers are also suffering from brain drain, they go abroad.

SEN. WIN: Yes, that's absolutely true. Some of our teachers I heard are being pirated to Shanghai to teach and to become nannies. Dual purpose. But they are also assigned to train kids in China to speak in English. So may mga ganyan na cases that I've been hearing about. We have to make sure that our teachers, especially the good ones, stay in the country because we need them to train the next generation of our country.


Q: From your stand point, one year after the Marcos admin, what's your recommendation especially to DepEd Secretary Sara?

SEN. WIN: Vice President Sara encountered a very difficult situation because we came out of the pandemic. She encountered a lot of scarring from COVID. And one of which is learning loss and based on the studies that I've seen in provinces learning loss is as high as 70%. Meaning they are not ready, for example Grade 1 students, 70% are not ready. In the urban areas, 40% are not ready. So in other words, they are going to school but they are not ready. If they are not ready they will not learn. One of the problems that VP Sara is facing is scarring from COVID. We have problems pre-covid but lumalim sya during COVID so she has to address that. That's why they have the national learning camp to address the learning poverty issue. At the same time, dropouts are quite severe. Especially until Grade 3. We found out that almost 30-40% of the students dropout before they reach Grade 4. So hindi pa sila nag ge-grade 4 wala na sila sa school system natin. That's why students entered Grade 1, only 40% graduated from Senior High School. 60% disappears. Nagiging out-of-school youth, may work. And that's another one we have to address. Not only by VP Sara. We are seeing a lot of dropouts along the way. And the people that we are giving formal education to are only 4 out of 10.60% are not educated with basic education. If you are not given basic education, you cannot get meaningful jobs. As a country we need to address that. That's actually one of the biggest issues that we need to address, how to make students stay in school.

Q: You can throw money to the problem but it won't go away.

SEN. WIN: You are right we need to look at it holistically and if you look at the reasons why they dropout a lot of them work with their families, in the field, in the sari-sari stores. For financial reasons, some of them get pregnant early, that's why teenage pregnancy in our country is very high. Some of them just don't have any interest in studying because they think it's not worthwhile, they cannot look for jobs. All of these things should be addressed from a holistic point of view. We need to look at the health issue, financial issue, equity issue.

Q: During the pandemic,they were provided with tablets?

SEN. WIN: They can still use it. From what we learned from COVID, is number 1, internet will be essential to learning when you say internet, we need gadgets and connectivity so it's important that our internet companies are up to par in terms of service delivery. And I am happy to know that Starlink is already here because the problem of reaching far-flung areas is connectivity. Meaning even without fiber optic or wire connectivity you can stream internet to their homes. That's essential internet connectivity. Number 2 like I said we need to make sure in any eventuality students continue to learn so we have to have that modality that students are learning whatever the situation is.

Q: K-12 in your EDCOM 2 will stay?

SEN. WIN: Based on our analysis we have already invested so much on K-12 so let's make it work. However we have to analyze very carefully what are the problems and issues because people are not happy with K-12 that's for sure. I think almost half of our constituents are not happy with K-12 overall. We need to address that issue, we need to make it valuable for our families. di lang because they have no choice, it's mandated by the government. If we mandate it and they find no value to it, they will drop out then that will be a bigger problem. That's why we need to fix fundamental issues in the K12 system and that's what EDCOM is identifying.


Q: Going to another crisis, you are picking everything in the current problem in the energy crisis. And the most daring ones, the 60% deliverables that the NGCP has not delivered?

SEN. WIN: Yeah, in the past, if you noticed. The culprits of red alert, yellow alert brownouts are always generation companies. Of course outages, the unplanned outages. And we have to give credit where credit is due, ERC have released a reliability index, it's a standard that Gencos need to follow. So far, from what I observed because of that reliability index, gencos manage to perform at least up to standard. So we don't see reports that gencos are the culprits of yellow and red alerts. What we have seen in the last 6 to 8 months is a transmission issue. Whether voltage issue but most delayed projects are encountering supply issues. I'll give you the very specific issue, the Mindanao-Visayas interconnection should have been completed in 2019. But it's only now, I think June-July it will be operational. But that's one of the most critical infrastructure projects because we have surplus power in Mindanao, about 200 to 400 megawatts that can be delivered to VIsayas so that's why when the President included in his SONA. He gave warnings to smugglers, hoarders, scalawags and NGCP. So nakasama yung NGCP doon sa mga criminals so it's criminal for NGCP to delay transmission projects because it's affecting the supply of power to us, consumers and the worst, out of those 60 plus delayed projects those projects are being collected from us already as part of our transmission cost. So in other words, they committed to deliver 60 plus projects, they are allowed to collect from us, but those 60 plus projects are not there. It's absent pero binabayaran natin. But again, I have to give credit to ERC because they are cracking the whip for almost a year now and they have issued show cause orders for NGCP for the initial 30 projects that they have identified but I understand they will issue show cause orders for the remaining 30 projects. In other words NGCP will be penalized and they should because it is a fact that projects are delayed.

Q: Review the franchise?

SEN. WIN: Congress has the power to review franchises and we should because franchise is a privilege and that privilege should always be reviewed. Because that privilege can be given to other better, more efficient operators. So if the grantee is not performing up to standard then we should look for other entities who can perform better.

Q: You are still the chair of the Senate Committee on Energy

SEN. WIN: No more. I'm just the vice chair.

Q: Good thing that you are still scrutinizing it.

SEN. WIN: In the Senate, you need to learn almost everything. I am still keeping track of energy matters because it's important for the economy and important for all of us being consumers.

Q: May partikular ka bang bills na pinu-push to correct this kind of deliverables na hindi nadi-deliver and yet people are paying for it?

SEN. WIN: We're going to push for the charter of ERC, we have to remember, ERC wala siyang charter, it's an important commission. The birth of ERC came about because of EPIRA. But if you read EPIRA, it's not so comprehensive, it's just stated general powers. So I talked to Secretary Popo and Chairperson Dimalanta, and we both agreed that we really need to revisit the powers of ERC. ERC is one of the most important actors in the energy sector. It's the regulator. So we need to make sure that it has enough power to penalize. It has enough power to go after inefficient energy actors, it has enough budget and the structure is very clear. I'll give you an example, nakita nyo naman ang Meralco building, it is the building that's being regulated by ERC. It is one or two floors lang in the building. So in other words, they're regulating a huge company, staffed with lawyers, economists and accountants. So in other words, the regulator is outnumbered or outpowered by the stakeholders, we need to reverse that.

Q: So you're still drafting the bill?

SEN. WIN: We actually have a proposal already and I filed it in the committee of energy.

Q: So wala pa?

SEN. WIN: We're going to hear that soon, we're going to hear that soon.


Q: Among the priorities of Ledac is the amendments of EPIRA, anong difference nun sa bill?

SEN. WIN: From what I understand, the main feature of that proposal is to empower TRANSCO, to closely supervise the activities of NGCP insofar as transmission expansion is concerned. If you remember Marichu, NGCP said it will only talk with ERC. But in terms of transmission development plan, transmission expansion, there's no entity monitoring that. So we want to make it clear in the proposal, we want to make it clear that expansion development can be also handled by TRANSCO and DOE for purposes of planning, for purposes also looking at the entire energy system. It's not so clear. Ganun ka-specific yung amendment. It's not so clear, but the concept there is kasi nga ang problema ngayon is who monitors the delays? ERC yes, that's one. Who approves the expansion, for example, the future expansion, renewable energy, we want to build transmission lines in areas where solar power has high potential. But if NGCP doesn't want to build a transmission here, who dictates on them? No one.

So it's up to NGCP if they want to build a transmission line or not. So it will be very clear that there'll be a process wherein the government can mandate NGCP to build lines in areas where the government thinks will contribute to energy security.

Q: Going back to giving ERC the charter, may problema kayo sa rightsizing the government.

SEN. WIN: Actually to be honest based on my analysis, rightsizing is applicable to ERC because naiwanan na siya talaga. In terms of salaries in terms of manpower. It's one of the agencies that are highly important, highly critical but most left behind. So just to be fair lang sa ERC, that's why in the rightsizing concept it should be, I think ERC should not be a priority.

Q: Di kasama sa limitation.

SEN. WIN: Yes, in my opinion.

Q: Eh rightsizing, given the right person to the right job.

SEN. WIN: Yes, maybe they can get some people from other agencies and put them in ERC, accountants and economists.


Q: Yung other committees yung ways and means, all of these things will be pointless if there are no resources. And as chairman of the senate ways of means committee, you have to have a viewer to counter the house (inaudible) and the last time I had, Congressman Joey Salceda, he reported all of their (inaudible) is already at the Senate and pending. So can you give your side of this?

SEN. WIN: We're already going to set the date of ease of paying taxes, and in ease of paying taxes, there are three goals of ease of paying taxes. Number one is digitalization, number two is to focus on MSMEs, and number three, simplification. Those are the overarching themes and goals of ease of paying taxes, And we want to make sure the senators want to make sure that any tax measures is debated and reviewed properly, because obviously it has nationwide implications so that's why the scrutiny for tax measures in the Senate is much longer because it has a nationwide implications.

Q: All tax measures must emanate from the House so he cannot act on something..

SEN. WIN: That's something, that's another procedural reality that we have to face in our Constitution tax measures which emanates from the House.

Q: By the time they submit to you, wala na kayong time...

SEN. WIN: We are coordinating very closely with Cong Joey for a long time and Cong Joey is an efficient worker you know and it's just in the Senate we are very careful about the idea because it's a tax measure. Let's scrutinize it closely because it's national eh. We have to make sure that we can explain it to our constituents from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.


Q: And the President during his SONA, mentioned two pending CTRP, comprehensive tax reform measures programs. These two are pending in the Senate?

SEN. WIN: The other one, the Real Property Valuation Reform Act, RPVR, the other one is (inaudible) passive income. The RPVR will be sponsored anytime this week, today or next week Monday but ready na yan for debate. The PIFITA, we will discuss that in the committee probably next month, next month. The reason for that is inuna muna namin a what I call is a happy tax measure. This is a refund for VAT for tourists. So we made that a priority, at least in the Senate because we want to join the efforts to increase tourism in our country. There's a push by Secretary Garcia to bring back our tourism numbers to 8 million which is the pre pandemic level and we want to join her in that goal by coming up with a VAT refund mechanism for tourists.

Q: 12% VAT, I know that because when I travel isu-surrender mo lang yung ano. Pero sa haba ng mga pila sa airport, I don't think...

SEN. WIN: Tama ka dun, of course everything will be contingent In the House if implemented. But actually a little bit of trivia, we found out that here in Southeast Asia, the advanced economies like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, tayo na lang ang wala. In fact Vietnam has, Cambodia has, tayo na lang ang wala. So yung mga advanced ASEAN economies. So it's really a mechanism that is being used by countries in order to attract tourists, especially shopping loving tourists.

Q: Ano status the bill na to?

SEN. WIN: We're sponsoring it on the floor and ready na rin yan for debate so..

Q: May counterpart na rin ba sa Congress?

SEN. WIN: Yes meron na counterpart sa House.

Q: So House na ito..

SEN. WIN: Actually before..hopefully one month or one month and a half we can finish that. Ano naman siya, I don't think it will be contentious..

Q: Ready for debate, di pa nai-sponsor?

SEN. WIN: Di pa naiisponsoran pero ready na yung committee report.

Q: Ano yung committee report, endorsing it?

SEN. WIN: Endorsing it. Very simple lang siya, number one is there's a minimum threshold of P2,000.

Q: In dollar value?

SEN. WIN: Hindi, hindi siya dollar value. So you have to shop for more than P2,000 (Q: anliit naman nun). Actually, ang consideration namin diyan is because of the small retail outlets. For example, if you want to buy a homegrown product like dried mangoes or chocolate mangoes, actually yun ang initial discussion, how much, and during the hearing lumabas most are cottage industries naman. So hindi na namin tinaasan masyado.

Q: Number one problema nyan hahaba ang pila. Malaki pa ang cost ng...

SEN. WIN: Tama ka dyan, we invited the airport operators, the MIAA. They committed that once this is a law, they will give a dedicated space for refund.. and then yun ang disclosure nila sa amin dedicate space, and this will be fully digital, mandated in law also that it's fully digital. Parang global (inaudible) di ba in demand Singapore, when you buy sa Singapore pakita mo lang ang passport mo sa retail, when you go to the airport pakita mo lang and you will get the refund. So everything is digital na. Wala nang mga process process.

Q: So this will be manned by BOC or inter-agency?

SEN. WIN: It will be manned by DOF, but it will be operated by a digital operator. Mandated by law yan. Kasi we don't want a scenario wherein manual, it's really specified in the law na dapat digital because we are trying to avoid long line-ups and..

Q: So you're saying it will be run by a private company?

SEN. WIN: Yes, it's for public bidding. We did specify one, two or three ano, it can be many kasi marami yan eh. I think in Europe, Madrid yata yun. I think 3 or 4 meron yung Planet, meron yung Globalroom, in Singapore isa lang eh. yung Global room, so bahala na si DOF but were not going to limit it to only one, laban laban na sila.

Q: It will be placed in the international airport?

SEN. WIN: Yes, international lang siya. And effective when the tourist leave the country within 60 days, so ang concept nyan export eh, so kapag binili mo yan within 60 days dapat ilalabas mo na yung product. So those are the basic feature.

Q: So may House counterpart na yan?

SEN. WIN: Yeah, meron na siya. We just improved on it so that maging clear. So that's why na-delay ang Ease of Paying Taxes bill because this is a bill that we want to prioritize in order to help our tourism.

Q: Sabi mo nga happy tax measure.

SEN. WIN: Happy tax measures, yeah.

Q: Eh yung mga Pilipino, will you make them happy?

SEN. WIN: Well you Ease of Paying Taxes is for the locals and MSMEs to be happy about because number one digitalization. Yung mandated the BIR and the BOC to come up with a plan to fully digitize the taxpaying process and come up with a roadmap and report to us. That's number one. Number two, you can pay anywhere you can file your returns anywhere, for donors, for estate tax and even your income tax return. So anywhere na, sa ngayon kung saan ka lang nakatira dun lang (inaudible) but now anywhere. You can do that if you want to still do personal filing. So that's number one, number two for MSMEs. We will create a special office because almost 90% of our taxpayers are MSMEs. So there are basic things that we can remove for MSMEs. So we're creating a special office for them just the same as the large taxpayers. And we're also removing the P500 registration fee. So pag nagregister ka ng VAT may P500, wala na yun no so may bawas sa government but in effect we will improve compliance with mga micro, even the micro will improve compliance. Kung gusto nila.

Q: How about the DOF proposal of sweet tax?

SEN. WIN: We will, I'm thinking, two-step tayo. Number one let's address administration and tax arbitrants because that's why you have the Ease of Paying Taxes to erase tax arbitrants. That's step one. Tapusin na muna yan and then step two, let's talk about new tax measures if necessary because the concept there is if you address the administration, you address all the arbitrants, yung mga differences, you will improve the collection. So no more need for new taxes. Yung junk food tax. Because in my opinion we also have to look at where we are coming from, which is that pandemic. And like I said, the pandemic has barred not only education but also our economy, especially small and micro enterprises. So we have to be sensitive to their plight. And a lot of these, mga junk Foods, sugar sweetened beverages are being sold by our micro businesses so we have to be sensitive to that, but I'm not saying no. But I'm just saying let's be sensitive to that.


Q: Let's not talk about tax measure, let's talk about non-tax measure revenue for the government and one of it, one of the sources are the POGO. And you are staunch against POGO.

SEN. WIN: Marichu we have to bear in mind that the country's reputation is being affected by the POGOs. In a matter of 30 days, close to 3,000 human trafficking victims came from different countries, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, Malaysia, our reputation is being damaged and tarnished. And no matter how we convince investors to come in, if they know that we have human trafficking operators here, we have fugitives, we have criminals here, matatakot sila dahil they are putting long-term investments. We might be attracting short-term, but long-term, people who want to put a factory, who would like to put people here, they'll think many times before they come here. So POGOs are counter intuitive in terms of attracting foreign investments. That's why in our analysis, the social cost is heavier than the benefits we are getting from them. So therefore in the long run this is not going to be beneficial to our country.

Q: Don't you think if you view it the other way, how about the legal ones, the legitimate ones, the usual argument that the bad eggs, remove the bad eggs from the basket...

SEN. WIN: There are two arguments against that. Number one is those who were raided in Clark and here in Las Piñas, are what they call the legal ones. They are registered with PAGCOR, they're duly registered and licensed with PAGCOR. So there's no more distinction between the legal ones and the illegal ones...

Q: Why is it happening? May regulator naman...

SEN. WIN: From my information because I talked to NBI, I have the same questions no. I talked with the NBI, I talked with the PNP and they are seeing that trend that those legal ones or licensed ones are being used as a front. Behind it are criminals doing scams, yung love scams, crypto scam, may love scam, mayrong e-wallet scam, lahat ng scam is being operated at the back. All of them are foreigners, all of them. Just imagine, itong sa Las Piñas, six or seven people there apparently working at POGOs are fugitives. May warrant sa China, nagtatago lang dito sa atin. At hindi lang nagtatago, nagnenegosyo rin dito sa atin.

Q: Bakit nakalusot iyan sa Immigration?

SEN. WIN: That's why, it is not improving the reputation and it is tarnishing the reputation of our country. And number two, China has repeatedly mentioned that POGO is also damaging their own society by allowing their citizens to bet, bata, high school, they're all betting here in our country.

Q: Considering communist country yan.

SEN. WIN: Yes, and I asked them how can you not stop. Because there are so many POGOs involved in terms of technology. So just imagine, e-sabong is allowed in China and they are getting customers from the Philippines, I mean what will we feel?

Q: May e-sabong pa ba tayo?

SEN. WIN: Wala na, wala na tayo. Wala na yung legal ha, pero may mga underground here and there. I heard, may mga website or even Facebook pages. I think it's constant, in fairness to PNP it's a constant struggle and apprehension on their part. I mean apprehending those criminals in e-sabong.

Q: If we tax so many people and they are opposing to tax the rich, paano naman kaming mahihirap?

SEN. WIN: Actually all of these administrations, the ones that I mentioned, making it easier, broadening our tax base would improve our revenues quite significantly, but at the same time it's important also to fix our own house. BIR should always stamp out corrupt BIR employees. The BOC should always stamp out BOC employees. It's a constant cleansing process on their part. Admittedly marami akong naririnig na hindi magaganda but BIR and BOC and even LGU should always stamp out corrupt practices. Ongoing yan. There's one process and then tapos na. We have to do it continually. So my point is, tax administration should always be at the top of the list. Hindi yung taas tayo ng taas ng taxes but ayusin natin ang proseso para mag-improve ang tax collection natin.


Q: Kahapon nag meeting kayo on ODA with Congresswoman Arroyo. A lot of our official development assistance is lying idle or unused because of delayed projects.

SEN. WIN: You're absolutely correct. On the average, in terms of availment and in terms of disbursement, projects are delayed by about 40%. And when you have delay, you have to pay commitment fees, you pay interest and sometimes you pay a penalty. So those are the costs that are incurred when projects are delayed. I'll give you a specific example, kahapon during the oversight, yung computerization kahapon ng Customs, delayed na delayed na. The computerization will improve tax administration, collection of duties and taxes in Customs but delayed siya.

Q: For how many years and how much is the project?

SEN. WIN: The project hindi na namin na-discuss kahapon kung how much because we want to focus why it is delayed. But the main point there is, projects like these which are delayed, we have to pay commitment fees and we have to pay interest and at the same time it's meant to improve collection but because if delayed siya, double whammy ka, napi-penalize ka hindi pa nai-improve collection mo. That's only one but there are still a few more projects in the list that we will discuss during the next oversight hearing but we found out that almost close to 40% of the project are almost delayed.

Q: And to think that almost 35 to 40% of our budget for the debt servicing and we are paying for these things

SEN. WIN: ODA is a good source of funds to build projects especially infrastructure. But we have to make sure that when we commit, we can build projects and we can deliver the contracts. Or else utang yan. Bottom line utang yan. We will have to pay for it. Kahit na concession sya kahit na may grant component, we have to pay. Because it's a loan. It's part of our debt so we have to pay. So the oversight on ODA is very important because we need to remind the executive that these are loans that we have to pay. It's not free, it's not out of the good graces of Japan or the World Bank. You have to pay debt. And you have to benefit from the project, it should not be white elephant projects as well.

Q: Marami pa kayong na-identify?

SEN. WIN: Medyo nadismaya nga kami kasi the information that was being given to us is on a very limited basis. So we couldn't get a full discussion of the delayed projects. In fact yesterday is the only time that they showed us why our projects are delayed. If you look at the ODA report it's not there. We have to request pa. Next month we will have another oversight. We will discuss one by one what those delayed projects are and are those projects essential for us. Baka some of those projects are white elephant projects. We are for borrowing for the sake of borrowing. The projects are not meaningful to us.

Q: It seems to me that they came unprepared to your hearing yesterday.

SEN. WIN: Unfortunately that's my sentiment also yesterday that I expressed that the reports are not complete. The resource persons are not ready.. It is not good in the oversight hearing.

Q: And we are paying for this from our tax? What can you do?

SEN. WIN: We will have policy recommendations. For example because of peso depreciation, we are paying an additional P96 billion because we borrowed low, we borrowed at P47, P48 now pesos is at P56, P55. Now obviously the loans are supposed to pay back jumped to about 96. So again, we need to review policy. Maybe for small projects we can borrow domestically so we don't have foreign exchange rates. Maybe we'll have some hedging mechanism but we need to study and come up with a policy. Because even though it's concessional, again we have to pay, and there are risks that are involved in those loans.

Q: Everybody is trying to give us World Bank, ADB. They are providing us so much. Sana i-control muna.

SEN. WIN: We have to remember, if they offer you a concessional loan, the very basic concept is it is still a loan and we have to pay for it. And when you contract a loan you're obligated to pay for it, so we have to make sure that the project is worthwhile and the loans are not going to be a burden to us.


Q: Sir naipasa na po sa Kamara ang panukalang 2024 budget, parang nasa P5 trillion pero mas malaki na po ang utang natin, saan po ninyo hahanapin itong panukalang budget natin?

SEN. WIN: Ang ating debt to GDP ngayon is about 60% more or less. Just an idea, pre-pandemic level is only at 30% that's why pre-pandemic level we are actually viewed as one of the strongest economies because our debt to GDP was very low. US, Japan go as high as 200%. That's why they are saying the Philippines is healthy. It doubled after the pandemic and because of the ODA. In fact, we saw yesterday that ODA borrowings almost doubled during the pandemic. We borrowed to buy vaccines, we borrowed to buy other equipment to fight COVID 19. So, that's the logic, why our debt to GDP went up. As long as the economy grows and our capacity grows. So it's important that our economy grows and it's important that over time we reduce that debt to GDP and in fairness to DBCC, the development and budget Coordinating Council, there's a plan for the next three years to bring it up to 30% of debt to GDP ratio. Ang punto ko lang naman dito, importante na yung economy natin lumalaki, importante na ang budget natin lumalaki, dahil kapag lumalaki yan yung kapasidad nating magbayad lumalaki rin. That's my thought on debt stuck natin, ang debt stat natin right now is P13 plus trillion more or less. So yung P13 plus trillion natin mababayaran natin yan kung lumalaki rin ang ating ekonomiya o budget na lumalaki naman.

Q: Meaning to say, ito pong P5 trillion na ito ay kaya nating pondohan because you are aiming na malaki po ang tax collection natin next year.

SEN. WIN: Lumalaki naman siya naturally because ang economy natin ay lumalaki. Kapag lumalaki ang ekonomiya mo, yung koleksyon mo lumalaki rin. That's a natural phenomenon and there's also reforms that we have implemented in the past, for example, TRAIN, CREATE yung sintax natin for example yung sin tax natin on cigarettes close to P150 billion ang nakokolekta natin doon. In other words, may mga reform, give credit to the last administration, they embark on the very difficult path to reforming our tax system and now we're reaping the fruits of that and we are also reforming, the administration naman, yung binanggit ko kanina to further improve our tax collection. So two things yan, grow our economy and grow our revenue.

Q: Pero sinisiguro natin by next year wala po tayong idaragdag na buwis?

SEN. WIN: Ang aking pananaw dyan wala tayong idaragdag hangga't hindi natin maayos yung korapsyon, hindi natin maayos ang administration ng taxes na yun naman ang ginagawa natin sa Senado.


Q: Tinututulan po ng US Embassy ang reclamation sa likod ng US Embassy at nababanggit po ang pangalan ng pamilya ninyo?

SEN. WIN: Hindi ko naman ipinagkakaila na yung father ko is connected to that business. Ako personally hindi ako connected dyan, hindi ko nga alam ang mga activities but I know for a fact na itong mga reclamation project, yan yung sa likod ng Sofitel Plaza, ibang reclamation dyan lahat yan dumaan ng proseso. Lahat yan ini-invite ang stakeholders kasama na ang LGU, kasama na ang NGO, negosyante, kasama na dyan ang embassy. So in other words, dumaan na sila sa masusing consultation process kaya sila binibigyan ng permit ng PRA at ng DENR if I'm not mistaken. So my point in the matter is, dumaan na yan sa proseso unfair naman sa gumagawa nito na binigyan na sila ng permit tapos ngayon ka lang magrereklamo. Kasi kung ganyan, hindi talaga matatapos yan. So ang punto ko lang, dumaan na sa proseso dapat respetuhin natin ang proseso. I don't deny na connected ang father ko in that project. But personally I don't meddle on that, wala na akong time.

Q: Maingay kasi ang US Embassy.

SEN. WIN: Ang payo ko sa kanila is look at the process. Ang embassy mahilig magturo ng proseso, rule of law they should abide by rule of law and the process.


Q: Balikan ko lang issue on vouchers kapag galing ka ng private school hindi ka maga-grant ng voucher...

SEN. WIN: Magandang question yan. Sa Junior High School kasi, ESC. Sa senior high school is voucher. Similar in concept but different in implementation. So what we propose, what we want to propose to Deped lahat voucher na. Kasi voucher is simpler eh. Bibigyan kayo ng voucher gamitin nyo to go to a private school. ESC is a different system in which private school ang maghahanap ng estudyante. The same principle different process lang. So we are going propose na i-align na lang from kindergarten all the way to senior high school ang voucher system na lang kasi it's a simpler process kahit sa ibang bansa ganun ang gamit nila. Pero maganda talagang may distinction ang dalawa.

Q: You mentioned kanina that you're also pushing for an expansion of the voucher system nasaan na po tayo sa ngayon?

SEN. WIN: In the house alam ko nagfile na sila. Kami we are just rehashing the bill. Importante kasi dyan yung pondo. We want to make sure that we can realign funds or we can put new funds. So we will still file the bill. But in concept we already agreed that there's merit to expand the voucher system all the way to Kindergarten especially in urban areas. Kasi in rural areas where they don't have private schools, there's no sense. But ganito dito maraming private schools, we can use that excess capacity to educate our kids without building classrooms in our public schools, especially here. There's no more space for public schools so we can use their classrooms for teaching facilities.


Q: How close are we getting back to the normal school calendar?

SEN. WIN: I think it won't happen in one year because di ba ngayon ang bakasyon is June July August so kapag ibabalik natin yan sa school calendar may isang taon na wala tayong bakasyon so ibig sabihin pagtapos ng bata ng June pasok agad para next year summer nila April May so dapat dahan-dahan i-move. It will not happen overnight. Kasi maraming benefits ang summer break, number one, they can spend time with your families. They can play with their friends. Importante yan sa development ng bata. On the political side, ang eleksyon natin is always May baka kung may pasok hindi magagamit ang eskwelahan for election purposes.


Q: In relation to the WPS with US-China and the Senate yesterday finally approved the resolution, what's your stand on that?

SEN. WIN: I support the resolution of the Senate. This is really to express us being members of the condemnation of the harassment of our fishermen as well as our Coast Guard. The resolution is very clear that we have to continue the dialogue with one another with China. Most specifically because dialogue is the only way we can resolve some of these issues. And I admit that this is a long game, it's not gonna happen overnight or tomorrow but the most important thing is we have to continue to dialogue. We have to continue to backchannel . We also need to express our sentiments that this is not helping the relationship and we are condemning what's happening to our fishermen and also to our Coast Guard. So we also opened up other options to the DFA. In fact, the resolution is in collaboration with the DFA but basically it's a concerted effort between the executive and the legislative in crafting that resolution and also coming up with the different modalities to further stress our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.

Q: Former President Duterte as backchannel negotiator?

SEN. WIN: That's a possibility because we all know that Former President Duterte has a very good relationship with President Xi and that's another possibility. I think what's important is that we reel in the media, we can do public scrutiny because public scrutiny is more open and transparent and you can resolve a lot of issues.



SEN. WIN: I voted in favor of the MIF and let me stress that the Senate version is almost completely different from the House version. In terms of safeguards, number one we prevent pension funds from investing, we have to stress that because the DOF made a statement that they can do at corporate level but that's not the point. The point here is, the spirit of including the provision is to prevent pension funds, no matter what level to invest in MIF. That's number one. Number two, we included many safeguards, for example, it is not exempted in the procurement law, it is not exempted to the GCG law. So all of those are safeguards in order to make sure that MIF will not be abused. But the most important portion now is the quality of the management. Dapat credible ang maghe-head niyan.


Q: Sa Committee nyo po napag-usapan ang early childhood education pero yung professionals teachers, yung college graduate ano ang assurance?

SEN. WIN: It's not the intention of the bill to remove the daycare workers. But we will include in the bill to mandate the government to train our daycare workers to make them child development workers. We will mandate the government to come up with a certificate course so that they will be certified as child development workers. Now as becoming a teacher, that's another option. So if you're a daycare worker you have two options; become a child development worker certified ka or child development teacher which is a degree course. Those two options will be available to them. Wala tayong tatanggalin because admittedly many of them have become experts because of their long years in service and experience is the best teacher so we cannot throw that away just like that. So we will maximize what they have experienced but formalize it with a certificate.

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