Press Release
January 25, 2017

Transcript of Media Interview with Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III

Q: On the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to reopen the investigation on the Mamasapano incident

SPPimentel: Yun ang order daw ni Presidente, to reopen, it is an executive action. Tutulong na lang kami, if they need transcripts of our hearings here, ibibigay namin, para hindi na ulit-ulitin.

Q: What do you think is the reason for the investigation?

SP: That's the judgment of the President, hindi siya siguro satisfied. He wants to find out some other things. Tama po iyan, kasi executive action din naman ang what led to the deaths of the SAF44, so dapat meron din silang closure diyan sa issue na iyan.

Q: Possible po ba na ipatawag si former President Noynoy Aquino doon sa investigation?

SP: They should investigate objectively, follow the evidence kahit saan umabot. Kahit saan umabot, kahit umabot sa doorstep of the former President.

Q: Sir dito po ba kapag nagkaroon ng separate investigation, may chance din po kayong tawagin si former President PNoy?

SP: Kami dito, kung may magfile ng resolution, we have to process - hindi ko sinasabi na automatic. Dito wala kaming censorship. Pag may nagfile ng resolution, we process. If it is referred by the plenary to a committee, then the chairman decides. Yan po ang gagawin natin. But so far, I am not aware of any resolution filed in connection with the Mamamasapano incident. But we have transcripts though, transcripts are available, and then the reports, may reports din kami.

Q: Dito po ba sa Senado, gusto niyo po bang ireopen pa yung investigation here sa Senado?

SP: Ay hindi na po, hindi na po sa Senado. We have a lot of things to do, darating na ang LEDAC, diba? We will identify legislative priorities, so tututukan po namin iyan.

Q: Are you convinced that maraming kulang doon sa ginawang inquiries ng Senate at PNP BOI doon sa Mamamasapano?

SP: Hindi. Sa Senado, ipinrocess na po namin iyan dito. Fully discussed na po iyan. But the President of course, separate branch po iyon eh. If they want to re-investigate, then let them reinvestigate.

Q: So the former president is open to any kind of suit?

SP: Basta, if you are a former president, then you lose your so-called "immunity from suit."

Q: Even if the acts were committed during his term in office?

SP: "Immunity from suit" naman yun eh. I am not saying that you also lose your "presumption of innocence?" So ibang issue po iyon.

Q: Kailangan po ba independent body yung commission?

SP: Of course, how will you arrive at the truth kung may mga exempted na mga isusubpoena or tatanungin? Di naging useless lahat kung ganun din.

Q: And you think that is the right venue for the former president to answer all lingering questions?

SP: It's the decision now of the person being summoned or subpoena'd. Kung magaappear siya or hindi, or kung pagdating niya doon, mayroon siyang i-invoke na right.

Q: Mayroon pong nagsasabi na the President is using the issue to demonize the past administration. Do you agree?

SP: Bakit naman nila parating negative yung reaction? Ang tanong, does the President have the power to order the investigation? If the answer is yes, we do not put evil motivations in the exercise of power. When the government is acting, and tanongin lang natin: Is it being done pursuant to a power?

If the answer is yes, huwag na natin isipin na masama yung motivation. Actually sa law nga, the presumption is that all government officials have the good of the country in their hearts.

Q: On President Duterte's comments re: role of former President PNoy on Mamasapano incident

SP: Basta ang importante diyan, kung independent commission iyan, let them show their independence and not start from the statements of the President. Ang importante, just get to the bottom of the issue, and then submit your report.

Q: Sir diba may mga nakasuhan na sa korte? Pwede po ba dahil sa findings ng commission, madagdagan ang mga makakasuhan?

SP: Pwede, yan ang risk diyan. Ang risk diyan, may additional na makakasuhan, or kung may angulong may makakapabor doon sa nakasuhan na, pwede rin nilang gamitin doon to introduce reasonable doubt. Yan po ang risk diyan, but ang importante, we are after the truth.

Q: Any suggestion as to how long should the commission conduct its investigation?

SP: Wala na muna, I will leave that to the executive. Ang mas interesado ako doon sa other commission, sa Constitutional Study Commission. Dapat mabuo na po iyan. Kasi, we have to start the ball ralling on this federalism or charter change effort.

Q: How soon?

SP: Dapat soon, kasi last December pa po yung executive order, so I am calling on the President to already fully compose the Constitutional Study Commission, the 25- man commission. That's another commission, so diyan na po ako nakatutok.

Q: Nasa LEDAC na po iyan, yung Charter Change?

SP: Ah yes oo. Nag-agree naman po ang House of Representatives na priority po naming iyan, the amendment or revision of the Constitution.

Q: Hihintayin pa ba ng Congress yang commission?

SP: Basta ang Congress, nagsta-start na kami. Naalala ko ngayon, may narecommend pala ako sa Commission - si Armina Rasul, mayroon pa yung nag-aaral diyan, si Professor Ed Tayao ng LOGODEF.

Q: Sir sabi niyo nagagree ang House and Senate na priority ang Cha-cha. What's the target to how to go about it?

SP: Priority in the sense na all efforts which will lead to opening of the revision of the Constitution, will be prioritized. Sa house, may resolution yata sila, they will prioritize that. Kami sa Senate, meron din kaming resolution, but it is about the modes, so si Senate President Pro Tempore Frank Drilon, nag-hearing na, maghe-hearing pa daw siya ng two or three, then he is ready to report out.

Q: Have you personally discussed this with the President, the necessity for the immediate creation of a Constitutional Convention?

SP: Sa Monday, pag-patuloy ng LEDAC, I will tell him, I will remind him, pero he has an executive order. Ano na lang yun, matter of, I am sure marami na dyan yung recommendation letter or applications so it's a matter of telling you na pangalanan na yung 25 na yun.

Q: Can you give a list of priority bills na ipupush ng Senate?

SP: Endo, yung Cha-Cha, tax reform, income tax reform, hindi tax package. More on the relief kami, to lighten the tax burden of the compensation income on the tax payers. School feeding. 30-40 agreed kasi upon the subject matters, as the joint priority of the two Houses. Death penalty is the House priority, hindi sa Senate. Coco Levy trust fund. FOI is a Senate priority.

Q: Bakit hindi priority ang death penalty sa Senate?

SP: Ang commitment ng Senado sa death penalty, is we will discuss it in plenary at the soonest possible time pero hindi namin magarantiya na it will get the overwhelming support of the members. Yun lang naman yun. When we commit kasi, we have a feeling that it will get the support of the members.

Q: What do you say about the attacks of Duterte against the Catholic Church?

SP: No comment, hindi naman ako nag-aattack sa Catholic church.

Q: Ang anti-money laundering amendments kasama rin po?

SP: Wala. Pag wala sa list of priorities but it is already pending, may reports na, we will process them normally just like any other bill.

Q: Ano po yung mga priority bills?

SP: (1) Income tax reform, (2) estate tax reform, (3) revision of the Corporation Code, (4) the free internet access in public places, (5) traffic and congestion crisis, emergency powers . (6) Coconut Farmers Industry Development Act. (7) The Anti-Hazing Law, (8) Criminal Investigation Act, (7) Anti-Discrimination Act, (8) End of contractualization, (9) Expansion of local absentee voting. (9)Free school feeding, (10) Social Security Act, (11) creation of a Department of Housing, (12) Free Irrigation Services Act, (13) Free Higher Education Act, finile na din naming iyan.

Yung (14) refusal of hospitals to administer treatment, we will address that, pero because of that, because that is a priority, kasama na rin doon yung (15) free health insurance coverage for all, kasi yun yun. Yung walang health insurance coverage, yun yung na-rereject. (16) Philippine mental Health Act, (15)Ease of Doing Business Act, (16) yung Anti-Red Tape Act.

(17) Public service act, ito yung madugo, sa utilities, sa telcos, kasi we have an archaic or jurassic Public Service Act, 1930s yata yun. Sabi nga ni Senator Tito Sotto III, may provision pa sa law natin in that old law that we are asking pa the permission of the President of the united states, kailangan na po talagang ayusin yan.

There is also (18) a measure to review the Allowable Coverable System Loss Act, sa kuryente, sa power utilities. The proposal is alisin na yun, and we agreed na gagawing priority. (19) Philippine Passport Act, validity, maybe other matters pa. (20) Salary Standardization Law.

(21) Government Procurement Act. Kasi kailangan daw i-review iyan because tumaas na iyong budget natin. At ang palaging issue ay absorptive capacity. It does not only about capabilities sa baba but even our procurement processes ay may problema.

(22) Family code of the Philippines Act. Babaguhin iyong separation of property, kapag sinabi mong Family Code, the entire code will be reviewed. (23) Railways, Mindanao Railways kasama na diyan. Franchise ng railways. (24) National ID System. (25) Prohibition of conversion of irrigated lands. (26) Stiffer penalty for the violation of the minimum wage law.

Q: Hindi naman sinusunod iyan e.

SP: Kaya nga stiffer, gagawin nating stiffer. Kasi ang reaction diyan ay hindi daw nasusunod kaya gagawin nating stiffer. Dapat may masampulan lang din talaga. Ang role ng media kapag may nasampulan, bigyan ng wide publicity para may deterrent effect. Kasi kung walang nakakaalam, walang sampol.

(23) Revised penal code Indexation - Ito ang pet bill ni Senator Drilon. Sa Revised Penal Code, may penalties na depende sa amount na involve sa krimen. In 1932 iyan e. So iyong amount na 200 pesos sa theft, ilan ng years iyon. Wala na. So, masyado ng kawawa. Sino naman ang magnanakaw ng ganoon. Hindi naman ang mga mayayaman kundi ang ma mahihirap.

(24) Amendments to the Fair Election Act. So iyon ang ire review namin iyong mga advertising etc etc Ito na muna nag sabi ng notes ko.

Q: Sir ang lowering ng age ng criminal responsibility?

SP: Hindi po napag usapan iyon.

Heto pa. (25) Agricultural Credit Condonation Act. Marami palang utang ang mga agrarian reform communities na iyan. (26) Extension of Driver's License validity. (27) One town - one doctor act. (28)Uniform personnel retirement benefits and pension act. Parang pension reform. Ang usapan naming is that we can no longer sweep this under the rag. We have to recognize that we hav a problem in our pension system. (28) Community service to replace arresto menor. (29) Occupational safety and health standards.

Ang importante dyan ay hindi iyan nakataga sa bato. The House and the Senate will periodically meet. The list can be expanded. New ideas idadagdag. And then of course, after LEDAC inputs naman ng executive request for legislative action, ma i influence din nya ang listahan naming.

Q: Sir kung priority siya ng House and Senate, until when siya dapat sir.

SP: 17th congress kasi at least iyong membership naman naming is 17th congress. Hindi pa final iyon. It will improve.

Q: Monday pa sir ang LEDAC? Next Monday?

SP: Heto na. Monday, July 31

Q: Sir, gagawin niyo po bang legacy ninyo ang relocation ng Senate sa BGC?

SP: Ok. I am thankful to Senator Ping Lacson. At least kinikilusan na nya as chair of the committee of accounts the proposal, the idea to relocate the Senate.

Sabi nga ni Sen. Lacson, that has been a 10 year old proposal or idea. He has been acting on it. Pero ico caucus muna namin because I have reservations because after the change of the constitution, sabi ko, how large can the Senate be?

Sabi ko nga it could range to a 48 members all the way to the 72 members. So, siyempre iyong membership mo influences the size of the structure and that influences the size of the lot. Malayo pa tayo. But at least nag start na po kami.

Q: On compensation to Martial law victims

SP: There has been a board processing all the claims of the human rights victims. Nag pa extend sila ng term nila. Pinagbigyan po namin sila mag double time, mag triple time. I-full time para po tapusin na po nila ang kanilang mandato.

Kasi po hindi naman po kasi puwedeng patagalin ang claims because they need compensation or they need a closure doon po sa traumatic experience po nila. So pakiusap ko na lang po sa mga human rights victims claims board, wala na pong tulugan. Tapusin na po ninyo ang trabaho ninyo.

Q: Hanggang kailan po ang extension nila, sir?

SP: I think May this year. yes, May of this year. So, iyon lang po yon. We do our share. The Congress when ask for the extension, we give the extension. so do your part. That would mean the end of your job. Pero alam niyo naman na iyon e. Kasi when you join that entity, that organization, alam niyo namang adhoc lang iyan, it has a fix life term. And, then, you have a fix job to do, Do your job for the good of all the 70,000 claimants as human rights victims.

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