Press Release
March 20, 2017

Transcript Press Conference of Senate President Koko Pimentel

SP Pimentel: When it becomes law, the exemption will be taken away. That means there may be more payors of VAT, raising revenue for the government. Yun po yung idea doon.

Q: Will the Senate support the inclusion of cooperatives?

SP Yes. The tax reform package which the party is supporting as crafted by the department of finance, involves income tax relief which will now result in revenue loss of P140 billion. Sa mind natin, negative P140B na yun, hence there must be corresponding revenue raising measures or adjustments like in the VAT to tighten the list of ex3empted entities and transactions so that we can raise an amount not lesser than P140B so that ang tawag dyan, the result would be revenue neutral. So in effect, from the point of view of the macro, from the point of view of the national government level, nothing has changed as far as our flow of revenue is concerned. But the proposal actually is not revenue neutral. It is plus P240 billion. In effect, if the revenue package is passed, compensation income taxpayers will feel relief in the tune of P140 billion but then there will be new taxes to the tune of P240 billion. In effect, the government raises P100 billion pesos, because of the focus of infrastructure or the promises of adjusting the salaries of our police, soldiers, and hopefully our teachers, so kailangan din po ng pera, ng additional revenue flow ng gobyerno.

Q: May assurance ba na hindi dehado yung tax payers?

SP: Ang assumption, lahat naman tayo taxpayer, lahat tayo tatamaan, but more of luxury tax yung pang-bawi.

Q: So mayayaman yung tatamaan?

SP: Yes, so yung binibigyan mo ng relief are the compensation income earners. Ang assumption mo rito are the people who are not into business, the non-tycoons, the non-millionaires, the non-multimillionaires, so they will be given relief, and then yung tax will be on Mercedes Benz, luxury vehicles, etc.

On the moves to impeach VP Leni Robredo.

SP: In the first place, wala pa po yan, it is theoretical, so if ever may masabi man ako, it is also theoretical. If chances in the House, better ask the house people, especially the Speaker. But what I know of is that the Speaker has 230 plus followers in the House of Representatives. From party mates alone, he has 109. It is more than the threshold number of 100. You better interview them for their individual sentiments.

On destabilization and the UN video.

SP: Actually hindi ko pa napapanood pero even if after napanood ko na yun, I will keep my sentiments to myself.

Actually depende sa laman. Tandaan ninyo yung mga grounds. May ground doon na it is a very political ground, betrayal of public trust. It is a very political ground that is not defined in any law. Look at the dictionary, wala rin doon yun. It is addressed to the people who will ultimately decide.

Q: Pero sir, is it appropriate for the House Speaker to file the impeachment?

SP: He is a member of Congress, he can file what he wants. House Bill No. 1, kanya. He was able to file.

Q: There is nothing judgmental about that statement?

SP: Kahit siya siguro, before he goes to sleep, kaya niyang isipin yun. One-third of 294, about 100, PDP 109, 230 super majority, di ba niya kaya yun? Magaling din si Trillanes.

Q: You have also thought about the impeachment kay Pangulo na hindi possible sa House?

SP: Yun na nga, 230 followers sa super majority, i-minus mo na lang yung maybe hindi, 60, we need a minimum of one-third.

Q: If maimpeach si VP Robredo, you will be the vice-president?

SP: No. The relevance of the Senate President is he becomes acting president if there is a simultaneous vacancy in both the president and the vice-president. The Senate President never becomes president. He only becomes acting-president to supervise the election.

Q: Do you see that happening?

SP: Wala. Walang connection. Sa Constitution natin, if there is a vacancy in the VP, the president chooses among the members of Congress. Subject to confirmation by Congress. Like what happened to Guingona.

Q: What will happen to the protest case ni Bongbong if that happens/

SP: Sa pagkakaintindi ko, dapat tuloy because the protest case, ang question is to determine who really won in the last VP election. Hence, theoretical ito, if there is a vacancy in the VP because of impeachment, the successor chosen by the president from Congress, holds the position subject to the outcome of the election protest.

Q: Yung message ni VP Leni, will it not fall under freedom of expression?

SP: Lahat naman ay may freedom of expression, but there is also betrayal of public trust. The rights are not absolute. Ang example nga niyan, you are in a movie house, sumigaw ka ng fire, nagkagulo, may nasaktan, you cannot be sued because sasabihin mo, freedom of expression. Hindi. May limits ang freedom of expression. Depende on a case to case basis. Basta, rights are not absolute even if they are in the Constitution.

Q: Yung kay VP, kahit totoo yung sinabi niya, pwede pa rin...

SP: Yun na nga yun, that is why you have responsible elected officials to decide the issue. Hindi naman basta-basta lang, so two levels din ang impeachment. One sa House, one sa Senate.

On the 7,000 EJKs in the country

SP: Hindi ko pa napapanood. If ever it reaches the Senate, it is the job of the prosecution to present a case. Hindi lang naman yun you watch the video, and then you decide. You will have a theory of the case. Hintayin na po natin yan. Tandaan natin na wala pang complaint hanggang ngayon, so this is all theoretical.

Q: Nagsalita po si Presidente before he left for Myanmar, he reiterated that his war on drugs will be brutal.

SP: Ang laman ng vocabulary ni Presidente, when he said brutally, kamay na bakal. Talagang the full force of the law. Yan ang pagkakaintindi namin. Parati nating sinasabi na actually this is the first time that we have an administration hell-bent on enforcing all our anti-drugs laws, no-holds barred, but at the same time, parati nating sinasabi, do it with accordance with law, and in accordance with our Constitution. The purpose is to arrest so that they can answer for their crimes.

On the President's statement allowing China to construct structures on Panatag

SP: Hindi yata niya sinabing he is allowing. Nagiging practical lang siya na you cannot stop, but he never said he is allowing. Hindi naman sa walang gagawin, of course may mga note verbale, diplomatic protest. Of course, confrontations wise, blocking forces, wala.

Q: May basis to be wary of China?

SP: We have a problem with China because they have the nine-dash line, claiming all the waters inside the dashes as Chinese waters. Tayo naman, we are claiming some of those waters as some of our EZ. That is the clash.

Q: We have to be wary of these intrusions?

SP: Not only with China, but every other country which have been interested in our EEZ or some of our territories.

Q: Hindi kayo kinakabahan after napatalsik yung ibang miyembro ng committee chairmanship?

SP: Ang daming napatalsik, but sabi nila we are still supportive of the president. They understand what the Speaker did.

Q: Just in case na mafile-an ng impeachment complaint si VP Robredo, first time ba na sabay na may impeachment complaint ang VP at presidente?

SP: Iyan ang hindi ko alam, iresearch niyo na lang kung first time na sabay, pero sa pagkakaaalam ko, first time nga na magsasabay.

Q: Ano ang implication noon sa peace and stability ng bansa?

SP: Wala, nasa Constitution po iyon, ang impeachment process. So we respect the people who resort to impeachment, but we also respect the process. So it is a combination of the legal and the political, so ganoon lang yun.

On the line of succession in case

SP: Iba kasi yoon, because there will be no simultaneous vacancies, since two separate trials yoon. When the President is on trial, the Chief Justice is the presiding officer. When the Vice President is on trial, the Senate President is the presiding officer. Ubos ang oras natin doon kung parehong trial, but pero umabot sa amin, we have to do our duty, nasa Constitution. When we ran for senator, alam naming yoon, we have a another hat - or potential hat - which is to be a judge at an impeachment proceeding.

Q: SI VP, pwede niya ba macorrect ang impeachment if she corrects her statement na allegedly 7,000 ang namatay sa war on drugs?

SP: That is a "betrayal of public trust," when the trust is distort, so wala na. Depende pa rin iyon. Mahirap sagutin iyan since ina-assume mo na the impeachment complaint focuses on that, na that is the ground. Lalo na if you are feeding an international organization with what are supposed to be facts, then you correct. Wala namang problema iyon. May impeachment o wala, gawin natin iyon.

Q: Yung Committee on Electoral Reforms, kay Senator Leila de Lima po iyon diba? May plan po ba na ibigay ito sa ibang vice chairman?

SP: Hindi naman ibigay, but he works, Senator Dick Gordon works on the workload of the committee. But I am sure he is coordinating with the committee chair.

Q: Do you have a statement on the passing of former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani?

SP: Of course. Personally, I'm saddened. I never got the chance to work with her as a legislator, but my father did, and they were very close. And then of course, Senator Shahani was our recognized voice or leading expert in foreign relations, so we will miss her and the chance for her to advice us on matters of foreign relations, especially now that is more important than ever, or more relevant than ever.

We condole, I condole with the family. I personally know her three kids, especially Ranjit. I know Ranjit, I condole with them.

Q: Sa Thursday na po ang necrological services?

SP: Oo nga, I will follow up muna the details of her necrological service.

Q: May suggestion po si Associate Justice Carpio, na to rethink our relationship with China. Ano po ang tingin niyo, since ang Senate naman ay part ng formulation ng foreign policy?

SP: Well lahat naman, si President Duterte rethought our relationship with the US. So parati naman tayong nagrereview, palagi naman na fluid iyan especially there are abuses. Ganoon ang mangyayari. So far, China has been acting like a friend, except that it is a friend consistent with its belief that all the waters inside the 9-dash line are all its internal waters. Tayo naman as a friend, we have not been convinced that those are internal Chinese waters. Sa atin ang EEZ of the Philippines, so tuloy lang po tayo.

We can be friends, and yet still be unconvinced of the position of the other side. But let us maintain civil and cordial relations and focus on what unites us and what allows us to be friends rather than what makes us enemies.

Q: That issue, napagusapan na po ba iyan sa National Security Council? Or bahala na po ba muna ang President to deal with that issue?

SP: I'm sure na ganyang ka-importanteng issue, they talk about it. The President thinks about it a a lot and his closest advisers, the National Security Adviser, I'm sure briefs him about that.

Q: On the Senate sentiment re: Panatag Shoal

SP: Oh ang Senate kasi diba collegia body kami. Kung maymagfile ng proper resolution, we will refer it to the proper committee and it is referred to the plenary, and then the if the Senate approves it, it become the sentiment of the Senate. Pero it takes time, yan ang kapalit ng isang collegial body, it takes time. And then we are on a break, so hanggang Mayo na yan.

Q: On the process of impeachment for the Vice President

SP: Si Leni Robredo is the proclaimed Vice President, so she is now de facto, de jure Vice President. If you want to remove the Vice President, you impeach her, that is the process of removal. But if you to replace her as the winner of the last vice presidential elections, election protest is the process. So if the impeachment succeeds, she loses her position as vice president, but if someone is claiming that position in an electoral protest, then you should allow the election protest to continue. But that impeachment does not make the protestant the winner. He should win the election protest, not the impeachment. Hiwalay po iyon.

Q: So kung sino po ang papalit after the impeachment?

SP: Kung sino man ang papalit after the impeachment, it was chosen by the President from the two Houses of Congress. He or she holds that position subject to the outcome of the election protest. That is my position. So yung tumatanggap doon, para siyang may binili na titulo na may nakasulat doon, "Notice of Dispendence, subject to the outcome of the case." That's my personal position, since first time mangyayari iyan. Ultimately, aabot sa Supreme Court iyan.

Q: Kapag nanalo si Vice President Robredo sa election protest, balik ulit siya?

SP: Ibig sabihin noon, siya talaga ang nanalo noong election, unfortunately, removed by impeachment. Basta the election protest puts at issue, "Who is the real winner?" The impeachment process, the issue is, "Do we remove that sitting official?" Yung isa removal, yung isa winner. Dalawa po iyon.

Q: They are asking you to concentrate more on the numbers of those who were killed in the EJK instead of the 100 makukuhang boto sa...

SP: Tama. 'Yun din ang pakiusap ko sa inyo sa media, di ba? Na magconcentrate muna tayo sa trabajo, huwag muna sa (inaudible) discussions pero ang point ko ay ganito, let us say na wala kang handle LP sa filing of the impeachment process. Ang tanong ko ay sino bang unang sumuntok? 'Yung ang tanong dito, sino ba ang unang nanuntok? Let us say walang handle LP dito, I hope they denounce the people behind the impeachment process, they are not denouncing this kaya tuloy nagdududa na if they are not behind it, they are part of it.

Q: Impeachment against Duterte?

SP: Against Duterte. Reaction lang ito ni Speaker, eh. Sinong unang nanuntok? Napa-react tuloy si Speaker and he has the numbers. That's the problem, ang ginising ninyo sleeping giant. Sabi ni Speaker, titignan n'ya kung (inaudible) nag-round para hindi kayo sabihin gantihan pero ginising nila ang sleeping giant na si Alvarez.

Q: So matakot?

SP: Siguro sa LP tama sila, they have been very productive pero siyempre bigay naman sila ng credit that they had also been productive when they were part of the Super Majority. Tama 'yan, let us concentrate on the problems of the country. Pakiusap ko na rin sa media, stop your obsession with the impeachment.

Q: Sa party mate n'yo, Sir...

SP: Reaction na lang 'yun kasi may nag file against our chairman, siyempre nagising...ang ginising n'yo sleeping giant pa. And then of course, if they are really not behind this impeachment, they should denounce. Denounce the impeachment against Duterte, denounce the people behind the impeachment against Duterte.

Q: Sir, pag-nagdenounce 'yung LP hindi ba mukhang pre-judgment?

SP: The filing....kasi ayaw ng nila nang politika. Sabi nila "concentrate on the real problems of the country"...nag file ng impeachment, tumahimik sila. That distracts us from the real problems of the country. Agree ko naman sa kanila.

I don't know the truth. Let them tell the truth...who is behind this and that they have nothing to do with it. But let them say that it also distracts them. They should be concentrating on the problem, sabi nila tumataas daw ng presyo, eh pag kumikilos naman ang Partidong PDP at tinamaan mga oligarchs because of changing our society....

Q: Sir, but if they denounce it, eh hindi na sila majority.

SP: Freedom of speech, doesn't mean na parati ko-kontra sa majority. Gawin naman nang tama. Actually, tama naman sila na just concentrate on the basic problems of our country. But all of a sudden, Duterte is a basic problem of our country kaya agree sila sa impeachment. Walang ganunan.

Q: Sir, 'yun sa filing of impeachment by the Speaker, it doesn't mean naman that the President is behind it?

SP: Hindi. It's the Speaker's original idea. Nagising eh. Para siyang nagising doon sa pag-file ...there is this avenue of impeachment which he pointed out to us.

Q: The President should also denounce, in case the filing for impeachment pushes through?

SP: Hindi. Si Presidente actually ay hands off...ang nakikita (inaudible) ko ay sa goings-on ng Congress ay hands off.

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