Press Release
May 3, 2017

Grace Poe's Interview Transcript
CNN Philippines The Source with Pinky Webb

WEBB: CNN Philippines research show just last month, MRT encountered 28 glitches that affected daily operations. What should be done and what else can still be done to address these transportation problems, let's go straight to the source of the story--Senate committee chair on public services, Senator Grace Poe, good to have you!

POE: Thank you for having me, Pinky and to all your viewers, good morning.

WEBB: One year after you assumed the post as senator, in 2014, ikaw mismo Senator sumakay ka ng MRT, pumila ka tapos ang sinabi mo nga yung biyahe mo from Quezon Avenue to Taft took...

POE: I think an hour and a half

WEBB: What was your experience back then? Balikan lang natin yun, kasi yun yung naging hudyat nung Senate investigation ninyo?

POE: Right. Alam mo kasi I didn't want to go through an investigation without actually experiencing it. Okay, as I was saying, in the Senate we are quite privileged and we take hours to work. The last time I took public transport was when I was in college and studying in UP Manila. That was the LRT Line. So I decided I'll take the MRT and you know, I was--you're surprised but nothing can really prepare you for lining up like 45 minutes just to get a ticket. And as soon as you get there, your ticket will be eaten up by the machine.

WEBB: Yun ang nangyari sa iyo?

POE: I prayed. I actually prayed, I said I hope I really experience what needs to be experienced so I'll know what to ask during the hearing. And true enough, not only did the line takes longer. When I got there, I lost my ticket because of the machine.

WEBB: Kinain ng machine yung ticket mo?

POE: Kinain ng machine. The security guard had to open it to retrieve it and then finally when I rode it, it stopped a few times actually because of some technical problems. So what normally takes 25 minutes from point to point, from Quezon Avenue to the Taft area took me about an hour and a half. So, I had that experience and nakausap ko mismo yung mga tao na naroroon. Kaya lang ang sabi ko, yung aking konklusyon nung panahon na iyun, 'oo may problema but it's not hopeless,' it's right in the middle of EDSA. And if they can just improve the time in motion and the number of trains and the comfort of the passengers, it's the best mode of transport.

WEBB: You had Senate investigations pero I just wanna add that some of the things you noticed were the escalators also weren't working. Nakakaawa naman especially for people who need to use the escalator.

POE: Right.

WEBB: The bathrooms were--

POE: Smelly

WEBB: Really bad

POE: Yes

WEBB: Yung mga iyun Senator

POE: Walang tubig

WEBB: Naalala ko back then maayos e. Inayos nila yung at least--kasi yung sinabi mo nun, maliit na bagay lang naman ito sana maayos.

POE: Tama.

WEBB: And then yung mga tents

POE: Yun ay hindi na nila nagawa lahat iyun. Hindi pa rin perpekto, meron pa rin siyempreng mga problemang naririnig natin pagdating sa mga elevator, pagdating sa mga escalator at saka napakaliit, kasi alam mo naman yung elevator ang liit e ilan ba ang PWD, so yung mga bagay na iyun ay expansion na talaga ang kailangan. Tapos yung naging problema pa nun, di ko talaga makalimutan, Pinky, parang sinasabi nga trivial but it's not, it just shows you na yung banyo nila noon walang tubig. Kasi wala daw pump. Sabi ko, magkano ba yung pump na yan? Diba kasi parang gusto mong sabihin, kami na lang bibili kasi diba--

WEBB: Magdo-donate na lang ako, gusto kong sabihin yun e.

POE: Gusto mo ring sabihin pero siyempre they are not doing their jobs correctly, obviously they're really remiss with their responsibilities. So ngayon, nagkaroon tayo ng kaunting pag-asa nung narinig na sila ay kukuha ng bagong bagon, bagong tren. So yung nakaraang administrasyon, nag-order ng 48 coaches or 16 trains kasi 3 coaches yata per train na lumalabas from Dalian, China. Ang unang tanong dun Pinky, ano ba ang track record ng Dalian, China? Bakit sila yung pinili niyo, hindi yung dati na mga gumagawa niyan? Let's say Sumitomo, Inekon o kung ano mang kumpanya...Yung mismong kaha o yung tren mismo gawa sa China, yung signaling system gawa sa South Korea, at yung makina gawa sa Germany. So kung sasabihin mo, yan ang malaking chop-chop diba--kung saan-saan galing. Ngayon, lets say it's not unusual to have parts from different countries but at least the delivery should have the complete package, right? But what we've seen during the last administration, the first round of delivery, wow it was such a media hype. Yun pala tren lang na walang makina. So hindi rin makaandar.

WEBB: Ano po ba yung normal? Kailangan ba kapag dumating yung bagon, nandoon na yung makina, nandoon na ba yung signaling system? Because I don't know that either.

POE: You know what, I am no engineer but I don't think it should have reached the point where until now the signaling system is still not compatible, so obviously that's more than a glitch. There's something that they didn't do that's why these things aren't compatible. Pero diba quality cars that you pay good money for, this one is a P3.8-billion project. If you buy a P3-million peso car that's already in the luxury market, it comes in assembled diba? This one, not only is it not assembled, it's untested. Because it's supposed to run in Dalian for at least 4-5,000 kilometers before it is here, and then lately it was discovered by the DOTr that apparently it can only carry a maximum of 48,000 kilograms because of the rail that we have. And apparently, just the train itself is already 49,000 kilograms, wala pang laman.

WEBB: Papaano 'yon, edi overweight na siya?

POE: Diba, overweight.

WEBB: Papaano 'yun? Okay, so balikan po natin, that time that was of course under the leadership of Sec. Jun Abaya of the DOTC. Didn't you inspect those trains?

POE: I did. That's why when I went to their depot I realized that there was really no machine.

WEBB: Hindi siya kumpleto?

POE: Oo, hindi siya kumpleto.

WEBB: Yun yung sinasabi mong chop-chop?

POE: Oo, I mean...okay, I am saying this to draw attention into how they bungled this whole thing because I know that they make cars, and Usec. Chavez was saying, 'o hindi naman chop-chop kasi that's normal na you order parts from different countries,' that's true but not in this case when it comes in here untested. And the parts that they ordered aren't even compatible with each other. So, when it comes to this, I am now pessimistic that it will actually work. Number one, just the weight is questionable. Number two, the signaling system that's supposed to maintain the safe distances between trains isn't working. And of course number three, our rail itself, can it actually take these new trains? Considering that the test should've been done - the 4-5,000 kilometers didn't materialize.

WEBB: Okay, we have Atty. Mike, we spoke to him on the phone, he's the spokesperson of the MRT. He was saying that it appears that the railways are the problem, kumbaga yung riles ang problema and that it needs to be replaced entirely. Yung buo daw kasi ang problema Senator, are you seeing it also the same way, who are we to blame? Sila ba - gobyerno ba, yung maintenance provider ba na Busan? Sino?

POE: Alam mo ang gobyerno ultimately is responsible for this kasi sabihin na natin, pinuno ng nakaraang administrasyon ng abugado at hindi engineer ang DOTC so puro sila wala namang alam sa technical. Pero meron doon yung GM nila na si Buenafe who I believe is an engineer, and supposedly wielded them a lot of influence because many of the decisions they entered into, many of agreements they entered into, he's aware of it and he was the GM. So, why wouldn't he say 'umpisa pa lang, huwag tayong mag-order na hindi tayo sigurado sa riles.' Matagal nang sinasabi 'yan e na may problema sa riles diba? Hindi napapalitan so lahat talaga 'yan sabi ko nga, ano ba ito kapabayaan, sinadya ba at may kumita dyan? Kung kapabayaan, kung negligence 'yan, is it not malicious or is it something that they can reasonably have not seen? But I don't think, if you eat and breathe this as your job, he should really see, and you're an engineer. Itong si Buenafe, Philippine Science yata 'yan and his buddies are all...But you know, they were the ones controlling that place. Sec. Abaya was Philippine Science also...supposedly he's well-educated, he's been to many different prestigious universities. We will invite them to the Senate and I know people are rather exasperated and saying 'ano ba naman 'yan hearing kayo nang hearing, walang nangyayari.'

WEBB: Yes, pwede pong ganoon ang maging komento.

POE: ...Kung pwede ko lang silang posasan--wala kasing awtoridad ang Senado na gawin 'yun, yun ay sa Korte. Pangalawa, hindi kami executive at hindi namin pwedeng sabihin na yang pera ninyo dyan, dito ninyo gastusin, doon lamang po kami sa oversight, ibig sabihin, binabantayan sila para ilabas ang evaluation ng kanilang pagtatrabaho at pagrerekomenda, so, sa puntong iyon ang aming ginagawa. And to our viewers, if the Senate doesn't conduct its hearings--unfortunately, what goes on in the courts, their discussions there, we won't know. So how can citizens weigh on the issue?

WEBB: So you filed just this morning a resolution to investigate and look into this again, in aid of legislation. Sino ho ang ipapatawag ninyo dito sa hearing na ito?

POE: Well aside from the officials of the DOTr now, maybe Secretary Tugade and also Usec. Chavez. We have to invite those that entered into an agreement with Dalian and many others like Busan. Kaya nga di ba ang sabi nila, 'Dalian, madali iyan." Tapos Busan naman 'Train to Busan.' Talagang from the start doomed na and ominous. Pero okay we have to ask the former DOTC chief to come in, Secretary Abaya.

WEBB: Secretary Abaya.

POE: We have to ask I think, Al Vitangcol. Again, Secretary Abaya to come in as well. GM Buenafe and many other characters. I also want to invite Marlo Dela Cruz, one of the incorporators of the MRT maintenance. Because apparently there are allegations, apparently he was very close to the last dispensation, having been a supporter. He's one of the incorporators. In time and again many different agreements, his name will always show up.

WEBB: Incorporators of what, iyong Marlo?

POE: I think that Marlo Dela Cruz, I think for the maintenance provider na mga APT Global.

WEBB: So, iyong mga huling maintenance kasi--

POE: Huli.

WEBB: Kasi Busan only came in, I believe January 2016.

POE: Right. Even prior to that. Prior to that Global, there was one more that was also a failed provider. Now, Busan curiously and interestingly, supposedly is a reputable company, Busan, 40 billion dollars in capitalization. But they only own 1% of the incorporated company here, the rest is owned by the Filipino companies. So if you own 1%, why do you care if you succeed or not. They're not really invested in it. So these things, I will ask them to come in. Bakit ito ang mga pinili mo, yung Busan ilang bilyon rin iyan. Closed door bidding iyan.

WEBB: Well yeah it was a negotiated deal. Ano nga ang nangyari because there was a failed bidding accordingly-two failed biddings in the past. When do you think this hearing will begin?

POE: We need to hear this as soon as possible cause we only have about a month. Now I asked my staff to please coordinate with the key people involved in the hearing their best time. We will give them a time-frame within the three weeks that we're there. Because Pinky, if they don't show up if they have no good reason, I will have them subpoenaed because the people deserve to know what is going on.

**commercial break**

On emergency powers

WEBB: You are watching The Source on CNN Philippines, our guest today is Senator Grace Poe. Senator, emergency powers is not going to happen within the one month that you're going back--you resumed session in Congress.

POE: I was hopeful, even with the President, and I was very cooperative. I really fought for it. Unfortunately they had other priorities and for you to get your time in plenary to be interpellated, that also depends on the other bills that are lined up. I was quite candid with the President and I asked him point blank, 'do you really need the emergency powers?' He said 'Well, you know it's up to you. I trust Sec. Tugade, he will not take advantage.' He didn't really give me a definitive answer. I said 'Because Mr. President, I am ready with it.' I chided a little bit Senate President Pimentel and I said 'Kaso itong mga ito hindi ako na-schedule masyado eh.' Senate President Pimentel said 'No, we will.' But you know what, even if we pass it in the Senate, House doesn't want to pass it. Why do I think it might work, especially with safety measures? Because you know what, a lot of the delays are basic things like right of way and even if you have eminent domain sometimes you need government that there won't be any TROs. You know now when somebody wins the bid, what delays it is the TRO from a lower court. Effectively, the emergency powers can get rid of that problem. It will make the Supreme Court the final arbiter. I am still hopeful but with barely a month left, I doubt. And with the House not even, I think, in the period of interpellation.

WEBB: Mukhang malabo?

POE: Pero alam mo Pinky ngayon pa lang mukha namang nagpupursige na sila na maglabas ng mga proyekto di ba? Ilang daang bilyon ang ibinigay natin just for the 2017 budget. Now, there are many things that they could do even now to alleviate the problem of traffic.

WEBB: What can be done?

POE: Number one, there are still a lot of colorum buses and jeepneys on the road. Why can't it not be identified and pulled out. Number two, marami pa rin ang nagdodouble park kung saan-saan kaya nagbabara ang mga arterial roads.

WEBB: Pero ginagawa na yan ng MMDA especially sa Roxas Boulevard, Quezon City.

POE: Yes but not consistently because you know what, when it's rush hour you still see people converge in the middle of EDSA trying to get a ride. Why can't we systematize all of the bus schedules and have a designated public utility vehicle stop which is not clear or defined. Until now provincial buses still have their terminals in EDSA, matagal nang sinabi na dapat nasa labas na iyan ng EDSA...So these things they could probably do now. Now emergency powers can help because you can say 'provincial buses, whether you like it or not, you're out now.'

WEBB: We were talking about the NTSB a while ago.

POE: The National Transport Safety Board. Why is it important? We know what happened in the bus crashes, yung mga bus nakarehistro let's say ng 2004, yun pala 1980s pa pala itong bus na ito base sa makina yung tanda niya. So parang nagpa-facelift ang isang matanda diba, nagpa-botox, gumanda ng konti pero yung nasa loob mahina na. I-o-overload mo, 45 passengers lang dapat, yung sa Nueva Ecija, ang kanilang pasahero nasa 70 plus, so almost double. Of course the break system will be strained. Now you have the LTO and the LTFRB being the ones investigating this when they themselves are the ones that issued the permits for them to operate. Naturally they would be biased because they might step on people's toes within their department. We need a Transport Safety Board solely dedicated on investigating passenger welfare. Let's say air, land and sea tragedies. Kasi ang nangyayari they are already spread thin doing their other functions, they can't be the investigating body.

On Pro-child bills

WEBB: So yun ang parang pinakatrabaho ng NTSB. Also early on actually during the campaign, napanood kita during your campaign. Very close to your heart is the nutrition of the kids. Do you have two pet bills, which is actually gaining ground, there's actually budget for it. The feeding program and the First 1,000 days. Tinanong ko nga kung ano yung First 1,000 days, ibig sabihin nun from zero to two years old dapat may healthcare ang nanay at bata. Let's talk about feeding program first, there's about what, P8 billion ba?

POE: Allotted in the budget for it. But it's not yet institutionalized, meaning it can change from year to year. I want it to be a standardized free lunch program in all public elementary schools because 34 percent of our population is zero to 17 years of age. Now we are one of the most populous countries in the world. If our workforce is to be competitive, they need to be healthy and they won't be smart if they are not healthy. So now, how much does it cost? P50 a day per child for their food. Now, wow ang mahal nun, how many millions of children. But you know what, we lose about P300 billion because of undernutrition. Now why zero to 2 years old? Because the brain development of the child is during that time. So we don't just feed the child we have to give the mothers also free milk, free nutrition counseling, free medical health. That's part of it and I think if I'm not mistaken in this last budget they already allotted there because we pushed for it. Sen. Ralph also helped me, all the daycare centers of the DSWD will already have meals for the children.

WEBB: So really the agency in charge will be the DepEd and the DSWD?

POE: Yes and the National Nutrition Council. Pero libreng pananghalian talaga, I will push for that. That's one of the things that I really have to do in the Senate. Ano ba yan, Pinky, sabihin na natin P40 billion a year, alam ko malaki iyon. Pero ang dami naman nating kalokohan na ginagasta na hindi naman talaga napupunta sa tiyan mismo ng mga bata.

WEBB: Alright, mabilisan na lang ito senator. What do you think of the supposed secret detention cell dun sa Maynila, I think Sen. Bam Aquino is calling also for an investigation into that what are your thoughts on this?

POE: Rightly so, there should be an investigation towards that, we should not allow that because we should not lose confidence in our law enforcement and our judicial system in our country. And isnt' it quite disturbing also that if that's your child, nawala yung anak mo, pumunta ka sa selda, di mo nakita, walang blotter, walang record. E di parang desaparasidos, parang ganun na rin yon kasi walang record so para sa akin kaya nga tayo, wag na nating pasamain ang sitwasyon, ang ICC nga may kaso na na nandoon so I hope that our courts will make a proactive stand. I hope the PNP and the DOJ will file cases on extrajudicial killings so that the international court does not have to take cognizance and take over because that will just say that we are a failed state.

WEBB: Last question are you for the death penalty or no? Yes or No?

POE: Unless they do judicial reforms which they are not doing anytime soon, then No, I am not for the death penalty.

WEBB: Sen. Grace Poe, pleasure to have you. Thank you for being here.

POE: Thank you, it's my pleasure.

News Latest News Feed