Press Release
April 23, 2021

Transcript of Senator Nancy Binay's interview on ANC's MATTERS OF FACT (hosted by Christian Esguerra)

Christian Esguerra (Q): I like to get your reaction to this, from General Parlade... He said do not drag the entire task force and that if you want to defund it, it will be the communities and the people's development fund you are taking back. How do you respond to this?

Sen. Nancy Binay-Angeles (SNBA): Before we took our break in Senate, there was a committee report that was adopted by the Senate wherein part of that was to call for Gen. Parlade to be removed from the NTF-ELCAC because we saw that there was a constitutional violation because he is occupying a position from a civilian agency when in fact he is still a part of the AFP. So kumbaga, yung call namin for him to be removed from office was asked way back, I think that was Feb or March. And then, when it comes to the defunding of projects, siguro I would just like to explain the composition of this fund. Each barangay was supposed to get P20 million and out of P20 million may kanya kanyang alocation for example farm to market roads P14 million, school buildings P4 million. I guess it is high time for us to review na baka mayroon doon sa P20 million na allocation, na hindi na talaga kumbaga yung importance or need. For example, yung school buildings alam naman natin na at the moment we do not even know when our students will be coming back to a face to face typo of setup and I think that is P4 million. May mga ganoong allocation sa P20 million that we can already use at the moment. Para sa akin aanhin mo yung kalsada, yung eskuwelahan, kung nagugutom naman ang ating mga kababayan. For me that is a what is needed right now is for us feed our people.

Q: Just to be clear, you are not calling for the abolition of the task force. Just the defunding or the realignment of some of its budget?

SNBA: We can revisit the budget and we'll see. I there is a need to realign, we will realign. But if there is really a need to cancel all the programs we can also do that.

Q: Pero what is your position now?

SNBA: Yug kay Gen. Parlade kasi gray area kasi yung sa kanya. Unang una, may constitutional issue nga yung pag-occupy nya ng position sa NTF-ELCAC. I think that is a given that he really needs to be removed from that position. Pagdating naman dito sa funding dahil alam naman natin na may kakulangan ngayon sa budget and if we can get funds out of this P19 billion, I think we should look into that fund.

Q: How about the taskforce itself?

SNBA: Isa din yun sa dapat i-revisit. I think the statements coming from its spokesperson, nakakasira sa image ng NTF-ELCAC. The intention of that agency is good. The intent is to bring back projects to the communities lalo na sa mga community na talagang disadvantaged there is really a need to give them more. But siguro this is not the proper body to implement these types of projects. In fact during the budget deliberations I raised this issue kasi ang fear ko nga is madoble ang trabaho. For example, yung school building alam naman natin yung DEPED may last mile program and basically it is the same program. They try to reach yung mga disadvantaged areas. Yung farm to market road, alam naman natin na yung Department of Agriculture may ganyang programa. And another issue is yung capability ng barangay to handle a P20 million fund. Isang issue din yun na ni-raise natin.

Q: You yourself mention na there could be duplication regarding the allocation of funds when you talk about the different agencies that are supposed to implement the budget.

SNBA: Kaya nga we asked for the list of barangays na supposed to be bibigyan nila ng project. Kasi this is a new approach in solving our insurgency problem. First time na gagawin ang ganito na agency will be tasked to do it. Kami sa Senado ang naging mind set namin is, "let's give it a try maybe it can help with that problem", but COVID came and yung perspective biglang nabago.

Q: During that time was it OK with you that the NTF have that much funding?

SNBA: No. In fact, as part of my submitted amendments, I wanted to realign the budget for Taal rehabilitation kasi during the budget rehabilitation, lumabas na there is no specific item for the rehabilitation ng Taal volcano victims and that was my proposal.

Q: The entire P19 billion budget?

SNBA: I can't remember if it was the full amount or just a portion. I have to give it din naman sa mga sinubmit nila na barangay, mayroong mga areas na kailangan din ng support.

Q: Do you regret supporting at least that portion of the program given the situation that we are in now?

SNBA: Hindi ako puwedeng mag-No sa budget just because I do not agree with a certain portion of the budget. I have to look at the bigger picture and the bigger picture is mas malaki ang mawawala if I will not agree with the budget.

Q: Yung benefit of the doubt na binigay niyo sa NTF... that is the context of my question regarding regret.

SNBA: In the very beginning hesitant din ako to support this program and I think if the same program would appear in next year's budget, mas tututol na talaga tayo. For this year's budget tignan natin if it works. But I am not totally 100% behind this program to begin with.

Q: Kumbaga nandoon na yung natural discomfort from the very start?

SNBA: Yes. Kasi nga yung duplication. At nakita ko din when I asked a listing from DepEd sa last miles schools nila, may mga barangay na parang pareho ang beneficiary. So may mga ganoong issue.

Q: Pero paano nakalusot?

SNBA: Siguro the appeal was there to give this project a chance. Pinagbigyan and sabi ko nga the intention was good and if it could really help the community bakit natin tatanggihan and alam ko naririnig ko din on the ground yung mga barangay excited rin na finally may mga projects na mapupunta sa kanila.

Q: Why all of a sudden certain senators are becoming courageous na parang bigla daw tumatapang ang mga senador ngayon simply because the president is at the tail end of the administration and next year is an election year.

SNBA: Siguro, Christian, I think 'yung mga, well, kami in the Senate, we've been critical I think, but I guess hindi lang through socmed. I mean there are other ways of being critical, right, and I've seen that in the floor several times. I guess ngayon lang siguro na kumbaga we're voicing it out in media, through our socmed accounts. But meron, meron namang ganung ano rin, move from us that we call out the national government 'pag nakikita naman namin na may mali.

Q: In the House of Representatives there's a call to investigate the red-tagging of community pantries and their organizers. In the Senate is there any such move also forthcoming?

SNBA: I think si Sen. Risa (Hontiveros) already filed (a resolution) investigating the red-tagging. And, in fact, our Minority Floor Leader Drilon also filed a bill criminalizing 'yung red-tagging. Baka that is something we can also discuss together with the resolution of Sen. Risa.

Q: Pero kayo, Sen. Binay, what do you think of this response coming from certain law enforcement agencies, certain officials, including Parlade, their propensity to red-bait a certain effort despite the inherent nobility, or siguro parang clear intentions behind those actions, no, kunwari community pantry itself there's nothing wrong with that, pero biglang papasok si Parlade, magbibigay ng statements, may reference kay Satan, kay Eba, things like that. What do you make of this? Do you sense na parang the government is being unnecessarily sensitive to criticism regarding this?

SNBA: Ang sa akin Christian, I don't know if it's just Gen. Parlade. Kaya nga ang suggestion ko, maybe 'yung skill ni Gen. Parlade for profiling would be better off in contact tracing. Baka mas makatulong siya doon. Sa akin the enemy right now is Covid, kumbaga dapat all efforts doon nakatuon, eh. And with this penchant to profile, baka mas maganda iyon, mas maigi for contact tracing dahil alam naman natin na kulang tayo sa resources, kulang tayo sa tao. So, baka there's also a need to shift towards that, 'di ba? Para hindi naman masayang ang kakayahan niya. Kasi at the moment, dapat nga we should all be working together and not see each other as competition. But you know, with statements coming from him, parang ganoon ang nagiging impression, and I don't think that's the position of Malacañang, that is not the position of AFP. The mere fact na I think yesterday may mga members from the AFP who donated vegetables doon sa Maginhawa, so baka...

Q: Pero are you really sure this is not the position of, for example Malacañang, of presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, or perhaps they are just being careful not to be damaged further by what Gen. Parlade is doing?

SNBA: Well, we just have to (inaudible) and believe that statement. If their actions are different from their statement 'di alam na natin na hanggang salita lang pala 'yung ganoong pahayag. Actually nakakapagtaka lang din itong si Gen. Parlade kasi 'di ba parang lahat nag-issue ng statement of support doon sa community pantry, parang sintunado siya doon sa statements coming from AFP, PNP, 'di ba pati mga secretaries, like Sec. Año already issued a statement of support. Pero parang si Gen. Parlade mayroon siyang sarili niyang galaw, may sarili siyang statement.

Q: 'Yun nga, you mentioned that, medyo kumbaga may disconnect between what Gen. Parlade is still saying, and the positions already taken by his superiors. Which brings us to the next question, why not remove him? If his superiors are indeed not sanctioning what Gen. Parlade has been saying and doing. Or number 2, baka naman ito ang possibility, that despite their position officially, Gen. Parlade, disconnected his statements might be, is still serving a good purpose for them in the long run.

SNBA: I don't know, Christian, I am not privy kung may ganoon silang strategy na ginagawa. But I must admit it's a million-dollar question, kasi 'di ba ang dami na niyang kumbaga mali-mali na sinasabi but he's still there and parang he's not being reprimanded. So, I don't know kung anong mayroon si Gen. Parlade na parang ang impression is he is untouchable.

Q: Let's try to trace how the criticism of the community pantries coming from the likes of Gen. Parlade began. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this started when some people started commenting that the emergence of the community pantries was an indictment of the administration over its supposed failure to sufficiently and properly address the Covid-19 pandemic in the Philippines. Do you agree?

SNBA: Yes. It is a failure. The government response is a failure. And I think government needs to admit na hindi niya kayang bigyan ng solusyon ang problema. Tingin ko nga Christian kaya tayo nasa ganitong sitwasyon ngayon because there's always that denial that there's a problem. There's always that move to downplay the problem. 'Di ba, paano natin bibigyan ng solution ang problema kung hindi natin tinatanggap na may malaki tayong problema. And dapat nga we should appreciate and welcome, because 'di ba may tumutulong, kumbaga I think that's the only way we can solve where we are right now, is if we all work together, if government works with the private sector. Kasi nakita naman natin Christian, 'di ba, this past year parang there's always that, hindi naman away, pero laging may issue ang government and private sector. Nakita naman natin doon sa pagbili ng bakuna, 'di ba parang noong umpisa ayaw payagan ng gobyerno na bumili ang private sector ng vaccine. Kaya nga we had to produce a vaccination law para nga maayos at kumbaga mapayagan talaga itong mga private sector to procure. So parang laging may ganoong, hindi naman laban, but there's always that power struggle, there's always that competition.

Q: Which of the administration's pandemic response you think is the most problematic? Is it coordination, policy direction, leadership, or something else, or all of the above?

SNBA: Parang all of the above, I think, Christian. I don't think we will be in this situation right now kung na-address lahat ng mga issues na 'yan.

Q: There are also those who are calling for the resignation of Pres. Duterte, they think this is fair at this time, and to also put the blame on him ultimately for this failed, according to you, pandemic response by his administration.

SNBA: Siguro at the moment, Christian, baka 'yung ganoong panawagan would bring us more, parang it will divide the country more at the moment, eh hindi natin kailangan ang ganoong division. Hindi natin kailangan ang ganoong paghiwalay. What we need right now is for all of us to work together.

Q: Before we end this interview, I'd also like to get your comment, your position regarding the strong push behind ivermectin. Before we started this interview I think you saw the news item, right, that eventually this might commercially be available in the Philippines, human grade 1, especially for the treatment of Covid-19. Some of your colleagues are also openly supporting this. How about you?

SNBA: Sa akin, let us wait for the science. Alam naman natin na there's already an ongoing clinical trial worldwide. So tingnan natin kung ano ang magiging resulta ng mga ganoong mga test. Ako, I think number 1 with this Covid problem, we should always follow the science. And if the science would say that it does not work, so why do we need to take it, 'di ba? Pero 'pag sinabi naman niya that it can help, it can treat, 'di let us go ahead and use this product.

Q: But pending clearance or go-signal from the FDA, from our local regulators and authorities, do you think it's prudent for doctors even, some doctors or —worse—politicians, to aggressively and openly promote this anti-parasitic drug for Covid-19?

SNBA: Sa akin kasi, 'di ba at the moment there's no, well except for three hospitals na pwede ang compassionate use, but for us to take na wala pa siyang FDA approval or hindi pa siya prescribed ng doctors, I don't think we should take it. In fact Christian ang dami ko nang nakausap na doctor about this, and wala pa ako narinig na nagsabi na "go ahead and take it." So, I think iyon na lang, sino bang mas gagaling kung hindi ang doctor natin. But for others, for some, kung ang doctor nila sinabihan sila, "you can take it," I guess they probably should have that freedom to take it. For as long as it's prescribed by their doctors.

Q: And wait for the science, or the actual data regarding the efficacy because there are risks involved.

SNBA: And wait for the science. And nakakatakot, Christian, because remember ang available lang dito sa Philippines ang animal grade. Wala pang kumbaga approved na human grade ivermectin. May biruan nga, eh, kapag may nagtatanong sa akin, I guess kung hayop ka, eh 'di uminom ka. Parang ganoon ang biruan na lang. Actually mayroon akong friend who had Covid in the States, and he was part of a clinical trial for ivermectin.

Q: Sen. Nancy Binay, thank you for joining us this morning. Stay safe.

SNBA: Stay safe, Christian. Thank you.

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