Press Release
January 11, 2023

Transcript of Interview Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" F. Zubiri
in Kapihan sa Manila Bay with Marichu Villanueva

Q: On Dir. Gen Tamayo and the other CAAP officials to resign, no not to resign, take a leave of absence. He said na "parang dapat mag resign sila" but he's not making that call. Do you support the call for them to go on a leave of absence while the investigations are ongoing?

SP ZUBIRI: I'm not in the position to make that statement yet Tina because I haven't heard the facts under our hearing. Hindi ako nakapanood kahapon. I was flying in from Mindanao yesterday. So, hintayin ko po ang statements nila bukas, pakinggan po natin ang eksplenasyon nila at kung mangangailangan talagang mag-leave of absence para hindi po ma-taint o maging kuwestiyonable ang mga findings ay baka puwede po nilang gawin iyon. That is their prerogative. But I cannot make a categorical statement at this point in time because I need to hear the facts tomorrow, coming from the hearing tomorrow. But definitely, heads should roll, definitely heads should roll. Imposibleng this would become another incident in Philippine history wherein may kapalpakan na ganito kalaki tapos gano'n ulit, wala lang, parang wala lang. Parang deadma lang. Para que sera sera, ganyan talaga Pilipino. The Filipinos are very, they persevere and we are such a surviving... people are survivors. Hindi po puwede yan, they should learn that this is no longer acceptable especially if we're fighting for Tiger status, we're trying to push for a Tiger economy, we're trying to push for a middle-income economy and country of course by 2028, we cannot... And that's why maganda na rin na nagkaroon po tayo ng Bulacan Airport, 'yong bagong airport na tinatayo. We really need a new airport; we need a new infrastructure. We need new airports and seaports. I'm so happy na ginagawa na po 'yong Bulacan Airport kasi for once meron na po tayong panibagong airport which is the gate way of the world to the Philippines. And also, because of that Tin, we're pushing for more PPP, we're filing, I filed personally, amendments to the BOT Law to make it simpler, PPP, 'yong Private-Public Partnerships. Madaliin ang pagkuha ng private-public partnerships. In other words, ease of doing business sa PPP. Paano... Ah well... 'yong sa dating BOT may mga delays, mga bottolenecks na Nakita po natin. It's going to be discussed this... Etong buwan na ito at sa susunod na buwan papag-usapan naming sa committee level ang amendments to the PPP law nag awing mas madali ang foreign investors at local investors na sila na po ang tatakbo ng ating infrastructure. For example, road networks, bridge networks, our airports, seaports, 'yong Visayas what you call that... One Visayas Bridge Program - connecting Bohol and Cebu, Cebu to Negros, Negros to Iloilo, Paci to Guimaras. Imagine puwede kang mag-breakfast sa Tagbilaran.

Q: Mga tollway at bridges yan?

SP ZUBIRI: Oo. Breakfast sa Tagbilaran, dinner in Boracay. Oo, dadala ka lang ng kotse... Biro mo... Bridge...

Q: Roro...

SP ZUBIRI: Hindi na Roro, bridge yan, tulay... Tollways siya. And the toll of course, it's too expensive for the government to build. But do what Metro Pacific did with the toll route in Cebu, let's just make it PPP and let's give it to them. Let's open it to them. Kasi alam naman nila maraming gagamit ng kalsadang 'yon. So, let's make it easier for them to make it happen.

Q: Sir when you say heads will roll, whose heads? Kasi like Dir. Gen. Tamayo said yesterday, kakaupo palang niya eh and he's doing his best and you also mentioned that the DOTr Secretary was just confirmed recently.

SP ZUBIRI: Yeah, maybe heads will roll on the lower level. Sinong nagsaksak doon sa... from 280 to 350 'yon ang unang-unang dapat tanggalin. Bobo naman no'n noh. Bobo naman... Kung totoo 'yon ah. Ang bobo naman no'n. Hindi naman niya Nakita na ganito pala 'yong sistemang ito ay isasaksak mo dito sa... Di'ba parang bumili ka ng appliance na 110 isasaksak mo sa 220, eh sinong may kasalanan no'n eh di 'yong nagsaksak doon sa 220. Di'ba? Kaya titingnan natin 'yon. We have to find out ano ba talagang nangyari. Was it a crash of the system? Was it that explanation na they connected it to higher power source? If they connected it to the higher power source, what kind of engineers are these people?

Q: Industrial managemengt 101. Three causes of industrial accidents 1 ) carelessness, 2) negligence, 3) stupidity

SP ZUBIRI: All incompetent, all boils down to incomopetence. So kailangan palitan 'yon. 'yon lang... We can start with that. Let us pin down, pin down talaga sino ang nagkasala nung araw na iyon. We have to find out what happened in that morning. In that five-hour period. Ano bang ginawa nila nung nag-crash 'yong system? That's the most important. Kung sa criminal law, criminology, 'yong second to second, minute per minute events to lead to that particular incident.

Q: Timeline...

SP ZUBIRI: Oo timeline. Makita po natin 'yon. Hindi sapat 'yong explanation na 'wala eh nagpaower source' hindi po pupuwede yan. Dapat pumasok si engineer so and so sa kwartong ito, ito 'yong ginawa nila na nagkaroon ng crash. We have to know the timeline, para malaman talaga nating mabuti sino ang nagkapalpak diyan. Pasensiya nalang sinong matamaan. But definitely, incompetence, stupidity that person should pay. I mean that person should be punished or reprimanded at the very least.

Q: Sir on another topic, you mentioned the fixed term for the AFP Officials. There's a similar bill that passed on third reading in the House for PNP, how will you treat the bill when it goes to the Senate?

SP ZUBIRI: We can consolidate it. Ah wait is it... I'm not familiar ah. I'm only talking about the AFP. So ang alam kong joint na 'yong ating pension fund, which is going to be for the armed services, AFP and PNP. Let me study the PNP version, let me study it. Alam mo kasi magkakaroon din Tina ng problema yan. Because you have to remember the soldiers and policemen are on seniority basis. So, imagine if you're already 55 and major pa rin sila, hindi sila maging colonel dahil na-extend sila lahat. Magkakaroon ng rumblings talaga yan, any military force all around the world, they are promoted around the world, performance of duty, length of service, yan 'yong mga criteria. Pag tinanggal mo yan at ginawan mo ng extended terms ito napakaraming generals, meron talagang grupong magagalit, mga klase, PNP classes, PMA classes that will be rumbling and angry.

Q: In this case classmates sila eh, lahat eh.

SP ZUBIRI: Class war ito eh. Giyera sa klase.

Q: Justine Punsalang from TV5 po. We'd just like to get your thoughts doon po sa sinabi po ni DOH Spokesperson na dapat daw pong ma-extend pa rin 'yong ating state of calamity dahil po sa COVID?

SP ZUBIRI: I think there's reasons why... may rason po ang ating pangulo na hindi niya po pinirmahan o hingin sa amin ang extension ng state of calamity. Unang una hindi maganda sa imahe ng Pilipinas na pag tiningnan po ng mga turista pag pumunta sila online, meron pa ring state of calamity for COVID-19. Parang ang dating non'n, parang China na yon. Sobrang dami nating COVID-19, di natin nacocontrol. Run-away 'yong COVID sa ating bansa. Wala naman eh, alam mo naman parang wala na, medyo immune na rin... Ako nakatatlong beses na kong natamaan ng COVID and I'm still here, thank God. Ang punto lang is ayaw lang pong sirain ang imahe ng Presidente by extending the state of calamity. He wants it rectified by legislation. So we are going to step up to that request of the President at well for example, tuloy tuloy 'yong pamimigay ng bakuna, may special powers 'yong DOH when it's their call to vaccination because of what happened to the Dengvaxia nahirapan po silang magbigay ng... pati Polio vaccination nahirapan sila. These are simple vaccination programs that they're having a hard time.

So that is why we are focusing on the passage of the CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Virology. Naka-incorporate na po diyan 'yong mga request ng DOH for special powers particularly for the vaccination program. So yes, if you ask me, I support the President's non-extension of the COVID vaccine state of calamity or the COVID-19 state of calamity because it would really paint a bad light on the Philippines and you know, as we know, it's almost back to normal. We will just rectify this or the request of the DOH can be addressed by the two legislations: the medical core, tatlo pala yan - the medical core, the approval of the medical reserve core, the national disease prevention management authority or rather the commonly called as the center for disease control, CDC and then the virology science and technology institute and also nagdagdag po kami ng 25 billion under the Office of the Secretary to cover the fund. It is the Covid response fund under the DOH. Ano 'yon, the breakdown is on allowances or the frontliners, nandiyan po 'yong logistics, logistical needs of the DOH.

Q: This year?

SP ZUBIRI: Yes, this year po.

Q: Kasama na sa budget ng DOH?

SP ZUBIRI: Kasama na sa budget ng DOH. 'yong public health emergency benefits, nilagay na po natin diyan, non-healthcare workers benefits, strengthening the Food and Drugs Administration, adding budget to the Bureau of Quarantine response fund, operations of national reference laboratories, the international health policy development corporation program, procurement and supply chain management service, lahat po yan, may pondo lahat. P25 billion nilagay namin sa budget para matulungan po ang ating DOH in their COVID response.

Q: This January ineexpect natin na magkakaroon po tayo ng educational system review. What are we expecting, and when will we be starting?

SP ZUBIRI: Actually, that is a good question. I am meeting with Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian at 5PM, today. He wanted to meet with me to discuss EDCOM logistical support kasi sinet-up na po natin 'yong EDCOM headed by Sen. Gatchalian, together with other members of the Senate.

Q: (Unclear)

SP ZUBIRI: I will get the exact list but I believe so, she is going to be part of that... We are going to really support EDCOM 2's creation and its program of action. Kailangan talaga natin dahil sa pandemyang ito. Sa totoo lang, mga kapatid, dahil sa pandemyang ito, I think we went a step backwards in terms of educating our children.

Q: We are online.

SP ZUBIRI: We are online, but 'yong module. Marami akong kilala na 'yong mga kabataan nasa Manila, pero tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang submission ng kanilang modules sa probinsiya dahil ang nagsusulat ng module, ang kanilang mga kapatid. So, mga ganoong kapalpakan. So, marami diyan nag graduate ng ibang grade, na hindi naman karapat-dapat na mag graduate. Kaya pag dating po sa kanilang comprehension, examinations, nagkakaroon po tayo ng kapalpakan. And we are sometimes the bottom of the heap when it comes sa learning crisis.

When it comes to testing of our children. So, I fully support that, we are giving budgetary support as well, the Senate is giving budgetary support in terms of the logistics and funding for consultants and the assistance to the commission. On the part of the Senate, the chair of the Committee on Basic Education is the chair. He is Sen. Win Gatchalian, we have Sen. Francis Escudero, chair of the Committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education, we have Sen. Sonny Angara, Sen. Joel Villanueva, and Sen. Pia Cayetano. So, five. On the part of the House we will find out sino po ang hinalal po nila pero I don't know kung nandito po 'yong ating vice President. Congressional kasi siya. She will be an important component of this commission kasi we have to really go back to our roots which is basic education, when it comes to...kasi, garbage in, garbage out. So, kung mag graduate po ng gradeschool yan na puro basura naman at wala naman silang natutunan, pagdating po sa high-school at k-12 eh palpak din ang kalalabasan niyan. So, DepEd will play a key role here on this EDCOM.

Q: Reaction po sa pag back ng US State Department sa atin po for condemning China's pangyayari po sa West Philippine Sea.

SP ZUBIRI: Well, we have approved. We came up with a resolution and approved the resolution, unanimous. I want to give you the exact title of the measure. It is Senate Resolution No. 37, resolution expressing the sense of the Senate to denounce in the strongest possible terms the illegal and brazen incursions and encroachments in the West Philippine Sea that undermine our sovereignty, and threaten the integrity of our national territory. So, yan po ang sense of the Senate. That we concur with the issue or the statement of the State Department, that we condemn or denounce in the strongest possible terms. Neighbors should treat each other with respect and I think what had happened in the recent months is not a sign of respect. And sana itong visit ng ating pangulo sa China will encourage them to show respect to neighboring countries not just the Philippines, and stop bullying us when it comes to our fisherfolk, when it comes to our navy personnel, when it comes to even just supplying Pagasa Island, who by the way, we have a mayor, it is an LGU of Palawan, who have children. We have hundreds of children there who need educational support, and I hope that they stop these brazen acts of bullying in, and incursion and encroachment on the West Philippine Sea.

Q: Are you satisfied with the result of that visit na ang napag-agreehan ni Presidente and Xi is just to establish direct contact just to avoid miscommunication?

SP ZUBIRI: That is a good first step. I think that is a good first step, dapat meron tayong tinatawag na direct line sa maybe navy general nila, navy general natin, 'yong foreign affairs chief nila, foreign affairs chief natin, para hindi po mag escalate sa shooting incident. O magkakaroon ng barilan, that's the heightened elevation of hostilities in the area. So, we want to avoid that. We have to de-escalate. But definitely, we have to push our right in the West Philippine Sea. Kailangan payagan po nila ang ating mga mangingisda na umikot dito sa mga lugar na ito at pwedeng mangisda dito sa ating exclusive economic zone. As a matter of fact, on a personal capacity, and I discussed this with senators, we are going to beef up the funds of the BFAR, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, next year 2024 to build medium-sized fishing boats at ipamigay natin sa ating mga kababayan dyan sa Pangasinan, sa Palawan, sa provinces boundarying the West Philippine Sea where they can now safely go to these areas and fish freely in these areas.

Q: Akala ko i-announce mo sa light towers mag put up ng safe haven for Filipino fishermen.

SP ZUBIRI: Meron naman tayong katulad ng Ayungin Shoals, meron naman tayong mga safe haven, pero ang gusto ko nga ay magbigay po tayo ng 200 fishing boats sa kanila at sabihin natin sa kanila, mangisda kayo diyan, teritoryo natin yan. So, we want to support our fisherfolk by doing that, and we will include it in the budget of the BFAR next year.

Q: To follow up on that, Sir, what else are we expecting to happen doon sa Senate resolution na 'yan? Saan na po ba napadala, Sir? Are we aware if naibigay na sa DFA sa Chinese Embassy, and ano pang mangyayari?

SP ZUBIRI: One of the "whereas" clauses of it is it's supposed to be given to the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the President so we also sent a copy to the Office of the President to show our disgust -- kaya nga ginawa namin 'yan prior to his visit para alam po niya ang posisyon ng Senado on this issue. I hope that answers your question. Alam niyo po ang stand ng Senado, kaya hindi nga tayo pumunta sa China. Iyan po ang stand namin, kasi hindi ako pwedeng smiling-smiling lang doon, alam po nila. Kailangan may good cop, bad cop. Kami sa Senado, we are willing to play the bad cop so that the President's foreign policy decision will also be guided accordingly. We can also give unsolicited advice to the President to tread cautiously when it comes to dealing with our neighbor China.

Hindi naman natin sinasabi na awayin natin sila. No. But we have to take a stand on certain issues. We should be like Vietnam. Vietnam strongly protects its economic zones and territories...We don't back down. 'Di ba kararating lang ng Vietnam parliament dito, the head of the parliament, members of the parliament, and we discussed with them. They were telling us that one of the reasons why they are respected by China is that they don't back down. When there's a fishing boat nila na winawater cannon ng China, tuloy-tuloy pa rin daw sila. Libreng paligo daw 'yon. Libreng paligo. So, that's why they gained the respect of this particular government.

May I just also mention the House contingent, Congressman Mark Go and Congressman Romulo, as well as Congressman Pablo John Garcia, Congressman Kiko Benitez and Congressman Khalid Dimaporo -- these are the five members of the House panel for EDCOM 2.

Q: On the NAIA mess, sinabi niyo po definitely if may incompetent, kapalpakan nong nagkamaling lower rank na employee, anong punishment po --

SP ZUBIRI: Kung iyon ang lumalabas, and I'm not saying iyon ang nangyari. I'm just saying kung iyan nga ang lumabas na may kapalpakan, na sinaksak na equipment o machine na mataas na boltahe -- kasi iyan ang umiikot sa online eh, may mga haka-haka, marites iyon daw ang sinasabi -- so we have get to the bottom of this. Kung meron ngang low-ranking personnel na nagawa nila ito, we have to also dig deeper into that low-ranking personnel. Baka sinabotahe niya?

Q: May Civil Service rules, remember?

SP ZUBIRI: Yes. There are Civil Service rules, and he's under the Civil Service Laws and rules that he has to follow. So definitely some heads will roll when we find out, when we go to the bottom of this.

Kasi it's impossible, that on its own, mamamatay 'yan. Impossible. It's supposed to be...uninterruptible, an uninterruptible system. In other words, there's so much redundancy -- may back-up system, may generation system, there must be something wrong...2017 lang daw 'yan eh, that's relatively brand new. So somebody had to foul up there.

Q: Sa House hearing po kahapon, ang tinuturo po ng CAAP was ang pinakaugat daw ng problem was 'yong circuit breaker na nasira daw po. So 'yong mga netizens po, ang mga comments nila online, "Dati UPS, ngayon naman circuit breaker, ano ba talaga 'yong nangyari?" So is it important, Sir, na talagang magkaroon na ng one, single explanation? Kasi sabi niyo nga, ang dami nang speculationn

SP ZUBIRI: That's why we need to go through the timeline. We need to find the evidence, we need to look at the evidence submitted, and the testimonies, with a fine-toothed comb. Let us tackle this like a police investigation with all the evidence, including CCTV -- kung walang CCTV 'yan dapat sipain na talaga sila. Kung walang CCTV dapat sipain na sila. Imposible. I'm sure may CCTV d'yan in that particular area...Makikita mo, anong oras ba nag-collapse 'yan, o let us go 5 hours before, let us now review the CCTV footage. May pumasok ba diyan sa kwartong 'yon? It didn't die on its own. Okay, if it's the circuit breaker, sinong gumalaw ng circuit breaker na 'yon at that particular time? Di ba?

We have to look at it like a criminal investigation. Because what had happened could have caused a man-made disaster. Economic disaster. Planes could have been falling out from the sky! Because of the lack of a navigational system, lives were in danger that day. And not to mention, an international embarrassment for the Philippines. It is an international embarrassment for the Philippines. So let us not treat it with a slap on the wrist, we have to treat it like an international investigation and look backwards into all the footage of the CCTV, look back at all the testimonies of all the people who were involved that day. Ano ba talagang nangyari? That simple explanation cannot, will not bode well with our senators, it's not acceptable. It's unacceptable. It's impossible that on its own, the circuit breaker will just conk out.

Q: Sir last na po talaga, 'yong sa Maharlika, babalikan ko lang po. Kasi nabanggit niyo, nagkaroon na ng meetings, discussions over the weekend with Sen. Mark Villar, what happened to that, Sir?

SP ZUBIRI: Wala pa, wala pa. Walang pang hearings. Itong pagbalik natin this [month], magkakaroon ng hearings.

Q: Sir, paano po ba 'yong process, are we looking at discussing sa committee hearings 'yong House bill? Or may magfafile po talaga ng Senate bill?

SP ZUBIRI: Well, we will just adopt -- the House kasi has already delivered-- you could consider it as a House-initiated bill, so na-deliver na 'yan sa amin, we will just improve on the House bill. Because if you filed a bill, eh 'di another discussions na naman 'yan. Well, it will still go through first reading, so if the House transmits it to the Senate and it is read on the floor it is considered first reading. Si Mark Villar na can act upon it on the committee level. But I don't think that the appetite of the senators right now is to file a version, we could just improve on the House version. Let's discuss the lang the House version so we also, at the end of the day, we'll have less debates during the bicam.

Q: Yeah, kasi may timeline na sinusunod, first 6 months of the year, sana ma-launch iyon.

SP ZUBIRI: Yes, hopefully by the end of this quarter, which is end of March, start of the March break tapos na siya.

Q: Balikan ko 'yong about sa budget, particular po doon sa NTF-ELCAC, kasi during the bicam ang final decision natin is to restore P10 billion na budget for NTF-ELCAC, and parang ang claims po recently ng NTF-ELCAC is only P6 billion talaga ang approved, not P10 billion.

SP ZUBIRI: Ah, okay. Maybe your question will be properly answered by Sen. Angara because I don't have oversight of the total budget, we gave it to the subcommittee chairs...but ang alam ko, really, is ang total budget is P10 billion. Baka unprogrammed 'yong P4 [billion], programmed 'yong P6 [billion]. Ibig sabihin, gagastusin 'yong six, 'yong P4 billion is unprogrammed.

Ang ibig lang sabihin ng unprogrammed nyan, hahanapan ng pondo ng DBM 'yan para mapondohan. But the DBM, of course, will put up the requirement na present the evidence that you used the P6 billion properly. Tama naman 'yon kasi that is government funds, hindi naman pwedeng ibulsa ng mga government agencies sa baba 'yong sa mga barangay. Because as far as we're concerned during our hearings with the NTF-ELCAC, marami pa ring unliquidated funds doon sa baba.

Personally, I just want to put this on record, I am in support of the NTF-ELCAC, kasi Bukidnon, as you know, marami po tayong identified na red spots, and what we want to do is win the hearts and minds of the people there to go back fully to the national government. To be under the national government, and at the same time, to dissuade everybody from adventurism when it comes to political ideology.

And now they see, with the NTF-ELCAC, marami nang mga health centers, may mga kalsada na, may mga birthing centers na. So nakikita talaga nila na iba na ang trato ng gobyerno sa kanila. So we're winnning a lot of hearts and minds.

As a matter of fact, if there's a lot of military and NPA engagements, 'yong bakbakan, it's because alot of the barangays have already gone to the government side at maraming nagsusumbong. Dati tahimik lang, kung may NPA commander sa lugar, hindi sila nagsasalita. Ngayon, tinetext na nila, "Uy, mga mga [NPA] commander dito" at hinahabol na...Maintenance na lang. That's the reason why we have to put the fund.

But it's still P10 billion, marami namang unprogrammed funds, 'yong sa DOTr, 'yong ating mga subways and all are under the unprogrammed funds. Hindi po ibig sabihin na hindi gagastusin 'yan. Kailangan lang ipakita natin sa DBM 'yong progress report para marelease 'yong pondo, and you know, as the- as I'm the Senate President, we were permitted to make sure that the budget is, is spent effectively and efficiently including for- including the funds used for NTF-ELCAC.

Q: SP last na.


Q: Hanggang ngayon wala pa tayong health secretary, sa tingin niyo po ano 'yong nagpapatagal sa pangulo para mag-appoint and sa preference po natin, if we will be asking for our preference, sa tingin niyo po ba mag settle nalang si Presidente kay Under Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire?

SP ZUBIRI: Ako I like her. I like Under Secretary- not settle, she's actually- alam mo ang chismis sa sa akin, may marites na nagsabi, ayaw daw niya maging secretary kasi ano siya career. Kasi kapag secretary ka, pwede ka tanggalin at any time. Eh career siya, she's been there- she's been there for several decades na daw kaya maraming hesitant din maging secretary kasi 'yong iba sabi nila pag secretary, kiss of death, kasi kung may mag lobby against you, wala ka na sa department, tanggal ka na (unclear) magiging- wala ka talaga, zero ka na.

So that's why she's undersecretary, maybe we can convince her to accept the secretary post, eventually. I think she's doing a great job. I highly recommend her to the post, she's not controversial, she's not political, she knows her job very well being (unclear) in the DOH. Ang ganda ng (unclear) sa Covid-19, naging spokesperson pa ng DOH yan under the time of Secretary Duque at siya po'y naging mukha ng DOH. So, ako I think it's a matter of convincing, convince natin si Secreta- Under Sec- or acting Secretary Vergeire na to accept the post if the President offers it to her. (Unclear) other candidates, I have no comment. That's the prerogative of the President.

Q: Thank you, SP.

SP ZUBIRI: Thank you my dear. Thanks.

Q: Hi sir, pahabol lang. Joyce Balancio from ABS-CBN.

SP Zubiri: Hi Joyce.

Q: Sir good afternoon. Sir, just a reaction to the decision of the Office of the President to dismiss the complaint- complaints absolving, you know, some (unclear) officials of the SRA and the DA over the sugar importation (unclear), correct me if I'm wrong sir you're one of the senators who signed the committee report recommending the filing of charges-

SP ZUBIRI: Yes- actually I was the one who filed the- no I gave the speech asking the blue ribbon to investigate. I think what the President has done was to dismiss the criminal aspect of it kasi may kulang- I guess there's a lot of evidence for the criminal aspect. But if you look at the decision, it admonish them for being lax or not following proper procedure. So mayroon din siyang, mayroon din (unclear) administratively on this particular issue. But I want to put that issue behind us na because that issue divided the sugar industry and I think right now because of the high prices of sugar, all the members of the sugar industry should unite together in coming up with a program wherein we can again help the farmers, come up with the right pricing na happy 'yong mga magsasaka, happy din po ang mga consumers. So for me, I no longer want to comment on this particular issue so that the sugar industry could start the healing- healing process and unite as an industry to make sure that there is stable supply of sugar for the industrial users and the consumers at an affordable price. Iyan ang utos ko sa ano eh, sa SRA (unclear) I had a long talk with him this Christmas and I told him, Dave, Dave Alba, Administrator Dave Alba, this 2023 you must come up with pricing or at least help in the pricing of the sugar products na at least acceptable sa taong bayan at it will not cause inflationary increases in our food cost because sugar is a basic ingredient sa lahat, from pandesal to pizza pie to kape, lahat yan sugar so napaka importante dyan.

Q: Thank you. Thank you senator.

Q: Sir last na.

SP ZUBIRI: No problem.

Q: Sir going back to the CAAP glitch, the airport glitch. Yesterday there was debate in the briefing of the transpo committee at the House on the compensation for those who were affected because there was debate whether it was force majeure or an act of negligence so duon sa issue po ng negligence, what are your thoughts on that po?

SP ZUBIRI: Wow. That's a good question, Tina. That's a good question. On one hand of course, my human side, 'yong pagkatao ko bilang isang public servant gusto po natin macompensate 'yong napakaraming tao naperwisyo nung araw na iyon. On the other side of the coin is kaya ba ng gobyerno bigyan ng ayuda or 65,000 people yan na ano, na apektado, may halong foreigners, so syempre kung bibigyan natin ng ilang libo yan kada isa napakalaking mawawala sa national budget natin nun. Thankfully, marami po sa mga carriers, for example 'yong Cebu Pacific, PAL, they step up in giving libreng pagkain and of course rerouting of their tickets sa ating mga pasahero na stranded at that time. So again, it's a balance of being able to find a budget for it. Maganda pong sabihin iyon (unclear) political statement pero sa totoo lang may pondo ba tayo, we have to practical about it kung may pondo ba tayo para ibigay doon-

Q: Mga papogi, papogi.

SP ZUBIRI: Although, although pang ga- we have what you call, we pay-

Q: 'yong passenger right (unclear)-

SP ZUBIRI: Hindi, may taxes tayo, 'yong travel tax.

Q: Ah, yeah travel tax.

SP ZUBIRI: Okay we have travel tax.

Q: And airport tax. SP ZUBIRI: Airport tax. I want to amend the law on the travel tax. Creation of the travel tax.

Q: 1,600?

SP ZUBIRI: Parang 1,000- 620? 1,620 travel tax. Saan pumupunta 'yong pondo na iyan. Diba...Kasi ang nangyayari parang naging banyo nalang iyon duon sa kung saan saan. Naging infrastructure sa- can we, we want to amend the law wherein part of the tourism tax will be set aside for contingency funds like this. Diba. Kasi nagba- 'yong 65,000 passengers na yan, nagbayad ng 1,600 yan, diba, sa gobyerno. So ano ang gagawin natin, dyan pwede natin kunin 'yong mga ayuda na pwedeng mangyari sa mga kapalpakan na ganito, katulad nito. That's a good idea, right?

Q: Yes, yes.

SP ZUBIRI: So, Dave, head of my legis, let's amend the tourism tax kasi right now it's (unclear) pork barrel eh.

Q: Pero 'yong airport tax yata tinanggal na no Dave, tinanggal na yata 'yong airport tax na 500 eh.

SP ZUBIRI: Mayroon pang...ang laking income pumupunta sa (unclear) yan. So 'yong nangyayari, ginagawa na nila kung saan saan nilagay, tourism road, kung saan saan.

Q: Go ahead sir.

SP ZUBIRI: Gawin natin iyon.

Q: Suporta kita.

SP ZUBIRI: Sige sulat mo iyan, maganda iyan. Hihingi tayo ng support sa House.

Q: What about those who were affected-

SP ZUBIRI: Yes, again 'no, again as I said, maybe that's part of the discussions tomorrow. I can raise that. I'll raise that tomorrow.

Q: Pero may passengers right (unclear), sa airline nga lang ang sagot.

SP ZUBIRI: Yes, yes. Well, OWWA should take charge of that and I think I will discuss that tomorrow. I hope we invited OWWA tomorrow, I'm not sure kasi I'm not (unclear) Sen. Grace Poe invited but definitely we'll ask the DOTR.


Gusto natin sa remedial measures sa pangyayari noong January 1 para mabigyan natin ng ayuda ang tatamaan na ganitong kapalpakan ng ganitong mga systems failure ng ating CAAP or any government agency that will cause passengers to be stranded. One of the long term solutions is we want to push for amendments on the Travel Tax, on the creation of travel tax, P1,650 po yan bawat pasahero na minsan ay naincorporate na sa mga tickets na binibili or pamasahe na binibili nila sa mga airlines.

Kasi ngayon, ginagamit po siya bilang funding ng TIEZA at ginagamit ito sa imprastruktura sa iba't ibang parte ng Pilipinas. Gagawin natin, portion of the fund, which is billions of pesos, ay ilalagay natin as an ayuda fund, a support fund for cases such as these. Sila po ay mabibigyan ng tulong galing sa gobyerno dahil nagbayad naman po sila ng tinatawag nating travel tax.

So 'yan ang maganda. Magagamit natin ang pondo na yan kung may stranded na pasahero, bibigyan ng ayuda ng gobyerno, para naman maoffset yung expenses nila for that particular day dahil may mga pasahero nga na wala na talagang pera kasi uuwi na sila. Ang laman ng bulsa nila ay piso na lang tapos akala nila makakauwi na sila dun, susunduin ng pamilya. 'Yon pala ay doon pala sila sa airport... So, we will utilize that fund. I think that's a good fund for emergencies. Maybe we can use that fund for stranded passengers. So gagawin po natin yan. We will file that and hopefully we will pass it in the Senate.

Q: My takeaway question before your closing, nabanggit kanina yung resignations. Yung civil service commission ang take away ko yesterday ay yong voluntary resignation. Colonel and generals are appointees and out of the 900, 500 pa lang ang nagususbmit and some also are reportedly grumbling and are not planning to submit their resignation?

SP ZUBIRI: Before I take a guess on this, I still have to look into the legality of the request for resignation. But I was told that the PNP is different from the AFP. Although the AFP has security of tenure, the PNP is civilian in nature. Being civilian in nature, para silang iba't ibang gov't agencies natin na they can tender their courtesy resignation. So, I believe magkakaroon ng review. I support Sec. Abalos on that. I support his call for filing of courtesy resignation kasi sa totoo lang, bumabalik ulit ang drugs. Kagagaling ko lang ng Mindanao at yan ang number 1 complaint ng mga kasamahan natin doon sa Northern Mindanao na dumadami nanaman po yung drugs, yung drug cases. I also came from other places these last few days and that's been the issue. So, we need to look if there are members of the PNP who were involved in the protection of drug lords or distribution of drug paraphernalia. Kung meron, ako, I fully support the stand of Secretary Abalos na ifootball.. na tanggalin na yan sa organization and file the necessary charges if need be. Kung sa ano yan eh.. di ba yung kahera sa isang business, kapag nagnakaw yan sa loob ng business ang tawag dyan ay syndicated estafa. Non-bailable yan. Eh yung isang ahensiya, na ang trabaho niya ay protektahan ang ating mga kababayan sa ganitong klaseng kriminalidad at sila pa ang sponsor ng criminal acts na ito, ay dapat mas matindi ang parusa sa kanila.

Q: Why limit to colonels and generals? Sa lower rank, madami din daw.

SP ZUBIRI: I guess it will go toward that but many of the lower rank are following orders from their higher-ups. That's a good start. Pero sana, hindi ningas cogon. Sana nga, kapag may nakita silang mga kasabwat nitong sindikatong ito, make true their action na accept the resignation and file the cases.

Q: kaso, sasampu lang ang identified nila? Parang sinunog mo ang buong bahay para sa sasampung daga.

SP ZUBIRI: I think it's more of a political statement also. A sign of support for the anti-drug program.

Q: O, you meet with former President Duterte, what's the latest with him.

SP ZUBIRI: No, I haven't seen him.

(Part 3 of 3)

News Latest News Feed