Q and A at Mariano Marcos State University

BBM: Senatorial line-up, dapat nga today na inannounce naming, pero dahil napaganda ang usapan, lalo na kay Senator Miriam dito sa MMSU, hindi na namin naituloy yung plano ng announcement. But now that the official campaign period has begun, itutuloy na namin and we will be announcing those we have adopted as a senatorial slate. AS you can see, nandito ang ating magiging senador, si Senador Martin Romualdez. Isa na siya doon. In fact, he was one of the first, if not the first. But I leave it to my president, to Senator Miriam to make that formal announcement. That is her prerogative as a standard bearer.

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BBM: Ganyan naman ang pulitika. Hindi naman nagbabago ang pulitika. Kahit sino pa ang tumakbo, mayroong kalaban, mayroong katunggali. At hindi na nagbago yun sa amin. Expected naman iyan. And of course, we’re prepared to answer any of the criticisms they make or any of the questions they have for me. Kasama lang naman iyan sa pagkampanya paglapit na sa halalan. Siguro, ang pagkakaiba lang sa akin ay ang mga isyu. Pero the fact na mayroong mga what we call “political detractors” ay something that every single candidate for any position, both local and in the national, has to deal with. And that is the process so we will continue to impart the message that we feel is important. And should these questions come up in any other kind of group, then we will answer those questions. Again, kasama iyan. Kasama sa pulitika.

Q: Sir, parang inaabilin na po sa inyo ni Senator Santiago ang pagka-pangulo kapag kayo’y naparito. Ano po ang inyong reaksyon regarding doon?

BBM: Alam mo naman si Senator Miriam na palabiro at laging nababanggit ang mga bagay na iyan. You know I think it is just to demonstrate na para sa kanya may kumpyansa siya sa akin; na kami’y nagkakasundo at sumasangayon lalo na sa mga malalaking isyu. Yung nabanggit ko yung aming pagsasama na napaka-importante ang husay at galing na ang mga magiging opisyal sa darating na administrasyon. And I think when she expresses that, na hindi siya matatapos, ganun, ganun, I think what she means and I’m very confident in this, sinasabi na lang niya kung sakali man, may kumpyansa naman siya sa akin na ituloy kung anuman ang nasimulan.

Q: Senator, ano ho ang masasabi niyo sa first part ng campaign dito sa pagsalubong sa inyo ng mga tao?

BBM: Tama yung sinasabi nila na “there’s no place like home.” Syempre, laging nakakataba ng puso na makauwi sa Batac, na makauwi sa Ilocos Norte, na makauwi sa Ilocandia. Kaya naman dito tayo laging nagsisimula dahil tayo’y humihingi ng basbas, hindi lamang sa maykapal, kundi pati sa ating mga mahal sa buhay – ang ating mga kamag-anak, ang ating mga kaibigan. At mahirap namang sabihin, mahirap hingiin ang boto sa ibang tao kung iyong kapit-bahay hindi boboto sa iyo. Kaya’t kailangan nating tiyakin. At least sa atin, yung malalapit sa atin ay nakakatiyak tayo na kasama natin at tuluyang sumusuporta sa ating mga hangarin, sa ating mga misyon, sa ating ginagawa sa kampanya.

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BBM: That’s their opinion. I respect it. But I have already made my position very clear: I will apologize for any wrong that I may have done against them. That has always been my position and that’s what my position continues to be.

Q: Sir, what are your views on human rights?

BBM: They are inviolable. They should not be violated. Human rights should be protected like every other right, like all civil rights. Precisely, it is a right. These are not privileges. They are rights. And because of that, they should be protected and any violation should be seen as violations and such violations should be acted upon.

Q: Last question na po. Kumusta na po yung health natin?

BBM: Okay naman. Ready na ready na ako. Gaano ka tagal na naming pinaghahandaan itong kampanya. Senator Miriam Santiago and I are ready for the campaign trail. Pareho naman kaming sanay sa halalan, at ako lalo na sa local at sa national so we know what to expect. We have to remember that this is not a stint. This is a long race and we have 90 days. We have to make sure that we make full use of every single one of those 90 days. Yes, I can confidently say that I will be able to do that. I will make full use of the 90 days to get our message across, meet as many people as we can, and to make them understand what our advocacies are, what our aims are, what our plans are.

Q: Sir, you said that the ‘Solid North’ rings true today. Specifically in the Visayas region, how do you plan to harness those votes since the latest Pulse Asia survey shows you ranked second after Senator Chiz Escudero?

BBM: What does my ranking have to do with Visayas? I don’t quite understand the question.

Q: Basically, how do you plan to harness those votes?

BBM: Campaign. There’s no magic bullet, there’s no secret. You work hard. You identify the areas you feel that you have a good chance to gain support. You talk to the leaders at the local level. You try to gain their support. You slowly organize and to convert that what might just be an emotional support into actual votes that can be counted. Again, I don’t think that there’s any secret weapon that you can employ. I don’t think there’s anything that one candidate can do that another can’t do. It is just a question of hard work. Not only working hard, but working smart in your strategy as to which areas you should confront, how the approach should be made, who the people are in those areas, whom to approach, and what is going to be necessary to make you win in that place. It’s still the same thing that politicians have done since time immemorial. We just have to work harder.

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BBM: Well, maganda naman sa palagay ko ang takbo ngayon. We have the call centers na tinatayo ngayon. From here, pupunta kami sa Currimao para mapa lay open yung bagong solar energy farm doon sa Currimao. Palagay ko tama iyan at ipagpatuloy na natin yung alternative energies at we will continue to be in Ilocos Norte leaders in green renewable energy. And that I think is still a good area, the areas that I think perhaps we can still do a little bit more. But that is because dahil nga nahihirapan ang mga sektor na iyan dahil sa national policy o kawalan ng national policy. Nag-aalala kami dahil mahina ang suportang nanggagaling sa national, mabuti na lang dito sa Ilocos Norte hindi mahirap dahil magaling magsaka ang mga Ilokano at mayroon naman ang liderato dito sa Ilocos Norte naintindihan kung paano gagandahin. I am also looking with a particular concern with the announcement made this morning or we read about today with one and a half million OFWs will lose their jobs dahil sa mga presyo ng langis. Kailangan nating aalalayan. Alam naman natin sa lahat ng mga probinsya sa buong Pilipinas, tayo dito sa Ilocos Norte pinakamaraming kapamilya na nasa abroad. Titingnan natin. We’ll do our best to do that if it needs be. Then we will try once again go to our friends from different countries na tumulong sa atin dito at ipakita naman natin na maganda ang patakbo dito, na maayos ang gobyerno dito, na palagay ko maakit naman natin dito.

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