Transcript: “Meet the Press” at the National Press Club of the Philippines
Sen. Bongbong: Thank you and good afternoon to everyone! Let me just first say that it brings me pleasure that I am here at your first– at your resurgent National Press Club and to know that in fact my father had a hand in helping the National Press Club so that this location still be here and with you, and it’s going stronger. As your president has told you, I came from the Villamor Air Base, where we had the arrival honors for the 42, because although over 44 were killed, two of them were Muslims so they were already buried in accordance to their Muslim tradition, and the 42 were brought here this morning. I have to say that one of the saddest duties I have ever had to fulfill is to grieve with the families and to see the caskets lying down, all 42 of them. I cannot imagine anything sadder, especially the circumstances surrounding. Those circumstances unfortunately are still unclear.
In response to the question, “What is the status?” The status is I have suspended in the Senate the hearings on the BBL. For what purpose? Because if we think about it, the BBL…all that we are doing in trying to pass the BBL, The Bangsamoro Basic Law, is very simple: so that this does not happen. It is precisely the whole reason behind the BBL, behind the establishment of Bangsamoro Government, all the definition of the Bangsamoro territory and all that is done so that there is no war, there is no fighting, there is no more killing down in Muslim Mindanao. And this has happened. We are actually in the period, we already signed the peace agreement with the MILF’s panel. And there are assured mechanisms to avoid this kind of occurrence. Paano kaya nangyare ito? Hanggang ngayon hindi maipaliwanag, dahil sinsabi ng iba na mali daw ang pasok, walang coordination. Mahirap naman siguro na masabi na dahil walang coordination ay pwede nang patayin lahat ng tao. That simply cannot be.
Although you are hesitant to use the word “massacre,” I think, really, this was a massacre. Because I have read some of the reports and seen some of the photographs and dinikitan ang ating mga tropa. They were very shot to make sure they were [dead]. Lahat ng gamit nila were taken from them. That is why I cannot accept the characterization of “mis-encounter.” Well, for one, they were fighting for 8 hours. Naubusan sila ng bala. You cannot have a mis-encounter that lasts for 8 hours. A mis-encounter is a mistake on both sides. Nagkita sila na hindi inaasahang magkita nag-putukan, nagsabakan sila. Pero naghahabulan yan, nagtataguan. Because immediately what you want to do in a mis-encounter is to disengage. Because you did not go there to engage the enemy. You were there back from patrol or an intelligence mission or, in this case, they were there to serve warrants, long standing warrants, on these known terrorists. Yung tinatawag na “Marwan” and “Guzman…”
So, again, there are just too many questions still remaining and until those questions are answered as to– first of all– the facts, then we cannot proceed. Because this is precisely what we wanted to avoid with the BBL. Then if we are already within the peace agreement, we have already sign the peace agreement, [at] nangyare pa ito, then there’s still something wrong. May pagkukulang ang ating usapan dahil nangyare pa ito. Anong kailangan nating gawin, anong mga amendments, anong mga bagong provisions, anong mga dapat palitan sa ating BBL. para hindi na talaga mangyare ito? Dahil ang sistema na itinataguyod ng Bangsamoro government sa pamamagitan ng BBL ay nandiyan na. The BBL flows from the peace agreement and the arrangements that will be made between Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government are defined not in the BBL but in the CAP, the Comprehensive Agreement. And so there must be something missing. What happened here? There are many many questions still to be answered.
Across the table, from the government panel, in the negotiations in this peace process were the MILF. Now we hear from the MILF itself na nakipagsabakan talaga sila, nakipagbarilan talaga sila sa ating mga tropa. Papano yun? How did that happen? I still don’t know. I cannot answer that question. I still don’t know. They are saying that the BIFF is also involved. So what is, in fact, the true relationship between the MILF and the BIFF? And if they say that the relationship is not particularly strong or they do not have any relationship, then it is hard to explain why the BIFF are in the camp of MILF. Now that immediately calls into to question: can the MILF control their people? Because if they cannot control their people, we may have peace agreement but we will not have any peace.
Now, on the side of PNP-SAF, we have to find out who gave the order for them to go in. Alam naman ninyo kapag military, kapag pulis, maraming procedure yan. Hindi naman sila basta basta gumising ng isang umaga, sabi nila halika pumunta tayo dun. Piangpla-planuhan ng matagal iyan. At anong nangyare at nagkaganito? At dahil talagang mukhang napaligiran ang ating mga sundalo at hindi na natulungan. Anong nangyare? It is obvious that in every operation you have the infiltration phase were they go in and then engage the enemy and then exfiltrate or are extracted. What happened to the extraction plan? What was the extraction plan to begin with? why was it not implemented? And these are many many questions that still have to be answered. Adding to the confusion is the fact that on the government side we now hear, on the admission of the President himself that the palace knew about it. So what part did they play? And why did this happen, that the support of our troops, of our SAF, did not arrive? They fought for 8 hours, they ran out of ammunition. And that is a very serious breach of procedure and that’s why it resulted in the deaths of so many people. We have to remember it is not only the PNP-SAF, even the MILF suffered casualties and there were even civilians casualties. Now we hear na maraming mga refugees nayon. Dahil nag-alisan na at ayaw bumalik. Dahil sabi nila baka umatake naman daw ang gobyerno at magkakagulo ulit, kaya ayaw na muna nilang bumalik. So we have now that refugee situation down in Maguindanao.
For me, my interest as a legislator is very simple. We need to find out the truth. We need to ferret out the truth and, in doing that, we will be able to discern kung ano ba ang naging problema. Ilagay na natin kung anong pamamaraan sa BBL, kagaya ng sinabi ko, kung ano ang kailangan naming i-handa, kung anong provisions ang kailangan idagdag, kung anong dapat tanggalin. Whatever we need to do just to guarantee that this sort of thing doesn’t happen.
I reject the characterization of some quarters that it is illogical to stop and suspend hearings. Quite the contrary, this is fundamental to the Bangsamoro Basic Law. It is fundamental to the peace process. As anyone will tell you, a peace process cannot be undertaken under the threat of violence, with armed forces still waging war against government forces. So at the very, very beginning we have to figure out: are we in fact at peace or at war? And the events of the past few days, of Saturday and Sunday, would seem to indicate at least for some grips, we are still at war.
Now we are talking with the MILF: If the BIFF is the one that is waging war against the government forces we should be talking to them as well. They have to be included into the process, because kahit maganda ang usapan natin sa MILF, kung nandyan yung BIFF na binabaril pa rin ang ating mga sundalo [edi] kailangan natin isama sa peace process sila. Dahil hindi magkakaroon ng kapayapaan kung meron pang umaatake sa ating mga pwersa. So the first step in that process of trying, it is an idealistic and unattainable ambition, but what we are trying to do is to make BBL perfect so that we will in fact finally enjoy a true and lasting peace in Mindanao. That’s why it is clear that there are imperfections that need to be remedied, that need to be fixed, that need to be attended to and understood, and in that way, such occurrences do not happen again. So that is why we have suspended it.
I think the first step has been taken at least by the Senate in that we are having a hearing on February 4. We have little pieces of information pero talagang kailangan nating malaman yung timeline: ano ba talaga ang nangyare, anong araw, saan sila nagplano, nasan yung intelligence nila, saan nanggaling ang intelligence nila, na-verify ba ito…? Ano talaga ang connection ng mga commanders on the ground sa palasyo? What were they told to do? What were their orders? What was again the coordination with the other forces in the area? And of course most important question in terms of the operation of the SAF, anong nangyare sa exfiltration/extrication plan? Bakit walang sumalo sakanila, walang nag-reinforce sa kanila? What happened there? That is the big [question]. Because I know– I am sure– when this mission is being planned, hindi sila papasok kung hindi maliwanag kung papano sila lalabas. Ano ngayon yung planong yun at anong nangyare at bakit hindi sila nailabas na. That is where we stand right now.
Q: Follow up question lang on your explanation. Meron nang board of inquiry na binuo to look into this, ang MILF sabi nila meron na rin silang sariling board of inquiry, so to speak para sa pangyayaring ito. Until when do you see the suspension of the BBL hearing in your committee?
Sen. Bongbong: We have to. As I said, the very first step is to find out the truth. And as many people have qouted, there is one side and there is the other, then there is the truth. Our job is to find out what is the truth. So we will wait for the results of the board of inquiry. We will also take into account whatever findings we have in the hearings that we will have on Wednesday. And we will try through that to try and distill kung ano ba talaga ang mga important facets ng pangyayaring ito nang malaman talaga natin kung anong kailangang gawin para hindi na mangyari ito. Because in fact there are mechanisms for this. The MILF was saying that hindi nag-coordinate daw sa kanila yung SAF. Pero ang usapan sa peace agreement, kung merong wanted na mga kilalang criminal at mga terrorista, sila ang huhuli at sila ang magdadala sa awtoridad. And as has been already established these warrants of arrests have been there for years, so matagal nang inantay. E sinasasabi naman nila…imposible namang hindi nila alam na andun yung taong yun. So those are the questions that need to be answered. Why did these mechanisms failed? And what can we do to make sure it does not fail again. So to answer your question, basically, we will wait until we are satisfied that we have a good account of what really happened and who are responsible. And those people who are responsible must be answerable for their actions.
Q: That could mean months or even possibly years?
Sen. Bongbong: I sincerely hope not. And I don’t think that the public is willing to wait months for the truth to be known. That is why we will do all that we can to make sure that that process… because there are practical considerations in terms of the BBL. We have to work within those constraints and we are trying to do that. And again, we cannot go on, without knowing what we are doing. And we cannot know what we are doing until we know exactly what happened.
Q: You mentioned a while ago about the President’s speech yesterday. What are your thoughts on what the President said? Were you satisfied with his maybe justifications, or explanation with regard to the incident?
Sen. Bongbong: Actually much of it just validates what we already have been hearing, the fact that: Number One, that it was a legitimate police operation. Number two, that it was known to the Palace. That whole connection needs really to be explained. What does that mean? The President said last night that he did not issue a direct order. So who did? And on what basis was that order issued? What was a little bit saddening is this attempt by some quarters, not necessarily the President, to say, let us just continue with the discussions on the BBL. Parang walang nangyari. Sixty people died, parang walang nangyari? Hindi naman pwedeng ganon. And again, uulitin ko, this is central to what the BBL, what the establishment of the Bangsamoro government is trying to achieve. And if even in the preliminary phases, but already after a peace agreement has been signed this can happen then there is really a problem and we have to fix the problem.
Q: Is it safe to assume that the CAB-Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro-without the BBL pa, parang it is already being implemented, being observed but parang is it a failure? I mean in itself, I mean the MILF has violated the provisions of the CAB?
Sen. Bongbong: We don’t know. Again, we don’t know because we have to hear from the MILF. I was complaining to other members of the press yesterday that I could not get hold of Chairman Iqbal, I could not get hold of Deputy Director General Espina of the PNP, I could not get hold of…I spoke briefly with the Executive Secretary but he had no information to give me. So it does not help if there is a gag order, informal as it is, issued to government officials. So I hope that that will end when the hearing comes and we will be able to find out more. The questions that immediately arise: what is the law, there is a Bangsamoro police that is going to be established by the Bangsamoro government? These are, the Bangsamoro police are the MILF fighters na gagawin nilang police. These are the same people that fought against our troops. So what will happen there? The relationship between the Bangsamoro police and Camp Crame and the Chief PNP is not clear. Clearly this is a big problem. Now in the hearings that we have conducted, everytime that we asked about disarmament, sinasagot sa amin ni Sec. Deles na disarmament is already ongoing, which is very hard to believe because I have very many friends in the military, I have very many friends in the police and they say that is not so. And clearly it is not so because this has happened.
I have to admit, that we have to take in the hearings the testimonies of the resource persons, and we have to take it at face value. But now, we have to now go back and ask: totoo ba yung kanilang sinabi sa atin? Ganun ba talaga ang nangyayari sa ground. There is so many questions that need answers before we can proceed.
Q: Yesterday there was a release coming from the Office of the Senate President saying that the BBL should continue. Parang sinabi na na ah wag na nating pansinin yan, parang ganun yung dating, na kailangang ituloy yung BBL, importante yan. Can we say that the BBL, since you stopped the hearing since this investigation, can we say that the BBL’s fate as of the moment is 50-50 with this situation?
Sen. Bongbong: It is very hard to say, we haven’t taken a strong vote. But with the withdrawal of co-authorship of two senators we are very much on the cusp, so if the vote is taken today, I should say it could go either way. Pero ang declaration naman ni Senate President e sisikapin na matapos sa original timetable. E talaga namang sisikapin talaga namin. Ngunit kailangan muna nating alamin na mabuti kung ano ba talaga ang nangyari. Dahil tingnan natin, kung pipilitin natin—apparently—eto basic premise ito e, na me problema. Kailangan muna nating ayusin. Kung pipilitin natin yung version ng BBL na andyan na e ganito ulit ang mangyayari. E wala na naman yung kapayapaan natin. We do not want war, but we want justice and we want peace. And we want justice and we want peace but we learned from the policy of appeasement during the Second World War, and this is not the way to go. And so, we must, again—I am simply going back, I know medyo paulit-ulit na ang aking salita ngunit ito talaga ang importante, kailangan nating malaman kung ano ba talaga ang nangyari, sino ang nag-utos, sino ang kung me ambush man, if it was a trap, kung sinong pumasok, sinong nagbigay ng command—all of these things. Becacuse clearly there were many violations of procedure in this operation.
Q: A while ago you said that we need to include BIFF in the BBL. What if hindi sumama yung BIFF, kasi nakita na nating yung sitwasyon na ito. Before, from MNLF here comes MILF. Natapos yung problema natin sa MNLF, eto yung MILF. Now tatapusin natin yung problema sa MILF, eto na naman ang BIFF. What will happen sir if in case hindi makipag-cooperate ang BIFF?
Sen. Bongbong: Then we will not have peace in Mindanao. If the armed groups are not part or signatories to an agreement then they will continue their fight. And what is, anong nagawa ng BBL? Wala pinalitan lang natin yung sistema me gyera pa rin.
Q: Does it mean sir hindi na natin maipapasa yung BBL kung ganun ang mangyayari?
Sen. Bongbong: Well, kung ganun ang mangyayari I would have to explain to my colleagues that in my view, unless all armed groups in Mindanao are part of this—ang daming armed groups in Mindanao—kailangan lahat yan kasama. Dahil kahit me 100 lang na tao na armado, pagka hindi sila kasama sa peace agreement at sa kung ano man ang pinagkaisahan ng gobyerno at ibat-ibang grupo, e tuloy ang kanilang laban. So what happens? We should not focus, we should not be blinkered in our efforts, basta BBL, we just have to pass it, we just have to pass it. We are passing it because we want peace. Dapat ang blinker natin we want peace, we want peace, we want peace. If BBL is part of that solution fine, let’s do it. But it seems that there are other parts to that solution that we must explore.
Q: So you are proposing to include other armed groups like the BIFF, and maybe also MNLF in this process?
Sen. Bongbong: The MNLF has already indicated that, well starting with the uprising in Zamboanga. And Chairman Nur Misuari, maliwanag yung kanyang sinabi. Every step of the BBL, the MNLF has had some kind of action, starting nga with the Zamboanga. Nung pinasa sa amin meron na namang bomba, meron na namang kung anu-anong nangyari. So all of these things are happening because there are groups that feel excluded. And they are armed; and they conduct military operations against our armed forces, our uniformed forces.
So, again, what we have to figure out…that is why it is important kung ano ba talaga ang relationship between the MILF and the BIFF. They always say, the MILF says, hiwalay kami. O sige kung hiwalay kayo, sila ang nakipaglaban, sila pa rin ang umiikot at inaatake ang pwersa natin. How can you have a peace agreement without including them. So we have to include all the warring factions if we are to have peace. There is no way to leave one or two armed groups out there. E sige, ayos na tayo sa MNLF, let’s say. Ayos na tayo sa MNLF, let’s say. Pero nandyan pa, baka me mga bigla na lang lumitaw na mga bagong grupo dyan. Kailangan natin at least, either labanan natin ng husto o makipag-usap tayo sa kanila. Those are the two options.
Q: So sir, you’re saying na at this point, given na ganito ka-complex ang situation, there really are only two options now: we talk peace or sabi mo nga labanan or…?
Sen. Bongbong: But nobody wants to… that’s the whole point of the exercise: to achieve peace. We have rejected the option, at least this government has rejected the option of President Erap’s then all-out war. He has made the pronouncements in that regard and immediately the administration has said that they are not following that. So we have chosen the path of peace, and I think that is the correct path. And that is what we all strive for, what we all aspire to is final peace in Muslim Mindanao. So again, sometimes we get so heavily invested in a particular attempt that we forget the larger picture, na yun na lang ang ating nakikita. Parang BBL lang, BBL lang. BBL lang. Hindi, tingnan natin ang buong picture. Ano ba talaga ang nangyayari dyan? Kasi sa ganitong sitwasyon na me peace agreement na, na ipapasa na yung BBL nagkaganito pa rin. So there’s something wrong, we still need to fix it.
Q: So you see the BBL draft or the CAV as imperfect…ano ba ito, maraming loopholes pa?
Sen. Bongbong: Well it will always be at least a little bit imperfect. But is it our duty and it is our responsibility to work for the ideal and try and find the best possible solution that we know to apply. And that again brings us back to finding out the facts and knowing the truth. This is the foundation upon which we will build a better relationship with our Muslim brothers and again, attain that dream of a true and lasting peace in Mindanao.
Q: In the light of what happened in Mamasapano did that incident, did it bring us back to square one or probably worse? Kasi buti pa nung araw hindi naman ganyan karami ang mga casualties e. Merong skirmishes na konti, isa, dalawa. Pero ito grabe, ano ito package deal? Talagang okay, I would agree, it was a massacre, judging from what you told us earlier?
Sen. Bongbong: It is, well, we really have to figure out, it’s time that we really see, what happened to the peace agreement first of all. Because there have been violations it seems in the peace agreement. Because the peace agreement is a peace agreement, not a war agreement. Then why did this happen?
Q: Would you say, Senator, na yung violations came from both sides, looking at the matter objectively?
Sen. Bongbong: The more I learn about this, the more I come to the conclusion that there is enough blame, there is enough grief, and there are enough mistakes to go around. So it’s just a question of finding how those mistakes happen, who is responsible for them, and how we put them right.
Q: So sir, realistically, kelan ba ang timetable nyo sa BBL Sen?
Dapat matatapos namin by..kasi ang last session day for this session is 18 March e. Ang session ends actually 20 March but the last session day is 18 March. So we were hoping to pass it by then.
Q: But in the light of this?
Sen. Bongbong: We were actually on target for that. But as you say in the light of these occurences, again I cannot even tell you if we can catch our timetable. We might be able to but we still have to go to the process of trying to resolve the problems that arose in the peace agreement and in the provisions of BBL that caused this terrible event to transpire. In terms of timetable, halimbawa, yung hearing namin sa Miyerkules, pagka nalaman na namin talaga lahat, e from that we can proceed already, balik na naman kami we will be going back and… I hope that’s what will happen. Then we can.. na push back siguro kami isang linggo. But again, you know we are talking only about committee. Some of my colleagues that I have spoken to, who were really just watching from the sidelines on what the BBL, said, “Now when you bring it to the floor, I have many many questions to ask you.” And so that is going to be a long process. The same situation in the House. In fact many who are supportive of the BBL have now taken a contrary position at sinasabi nila: Hindi tatayuan namin yan at magtatanong kami, we will be asking many hard questions. And that is what I was telling Secretary Deles: this is the worst thing for the BBL that could possibly have happened.
Q: So realistically Sen. March 18 ung deadline un kumbaga un ang tagilid?
Sen. Bongbong: Namimiligro yun. I cannot tell. I was able before to assure the senate president that I think in my best estimation that we will manage it by April 18. When I’m talking about March 18 is already to include the passage of the house version, passage of the senate version and the final signing. So talagang as it was dikit sa oras. The reason this was because the intention was to have the election for the Bangsamoro Government Officials in May together with the national and local election. I just had a hearing on another subject the SK and I had the COMELEC, Chairman Brillantes, the Commissioner Chris Lim. Sabi ko kahit unrelated at nandito na kayo at itatanong ko na sainyo. Ung Bangsamoro ba how long will it take. Sabi nila 8 months from when you finish. So we have to remember the match has been set also about the constitutional questions and that we have a hearing last Monday. Chaired by Senator Miriam and those constitutional courses started to arise. And so as soon I know this because they have some people that said so actually announced it. That the minute is signed in to law it will be challenged in the Supreme Court of constitutional basis. I have seen some of the position papers that we have, there is many, many plans that they claim are should each one is sufficient to start the count. So that is another process that would have to be included in the timeline so it is getting there. The original schedule kasi ang dapat sinasabihan na ako na dadating na un BBL nung Abril.
Q: Last year?
Sen. Bongbong: Sorry, 2015 na nga. Last year. I was getting from my friends from the executives sabi maghanda ka na . paghandaan mo na dahil abril ipapasa na naming sayo ung BBL. It actually happened late September. That was 6 months behind the schedule, malaking pushback yun. So that’s why nagkagipit gipit sa oras and now this terrible thing has happened, this terrible events have transpired and that again must be taken in to account and must be studied and must be thoroughly understood as well as we possibly can. So that we do everything with the BBL so it would not happened again.
Q: Yesterday based on the interview with the some of the PNP Officers. They are very disgusted with the speech of the president then medyo hindi maganda ung salita nila na seems something is brewing inside the PNP. Sir any advice or any comment about the speech of the president to appease the grieving of the emotions of the PNP officers?
Sen. Bongbong: Well understand na low morale ang ating mga, hindi lamang an gating kapulisan kung hindi lahat ng uniform services at low morale silang lahat dahil namatayan sila that simple thing. Kahit na wala ng ibang nangyare namatayan sila ng apatnaput apat. That is a very big number to lose you have also to remember the operators that went in were so called, the SAF is the elite of the PNP. They are the sib.. one. This is the elite of the SAF. So talagang ito ung pinakamagagaling, pinakamahusay, pinakawell-trained, well-equipped, more experience sa ating mga kapulisan. And for this to happen to such a group of course kahit papano di mo talaga mapipigilan. Ay syempre kasama na din diyan ung konting galit sasabihin ko naman sakanila, kung meron kayong nalalaman, meron kayong gustong sabihin, lapitan niyo kami and we’ll give you a forum to tell us anything that you feel is important. Para naman magkaron ng katarungan ang ating mga tropa. Para naman mapaganda natin ang ginagawang peace process.
Q: When you say “lapitan kami” you are referring to the senate and particularly your committee, Senator?
Sen. Bongbong: Yes, certainly. If they feel that they have no other recourse because there are also mechanisms and procedures within the PNP for them to bring up whatever intel they have or whatever inside information they have or whatever grievance they have. But if they feel that is not sufficient then we are here also because we are also grieving and we are also in sympathy.
Fred Cabalbadez: Yung tungkol po sa relation ng BBL at sa election. Kung walang BBL, walang election?
Sen. Bongbong: Walang election. Dahil walang pagbabasihan ung election. Kelangan muna isa-batas muna. Actually mahabang proseso dahil kaya talagang gipit na gipit sa oras baka kelangan natin isipin na ipostpone ung May elections ng BBL, dahil the procedure is like this, when the law is passed assuming the constitutional questions have been resolved that’s when the plebiscite will be conducted. Once the plebiscite is conducted we will know which areas comprise the Bangsamoro Territory then the transitional commission will take over. The ARMM will be abolished and the transition commission will take over. What does the transition commission will have to do? They have to right an administrative code, a civil code, a criminal code, they have to organize the agencies in government, they have to dissolve all the offices of the government and reorganize that. Before we are expecting one year pero ung transitional commission mismo nagsasabi na kulang ata ung 1 year. So now with the schedule is being pushed all the way back. This is so important. Hindi pwedeng madaliin ito. We should adjust to the needs of this peace agreement and to the needs and requirements that will be passed and we should not and try to hurry. That is when we make mistakes and maybe that is one of the reasons that this happened because we made some mistakes in the foregoing process that’s why hindi natin natignan ng mabuti na para maiwasan ang pangyayareng ito.
Q: Ang supreme court magfufunction sa legal base… PDH… bago magkaron ng final decision and then kasama na yung execution. Ng pumatay ung mga…. Final final law hindi na idedeclare…. Palagay mo ba lalagpas sa panahon ni Aquino kasi considering also the disagreements with the other senators and also the disagreements between the house panel and between the house senate and considering the very teal…. Action of the supreme court on the legal issues and consider periodically… do you think na lalagpas sa panahon ni Aquino?
Sen. Bongbong: I cannot predict anything. But I could tell you talagang parang pakonti ng pakonti and that the window is getting smaller and smaller.
Q: As you had mentioned, when you talked with the COMELEC they said pagnakalagpas na tong bersud sainyo they would take 8 months at least. Yung calendar na supposed to be plebiscite this coming May. Mag momove na din yun?
Sen. Bongbong: Well. Kung ganito simpleng simple lang ang tanong ko. Kung mapasa according to schedule papasa ang Basic law ang organic law kelang tayo magplebisito? Ang sabi nila oktubre.
Q: So yung original na timetable sablay na yun?
Sen. Bongbong: Oktubre na. kahit na perfect na matapos naming in time. April, May, June, July, August, September, October.
Q: On the premise na walang magqquestion sa Supreme Court.
Sen. Bongbong: That is on the premise that they can proceed upon the signing into law. But as I have mention and I’m sure alam naman ng lahat ito. Maraming nakaabang diyan na pagpinasa, pagka napirmahan na, ichachallenge nila. May mga brief na. ung IBP nagsalita na, PHLCONSA… nagsalita na. meron na silang nakahanda na complaint. But again they cannot do that until they know first of all the final version that will be passed by both houses or by the entire congress. So that they will study it and see kung ano mang infirmities. So again this are some things that we are trying to anticipate. The reason again na ung Abril nagging Setyembre is that so many difficulties in actually drafting the law. and in some cases were there were issues that are very contentious, ang ginawa nila they just left it silent. So now it’s left to us. Nalagyan ng laman yun. And to clarify exactly those systems and those administrative, relationships, their sharing of power all of those things how’s that are going to work?
Q: Kumbaga sir ung problema dapat ng executive, binato na sa senado. Kayo na magayos niyan?
Sen. Bongbong: Well I don’t think I would characterize it that way. Para sakin yun ang trabaho namin. That’s fine. We will do that. Again this is so important and its quite complex, hindi ito basta basta. We are not creating a town or a barangay, we are not creating a city, even a province. This is a region that has completely different character to the other regional LGU’s that we have. And that is why it is very different, it is all new. And the tricky part here is the relationship with the different agencies between the Philippine Government and the Bangsamoro Government. One of the issues come out is the Bangsamoro Government will also have their own COMELEC, will have their own civil service, will have their own COA. Now to clarify, that is a constitutional issue. Because it is the diminution of the constitutional body. The diminution of powers of a constitutional body. So that is immediately at issue. We will try actualy to remedy that by clarifying very clearly that the police for example is under the chain of command of the chief PNP will ultimately be the commander in chief. That the COA, the constitutional bodies will actually be the overarching authority over the equivalent COA, COMELEC and the civil service in the Bangsamoro. How that will actually work? What that relationship will actually be? What kind of documentation? What kind of clearances. That is still to be decided. And that’s why trabaho yan ng transition commission, kaya nga kaya kung minsan kahit medyo private umaalma sila. We need three years, they said were going to get one year. And sana nangyare ngaun di na tinanggap one year….
Q: Yung question sir na ni-raise ni kasamang Fred. This may even go beyond the Aquino Administration given na ung complexity ng lahat ng pinaguusapan na to. Sen. What if sabihin ng they’ll work it out na lang yan. Ipasa mo na lang yan, commitment ng gobyerno yan sa MILF.
Sen. Bongbong: We are legislators. We cannot in good conscience pass an illegal or an unconstitutional law knowingly. Kung hindi naming or we didn’t catch it that’s okay, somebody else will. But we cannot basta ipasa. Again hindi maliit na bagay itong ginagawa. It is a very very important and very very complicated. We are creating a government. We are creating a new government entity that never existed before. Na hindi ito “were not just changing the name of ARMM” di natin sinasabi and just changing the name, tapos pareho pa rin. No. it’s a completely different situation.
Q: Kumbaga Sen. Kung magka-diinan hindi youre just gonna say na teka muna hindi pwede ang gusto niyo, kelangan ayusin ng mabuti, something like that.
Sen. Bongbong: In my view, my duty to study the law as best as we can and to pass the best possible law that we can. Without knowingly including any legal or constitutional infirmities. So it will take us as long as will take. Hindi pwede sabihin ng time table, “sige in three weeks tapusin niyo na ito.” O sige we will try. Gusto rin naming matapos para hopefully if we do a good enough job will actually achieve peace. And we want that peace not today, not tomorrow. We wanted it yesterday. So talagang kami rin talagang gusto na namin mapasa ito. But if it is going to be a week long or a contradict to the elements or elements that are unclear then it wont work. We will not get the peace that we are striving for. We have to keep remembering that we must not focus on BBL, BBL, BBL. We must focus on peace, on peace, on peace. Ang habol dito ay kapayapaan, hindi lang mapasa ang isang batas. Kung kelangan ipasa ung batas para magkaroon ng kapayapaan, well then good. Hindi yan ang end result. Ang end result is kapayapaan. Hindi pagpasa ng isang batas.
Q: In fact if we can achieve peace without passing any law. That would be okay rin.
Sen. Bongbong: I explained already. Because within the agreement the BBL is required. As I said it flows, the BBL flows from the comprehensive agreement between the government and the MILF panel.
Q: i-follow up ko na lang ung kay friend din….Ang ibig sabihin dun ni Fred, were talking about of justice here of our fallen brothers and its not only about BBL. What if hindi natin ma-attain ung justice for the fallen SAF officers, ipapasa ba natin ung BBL? Kasi matagal ang proseso ng hustisya sa ating bansa, ano po ung maa….Tungkol sa justice?….
Sen. Bongbong: I think that the best thing we can do so that we can say that a justice has been done to our fallen comrades is to make sure that their deaths were not in vain. And that what we can learn, and what we can do to make sure no more of our comrades, no more of our forces will have to suffer what they had suffer. That is the highest form of justice that we can attain from them. Furthermore that we are able to identify who was responsible and that they are answerable for their deaths.
Q: how will you deal with the treachery.. of numbers. I mean kung tinira kayong majority sa senate. Ayaw nilang baguhin yun. How will you deal with this?
Sen. Bongbong: Well this is the thing we have to remember, I am the chairman. I would have to sponsor it. Ako magdedefend on the floor. Pag hindi sila nag-agree, they will ask me and I will have to explain. How can I defend what I think I do not believe in, if I don’t believe that is is correct. Pagtinanong ako ng aking kasama at pinayuhan ako ng isang senador. “hindi ko alam. Actually hindi ako nag-aagree diyan.” Hindi ko pwede gawin yun.
Q: Do you think sir the chairman of the committee…?
Sen. Bongbong: Sa house hindi maliwanag kung ano bang numbers, pero sa Senado, naghati na talaga ang Senado. Ang palasyo, un ang utos nila sa mg aka-alyado nila. That they are saying we need to push it, we need to push it. So that’s what they will work for. But maybe the same thing will happen in the senate. But the numbers have change significantly because of this. I cannot tell you how much or what it was before or what it is now, but I’ll just take note to the statement of the speaker. Sinabi niya the support for BBL has eroded and sa paguusap naming sa aming kaibigan sa house, talagang ung mga susuporta dati ay hindi na. Nakita naman ninyo ang ilang senador nagwithdraw. So talagang very fluid ang sitwasyon ngaun sa legislation.
Q: Ito final na. sundot ko lang. last sundot. In your honest opinion you think maipapasa pa nating ung BBL? Aabot pa ba to? In your honest opinion. Would you defend this to the hilt na “ipasa natin to” something like that. In your honest opinion.
Sen. Bongbong: I will defend to the hilt a BBL that will actually in my belief will work, will actually bring peace and I will not stop working on the BBL until I see that we have achieved that version that will in fact achieve peace and bring justice to all our fallen, and to all others who have fallen in the previous encounters.
Q: How long would it take to do that?
Sen. Bongbong: I know you want to tie me down. But I can’t do…to a timetable. In all honesty to be perfectly candid I’m still trying to work within the timetable. Were still trying to find a way to finish it within the timetable. Where as before I could almost guarantee it. Now I cannot say the same thing. I cannot guarantee it.