Interview at Manila Bulletin’s Hot Seat
BBM: It is. my position there was in fact was seen as correct but i could not really think any other position having looked at the draft that was given us and then with all of the with all of the (inaudible) study in history than happened in Muslim Mindanao beyond the hundred, two hundred years it’s the only thing that we could do… I don’t really have anything (inaudible) the MILF in that regard. What i really think is that our government dropped the ball in many ways. I think the single greatest weakness in their approach to the peace process was to consider the all Muslim Filipinos to be of single homogenous group, which is certainly (inaidbloe0 and then the idea that we are returning somehow to a previous system where there was there was called Bangsamoro. well i looked into it there has never been a Bangsamoro. Muslims and Filipinos have been members of different tribes, they worked together, they wored against each other but there was never been an overarching political tribal traditional entity which government all of Muslim Filipinos.
MB: There are at least two groups that have been fighting?
BBM: If you remember the tripoli agreement as a result to that, there were two regions and subsequently one region was even subdivided and that was with te recognition of different tribal groupings who have different interests, who have different agenda , who have different leaders. And that’s why wen i said this will not bring peace people say why did you say that? Why did they make that declaration that this draft will not bring peace? And it’s not something that you speculate about. Zamboanga is already very clear….it not something that we are presuming, we are speculating, it is very clearly the MNLF (inaudible) position, no is actually reason in this regard because they say we have agreement with the government even concessions which we have fought for and died for. What happens to them? in the draft BBL, there is no mention. so, even the Jakarta agreement in 1996, alluded to the tripoli agreement as the mother of all agreement, suddenly all that has been thrown out and that is the…that i think is the fundamental misjudgment made by our negotiators that if you deal with, you have dealt with other. Unfortunately that mistake has been made also by the MILF because they have asserted that we have signed the peace agreement with the president, the rest of the Philippines should follow. that is why people(inaudible) and that’s why the separatist issue will not go away because if we look at the BBL, it is not bringing into Philippine government, Philippine society the affairs of state, the Muslim Filipinos, it is setting them apart, which is contrary to what we are trying to do.
MB: Sen. Villar said something yesterday at our Bulung Pulungan which jibes with what you are saying. she said, if the BBL doesn’t become a law, the MILF threatens to go to war and she said what makes you think that even with a BBL passed they will not go to war, she said that.
BBM: Thats right…Well, the threat has been made constant and most assertively by the president with his images of body bags. He seems to have withdrawn that in the newspapers today, if he was interviewed, he does not believe that would very interested to know what changed his mind. but in any case, despite the fact this threat of war, we cannot take that in full account and you always remember that what I am in my case, what I was always telling myself is that I am not working to pass a law, i am not working to promote one group or another. What I am working for is peace and whatever it will take we should do that. And that’s why I think that we have to take a step back and gain a little bit more perspective that we have had because ang naging obsession is BBL, kaiilangang ipasa (inaudible). i had nothing to do with the writing or with the conception of….
MB: So the reality is it was set born until after June 2016…is it a still birth, a delayed birth, an abortion…?
BBM: It certainly delayed. We don’t even, in the senate, we don’t even talk about the BBL.
MB: So this presumption being dead in the water…
BBM: No because the BBL is the name of the bill that was given to us by the palace. That’s dead, it has no chance of passing in the house, no chance of passage in the senate. So we talk about the substitute bill, BLBAR. The short title now is Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
MB: Ayaw nila ng autonomous region. They don’t want it to be referred as autonomous region because it involves memories of ARMM which was a failure. they dont want to be identified with another failure.
BBM: (inaudible) but we ran into constitutional problems (inaudible) and so we cannot get around that. That’s why it’s clear from the very start that the BBL was patently unconstitutional of the beginning and secondly, it contains provisions that were really did not make very much sense.
MB: Why is it that (inaudible) and why is it passed to his scrutiny when in fact it is a violation of our constitution?
BBM: I wanted to ask you the same question (inaudible) and likewise on what the different (inaudible).
MB: Even a letter from him and everything?
BBM: No, even (inaudible) since he was part of the panel that voted ..
MB: So where do we go from here? And what comes next?
BBM: What comes next is we go to the legislative process, we are trying to get through all the ups and downs. And hopefully I think it is properly identified and (inaudible)… at least both houses by before the adjournment of session.
MB: It will be soon already.
BBM: Ang problema doon is that because after that, the budget will come back in November. The budget is going to come back to the panel.
MB: And that’s an important (inaudible)
BBM: Also, that it turns no (inaudible). It does not exist.
MB: But there is an acquisition oath already and a (inaudible) that’s still they’re setting aside to much for the BBL.
BBM: They tried to do that in the house. Because exactly you cannot set aside a budget for an entity that as far does not exists. So I might try to introduce again, the concept is clear, we will continue (inaudible). The ARMM government…
MB: Yes the existing ARMM now.
BBM: Yes the existing ARMM structure as the governing (inaudible).
MB: Okay, it is still the BBL.
BBM: Yes because for all intentions and purposes, if it is not passed by the time the budget (inaudible). Because if we cannot do that, if we cannot deliberate a budget (inaudible).
MB: Can we shift from the BBL to the hot topic now because you are in the hot seat. Okay. You said earlier that you’re aiming for a higher position, exactly it was a bombshell, exactly you were.
BBM: What I actually said was that the discussions we were having, myself as an individual prospective candidate and my party, the Nacionalista, what discussions we were having are focusing on higher office rather than the senate. It does not mean that, that option will no longer be available to me, to run for the reelection, that is always available. I consider myself quite lucky that I really have great many options. Maybe that’s part of the problem. But that has been the subject of the discussion in the past weeks and so far that we will be continuing the discussions that we are having. Living the party with other individuals, the party has an oath so that is a, the political, this political cycle has been a very strange one and we’ve never really seen such uncertainty so close to filing, so close to the election before.
MB: But don’t you think what Binay said about you was as good as an endorsement? For you to accept and be proud and to say ‘yeah I will think about it’. According to the president of the Nacionalista Party, you’ve been meeting or talking you know, quite regularly and you have not given any hint of what you would about to say.
BBM: Give any hint?
MB: Which point Sir?
BBM: I think everyone is essentially doing the same thing. Everybody is trying to get a feel of really what is going to happen. The situation with Mayor Duterte has confused everyone. At least we have not been able to really determine what exactly is his intention. Because although he had made a very clear declaration yesterday and he has also made clear declarations to the country, this situation with Sen. Grace is another unknown, that…
MB: But her ads are saturating the airway.
BBM: Yes. You know, the surveys are going on and people saturate the airways so that the purpose of the more prominent in the public’s mind so that does not mean she has decided to run. I don’t know, I hate to presume one thing or another. I don’t know if she has quietly made up her mind. You know the point being is that we publicly don’t know and you cannot make any decisions based on a lot of … And surely you always make decisions with as much as possible information you can.
MB: How do you feel about Vice President Binay’s statements that his purpose in considering you for a running mate were made on basis of his desire to unify and heal the nation. That sound good to your ears?
BBM: Well I think it settle in necessary. We seemed to have embarked on this national policy of divide and rule and it has become national policy, it has become public policy to spend your time, somehow punishing your political enemies rather than to then nation-building. We used that word very pointedly, because I always remember, that I always remember when we were, when I would listen to my, not only my father speeches but presidents’ before. They always talk about nation-building. And the phase nation-building was a prominent one. And that it was a description that the government is attempting to put in all the different elements that are necessary for the country to go, for the country progress and that seemed to be the point of government, that’s what government is meant to be doing. Since my father’s time I don’t hear that phrase nation-building anymore. And especially now, in the past few years, it has been, nation-building has been taken very very far backseat to politics, everything is all the important decisions made by the government are colored by politics. It does not matter, merit has seemed to be important, an important point, excellence, competence does not seem to be an important point, simply what is important seems to be political color. Ito ba ay kasama natin? Ito ba ay kaalyado natin? I have seen instances where projects that have been proposed and the projects were adopted or declined on the basis of the person who brought that project to us. Kasama ba natin yan o hindi? Kahit walang kwenta yung programa, e kasama natin, tuloy natin. Kahit magandang programa, hindi natin yan kasama..
MB: For example, MRT.
BBM: I am always astounded to remember that when the LRT was first inaugurated we in the Philippines was the first South East Asian country with mass transit system within the city. And now, we are the laughing stock of our, even worst that laughing stock. I have friends from Malaysia, from Thailand, they say, ‘you know, before, we would look, we wanted to be like the Philippines, we wanted to copy the Philippines. We were backward and we would go to the Philippines to see what could be done…. What happened? Di’ba mas masakit yun? Sinabi ‘what happened to you?’ It is actually a concern. Why did this happen? I don’t know. I guess again because we have concerned ourselves only in politics and not with the actual.. Because it has its place, of course it has its place, but it has its place, it is the area that politics should not enter in the picture. That unfortunately is not the criteria about it these days. And the resulting fiascos that we have been experiencing. There are many examples actually. Yolanda is a perfect example. And I think that the recent typhoon that just hit Ilocos Norte again, we don’t hear about it and it was massive. But there is no assistance from the government. Not minimum. I am spending my birthday in Ilocos and I’m spending my birthday not having a party. But to bring as much assistance that I can.
MB: When is your birthday?
BBM: My birthday is on Sunday, 13.
MB: After your dad? Eight days before Martial Law. And then Irene.
BBM: We always teased him say he’s such an Ilocano in ordering only one party. Napaka-Ilocano niya. He denied it of course.
MB: What sign are you?
BBM: We are all virgos
MB: Chinese Horoscope?
BBM: I’m a fire rooster.
MB: You’re the same age as Mar?
MB: Senator Bongbong, you mentioned about political cycle. You practically grew up in Malacañang right? As a child, until you became a teen ager and …
I’m sure you dream of reporting there and Sir puwedeng malaman anong favorite room niyo doon?
BBM: My favorite room in the Palace?
MB: Yes. Nagrereminisce ka ba doon?
BBM: It would have to be my own room. Because doon lang kami nagtatago. You know as the time went on, when we first arrived at the palace, it was very much a residence. But as time went on, it became more and more of an office. And you have to stay in your room because it actually happened a couple of times when you were in your pajamas and you go out your room, my state visit doon, may naglalakad na sa ano. So ihahakbang ako ng tatay ko. What are you going to do. So in the end we just stayed in our room kasi yung opisina like yung sa reception hall, yung study room, nag encroach yun e, noon residence area, nung bandang huli wala na e.
MB: Saan po yung room nyo doon?
BBM: Pag umakyat ka sa side doon, my room is the first door in the right. The girls room is the first door in the left. The last time I went there it’s like the… My father’s office and the music room and the state dining room is the opposite. That’s here they have the cabinet. But they actually used to have state dinners.
MB: So how does it feel to be in Malacañang every now and then?
BBM: I haven’t been in Malacañang for a long time. The Last time I’ve been in Malacañang was the Obama visit.
MB: A year ago?
BBM: But I was very surprised to get an invitation. I am not really invited to the Palace.
MB: Do you think you’ll ever use invitation going to space if you were invited by the astronauts?
BBM: I was given a seat by Pres. Nixon on the first commercial flight to the moon, so I.. infact I was going to the US embassy to attend to some documents. We have a picture of the state visit of Pres. Nixon, nakatayo sya, at the state dinner, we meet and eat, where he announced he has given me the first commercial ticket to the moon, I’m still waiting, I hope I’ll be able to use it, that would be a dream come true.
MB: You should wait for the invitation from China na. China is the one who’s pushing the outer space the conquest of outer space? America has done, is a sophisticated na.
BBM: I think (inaudible)I don’t know, maybe I should angle for that. I’ll ask me friends in China if they can..
MB: The Chinese still remember your mom with fondness.
BBM: Kung mauna sila, they remember her dress, the butterflies. It’s quite remarkable that because we were, I am learning now that we were giving great pa-visiting during the visit. Like for example the diplomats, like I say that when you were in school we remembered watching your mother because she was the absolute first and we were together. I thank my parents so much for including me in that delegation.
MB: Do you ever picture Liza wearing the pack of nice sleeves and nice figure hugging silhouette?
BBM: I think my mother owns that (inaudible).
MB: What if she becomes first lady? She would be repeating the title. Kami ang stylist.
BBM: Well, upon your advice.
MB: Donald Trump is now using you father’s slogan, we can make this country great again instead of nation. In case you do decide to make a run for presidency, would you require a slogan like that? But it seems that Trump has pre-empted you.
BBM: Well, my father pre-empted him.
MB: 30 years or 40 years later?
BBM: That’s a yes. No, this country will be great again was the 65 elections.
MB: 65 pa?
BBM: Diyan ang simula niyan so. Well, I think the greatness is certainly something we should aspire for.
MB: Wala na.
BBM: We have not aspired from greatness. We are happy to be mediocre, at least the government.
MB: Happy to have OFWs instead of providing one.
BBM: Yes exactly, that really is to, and having said that, we haven’t even given them the support they deserve. We are not helping, the illegal trafficking that goes on, and then our nationals are in trouble, there is very little ssistance provided, we come to cases for example, huli na, naconvict na, papatayin na, saka tayo papasok. And this is not, I think it is not the fault of for example the DFA or the DoLE or the OWWA or the POEA, is because government’s have not really attended to that call, they have not focused on that problem. You know look at this, we declare to all na ito ang ating mga bayani tapos sisitahin mo yung mga balikbayan box. You have residents going to the airport para salubungin yung mga umuuwing OFW para ipakita kung gaano natin nirerespeto ung kanilang mga sakripisyo at gaano kahalaga ang kanilang mga ginagawa para iano yung ating mga ekonomiya, and then we have this, again our nationals are in peril, we’re always late. We always come in too little too late. 25 billion dollars a year, 20% of the economy, 30% almost of the economy. And that is how we treat them. But of course we wouldn’t have OFWs we would have enough jobs in the country for them to not have to leave. The … made a study a long time already about 10 to 15 years ago of Filipinos working abroad. They would take a cut of 50% in pay if they could have a job in the Philippines, to bring them close to their family and friends. That is indicative if they’re willing to make that sacrifice to stay home, it means even that 50% cut and pay is not available to them. There are no jobs. There are simply no jobs.
MB: What are the jobs if you were in the palace?
MB: Government infrastructure?
BBM: Of course, it is public investment. That’s part of it.
MB: What’s the priority? Education? What kind of ano?
BBM: The base, the basis of any strong economy, at least in the Philippines is the agricultural sector. The agricultural sector diminished and deteriorated. 75% of poor people in the Philippines are agriculturists and that’s simply because we have not attended.. A shocking statistic that I ran across is that the irrigated areas in the Philippines is less now than it was in 1986, less, not more, less.
MB: Because the size of the farms …
BBM: No, it’s just because the irrigation systems have not been repaired, have not been expanded, they have not made one additional meter of irrigation canals since 1986. Those have been destroyed, those that have been gone in disrepair have not been repaired so I cannot, that is why it should not have been in surprise despite of the promises of my good friend Procy Alcala this year ago into date a self-sufficient rice producer, we say we are going to import the largest amount of importations in the history. So how can you do that? You ask a farmer. I have no idea but anong pinakaimportante? Patubig. Then all of the other things, but you know agriculture is not, some people have the idea especially those who are not well … in what happens actually in our farms, that agriculture is about planting crops lang, it is about providing irrigations, it is about providing loans, it’s about providing RMB. Crop insurance is, I don’t think we can do it, it is just to expensive.
MB: Magaling daw mag pay back ang mga farmers eh.
BBM: Yes. That’s why in Ilocos … you have to give them the chance. We ran into that problem in Ilocos when we asked Landbank for production loans. Tatlong buwan palang hinihingi na yung bayad. Eh kako hindi pa umaani eh, how can you ask for, how can you ask already, they are not holding any cash. Which is surprising so we turned ourselves, the province, into the actual lending institution.
MB: Private? (Inaudible)
BBM: No. The provincial government put aside a revolving fund.
MB: How much?
BBM: It started very small. Five million pesos lang. Pero yun ang production loan namin, so ang ginawa namin we did production loan, we provided money for all the inputs. Well, first, we had to fix the seedling production then we bought fertilizer in bulk so that we could make some savings. And then we would provide that to the farmers. And in the end, at the other end of the cycle, we allowed the farmers to pay in palay not in cash. Hindi pa nakapag ano eh, they haven’t processed it yet so we allowed them to pay.
MB: What is the main crop of Ilocos?
BBM: In what terms, in terms of coverage or?
BBM: In Income, mataas pa rin talaga tobacco. Tobacco is really very very profitable.
MB: If you were in office, what would be the top three concerns that you would attend to immediately?
BBM: Jobs. But Infrastructure, jobs flow from that eh. You create jobs by the economy growing, by the economic activity increasing. Economic activity cannot increase if you have no power, if your communication is poor, if your transport is poor. What have we talked about in the last couple of years? Congestion in the airport. Congestion in the (inaudible). Do we even have to talk about congestion in Edsa and on C5?
MB: In the U.S, they have a Jobs program. We don’t have one.
BBM: No. We have no program. We have no coherent program on any issue. We have no coherent program on Foreign Policy. We have no coherent program on power generation. We have no coherent program on agriculture. We have no coherent program on transport. We have no coherent program on anywhere. There is no coherent program. It is only always reactive.
MB: What is your religion?
BBM: I’m a Roman Catholic.
MB: What is your opinion about the statement of Pope Francis about making the annulment process quicker and easier?
BBM: As usual, the pope is really a rock star. I mean, the guy is a rock star and he has changed, he has brought the church so much closer to ordinary people. Talagang nawawala na eh, especially with Pope Benedict who was very intellectual theologian and he was very strict and very conservative theologian. To the exact opposite, the man who really worked in the streets of his parishes and I think it’s reflected in the positions that he takes. It was stunning to hear after all the years, what are homosexuals down to hell and to be answered by the Pope, “Who am I to judge?”. Wow. And I remembered when I met him, I met in Rome, hindi naman private audience, general audience lang. So before he came, so ofcourse yun ang pang ano namin “Pilipino, say Pilipino!”, “Ah” sabi niya, “I’m coming. Enero Enero.” We are waiting for you, we are waiting for you. And I have to say this, I have to thank you, I had my little kodigo in Italian, I had somebody write it out. No, I’m sorry, in Spanish. And I said thank you for reminding us all to be humble. He turns to me and he looks at me and I never heard a Pope say this before, pray for me. Usually they say “I’ll pray for you”, this one said “Pray for me”.
MB: Did he know who you were?
BBM: No. He just know I was the noisy guy “Pilipino, Pilipino!” and he is just amazing. One fellow next to me had his ano, he had his a new one, and he was just about to become a priest. And he talked to the Pope and he said, “Will you bless this for me?” and you know what he did? He took his off and gave it to him. Ganun. Ibang klase tong tao na ito. And yes, that’s so consistent for him, to be non-judgmental, to be inclusive, to make everybody feel welcome to the church.
BBM: They did. I read a paper out of some Washington PR analyzing his positions, the things that he does, on a PR basis. Perfect. Talagang ang galing, I don’t know if it’s intuitive, if it is studied, but the effect is that he hits all the rights (inaudible). I think it’s natural. I’ve seen some of his speeches, have you seen his speeches when he was much younger? And he would always (inaudible) that do you see the changes being, the people, did Jesus Christ made all the changes by sitting in a big building and making declarations? Did Jesus Christ ever become a high official? No. Jesus Christ knew what the People’s conditions were by, because he was with the people. He was with the poor. He was with the disenfranchised. And I guess he’s lived his life that way. I’m a fan.
MB: He won’t allow divorce yet.
BBM: I think he had to back off. Mukhang naipit siya because he was already saying sometimes divorce is necessary. Pero I think he had to back off because I guess the church was (inaudible).
MB: May doctrine yan. May doctrine pa yan eh. As long as it’s there.
BBM: It’s true. I think nang-uudyok din siya eh. I think that’s part of his (inaudible). No, he provokes, he provokes the discussion and I think that’s the point, maybe he does not necessarily want to take the church’s position that far but he wants to provoke not only within the church but even without the church because the problem that the church was facing was the declining numbers, people not going to church anymore, people really don’t identify themselves as Catholics.
MB: How would you assess the consequences of the Iglesia rally on the political scene? I heard they were going to proclaim you at the Philippine Arena.
BBM: I heard that too.
MB: I heard that you would make your announcement at the Arena.
BBM: I also heard that. I’m happy that people know what I’m planning to do. I have them there to tell because I don’t know.
MB: So back to my question.
BBM: Yeah to your question. I don’t know if it is a political thing. I think nagpaparamdam lang yung … I did not talk to any of the church leaders at the Iglesia leaders of (Inaudible) but I believe we have been quite close to all the leaders since the beginning so, but I think what was felt was that they were, again, attention by the DOJ kaya si Secretary De Lima ang kanilang kini criticize.
MB: But it seem to have boosted her stock.
BBM: Not to the Iglesia.
MB: Not to the Iglesia but mga netizens. They’re praising her for standing up to Iglesia.
BBM: I don’t know. It’s hard to say because you also have to remember that part of every political party are all these people just sitting there, waiting to say, “Oh binira tayo, birahin niyo rin” so that’s why its hard to assess what are just honest opinions and what are opinions that are paid for. In any case, I think nagparamdam lang sila to let them know that they are unhappy. We are unhappy of what is happening because we feel that you’re…
BBM: Yes, that they are, not only that they are interfering in internal church policy but that they are finding ways to somehow prosecute…
MB: But that was a crime. Abduction and detention.
BBM: Yes but the way it was handled by the DOJ. Kasi usually yan diba you’ll file an information with the fiscal, the fiscal will have it investigated, the findings of that investigation will be forwarded to the DOJ, it is now up to the DOJ to do what. Eh ito, wala pa lahat iyon, nag press con na si Secretary De Lima kaya parang minadali.
MB: Sir we are also (inaudible) by your social media.
BBM: Yes, I understand.
MB: Sir we have question from Social Media. These kids are our Social Media… experts.
BBM: All right the techies.
MB: Sir, there’s a question from a netizen. If you were elected President will you also declare Martial law?
BBM: First of all, you have to understand that Martial law meant something very, very different in 1970 than it does now. It simpy is, I think Martial law in this context today can only or should only be declared in the time of war. I cannot see any other instance where this, the form of Martial law as it is in the Constitution would be the solution, except again, in the time of war.
MB: Sir, we have a few words here (inaudible). Lumad killings
BBM: Only now being reported but its going on for awhile.
MB: Political dynasties.
BBM: The best anti-dynasty mechanism is elections but the law is the law.
MB: West Philippine Sea.
BBM: Talk to the Chinese. Now that you have brought it up, I just want to make an observation that everyone seems to have missed. In the [recent] proclamation of the Chinese ambassadors’, he said they are willing to sit down in bilateral talks with the Philippines; but — and this is the first time they have said this — and to discuss issues in the West Philippine Sea under international law, under UNCLOS. They have never said that before, never. They made this declaration bout three weeks ago. No one has picked it up. The DFA has not picked it up. This is the very first time [the Chinese] have said [this] and we really need to jump at the chance and say that… look, we have made our case in the arbitration proceedings, which, I think, is an important part of the process. We have to be able to make our case at an international [venue]. We have always insisted that all our dealings with the conflicting claims in the West Philippine Sea should be discussed within the framework of UNCLOS. And they have only said nine-dash line, tapos na. Nagbago yung kanilang positioning and again, it’s an opportunity.
MB: Is there such a thing as Foreign Policy under this government?
BBM: We have no cohesive policy on anything.
MB: Like or Dislike daw po. Grace Poe.
BBM: Grace Poe? Like. Si Sis.
MB: Mar Roxas.
MB: Jejomar Binay
BBM: Jejomar Binay? (Inaudible) opposer of my father but he has done a lot for Makati.
MB: Sir yung pinakamalaking request, comment on Rodrigo Duterte.
MB: Effective as Mayor? Administrator?
BBM: Clearly. Go to Davao. That’s the simplest way to assess, go to Davao. What do you think of the Mayor? And look at how Davao has improved.
MB: Pero ano forty km per hour ang maximum, 30 within the city, 60 pag sa labas.
BBM: Talagang hinuhuli nila eh.
MB: Pati anak niya eh.
BBM: Oo talagang hinuhuli nila eh.
MB: Si PNoy?
BBM: I have been asked, mahirap kasi yung thumbs up and down eh, I have been asked to (inaudible) and I always answer out of 10, I would give them a, I would give this administration a low 6.
BBM: Well that’s really hard to begin with. Nothing has been done. Nothing changed. There’s nothing new. Nothing has improved. Many good things happened during the administration, this administration. But only rich people feel it, the poor people don’t feel it so the reason that it’s above passing because at least, there was at least an effort at anti-corruption, whether or not it was successful, it’s something that we can talk about but that’s probably, that’s a very good intention.
MB: Sir that’s the live feed of traffic now.
BBM: Oh mabuti buti.
MB: So what would you do to solve the traffic sir?
BBM: Mass transit.
MB: Who would you appoint to MMDA, a position that your mom held?
BBM: Oh that’s right, she was Governor.
MB: Somebody who is not running for Senator.
BBM: Definitely. Nakita na natin ito eh, pag nasisingitan ng pulitika nagbabago ang ano eh, nadidistract ang ano.
MB: You mentioned jobs as a number one problem. Number two?
MB: Priority nalang.
BBM: Ako I’d still, because all of those problems I think, a partial solution again is pubic investment. Where did you ever hear of government na pinagmamalaki that we did not spend 400 billion of our appropriated (funds)? Where did you hear of a government na pinagmamalaki, ang laki ng retained earnings ngayon natin.
MB: Number three?
BBM: In terms of priority?
MB: You would create siguro a task force, mga ganun.
BBM: It’s all related, we have to put Peace and Order. Hindi napapag-usapan ito ah, but the drug problem in the country is terrible. It’s terrible. And then the, kayo you’re journalists, the killings of journalists. Meron na. Meron na tayo at the local level. It’s not… It’s always been a problem but it’s not been as bad as this. Yung mga sindikato really are operating.
MB: I just saw a nurse, her name is lorna, she was passing by, I ran into her in the ladies room and she said, “Nandyan si Senator Bonbong ano?”, sabi ko, “Huwag kayong magalit ah.” Akala ko kung ano na sasabihin sakin. Sabi niya nahihiya daw siya mag express. Sabi niya yung LRT lang. Bakit mas luma yung LRT, mas mahusay.
BBM: There are many things like that and it’s really sad to see that you go to places and the last bit of major infrastructure, the last piece of major infrastructure in any place was a long, long, long time ago. I was a little surprised to hear in the SONA, the President making much of a 7-kilometer stretch of … 7 kilometers. 7 kilometers is not an achievement.
MB: Do you support a federal or parliamentary government for our country?
BBM: I think it would be, it’s something that we should look into. As a political principle, federal is more stable form of government than a very centralized form of government. Many power centers means that it’s more stable. Secondly, it brings government a little closer to the people because locals generally have a better idea than national officials about what the problems are in their area. Generally speaking, not only do they know the problems, they actually have good solutions and so they should a bigger voice. I’m a great believer in local government. I really still believe, for all of the, what is being done by the national government that the basic drivers still of policy, of the economy is, comes from local and right now we are, baliktad yung ating orientation. Puro sa taas lang. Always remember that the trickle-down theory does not work.
MB: Yun nga ang dahilan kung bakit you’re disappointed with Duterte, you would’ve wanted to run in tandem with Duterte. Yesterday sir yun yung statement niyo eh, it was parang you’re disappointed kasi pabago bago ng isip si Mayor Duterte. Would you have wanted to run in tandem with Mayor Duterte or Binay?
BBM: He was the one who have mentioned it. So again I have to say that I thanked them for including me in their deliberations as to run with them so. But no I am not disappointed. He is, whatever he desires to do that is entirely his prerogatives.
MB: But if he changes his mind, would you consider?
BBM: I will consider. I will certainly consider any offers being made. These are serious..
MB: Have you made your offer to anybody? Because you said you would accept any offer. How about you make an offer?
BBM: Well, I haven’t decided yet.
MB: How many days more? Sir bigyan mo kami ng scoop para tomorrow sa dyaryo.
BBM: Well definitely before filing.
MB: Because August belongs to the Aquinos. September belongs to the Marcoses as they said.
MB: So you have to make a decision or make an announcement whithin September or October?
BBM: Probably third week of September.
MB: That’s in Martial Law, September 21. That’s the date of my photo exhibit, there’s my invitation.
BBM: Okay. Time to decide with my (inaudible)
MB: Sir how techie are you?
BBM: Not as much as I used to be.
MB: What can you say about the slow internet connection here in the country?
BBM: It is slow. It is absolutely, we looked into it and we all know that we’re the second slowest in the world.
MB: Next to Afghanistan.
BBM: And it’s Afghanistan. There’s more.
MB: Afghanistan, Philippines then Myanmar.
BBM: I cannot believe that how, you know it’s not just for social media, it’s not just for kids on facebook. The amount, the money, the amount commerce that is conducted in the internet surpassed the amount of commerce that was done face to face that is five years ago. In other words, it is the major platform, the medium which most economic activity is conducted. So how can you be competitive if you are at the, what is our average? 2.2 mbps, anlayo. Do you know that in South Korea there are certain systems 7G. I was in Japan recently, from Haneda airport to my hotel, in the van yung sa van pa lang na router I was able to download 2 movies in a 40-minute ride. Dito it will take what? A week?
You cannot study anymore, you cannot do business anymore without internet. I mean it’s remarkable.
MB: What movies did you download?
BBM: Mad Max which I still haven’t seen.
MB: What was the other one?
BBM: I’ll see you in my dreams. It’s not a romantic movie.
MB: Sir we’re building a Spotify, your playlist, what are your favorite songs? So we will put it in our playlist.
BBM: Spotify? When I put on Spotify my playlist, iba-iba siyempre depending on the ano. I listened to old rock and roll RnB and Jazz.
MB: Specific songs Sir.
BBM: Specific songs? What is my favorite song? My favorite, as hard as asking who’s my favorite child. There’s a lot of beautiful songs.
MB: Albums or artists?
BBM: Oh my God. For me the most, seminal album was Sgt. Pepper because it is recognized that Sgt. Pepper was the first time where pop music was not written to be danced to but to be listened to. That changed the whole nature of our music, that’s where the Beatles. Kasi hindi ka na basta’t sasayaw lang e, dati yung music para sumayaw, eto pinkikinggan. And I listen to a lot of Jazz.
MB: It was fun?
BBM: Oh God yes.
BBM: Kaya nga e, nakilala ko si Ringo Starr. Tinatanong ko sa kanya sa London sabi ko sa kanya, you know who I am? Sabi I am Ferdinand Marcos I’m the son of the President of the Philippines. President pa tatay ko noon. I’m the son of the president. Oh my gosh we have terrible experiences, I said what happened? We were waiting for you and he said we didn’t know, nobody told us. They were sitting in their hotel room watching TV. (inaudible) In fact if you look at, if you read Paul McCartney’s book, they mentioned something about it. They said that the ambassador of the UK was telling Bryan let them come, the President has invited them. Ayaw niya. So yun, That’s what happened. I said, come back I’ll bring you, you’ll be fine. We will explain to everyone what happened.
BBM: I know, I hope that he did. But yeah, that is Spotify, let us go and listen… Spotify is actually a go back (inaudible)
MB: Sir yung ibang mga kandidato mayroon ng political ads. Kayo? Wala pa?
BBM: Mayroon na rin. Nilabas na rin nila.
MB: Pero mayroon kayong mga fans na gumagawa ng sarili nilang ads? Sir may ipapakita kami sayo.
BBM: I saw one (inaudible). I’m in good company. These are fine musicians.
MB: Have you seen it Sir?
BBM: I’ve seen it.
MB: Can we do that here Sir?
BBM: Can we do what here?
MB: The one that you are doing.
BBM: (inaudible) Let’s go back to the netizens. Anything else, cause we keep being distracted from the questions.
MB: Sir how do you support the bill seeking to the (inaudible)
BBM: Yes. I think it is a reaction because of the, what has been described as the … the over zealousness of the BIR in collecting. There is in fact a bill in the House which seeks to remove all the non-, all the tax exemptions from all the different sectors which is including cooperatives, including local subsidy that is just crazy.
If you remove tax exemptions from cooperatives for example, the whole cooperative movement will die. And what happens, what will be the defects, especially now our agricultural office, I don’t know who proposed it but it is a very, very bad idea. You remove the tax exemption from low-cost housing and no one will build low-cost housing, you cannot make money. So what happens now to low-cost housing? Is the government going to build it? They haven’t so far. We have reached a short fall in housing of five million homes already, it used to be 3.5, paakyat lang ng paakyat, we’re not getting anything. There is no housing policy.
MB: We can accommodate. The Senator can accommodate two more questions before we transfer to..? And we’ll have more questions while having lunch. Very informal po yung set-up. (inaudible)
BBM: Absolutely correct. I absolutely agree. Fiscal policy must be part of an overall investment policy. What do we want? Do we want to attract FBI? Do we want to attract capital investment? Do we want only half money coming in to the country? What is it that we want our economy to do? (inaudible) basta koleksyon lang ng koleksyon. For example, to go back to the examples that I always, what was the, in the cooperative cope, the law that governs the operations of cooperatives, it is clearly stated that cooperatives with less that 10M pesos of retained earnings are tax exempted. So the law already provides for tax exemption. What does BIR do? They say unless you can prove to us, you prove to us that you are tax exempted and in the meantime while you cannot prove it to us yet, because andaming hinihingi na dokumento, magbayad muna kayo. So essentially, they are taxing a tax-exempt operation, socialize housing. I know this because I sit on the cooperative committee and I conduct many of the hearings. I also know this because I use to be the chairman of the housing in the Senate. And again, there has been no improvement in the housing situation. Can you imagine, even the much … provision of the housing for policemen has not been availed of because the housing that was provided was subtended.
MB: Walang gumagamit?
BBM: Walagang gumagamit. Walang nag-avail.
MB: May last question pa from our online. New taxes?
BBM: We have to make it different. First of all we have to adjust already the taxation system now. The categories are completely …. as queue. Talagang umakyat na masyado.
MB: I think 32%?
BBM: Oo, may working class na nasa middle class now paying middle class that are paying upper class so that’s the very start, we have to adjust that. And again the fiscal policy they want to encourage for example alternative energy, they want to encourage telecom, they want to encourage all of that, but you have to have a policy to begin with. If you have a policy then the Fiscal, the tax code and the tax laws will flow from that. What is your idea? How can you make the economy grow? What sectors are you going to, look at India. India that is why they became such a big driver in tech industry was because not only did they provide tax from the … They actually set up institutes, technology institutes in every region. Alangan naming bigla silang bumulusok bigla. That kind of thing you have to have an idea, you have to have a plan until you have a plan you can’t really formulate the different elements that are required so that the plan will work. Always start with a plan.
MB: Thank you.