Kapihan sa Senado

On Bangsamoro Basic Law

BBM : Essentially ang pinag-usapan naming ay yung schedule tungkol sa pagpasa ng BBL hindi lamang sa Senado pati na sa House at saka sa Bicam at nagplano kami because if you remember mula pa nung simula ang talagang pinag-usapan namin na deadline is the end of the first quarter. Pero as a practical matter, tiningnan namin mabuti yung timetable, the last day of session is March 18, which means kailangan matapos lahat pati na ang bicam, third reading at notification of the bicam report by March 18 kaya biglang lumiit ang aming window . But maganda naman ang naging usapan at every level sa mga hearings namin at pati yung sa House ad hoc committee on BBL. Kaya naman siguro kakayanan naman namin matapos in that time. Yun lang naman ang pinaguusapan namin although marami pang detalye ang naging usapan namin doon sa aming meeting. Essentially we are still committed to the idea na kung ano man ang gagawain natin dito dapat makatulong sa buhay ng mga karaniwang mamayan lalo na sa Mindanao. And bringing true and lasting peace will achieve that. And that is why we have to make sure that it is workable ang magiging final version nang BBL.

Q: Considering you have two months na lang para ma-approve ang BBL so I-aacelerate nyo yung proseso ng pag approve nito?

BBM: Bago tayo nag break before Christmas, sumulat ako kay Senate President and the members of the committee of Senator Guingona na kung maaari i-refer na rin yung BBL sa committee on constitutional amendments dahil napakaraming nag-kukwestyon as to the constitutionality of BBL as it has been written. So sabi namin para maging parallel ang hearing, itutuloy namin ang out of town hearing pero umpisahan na ang hearing tungkol sa mga constitutional issues ng BBL kayat nagiischedule na kami with Senator Miriam na makapag-hearing na siya under her committee. Unang-una I rerefer sa committee niya tapos makapagschedule na siya para lahat ng mga constitutional issues ay maisama na doon sa aming committee report.

Q: So when is the resumption of hearings of BBL? Would it be simultaneous, your hearings and those of the constitutional committee?

BBM: Ang schedule this far is on the 26th, ang susunod na hearing for constitutional amendments and on the second (of Feb) so Monday. Kami naman we have two more out of town hearings—Jolo and Zamboanga. The tentative schedule is 4 and 5 (February). Minsanan lang we will go to Jolo to conduct the hearing balik ng Zamboanga overnight the next day Zamboanga hearing na. That finishes the out of town hearings. Isa pang malaking bagay dyan ay tuloy tuloy na ugnayan sa ad hoc committee ng House. Dahil importante para hindi na malayo masyado ang version namin pagdating ng bicam.

Q: Ano po ba yung na identify niyo na yung critical, crucial provision ng BBL?

BBM: Ang mga lumabas sa mga out of town hearings, maliwanag na maliwanag kung ano ba talaga ang negotiable at hindi negotiable dahil yun ang pagbabasehan naming ng aming committee report at saka version na ipapasa dito sa Senado. I am sure na hindi na lalayo doon sa version na ipapasa ng House.

Q: Can you mention some of the non-negotiable items?

BBM: Of course the idea of self -determination is important and also the organization of the parliament mukhang that is important to the MILF panel. So hangga’t maari pag-aaralan namin for example. That is that we need to, it seems, na hindi mapalitan. That’s one of the main elements. The other elements are the structure of the government of Bangsamoro. Perhaps we have a little leeway but essentially kung ano yung napirmahan nila sa framework agreement e hanggat maaari susundan namin yun.

Q: Sir, somehow hindrance ba yung question sa constitutionality. Pwede niyo rin po siyang ma-approve kahit may question sa constitutionality?

BBM: Well we could not just pass the law knowing it is unconstitutional at alam namin na illegal. We would not be carrying out our function as legislators. So if in the best legal opinion that we can find that there is an argument to be made that there is no constitutional issue on some of the constitutional issues being raised then if that is acceptable to the committees we will leave it as is. But kung talagang lahat e nagsasabi na hindi talaga papasa yan e babaguhin namin.

Q: So sir ang target nyo e bago ipasa nalaman nyo kung constitutional siya? Amenable po ba syang tapusin?

BBM: Oo that would be the purpose of the hearings of Senator Miriam pero puro joint hearing yan pero siguro siya ang magpreside nyan kasi constitutional issues talaga ang trabaho ng kanyang committee on constitutional amendments.

Q: Have you talked to Sen. Miriam?

BBM: Yes. In fact nag-schedule kami ng tatlo but she said kaya niyang tapusin in two hearings so that is even better for the schedule

Q: Kung may babaguhin hindi ba magkaka-problema sa framework agreement?

BBM: Oo, pero ang framework agreement hanggat maaari hindi namin masyadong lalayuan ang framework agreement. Pero kung hindi talagang kakayanin, if there is something that needs to be changed, that will not work or that will not pass master in terms of constitutionality, e we have to change it. Again, we would like to stay as close to the framework agreement as possible pero kung alam naman namin it would be deemed or found unconstitutional, e bakit pa namin isasama. We will change but where we feel needs to be changed. There is a danger also na pagkamasyadong malayo, sasabihin nila hindi na ito yon gating pinirmahan. But I think all the parties are agreed that bastat maliwanag na makakamit natin ang matagal na nating hinahanap na kapayapaan para sa taga Mindanao ay palagay ko papaya naman lahat ng mga interested parties, stakeholders and even signatories.

Q: Exactly what are those constitutional issues?

BBM: Mahaba-haba yan. There are many constitutional issues I don’t want to preempt the findings of the hearings of Senator Santiago. So let us see how they come out. There have been positions taken by many sectors, iba iba ang kanilang mga arguments kaya’t pagaralan muna natin. That’s why bago tayo nag (Christmas) break sinabi ko dapat umpisahan na natin yung usapan. The original schedule kasi pag merong draft final version saka I hihear sa consti amendments. Sabi ko hindi na aabot so ipagsabay sabay na natin kaya naman e.

Q: So Sir mid Feb target nyo na may committee report saka plenary na siya?

BBM: Oo dapat maireport out na siya by February para masundan yung March 18 deadline. I think pagmagkagipitan pwede naman icertify . More or less that is our schedule.

Q: Right now has BBL been certified as urgent by the palace?

BBM: Hindi pa because nasa committee pa lang but baka dumating tayo sa ganung klaseng situation because really the deadline is u are very close.

Q: Sir pero malaking issue pa rin yung substate or state within a state yung BBL.

BBM: That’s the main constitutional question. Does this constitute a state within a state and that is why the decision of the Supreme Court on the MOA-AD was very important kasi kung ano man ang basehan ng pagkafind nila unconstitutional ay baka nandyan pa sa BBL kaya kailangan ayusin yan para hindi mapunta sa parehong sitwasyon ng MOA-AD.

Q: So sir considering na nakikipag communicate kayo sa ad hoc committee ng house so you are expecting that both Senate and house version ay almost the same at hindi na mahihirapan pagdating sa bicam?

BBM: I don’t know about almost the same but at least hindi na maging masyadong mahaba ang proseso. If we are coordinating more or less siguro detalye na lang ang kailangang ayusin pagdating ng bicam. At least that is what we are hoping for.

Q: Doon sa BBL hindi ba masyadong maraming binibigay ang govt. sa MILF to the point of spoiling them?

BBM: Napag-usapan naming yan and tiningnan namin yung mga autonomous regions not just in the Phils. But other countries also and may mga formula naman that give a spercial preference to a certain area. There is precedent for that. Kailangan nating pakinggan kung naging constitutional issue yan dahil ang ibang mga local governments, syempre maraming gusto magsalita. May nagsasabi na hindi pare pareho. The question of the national wealth, tax collections, the remittance of tax collections, there is question like that where that kind of system is employed. Na one area is different, the simpler examples are HK, di ba special administrative region, Macau ganun din. Cataluna in Spain All of this unions show there are different rules for different government units. The MNLF is now asking what happens to our agreement with the Ramos govt. and it is an international treaty which is correct so those things have to be sorted out.

Q: Paano ngayon Sir. How are you taking the concerns of MNLF?

BBM: Again that would be a problem of implementation We have to focus on the BBL. We should make it as workable as possible. Again how the govt. will handle the differing interest because of the MNLF and MILF is something that govt. (OPAPP) will have to deal with them.

Q: On the decommissioning of troops and disarmament, is it still contentious?

BBM: What is contentious is kailan ba talaga magsimula ang disarmament. Sinasabi nagsimula na pero hindi pa maliwanag. Who will verify? Ang nakalagay sa batas at sa annex nung una kung nakuha kong kopya, ay ang mILF mismo ang magbibigay ng listahan ng kanilang mga fighters. Tapos ang govt. ang magdidisarma. So papano ngayon yon. There is also part of it that says the fighters would be absorbed in the police. How does that work? Yun ang kailangan namin iliwanag which is what we plan to do. I think there is a police force formed or the Bangsamoro police force which will be nder the command of the chief minister but of course ultimately of the PNP in Crame and of course the Commander in chief. But the actual mechanism we will have to clarify because in the BBL it is not stated. It is silent on that. But we have to put in a system kundi walang mangyayari. We have no idea as to the exact number of their fighters. That only happens after the plebiscite and the transitional committee takes its position to replace the ARMM assembly upon abolishing of ARMM and the process of organizing the Bangsamoro govt. that will be the trigger also for the disarmament.

Q: Papaano yung fighters nila mapupunta sa local police force, what happens to its local police force?

BBM: Isa pa yon. Nandyan pa rin. Kaya it all depends on the number of fighters na sasabihin ng MILF dahil palagay ko hindi naman ganun karami ang kailangang dagdag na police sa Bangsamoro areas. I don’t know I could be wrong. But I don’t think that is it. So yung iba talagang disarm kailangan to return to civilian life. That’s the whole idea that the fighters should stop fighting and return to civilian life. So yung iaabolish na civil service positions, siguro doon pwede silang iabsorb. With ARMM’s abolition all the civil service positions will also be abolished. Within the reorg they can also be absorbed. There are many formulas on how to absorb the fighters

Q: Which civil servants would be allowed to stay, nurses, DoH personnel?

BBM: Those are the first set of questions we have been getting in the hearings. Lahat ng mga civil servants and in the bureaucracy ask what would happen to them. So we tell them they can be.

On MRT Fare Hike Issue

Q: Is it right daw to start the year with these increases, MRT, LRT fare, water rate hike?

BBM: Paano naman magiging tama, first week of the year biglang itatas ang presyo ng pamasahe, itataas ang presyo ng tubig, biglang-bigla at hindi maliit ang pagtaas. Siguro sana naman ‘yung sa water rates siguro naman kahit na may desisyon na sila, pwede siguro na pakiusapan naman na ‘wag naman biglang lumpsump na napakalaki dahil masyado namang masakit sa bulsa ng mga tao, biglang bigla. Baka pwede over the next few months, dahan-dahan siguro iakyat, that is a distinct possibility.

‘Yung sa MRT hindi ko maintindihan kung pano nila inaprove ito dahil biruin mo pagkatapos na magkaproblema, sunud-sunod na problema ‘yung MRT, bago inayos ‘yung mga problema, itinaas muna ang pamasahe, that doesn’t make any sense at hindi ko nga maintindihan sino ang nakapagdesisyon nito because it is a very poor, ill-judged..it shows very poor judgment on the part of whoever made that decision. Mabuti naman, ang tao naman handa naman siguro matanggap ‘yung medyo konting taas ng pamasahe kung gumanda ang serbisyo, eh sumama ang serbisyo eh tsaka mo itataas ang ano…That’s why I am expecting, I am anticipating that the President will step in at siya na ang magsabi na tigil muna yang price increase at pag-aralan nating mabuti kung paano muna ayusin ang sistema ng mass transit dahil ang taumbayan… it’s not as if you have a choice, you don’t have a choice kailangan mong magkaroon ng tubig. They don’t have a choice, they have to go to work and the way, the only options are public transport. So bus, jeepney, tricycle at MRT, ‘yan lang talaga ang magagamit ng taumbayan. So it is a very big imposition on them and hindi maliit ang price increase, ramdam na ramdam ng tao yan additional cost of going to work. Wala silang ibang option. Buti na lang kung sasabihin ah masyadong mahal ang MRT, mag-ferry na lang tayo o magbus tayo, they don’t have a choice. So it was ill-advised, I think it is very ill-advised, and I really think it is time for the President to step in and to postpone any talk or any idea of price increases especially the MRT. Siguro dapat pag-aralan na muna mabuti kung papaano ayusin ang serbisyo. Alam ko may mga problema sa mga kontrata lumabas sa mga hearing dito, pero papaano natin aayusin muna bago pa isipin na bibigyan mo ng extra gastos ang taumbayan, ang riding public.

Q: Palace is defending the MRT/LRT hike, do you think na aaksyon ang Pangulo to stop or postpone the fare hike?

BBM: I sincerely hope so. It is not fair to ask or to impose increase, hindi naman tama yun. Unang-una, because the past year wala tayong nakita kundi pasama nang pasama ang serbisyo. Ayusin nila yun tapos sabihin nila okey magdadagdag tayo ng ilang linya. To finance that, magtataas kami, baka tanggapin pa ng tao yun. Pero itong ganitong klase ng sistema na kitang-kita naman natin na hindi maganda ang patakbo ng MRT, pasama nang pasama ang service, palaki naman ng palaki ang pamasahe eh hindi naman tama yun. So I really hope so because you know maliwanag naman ang reaksyon ng tao, hindi mo sila masisisi…I am hoping ang praying that he steps in and put a stop first and postpone this price increase and focus the attention of the government, specifically DOTC, on fixing the problems before talking about…ang laki-laki ng budget ng MRT na ipinasa natin sa budget, yun ang gamitin naman muna nilang pera, napakalaki ang budget ng MRT.

Q: Sabi ng Palace dumaan naman daw sa consultation bago sila nag-increase?

BBM : Well, how long ago was that consultation? And I cannot imagine that anyone, parang imposibleng maisip na may isang sumasakay sa MRT na magsabing oo maganda nga yan itaas nyo ang presyo. Parang hindi kapani-paniwala. Sino naman ang maniniwala na gugustuhin ng isang member of the riding public na sasabihin gusto namin itaas nyo ang presyo, that doesn’t make any sense. Hilahin natin kahit sino dyan, man on the street din ang interview tingnan kung may kahit isa na papayag dyan sa pagtaas ng presyo lalo na na pasama nang pasama ang serbisyo.

Q: Suspend muna ni President ‘yung (increase) presyo?

BBM: Oo dapat. I-suspend muna nya yung price increase tapos talagang bigyan nila ng pansin yung problema ng MRT. Alam ko maraming problema ang MRT pero hindi makukuha yan sa pagpataas ng pamasahe.

Q: Sir kung hindi mag-postpone maaari ba itong mag-cause ng unrest?

BBM: Well, meron na, meron nang nagdedemonstrate, meron nang…marami nang nagrereklamo, how far they will take it alam mo naman ang mga Pilipino napaka-pasensyoso. Siguro naman maliwanag na maliwanag na the timing is wrong, the reasons are unacceptable, and that there is another way. Maaari namang i-postpone yan eh, isuspende muna yung pagpataas ng pamasahe, ayusin muna ang serbisyo tapos pag meron na tayong ipagmamalaki na maganda ang patakbo, eh sige pwede nating itaas na ang presyo ng konti. At tsaka wag namang biglaan na ganyan. Walang namang sinasabi tapos pagbalik nyo galing sa bakasyon heto na yung ano… sumabay pa sa tubig. I don’t know who decided this; it was a very, very poor decision.

Q: Dinedepensahan na ng Palasyo hopeful pa rin kayo?

BBM: Dahil matindi ang reaksyon ng tao eh. Siguro naman nakikita nila ang reaksyon ng tao, i-analyze nila ng mabuti kung ano ang magiging epekto sa bulsa ng sumasakay ng MRT, mga gumagamit ng tubig. Again you have to remember you cannot live without water, you cannot go to work without the mass transport, mass transit system. So hindi mo sinasabi na you have a choice, they have no choice, you are imposing this.

It’s the prerogative of the executive to amend, to change, to postpone, or to suspend, any decision made by the executives. So I cannot see how…hindi na sila nakikinig sa taumbayan kung ganun ang mangyayari.

Siguro dahil nga malaki ang reaksyon ng tao kontra dito sa pagtaas ng pamasahe, baka hindi nila ine-expect yun kaya akala nila hindi pwede. Pero nakita na natin na yung reaction has been very strong, dapat naman they take that into account.

Q: You want the President himself to (take charge)?

BBM: He is the single person who has the power to do it, and the people are asking him to do it, and he should do it.

Q: So in case walang gawin ang Malacañang, Supreme Court na lang?

BBM: Yun ang ano dun…that’s why nag-file na sa Supreme Court ng I think TRO to suspend the price increase.

Q: Sir pag hindi pinagbigyan yung mga panawagan na isuspend ang fare hike tapos may mga pagtaas sa tubig…courting civil unrest?

BBM: Well, it doesn’t make for a stable populace, syempre nababahala lahat kung talagang hindi magbabago yan, I don’t know, again, if it will result in civil unrest. But it depends on how you define civil unrest. But palagay ko andun na tayo eh, nagdedemonstrate na, nagrereklamo na, lumalabas na nag-file na ng kaso sa Supreme Court. So I think we’re there. Nakikita na natin may civil unrest na, napunta na nga tayo dun.

Q: Hindi dapat balewalain sir?

BBM: Hindi naman dapat. Maliwanag naman, may dahilan naman na magreklamo ang riding public, may dahilan na magreklamo ang motor-consuming public.

On Typhoon Seniang and Ruby

BBM: Kaya naman natin. My suggestion was, gawin na nating standard procedure yung ginawa sa Ruby, dahil maganda ang naging resulta, maganda ang naging ugnayan sa local government, maganda ang tulungan sa mga private at public institutions, so nakita natin ang resulta sa Ruby. Tapos, balik na naman tayo sa Seniang, bakit na naman ganito ang nangyari? Ang lumalabas nito, tsamba lang ang performance natin sa Ruby. Wag tayo papayag na pa-tsamba tsamba na lang ang performance sa disaster management, disaster response, disaster mitigation. Kailangan, i-codify na natin lahat yan. Maganda na nga ang Ruby, meron na tayong model. Yun ang sundan natin. Yung Seniang, imposibleng sasabihin na sinundan nila yung ginawa nila sa Ruby dahil nakita naman natin ang resulta. Ang latest yata na nakita ko kanina sa news, 65 na ang nasawi. Hindi kasing lakas ng Ruby yun. Bakit naman ganun ang nangyari? So, para hindi tayo umaasa na suwertehin tayo, makatsamba tayo na maganda ang performance, isabatas na natin, gawin na nating kasama sa procedure talaga ng NDRRMC yung ginawa natin sa Ruby. I-codify na natin, isulat na natin, para hindi pag nagkakagulo na, nandiyan na yung bagyo, alam na yung gagawin kahit na nasira yung facilities, kahit walang communication, alam na ninyo ang gagawin.

I suppose, we can attribute yung sa Seniang, nagbabakasyon lahat, so hindi natutukan yung sitwasyon kaya nagkaganyan. So, para hindi na mangyari yun, nagawa na natin. Bakit hindi na natin magawa ulit? Dapat yung nagawa natin sa Ruby, yun yung nagawa planuhin natin bawat bagyo. Sayang, tuwang-tuwa na tayo na we had a good performance in Ruby, Seniang, hindi na naman maganda. It is really time to sit down seriously and apportion responsibilities for the preparation pagdating ng bagyo, sa bawat agency pati mga local governments, lahat dapat magbago ang ugnayan nila, ang coordination nila. That was a big disappointment over the holidays, na ganyan ang nangyari. Again, there are solutions, dapat gawin na natin yung mga solution na yun. Codify the response so that we have a standard procedure that we can follow by lessons learned from best practices and worst practices. From those lessons learned, codify na natin, magkaroon na tayo ng magandang sistema. Parang ginoogle mo na lang, hindi na kailangang mag-isip, eto na ang mga kailangang gawin.

On Pope Francis

BBM: Ang plano namin, I was planning to attend the Luneta mass, pero ang advice sa akin is that siguro its better, taga-Tacloban ka, you go to Tacloban, para at least if you get the chance, magpasalamat tayo sa Pope, sa kanyang attention na ibinigay sa mga biktima ng Yolanda. So ganun ang gagawin namin. I will be going to Tacloban on the 16th of January. The Pope will be there on the 17th. Sasalubong kami. If we will be able to talk to him that would be nice and if not, ok na rin. Mas importante na kausap niya iyong mga victims ng Bagyong Yolanda. But, it is a big event because this Pope is different. I have had the honor and the privilege of already having had an audience with him in Rome. Ibang klaseng itong Santo Papa na ito. Kaya His visit to our country is very,very significant.

Pang-balanse po ang Pope visit. Totoo iyan kasi maka-masa si Pope Francis. He is very attuned to the needs of the poor. Iyon lagi ang inuuna niya. I was able to talk to him. When I saw him in Rome, that was July of last year, I thanked him for His lessons in humility. Because, the one thing that this Pope teaches is humility. I was with my wife and one son, kasi siya lang ang nakalabas sa eskuwelahan. It is in my facebook page. It was a great privilege.

Sabi niya “I will go in the Philippines. Enero, Enero. I am coming in January.” He speaks Spanish and Italian. He speaks very little English. Naka ready iyong kodigo naming nun kaso nautal na kami.

On the Papal Visit

BBM: Lahat ng Pope na nakilala ko except for Benedict. Mula nung naging Presidente yung father ko, lagi akong sinasama ng mother ko pag may audience with the Pope.

Kasi ayaw niya makipagusap sa pulitiko. Makamasa talaga ito. He is interested to meet important dignitaries pero ng gusto niya talaga is yung mga pangkaraniwang tao. Yung mga mahihirap. Just a simple example, pagdating ko sa audience, naka-Americana pa ako, nagbihis kami ng husto. Yung mga katabi namin mga nakashorts at naka-tsinelas. Sa lahat ng bisita ko sa Santo Papa, lagi kaming pinagbibihis. Sabi ko bakit itong mga kasama ko, hindi na nagbihis. Sabi niya tinanggal nitong Papang ito ang dress code. At pag nakakita ng bata, hindi niya iiwanan talaga. Ibang klase itong Pope na ito. Babalikan niya kapag may isang batang lumabas. Malayo na siya, binalikan pa niya. May isang pari na yung pinabe-bless niya sa Papa, tinanggal niya yung kanya. Tinanggal niya yung kanya at binigay nalang niya. Ibang klase itong Papa na ito. At saka hindi siya nagbibihis ng pormal. Lagi lang yun naka-puti. At hindi nagsusuot ng pulang sapatos. He’s really different. I’ve had the honor… pero sandal lang hindi siya nagmamadali. Kung ano ang gusto mong sabihin, sasabihin niya. Kung meron kang sasabihin ay aantayin ka. Basta’t naka-wheel chair at bata, pupuntahan niya yun.

Q: Wala na po siyang ibang nasabi?

BBM: Wala nga eh. Yun nalang ang nasabi ko na I’m from the Philippines. Tapos sabi niya ‘I’m coming in January’. I just wanted to thank you for your lessons of humility. Kasi yun ang nararamdaman ko sa kanya. His own humility.

Q: Sir bakit parang ganun ang lahat ng sinasabi nila?

BBM: Rockstar eh. The Pope is a rockstar. Iba ang dating nun. Starstruck kaming lahat.

 

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