Press conference: after hearing of Senate Committee on Local Government on BBL
Sen. Bongbong: Good afternoon everyone. I’m sorry ng tumagal ng husto, kasi tumagal yung aming hearing umabot ng 1:35 na because nagkaroon nga ng ibang discussion. It took us an hour and a half more bago napunta doon sa original agenda dahil pinag-usapan nga tungkol nga dito sa alias ni Chairman Mohagher Iqbal. Narinig naman ninyo ang mga tanong ng mga ibang senador, myself included, na sana we had hoped na napaka-simple na bagay sana the chairman would just have revealed his name and his true identity which would have clarified everything. But he has his own concerns he had outlined during the hearing and we willl have to do it another way to find out his true identity.
I’m a little surprised that the peace panel does not know. They say they know its an alias but they did not know his real name. So that is a little bit of an inconsistency. Merong instruction na ang committee to subpoena or to at least acquire what records we can from the DFA as to the true identity of the negotiator known to us as Iqbal.
Q: Sir maaapektuhan po ba yung fate ng BBL nitong non-disclosure of his real identity?
Sen. Bongbong: Yes, because ang susunod kasi, halimbawa if we go back to the process, pagka napasa ang BBL, nagka plebiscite na, magte-take over ang Transition Commission sa ARMM. So essentially they will be the interim government of Bangsamoro. Then it becomes critical that aliases no longer be used because they are not allowed to be used in public documents.
Now as to the legal question as to what is the effect of the revelation that Iqbal is not his real name, to what will be the effect to the documents and the agreements that he has already signed, I think that’s a given na basta’t maliwanag that the man we know as Chairman Iqbal is the one designated by the MILF to negotiate and to sign in the name as a respresentative and as negotiator of the MILF, that is sufficient to carry, so that those agreements are still in effect.
It is the next step, moving forward. Because he is the Chairman of the Transition Commission and that means that he will be heading the Interim Bangsamoro Government and it is untenable for us to be dealing with someone whose name is not known to the government. And for him to be dealing with public funds, for him to be signing public documents, to make affirmations officially—so these are the issues. That is why it has become important.
Q: But sir the discussions will push through even with Iqbal’s refusal to reveal his true name?
Sen. Bongbong: Yes. There are issues which are totally unrelated to that, especially what we had today, what we spoke about after this discussion nga about the aliases of Chairman Iqbal. There are still many issues that we need to talk about that really are not affected by that.
Q: But sir once you get the name from DFA, ano yun sir will you reveal to the public kahit na ayaw ni Iqbal ipalabas yung totoo nyang pangalan?
Sen. Bongbong: Well, we will have to see what information in fact we will be able to get and how we are going to handle it. Again, the argument that both the MILF and the peace panel are making, that there are security concerns, I think are not so easily acceptable. Because, as I pointed out during the hearing, he is in front of all the cameras of the entire country and millions have seen his face. So surely, there’s no longer any need to hide his identity, because kung talagang may security issue sya, hindi mawawala yun kahit na i-maintain nya yung kanyang alias at hindi magkakaiba ang kanyang security situation kung i-maintain nya yung alias o kung ibigay niya yung tunay niyang pangalan.
Kaya’t dun kami nagtataka kung bakit. Sila mismo ang nagsasabi na maliit lang na bagay ito. E kung maliit lang na bagay di ibigay nyo na yung pangalan. Dahil maliit na bagay pero ang nangyayari ay nagiging argument kung bakit na naman hindi dapat kausapin ang MILF, etc. etc.
Q: Serious concerns have been raised by Sen. Binay with regards to the signing of certain checks for releases of funds to the MILF negotiators, some of which have been used for several projects, and which are now being questioned also even by Congress, by Congressman Celso Lobregat. Do you think that this needs more investigation?
Sen. Bongbong: Yes. In fact that is why we asked Sec. Deles to provide us with all the information as to what funds have been made available under the administration of the Transition Commission under Chairman Iqbal. And they have promised to provide that to us.
Q: Sir, ilang alias ho ba ni Iqbal ang nadiskubre ninyo?
Sen. Bongbong: Wala. Wala naman kaming ibang nadiskubre na alias pero sya mismo ang nagsabi na gumagamit talaga sya ng alias, iba pa bukod pa sa Iqbal. Dahil nga—me dahilan din—na pagka gyera ayaw mong malaman kung sino ka talaga na lumalaban at baka balikan ang mga kasamahan mo, pamilya mo, etc. But lumampas na tayo sa phase na yun e. Nakapirma na nga ng ceasefire agreement at sumusulat na nga tayo ng batas. Kaya’t palagay ko yung mga concerns na yun, siguro pwede nang iwanan at nalampasan na natin yung mga concerns na yun.
Q: Hindi kaya psy war lang ito?
Sen. Bongbong: Well, kung psy war man ito ang nagiging resulta ay sagabal sa pagpasa ng BBL. Dahil kung sino yung ayaw sa BBL ay sasabihin eto is another reason kung bakit hindi natin dapat kausap sila, dahil napakasimpleng bagay, pangalan, hindi maibigay sa atin.
I don’t know what would be the intended purpose kung isina-psy war nila. Palagay ko hindi naman. Palagay ko yun lang ang talagang kanilang practice pero kailangan kung talaga sila ay magiging partner ng gobyerno, ay yung practice na yun ay kailangang makilala naman nila na hindi na maaari yan. Hindi maaari na magpatakbo ng isang regional government na may sariling legislature, na may sariling executive, na may sariling lahat ng ahensya ng gobyerno, at ang ibinibigay mo lamang ay alias.
Q: Papano kung halimbawa napasa na ang BBL at wala rin syang ibinigay na alias?
Sen. Bongbong: Magiging problema yan kasi lahat ng pipirmahan nya ay hindi na pupwede, hindi na magiging valid, dahil mga public document na yan. At ang public document may batas na sinasabing hindi ka pwedeng pumirma ng alias sa public documents.
Q: So we’ll stand by Mohagher Iqbal kung hindi sya nagbigay ng pangalan na alias kung saka-sakaling naipasa na ito?
Sen. Bongbong: Well, ang gagawin natin is we will make sure na hahanapin natin ang kanyang tunay na pangalan. Yan naman talaga ang magiging pinakamagandang remedy dito sa problemang ito.
Q: First question, why, for lack of a better word, obsession on the alias when in other peace agreements with other revolutionary armies abroad, it’s not a matter?
Sen. Bongbong: Becase we are at a different phase from those that were raised by Secretary Deles. We are already in the phase where they are already joining government. And there are laws that mandate that the use of aliases is not acceptable, kaya tayo napupunta doon.
Beyond the legal question is again, we go back, to this crisis of confidence. Because we cannot go through with any of these: with the BBL, with the peace agreements, with the continuing peace negotiations, if the public is not behind us. And the public is uneasy with the government dealing with a negotiator who refuses to give his true name. Napag-usapan na natin kung ano yung maaring magin problema in the future, pero sa ngayon ang problema talaga is public perception. At sana naman, again uulitin ko si Chairman Iqbal mismo ang nagsasabi napakaliit na bagay, di bakit hindi maibigay yung kanyang tunay na pangalan.
So, kung ayaw nya—he refuses to do so—the OPAPP also will not give us the information, we will have to look look for it ourselves.
Q: Sir can we not ask Iqbal to sign an affidavit, na Mohagher Iqbal and his true name are one and the same persons?
Sen. Bongbong: No, I think we will have to go back to the records because, kung aayaw nyang ibigay ang tunay nyang pangalan hindi nya pipirmahan yung affidavit na yun.
Q: I-text niyo na lang, baka sumagot.
Sen. Bongbong: Ano, ano?
Q: I-text niyo na lang baka sumagot pa yun.
Sen. Bongbong: *laughs*
Q: Pero sir, will you advise him to use yung real name niya to prevent further complications sa documents?
Sen. Bongbong: Oo, yung talagang amin, para madali. Kung isipin ninyo, yung isa, halos dalawang oras na usapan, wala kaagad iyon kung sinabi niya yung pangalan niya eh. ‘Di, tapos na yung issue na iyon. So again, yung mga naysayers, yung mga ayaw sa BBL, yung mga kumokontra, pwede na nilang sabihing, oh yun pala eh, oh yun na, at least wala na tayong masabi, dahil alam na natin. Sinabi na nating uncomfortable tayo na alias ang ginagamit niya; sinabi niya yung tunay, tapos na iyon, so next di ba? And that would simplify matters. But if he has his own concerns, edi, as I said, kaya hahanap tayo ng ibang paraan para makuha ang kanyang identity.
Q: Sir, pag nalaman niyo na real name niya, will you still allow him to use his alias lalo na sa mga documents – further documents na pipirmahan pa?
Sen. Bongbong: Well it’s not – it is not for me to allow or disallow, but we can always profer an opinion as to what should be done, and in my opinion, if and when his true identity – his true name, is known—then he should now begin to use his real name. That way, all of these questions are moot, and we can proceed with the business of the BBL and the plebiscite, and the Bangsamoro.
Q: Sir, according to Senate President Franklin Drilon, wala namang legal implications sa peace process yung pag gamit ng alias ni Iqbal, kahit daw some senators are using their nicknames sa mga official documents like committee report and proposed bill. Kaya lang, importante malaman yung real name niya for confidence building measure.
Sen. Bongbong: Tama, kaya I – I fully agree with that assessment—na yung legal, yung legal na issues arising from the use of an alias will not become instant, or will not become relevant, until after the peace negotiations.
However, the problem at the moment is a political one. At ang sinasabi ko nga ay ang tao ay hindi maunawaan kung bakit ang hinaharap ng MILF sa atin bilang chief negotiator ay ayaw ibigay ang kanyang tunay na pangalan. Bakit? Bakit naman? Di ba?
Whether – ang kanyang dinadahilan ay dahil may security issues—-sinasabi naman natin those security issues no longer apply dahil lumabas na siya. Kumbaga, kung underground siya noon, hindi na siya underground ngayon at nagpakita na siya at nakilala na siya ng marami.
Q: Sir dun nga sa identity ni Muhager Iqbal, paano pag nalaman na hindi po talaga siya Filipino Citizen? Makakaapekto ba iyon?
Sen. Bongbong: Ah, malaking bagay iyon, that will be a very big.. that will have a very big effect kaya ayokong mag speculate tungkol diyan. Dahil wala naman talagang.. wala namang indication or much less, evidence, na nagsasabi na Chairman Iqbal is not a Filipino. But if he is found not to be a Filipino, there will be many legal implications, including the signing of the peace agreement.
Q: Yung refusal niya to reveal his real name – does that have an effect of stalling deliberations on BBL? Meaning, you will still continue but at the back of your head, you don’t know if you could trust the other party?
Sen. Bongbong: I think it’s—in my case, we can still continue. But again, public support is absolutely critical to this entire process. Walang mangyayari dito because –kami, representative kami ng tao, binoto kami ng tao. And we have to reflect the sentiment of ordinary Filipino. The Congressmen the same, binoto sila ng kanilang mga constituent eh kailangan kung sasabihin ng mga consituent nila eh ayaw namin ng ganyang klaseng sistema eh kailangan supportahan nila yung position na iyon. So yes, it will get in the way.
Q: Makaka delay ba yan sa passing? Sa schedule nyo?
Sen. Bongbong: Sa Scheduling, ah hindi dahil kagaya ng sabi ko may mga issue naman na hindi related sa pag gamit ng alias. But we will continue to pursue the issue. Gagawin namin ang lahat para malaman kung ano ba talaga ang tunay niang pangalan.
Q: Congress, May 4 they plan to go the plenary, what about the Senate?
Sen. Bongbong: Ah thats their schedule? Well if you remember there were other hearing schedules before Mamasapano. We have to do those hearings first so that is – we planned at that time Zamboanga, then Jolo and then after that another hearing in Manila and all of the others yung mga gusto pang mag salita. We’re talking about mga retired AFP officers, there are some IP gusto pang – yung IP na galing sa magiging Bangsamoro teritory marami silang gustong idagdag sa BBL so kailangan natin silang mapakingan. The Sultanates also have been asking na bakit hindi sila na konsulta dito sa pag peace process, at saka sa pag sulat ng BBL, so kailangan din natin silang balikan.
Q: So how many more hearings sir?
Sen. Bongbong: Well with this one ako sa palagay ko isa na lang on this subject, on the ceasefire. The alia, hindi ako mag coconduct ng hearing, we will just continue to find whatever we ano…. and we will bring it up in the other hearings. So there are two hearings in the South; there’s one more back here in Manila. And then we can already—siguro kung wala nang maging issue pa—-eh pwede na natin isulat yung version ng Senate.
Q: Sir according to Senator Miriam may committee report na siya sa about the Constitutionality hinihintay nlg yung sa committee ninyo sir?
Sen. Bongbong: Where is the legis? Do we have that committee report already? Because I haven’t actually seen a copy of it. So anyway yung findings niya kailangan we have to take that into account doo sa pagsulat natin ng BBL. Ang plano ko is to include them in committee amendments— the changes to the BBL to answer or to remedy what are being identified as the constitutional infirmities of the BBL.
Q: Sir separate ba o consolidated yung magiging report niyo ni Senator Miriam?
Sen. Bongbong: I’m Sorry? Separate?
Q: Oho, separate ba or consolidated?
Sen. Bongbong: Well I will– it will be submitted to the local government is still the primary committee, pero ibibigay namin lahat sa Secretariat. All of these are public documents, and it will be made public.
Q: Sir yung mga committee report (unclear)…Kasi sinasabi rin ng MILF parang tit for tat. They will not move with the–well this is the impression that I get—we will not move with the ceremonial decommissioning if they dont have a clear picture about the passing of the BBL in Congress. So timetable wise……?
Sen. Bongbong: Timetable wise? They plan to start plenary discussions next month? Pagbalik? Palagay ko hindi pa kami ready by then. Hindi namin masusundan yung schedule ng House.
Q: Pero sir yung committee report po after yung last hearing mo will be about the ceasefire mechanism lang?
Sen. Bongbong: No.
Q: All na, yung provisions sir ng BBL?
Sen. Bongbong: Oo. Nagka-hearing lang dito kasi this is part of……..I’m proposing that it be part….na yung mga remedyo na yung mga kailangang ayusin dahil nga para hindi na mangyari ulit ay isama na natin sa BBL para maging maliwanag na maliwanag kung ano nga ba ang proseso. So this is already continuing hearings on BBL, it’s not specific on that. So ang magiging resulta niyan, kung ano yung mga findings na yan, that will all go on the committee report on the BBL.
Q: Sir kaya bang ipasa ung BBL? Hanggang sa matapos tong administrasyon?
Sen. Bongbong: Kaya bang ipasa?
Q: Kaya nyo bang ipasa?
Sen. Bongbong: Basta’t maayos natin lahat ng problema sa draft BBL. Palagay ko maipapasa. But how long that will take is another question. At saka yung magiging response ng MILF dahil ilang buwan na natin naririnig na kung palitan ang kahit isang tuldok doon sa BBL ay hindi nila tatanggapin. I think they have softened that position a little bit dahil sa marami ng nangyari at sana naman maging reasonable ang kanilang pag-unawa doon sa mga gagawin naming amendment.
Q: So sakaling mapasa yung bill sa senate, kaya ba itong maipatupad ito dahil merong 1 year period yung … ng government bago…..?
Sen. Bongbong: Hindi na nga eh.Yun na nga kaya nagkakaproblema. Bumalik nanaman tayo sa issue na yan. Ang transition commission mismo hinihingi sa mga hearing 3 years, dahil andami daw nila masyadong gagawin baka hindi kaya ng 1 year. Eh yung 1 year naging mas maiksi pa. Dahil sabihin natin mapasa by the middle of this year ay hindi na talaga aabot. Di magkakaroon na ng plebesito. Ang plebisito requires, the Comelec will need 6 to 8 months ang sabi sa akin eh. Yung actual….. ang comelec.
Q: Do you have any reaction sir to the studies being done by the World Bank with regards to the BBL. (inaudible)… that even the passage of BBL would not mean anything to peace in Mindanao?
Sen. Bongbong: I think that is our point that has been already raised. We have raised many times. We go back and we have said that we have to take another perspective on this and understand that BBL in and of itself is not that magic bullet, or magic pill that will fix all our problems. Marami pa tayong issue na kailangang pag usapan.
At ng mga nababanggit nga nandiyan pa ang ibang armed groups, yung mga identified, yung ISG, yung BIFF tapos may mga bago nanamang lumitaw. Tapos meron yung tinatawag na under the general category of private armed groups so papaano ang gagawin natin sakanila?
And furthermore, yung matagal ko nang sinasabi kailangan nating balikan ang kaisa-isang peace agreement na naging matagumpay and that is the Tripoli Agreement. And the Tripoli Agreement, natigil ang putukan. But hindi lang dahil nagpirmahan tungkol sa dalawang region na autonomous kung hindi meron ding development program ang central government sa Mindanao. And if you will look at our history books at the time, together with the signing of the Tripoli Agreement nagkaron ng massive infrastructure development ang Mindanao.
And that is part of what we are trying to achieve. Kaya’t yung sinasabi, yung tungkol nga sa lump sum na ibinibigay sa Bangsamoro nagiging questionable. Dahil sinasabi natin ang dapat mag-implement lahat niyan ay ang central government. Dahil ang reklamo sa atin ng ating mga kapatid na Muslim ay naiiwanan sila, hindi sila pinapansin ng Manila. So those funds, instead of giving it to the Bangsamoro, let the national government keep it with the national government at gamitin nila para mag infrastructure development dahil…..
Q: Channeled through GUs?
Sen. Bongbong: No, by national programs. Marami pang gagawin. Lagi nating naririnig yung power situation sa mindanao; naririnig natin yung infrastructure kulang: eskwelhan, ospital. Those are the the things that the national government has to be responsible for providing.
So imbis na bigay lang tayo ng lump sum na pera, dapat kung ano man yung handa nating ibigay gamitin natin para idevelop ng mabuti ang Mindanao . I think yun ang mas importante, just as important as the peace agreements, as the concept of self determination, is that meron talagang magandang tulong at magandang pagdala ng serbisyo ng gobyerno sa Mindanao.
Q: Sir at this point ano pong top 3 provisions na pwedeng i-strike out dito sa BBL para mapagusapan na?
Sen. Bongbong: Well the constitutional ones. Already talked about the constitutional bodies: yung Comelec, yung COA at saka yung Civil Service, Ombudsman’s office pati—Ombudsman’s Office has taken the position they are a constitutional body, hindi sila pwede ma-diminish. Then yung question ng police, kailangan natin tignan ng mabuti yan. I think sa House talagang i-strike out na yata nila.
Q: Wealth sharing?
Sen. Bongbong: Lahat yan. Wealth sharing….
Q: Aalisin sir? Babawasan?
Sen. Bongbong: Babawasan para naman maging kasama ng ibang LGU. Because parang you are rewarding rebellion eh. Sinasabi kung mang gera kayo babayaran namin kayo ng malaki at bibigyan kayo ng maraming advantage.
Kaya ang binibiro ko, ihihiwalay ko na ang Ilocano Nation para meron din kaming 75 billion a year di ba? Kahit biro, that is the thinking di ba? Why are you rewarding? And the other LGUs are saying that hindi naman siguro, hindi naman dapat na hindi pantay pantay.
Q: Sir yung provisions na hindi sila hihiwalay sa Pilpinas, is there a need na in particular maglagay ng ganung provision?
Sen. Bongbong: Palagay ko. Meron naman sa ARMM eh. Hindi ko lang alam kung bakit nawala sa BBL.
Q: You will insist on that?
Sen. Bongbong: I will introduce it as an amendment. Now we return to the BBL, the provision in the ARMM organic law that they continue to pledge allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and that it will not be used as a first step for secession.
Q: Sir yung sa main statement ng MILF hindi daw dapat isama yung decommissioning sa BBL?
Sen. Bongbong: Oo, meron nga silang statement na ganun. Totoo yan because transitory yan e. That is in the transition part, kaya may phase one, two, three, four yan. That is not organic to the function of the Bangsamoro government that we are trying to organize. So wala sa BBL. Kasi ang BBL lang ang subject matter ng BBL, ano ang organizational structure ng Bangsamoro government at papano ang relasyon ng Bangsamoro government sa central government of the republic.
Q: Sir papano tayo makakasigurado na de-commissioned na yung mga combatants nila…?
Sen. Bongbong: Kaya nga, nakalagay na sa normalization is one of the annexes. Ay dapat lang that’s the implementation, the enforcement, na talagang magiging totoo yung pagbibigay ng armas.
Q: Sir yung mga binanggit nyo na pwedeng tanggalin dun sa provision, lalalamamin nun yung committee report, yung pwedeng i-draft?
Sen. Bongbong: Yes. Kasi ang decision ng committee ay hindi na mag-ano ng alternative bill. Kasi kung minsan may substitute bill. Hindi namin gagawin yun. Dadalhin namin yung BBL as drafted pero mag-propose na, magpo-propose ang committee ng committee amendments at lahat halos ng senador meron silang ipo-propose din na amendments.
Q: Sir, yung picture ninyo sa facebook nyo, when was that taken? Yung sa Oxford, one with your sons?
Sen. Bongbong: Last week. That was Thursday? Wednesday or Thursday last week, yung sumakay kami sa bus.
Q: Hindi sir, yung me hawak kang certificate.
Sen. Bongbong: That was Wednesday or Thursday yata.
Q: What does that certificate say?
Sen. Bongbong: That’s my diploma.
Q: Can you elaborate on that?
Sen. Bongbong: Ayoko nang pag-usapan yan. Nakuha ko na yung aking dokumento. Tingnan na lang ninyo sa Facebook ko. It’s all self-explanatory.
Q: Sir, …..comfortable na mismong yung mga government peace negotiators natin ang dumidepensa pa kay Iqbal, to reveal his true identity. In fact sabi pa ni Deles at ni Ferrer na 100 percent ng MILF leaders use alias?
Sen. Bongbong: No, I’m not saying I’m comfortable with that. Pero ganun ang kanilang assertion, ganun ang kanilang ginagawa, so just have to work around it.
Q: So sir, when is the next hearing?
Sen. Bongbong: Wala pa, we’ll have to schedule it because nagkakabungguan yung sa House at saka dito, dahil pareho yung mga resource persons.
Q: Sir yung mga members ng negotiating team ng MILF used aliases, all of them?
Sen. Bongbong: Yung inisa-isa, yung iba hindi, yung iba oo. We went through it with Ambassador Alonto, if you remember during the hearing, at we will now establish categorically kung sino ang alias kung sino ang tunay. Okay? Thank you.