Q and A at Rotary Club of Pasay Monthly Meeting

SBBM: Hear a politician say there’s too much politics in our life. I don’t blame you. It is a simple idea but what has happened in our political evolution, it has become a novel I believe.

Q: In the beginning of your speech, you said about the availability of drugs. Since they took out mandatory drug testing to all the license works, 910 major accidents are because these people were under the influence of drugs. So I would like to know if you will agree to bring back the drug testing again as mandatory requirement for people who are behind the wheel?

SBBM: I suppose you can institute that. There are some legal and constitutional issues. If you remember there was a time where all candidates would have to undergo a drug test. I remember we underwent a drug test once. I think it was in 2004 if I’m not mistaken. But again that was deemed unconstitutional. That is why we cannot impose that upon the candidates. That was the judgment of the Supreme Court. So what we can do is hit the supply site. What I simply suggest is this. What the police is doing is fine. The by-bust operations that they do is necessary. But it is time to go up to the big guys. Enough of just getting the guys who are on the street. We also have to look in the law because for example, in the law, any person who is caught selling drugs or carrying drugs that they intend to sell, if what they are carrying is less than 200 grams, then having been charged or having been detained, it is bailable. No person carries that much iyung 200 grams. Iyung shabu they sell it tenth of a gram, half of a gram, fifth of a gram, so talagang wala tayong mahuhuli. So I don’t know why we cannot once and for all change that provision in the law. Secondly, I think again we have to increase the support that we have for our policemen, we have to number 1, make them better trained. Also, be very, very vigorous in investigating those who are implicated in being involved in the drug syndicates. Once again, we all know who they are- these drug lords. The PDEA may be not say it in public but you sit the officers down, they will give you a list of who they are. Why are we not arresting them, putting them in jail, and throwing the key away? Because after all, what they are doing is not just embarking upon illegal activities. What they are doing is victimizing the young people. Destroying the lives of young people. They target young people. That has a huge implication. Because what is that very famous saying? Ang pag-asa ng bayan ay ang kabataan. Pag winasak ang buhay ng mga kabataan, wala tayong kinabukasan. There is no future. Or at least there is no good future. So it something that I think we have allowed to grow and we have been negligent in focusing upon. I think it is time once again to go after the big guys. The problem of course is that they have so much money and narco-politics in many areas, many parts of our country is how things are conducted. Where even the government officials, the police, the judiciary; they are all in (?) with the drug syndicates. So I think there is no need in my view to resort to extra legal means. What we just need to do is to enforce the law. Enforce the rule of law as strictly and as well as it possibly can and we will feel the effects of that immediately.

Q: There are so many challenges that we have. Like in the business community, we talk about corruption, criminality, climate change, too much politics, poverty, pollution and the police, infrastructure competence. With you carrying the public works and infrastructure committee, maybe I’d like to share that in 1975 or 1977, I was team leader of the World Bank funded metro plan manila. It was in that study that a ruler of Dubai, invited me to help Dubai. Where you can do the 21st century. I remember that time, we had a do nothing scenario. In do nothing scenario, it would be catastrophic to the planning and traffic and transportation. Issues today we address it. You were the first one to put forward the MRT as basic backbone of transportation. By 1992, we should have had 8 lines of LRT. The Paranaque spillway, it was also proposed. We would not have the flooding around Laguna Lake and so on. We had about 300 recommendations and so on. But it appears that, I started doing work in 39 counties after the metro plan manila. A lot of those countries that I have helped, they really moved very much forward. So I say that maybe the next leaders that we should be electing must have visionary leadership, strong political will, good planning like urban planning, good design, architecture and engineering and good governance. I was a speaker in Davao last Monday, they asked me who to support. I said those things. I did not mention any candidate but names came out like you’re coming out as infrastructure focus. That’s what we need right now. I hope that you can make it. We might do a back to the future plans like what we worked on the 70’s.

SBBM: Thank you. We are lucky in Ilocos Norte is doing that kind of planning again for us in Ilocos Norte. All of these problems that we are facing now have already been thought about, have already been discussed and plans were created so as to be able to alleviate such problems. Unfortunately, we have abandoned any kind of long term implementation of any kind of long term plan. Again, the reason. Because we have elections every 3 years. We have this terrible tendency in the Philippines. When a mayor is elected, let’s say the incumbent is Juan Dela Cruz and I beat the incumbent. I ignore everything that the former mayor did whether or not it is good. This is what I was saying. The merit of a program, the merit of a project, does not come into it. Hindi ko kasama iyan. Hindi puede iyan. That is suicide. We will not get anywhere because we are always starting from zero each time we elect new leadership. That is why we have to start thinking about what is necessary to build this nation. Not to say that his plan is no good because magkalaban kami sa pulitika or my plan is better, is good. It is who will do the nation-building better? I think that should be the question for us. It’s not an “or” thing. It’s not a black and white thing. We have to agree that for example, that we have to fix our agricultural sector; that we have to increase our infrastructure development; that we have to improve the peace and order in the criminality section; we have to fix our education; we have to fix many areas. Let us agree on that. Then we start to look into it deeper and say, how do we do that? How do we do that improvement? Who has the better plan? If we decide upon a plan, and we start that plan, let us finish it. Let us not stop because the leadership has changed. So that the leadership can now stand up and say, everything that my predecessor did was wrong. Everything that they did has no value. We must recognize the truth of the matter and say, hindi ko gusto iyung ginawa niya rito kaya ko kinalaban. Pero mayroon din siyang ginawang maganda. Halimbawa, may scholarship program na maganda at maraming natulungan. Just continue that. There is a grassroots development program at the barangay level. Let’s continue that. All of these things. Again, it comes down to too much politics. I don’t know how we are going to rid ourselves of this millstone that we have tied around our collective necks so that we are able to finally move forward. I know that it has been a big proponent of this kind of large scale thinking. Something that we need. You cannot think only in the short term. You cannot only think at the barangay level. It is important that you do think at the barangay level, but not only at the barangay level. Not only at the municipal level. Not at the city or provincial. But at the national and international level. It did not used to be so, but it is so now because we have globalized. It is what is happening because of all the developments in technology, because the changes in our economic structure, the global economy has been established and it is the dominant economy now. So we have to buy into that. We have to make sure that we are part of that. The only way to do that is to think in the long term. Let us not keep our dreams small. Let us make our dreams as large as we can make them. Dream big. Because only by dreaming big; only by trying to make a big difference are we going to make anything that is truly important, that is truly felt, by every single citizen of the country. That is something that you might find to be high in the sky or suntok sa buwan. But it is something that we need to do. It is something that we have to continue working for.

Q: Mister Senator, good afternoon. Let me just tell you Mister Senator that you’re very popular in my district in my city of Paranaque. One of the things that you hit hard and one of the things we like very much about you is that you would like to move forward. That ‘s something that strikes a good call from any of us. Especially coming from you because your family has been battle-scared as well. You would like to move forward and were certainly very happy about that. Who among the candidates do you think would like to move forward with you in the event that you will win?

SBBM: You’re asking about the presidential candidates?

Q: Yes. I’m sure you can work with anyone, but who do you think would like to move forward as well? Because I don’t know them personally. In the event that one wins the presidency, it’s better for him to move forward because he wants to think about the past and the history. What are we going to do with that mister future vice-president?

SBBM: Of course I will do nothing else but promote my running mate Senator Miriam. Senator Miriam is very much a forward thinking person. She has ideas for this country which are as progressive as any I have ever heard. She continues to think that. I think that’s why young people react so well to her because she approaches problems first, in an intellectual way; furthermore, she is able to endorse those ideas in her singular fashion. There is stuff that Senator Miriam says that nobody else could possible say. That is an added quality because the ability to communicate your ideas is an important thing. Although I have to say that actually when people say who would you prefer, of course I would prefer Senator Miriam to be the President when I become vice-president. But I can work with anyone. First of all, Senator Miriam, I have been a great fan of her since I started working with her in the Senate, even beforehand. Mayor Duterte has been a close friend of mine for 20 years. Mar Roxas and I have been friends for 30 plus years. Grace is my sister. I find myself in a very advantageous position.

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