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Press conference: Subic Bay

News & Interviews
17 September 2015

BBM: Kataka-taka at inaasahan naman natin na magdedeklara talaga siya at mula po noong nakaraang ilang linggo, ay maliwanag na tatakbo naman siya bilang Pangulo. So, ayan. Makikita niyo dahan-dahan lumiliwanag iyong sitwasyon sa pulitika. Dahil lahat kami ay napipilitan na nga magdecide at magdeklara dahil palapit na tayo sa pagfile ng COC. So, it is not a surprise. It is very well expected. That means that that it’s one element of the political terrain that has become more clear. So, that will help I think the others, such as me, the other candidates to decide what it is exactly we are going to do- what our involvement be in 2016. So that is the natural sequence pero kahapon mayroon din kaming meeting ng Nacionalista Party at binilang namin ang ilang araw bago sa deadline ng filing at palagay ko marami pang mangyayari dito dahil marami pang nakikipag-usap, marami pang nagplaplano ng mga alliances kaya’t palagay ko marami pa tayong makikitang mga bagong development sa larangan ng pulitika.

Facilitator: Okay. So, thank you Sir Senator. Before we proceed….

BBM: Pag alam ko na, sasabihin ko sainyo. Ibig sabihin, wala pa akong sinasabi sainyo na announcement ibig sabihin wala pang date. Alam niyo, iyong pagdeklara ng ganyan hindi nililhim iyan. We announce it. We will announce it. Once we have a date, once I have a decision, then we will let it be known not only to the media but to the entire country.

F: Okay, so next question.

Q: Of the issue on the Mamasapano can affect the passing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, regarding about the…

BBM: It already has. What happened in there, there is no such thing as an alternative truth. There is truth and there is falsehood. There is no such thing as an alternative truth. I do not know what the President is talking about but it is a very, very strange attitude to take. When the Commander-in-Chief believes the enemies of his men rather than his men. So that kind of disloyalty to your own service men, your own uniformed services, is disturbing and cannot be on any advantage not to us, who are continuously still trying to strive for the truth, not for the policemen who are trying to do their jobs in the face of the great difficulty, and not anyone in government because now we are being told that everything we heard are lies and I could not agree with that. So, I do not know why the President even mentioned this because it makes absolutely no sense to me at all. It makes no sense to anyone who has listened to any of the hearings. The President expects loyalty from his men. The men expect also loyalty from the President.

F: Thank you Sir.

Q: And my susuportahan na po ba tayo? As President or anyone?

BBM: Ako? Well, that is a party decision iyan. Hindi desisyon ng isang individual lamang. Siyempre lahat ng mga bagay-bagay na iyan lalo na pag pinag-uusapan ay ang palapit na tayo sa halalan ay kailangan talagang magdecide ang buong partido. Ngayon, kung minsan mayroong mga member na hindi sang-ayon, ay iyon na ay depende na diyan iyong party leadership. Pero sa ngayon ang Nacionalista Party ay hindi pa nagdedeklara kung sino ang magiging Presidential candidate. Pero, without doubt, kahit ano pang mangyari, ang Nacionalista Party will be involved and maghahanap iyan ng kung walang Presidential candidate sa loob na manggagaling sa partido, tiyak na maghahanap kami ng aming susuportahan. So, kapag naging mas maliwanag na ang sitwasyon dahil mayroon pang mga pangalan na lumilitaw na lumulutang na hindi pa natin tiyak kung ano ba ang kanilang plano. So, that’s why, although alam ko atat na atat na iyong media, alam ko iyong ating mga ibang kasamahan ay isa lang ang tanong, ano na bang plano, ano na bang plano? Pagka alamsa ngayon ay namin ang plano , sasabihin namin sainyo at iyong Nacionalista Party siguro we are still in consultations. Hindi naman negotiations, but in consultations with all the different groups to see exactly kung ano iyong pinaka magandang plataporma na para sa amin ay dapat nating suportahan.

F: Thank you. Maam!

Q: Hello. My accent is confusing so let me know if I need to repeat my statement.

BBM: No, no. I think we watch the BBC enough we’ve gotten used to it.

Q: Okay good. You said that you personally are affected by asthma?

BBM: Yes.

Q: Asthma is not only exacerbated by traffic and pollution but also from burning fossil fuels. Dominantly, coal. What is your position on the 600 megawatt proposed...

BBM: There have been great advances in technology in cleaning up the, not only coal-fired, but all the traditional oil-fired plants that, power plants around the world.

Q: Did you mean clean coal?

BBM: I’m sorry?

Q: Did you mean clean coal?

BBM: Well, It can only get so clean but the carbon recovery for coal-fired plants has improved a great deal. It is something that we need to be looking to very closely, simply because of the ready availability of coal. Our coal in the Philippines is a little bit on the high sulphur side. So, it’s not particularly good in terms of the environment. So, that is why the technologies are available. I have been to coal plants in several countries. I was quite impressed.

Q: So you support it?

BBM: By how clean. Depending on the technology that is applied. There is, there are technologies that we can say are at least safe for the environment. There is a large percentage of recovery of the carbon. As long as that is applied here, then it is something that we are in dire need of- an extra power generation. So, we have to explore every possible solution that is available around the world and that’s why besides alternative energies, we still have to go back to the traditional power plants because there are issues. I come from Ilocos Norte where we have a great deal of wind power.

Q: Inaudible

BBM: The location of wind farms are not a political decision.

Q: What decision is it then?

BBM: Nature. Nature will tell you where wind farms are in fact viable. You cannot say, because I am the Governor of this place I want to have wind farms here. It’s not just windmill there’s a whole other rough of technical requirements for a wind farm to be viable- commercially viable. If it’s not commercially viable, then there’s no point doing it because no one will invest. So that is something. Although we have a great many wind turbines and solar generation, we know that the wind does not blow every moment every day, the sun does not shine in the nights. We still have to cover our basic load. We still have to have these traditional power plants. But, hand in hand the Chairman has just explained to me that there will be one of the largest, we are not competing with Ilocos Norte, largest alternative energy production in the country so I am going to go back to Ilocos and do some number-crunching and come back and see if it’s true. If it’s not, magpapatayo na kami ng mas maraming wind farm para magkakompetisyon. But that is a good, healthy competition. It is good for the environment. Hand in hand, with intelligent and enlightened development of traditional sources of power, these are things we need to explore. These are things that we are in great need of.

Q: And just this one last point. Diesel is not commercially viable in the Philippines that’s why it has huge subsidies, therefore could you not subsidize renewable energy in the way that diesel is subsidized because diesel is not commercially viable here.

BBM: There are no direct subsidies but there are different arrangements that are being given to give advantage to alternative energy and those are in the form of, well the WTO has its own carbon credits. There are several tax holidays that are given to those who are investing in alternative energy. I think we have done a bit, I think we could, I certainly think the government can do more. Right now, it is all. If you look none of the alternative energy development projects around the country have a government. It is all private. We cannot leave it only to the private sector to develop that very important part of our energy supply. We have to make sure that the government, the government’s policy on alternative energy and in power in general, is fully integrated, is cohesive. Right now, it is not. it is not cohesive. It’s all over the place. There’s one measure here, there’s one measure there. There does not seem to be a single policy or single principle or concept that is being followed right now and that is what I think is lacking because we can see when such government policy is clear and sustainable and enforced, consistently over a long term, these are the elements that are important. It must consistently be applied, it must be over the long term. We have seen in other countries how this has been of great assistance to the alternative energy industry. However, with the projections, that oil might go down all the way to 28 dollars, then that changes the economic picture drastically and of course, we have to take that into account as well.

Chairman: Can I just make a comment. In the first place, the final decision of Meralco, was putting up the coal products. Then reduce the capacity, so they will do 300 megawatt, not 600 megawatt.

Q: Inaudible

Chairman: Yes. It was raised to 6 but now we’ve gone back to 300. Secondly, we have made studies to make sure that number one, we use the latest technology which is the fluidized bed. What the fluidized bed does is it captures even a greater proportion of the carbon emissions. Number three, we had special studies done by an independent research, I think... and we told them to measure the carrying capacity of the Subic Bay Freeport in terms of pollutants. Because of our situation also, they came out with a figure of something, my question is how much will a 600 megawatt coal plant affect the carrying capacity of Subic? They said, less than two percent. Less than two percent. Also, what we’re saying is that you know, Subic is an open area. It is not a confined space like Beijing. So you have the habagat and the north, the amihan, so the wind constantly dissipates the pollutants. That is the advantage of Subic Bay. I’m not saying that they are not going to produce, they will. But what I’m saying is, the board must take that into consideration. So I guess the latest technology and we know the effect absolutely. Unfortunately, we do not have many alternatives. Let’s say for example, diesel or even nuclear. I mean those are not here in the Philippines. So, the other solution is renewable energy. As the good Senator mentioned, on Friday, tomorrow, I’m going to invite all of you, to the ground breaking of a 150 megawatt renewable energy project. This will be done by Emerging Power Incorporated. This is the sister company of Nickel Asia owned by the Zamora family. It will be a hundred megawatt of solar and fifty megawatt of wind. The unfortunate point again as mentioned is that this is not base loan. Because during the day, they cannot provide base loan so you have to provide alternative sources. So it will be fluctuating. There will be two sources. It will be electricity that we continue to buy from and the renewable energy. That is going to be the situation. But at least, at least, that it will reduce again our consumption in terms of the fossil fuels. Which we are trying very hard to do. Last point I want to make is that the Philippines is now the highest cost of electricity in the whole Asian region. Japan used to be number one. We are now the highest cost. For me this is a big obstacle in returning the foreign investments coming in because especially for the industries that... Wow this is your cost. I always counter and tell them, look at the bright side. The bright side is the Filipino people. That is your asset because we’re not only cheap, we’re good. And I think that is the reason why foreign investors continue. We need to lower the price of power here if we really want to become a... Thank you.

BBM: That’s what I was saying that the energy policy needs to be more cohesive because even if the cost of production comes down, with all the other assistance that the government is giving, then the distribution, the transmission. The transmission cost is really not a problem, the distribution. It is down to the electrical cooperatives. They have been the most inefficient part of the system for many, many years now. That is something that really needs a major re-think if we are going to say that we are now a ready supplier of cheap, reliable, energy, it is the single. This is always the first complaint of any prospective investor in the Philippines. Your power, your cost are too high and your power is too unreliable. We cannot live with that and that’s why we lose so much in the FPI.

F: Thank you Sir Senator, Sir?

Q: Pang Radyo Natin Ito ang Pilipinas. Senator, question ko po sainyo, ito pong problema sa Western part ng Zambales, Scarborough Shoal, kasi iyong mga fishermen natin dito, ay talaga pong nahahalo sa mga Chinese fishermen. Napaka hirap po mangisda. Perhaps, as you would say, pareho naman tayong tiga western part of the Philippine Sea. We need you as the next leadership our next leader, para maresolba po itong problema na ito.

BBM: Well, sa aking palagay, iyong ating ginawa so far, na dinala natin sa arbitration sa UN, iyong ating mga conflicting na claims sa West Philippine Sea lalo na sa China. Pero sa iba’t-ibang bansa, ay palagay ko tama naman iyon, para masabi natin at mapakita natin kung ano ba talaga ang ating argumento kung bakit maliwanag na maliwanag sa kasaysayan ng China at ng Pilipinas, itong mga lugar na ito, ay talagang bahay ng Pilipinas. Ngunit, sa palagay ko ang ating kakulangan ay iyong pag-usap sa ating mga kaibigan sa China. Mayroong naging develop na hindi yata napansin ng ating DFA. Ang bagong development, ang sinabi ng Chinese Ambassador, na handa sila makipag-usap bilaterally with the Philippines on the basis of International Law. Ngayon lang nila sinabi iyon. This is the first time that they have ever talked about International UNCLOS. Dati sinasabi nila, itong Dash-9 iyan, hindi na nila ipinaliwanag kung saan nanggaling iyong Dash-9 na iyon. Hindi nila pinapaliwanag kung bakit iyan ang tamang dapat sundan. Ngayon, dahil mayroon ng UNCLOS, mayroon ng base line, palagay ko ay mayroon tayong malaking pagkakataon na makipag-usap at sabihin natin basta’t sundan lang natin iyong kung ano iyong nasa International Law, kung ano ang nasa batas, ano iyong pinagkasunduan doon sa UNCLOS. As an example, nagkaroon din tayo ng conflicting, wala naman isla, kung hindi sa tubig sa Indonesia. Dahil nag-overlap iyong ating economic zone doon sakanila. Ngunit, with negotiations with Indonesia, nakahanap tayo ng, the limitation. Napagkasunduan na natin iyong linya kung saan sasabihin natin, dito Pilipinas, dito Indonesia. And that is the only way I think that we will finally come to a good solution dito sa problema sa West Philippine Sea. I think that it is an opportunity that we have been given I think, unfortunately I do not think our government is taking full advantage of it. So palagay ko, dapat udjukin pa rin natin ang ating DFA na makipag-usap na sa China at basta’t maliwanag na maliwanag ang usapan ay nasa framework ng International Law na United Nations Charter Law Of the Seas. Iyon ang UNCLOS.

Q: The people of the Philippines need you to move to a higher position in the candidacy.

BBM: Well that might help. Sa ngayon hindi tayo makapakinggan ng nasa taas. They have taken on a very simplistic, and I would have to say short term and shallow analysis of the problem that we have with China. I think there are many opportunities that we still have to be able to at least begin the resolution of the problem. I can’t say that with one meeting, with two meetings, we will solve everything, but kailangan nating simulan iyong usapan. You have to start somewhere. If you do not start you will never find a final solution.

F: Thank you Sir. I would like to acknowledge the arrival ng ating simpatiko at poging Mayor ng siyudad ng Olangapo, sunod sa boss ko siyempre, Mayor Rolen Paulino. So next question Randy from Rappler.

Randy: Paano niyo haharapin ang batikos ng mga mamamayang Pilipino regarding doon sa pagiging diktadoryal na nasa lingkod ng inyong ama?

BBM: Ang mga batikos naman na iyan sainyo lang nanggagaling. Hindi naman sa mamamayang Pilipino. Ito ay, lahat naman iyan, ay kung mayroong kaso, sinasagot namin sa korte. Kung mayroon talagang ganyang sinasabi, sinasagot namin hangga’t kaya namin. But you have to also acknowledge that all of these things, when was 1986? 30 years ago. Naresolve na iyan. Bumagsak ang gobyerno, those who were criticizing that, tapos na. So, let’s move on. Ang problema ngayon ay hindi iyan ang mga lahat, paulit-ulit na binabanggit ng a certain element of the press at ito naman ang dapat nating pag-usapan ay kung ano ang mga problema sa ngayon, at kung ano ang mga maibibigay na solusyon sa ngayon. Ang dami nating problema, iyong nabanggit. Mga traffic, nabanggit iyong problema sa tubig, iyong problema sa kuryente, problema sa MTR, problema sa foreign investment, marami tayo, problema sa trabaho, problema sa maraming gutom dahil twelve million Filipinos that consider themselves hungry. These are the problems that we should be talking about. Not problems that have already been resolved two generations ago. Let us go back to what the people has voted into office for. To solve the problems they face every day. To solve the problems to make their lives better. This I think is where the focus should be. This is what I will continue to talk about.

F: Thank you Sir, we will be entertaining the last two questions. Julie?

Q: Going back Sir doon sa situation ng mga fisher folks sa Zambales and Pangasinan. As a Senator Sir ano po iyong moves na ginawa ninyo if ever kung mayroon man po na para tulungan itong mga fishermen folks natin dito?

BBM: Ang problema ng ng ating mga mangingisda, is with China. Ang relasyon natin sa China. That is foreign policy. Ang foreign policy, ay nasa ilalim ng Presidente. It is the President who dictates foreign policy, who assesses and determines what foreign policy is. As Senators what we can do is to provide advice, as Senators what we can do, is to make laws that we to try and help any situation. However, when it comes to foreign policy, iyan ay nasa ilalim ng executive. As I said, puwede kaming magsalita, puwede kami mag-assess, ngunit, wala kaming, sa Constitution natin maliwanag na maliwanag, foreign policy is under the President. The President in my view, if you ask my opinion, ang dapat niyang gawin ay baguhin na niya ang kanyang polisiya towards China at pag-usapan na natin at kagaya ng nabanggit ko nga, may pagkakataon tayo dahil itong very first time na nangyari ito, na nagkaroon ng pagkakataon na sinabi ng ating Chinese Ambassador sa Pilipinas na sinasabi na ang usapan puwede ng gawin sa ilalim ng International Law. Dahil sa International Law tama tayo. Tama tayo. Dati ang pinipilit lang nila iyong kanila. May linya silang iyong 9 Dash line na sinasabi nila. Kung International Law, sakop lahat iyong mga dating tradisyon rin na alam natin na bahagi ng Pilipinas. Kaya’t kung aantayin lang natin iyong arbitration, masyadong matagal. Baka matagalan. Kailangan talaga para matulungan ang ating mga naghihirap. Dati naman walang problemang ganoon. Before we undertook this foreign policy against China, and I have to say against China, before we undertook that foreign policy, we had no problem. Iyong mga mangingisda ng China, iyong mga mangingisda ng Pilipinas, nagsasama-sama sila. Bababa sila sa isla, kakain sila tapos magfifishing nanaman sila. Pero noong nagkaroon tayo ng belligerent attitude towards China, ayaw natin makipag-usap ng bilateral kaya’t diyan nagsimula ang mga problema na iyan. Maybe it’s time to take a step back and review that policy and tignan natin kung ano siguro ang maaaring gawin such as the beginning of bilateral talks with China. Under again, within the framework of International Law, dahil kagaya ng sabi ko as Far as International Law is concerned tama iyong ating sinasabi. So kung masimulan natin iyon, let us say first. Umpisa, first item on the agenda ng usapan, iyong mga fishermen namin wag niyo ng guluhin. Nangingisda lang naman iyan. wala naman mga pakialam iyan sainyo, hayaan niyo na sila magfishing kagaya ng dati. Kagaya ng ginagawa natin noon. It’s International waters anyway. Hindi ba? So, let’s revert to that position dahil talgang alam kong maraming nahihirapan dahil sa bagong policy ng gobyerno. We’ll find an arrangement with that, saka na natin pag-usapan iyong mga mas malalaking bagay kung ano iyong kasaysayan, what happened three hundred years ago, anong mga treaty na kailangang sundan, etcetera, etcetera. I think the first part of that, palagay ko papayag naman siguro ang China na sabihin sige pag-usapan lang natin iyong mga fishermen niyo. Iyon ang una nating pag-usapan. Pagnaayos na natin iyong mga problema, that’s one step. And not a small step. That’s one step. Malaking bagay iyon. So pag doon nagsimula at least kayo na mga fisher folks, mas magiging maliwanag, mas magiging peaceful ang inyong trabaho. That I think should be the first item on the agenda. What do we do with that fisher folk? And let us return to that peaceful co-existence that we had before.

Q: Stand on the issue on EDCA, and that is spending on the Supreme Court

BBM: I believe the EDCA is a treaty that should be ratified by the Senate. It is not an executive agreement as the Palace seems to insist. Kasi maliwanag na maliwanag that it is an agreement between two sovereign nations and in our Constitution every treaty agreement must be ratified by the Senate; whereas, in this case ginawa nilang lahat na sabihin ng EDCA ay hindi kailangan i-ratify na Senado. Sa palagay ko ay hindi tama iyong interpretasyon na iyon. Pangalawa, kung ito ba ay labag sa Konstitusyon na magkaroon tayo ng bases. Kung babasahin mo iyong EDCA, makikita mo, talagang iniwasan nilang gamitin iyong salitang bases. They say it is a rotational presence. Lahat naman ng bases rotational presence. Iyong nandito mga Amerikano hindi naman sila naiiwan dito na habang buhay. Nandito sila habang duty nila dito tapos lilipat at magrorotate. Bago nanaman ang dadating. So, it is a questionable at best. It is questionable to say that these are not bases that are being established. So we will leave it to the Supreme Court to determine that. As a further point on the EDCA, sa aking palagay, parang luging-lugi tayo sa usapan. Doon sa naging arrangement with the Americans. Dahil they can come into any base in the Philippines. Hindi tayo ang magsasabi sakanila kung saan sila papasok, sila ang magsasabi sa atin kung saan nila gustong pumasok. That is why, we have to be very careful, dahil nandiyan palaki ng palaki ang China, its military power is increasing. Its geo-political interests are widening. Kaya’t kailangan nating magbalanse. We have to take a more balanced approach in our foreign policy especially when it comes to the Americans and the Chinese. Dahil sa laki ng dalawang bansa, ng America at saka ng China, magduruan lang iyong dalawang iyon, wala na tayo, durog na tayo. Kaya’t kailangan maingat na maingat tayo. We have to stop saying, ay kampi ako sa America, ay hindi ako kampi ako sa China. Dapat ang pag-iisip natin, kampi ako sa Pilipinas. Ano ang maganda sa Pilipinas. Huwag natin isipin ano iyong maganda sa America, marami silang nagtatrabaho para diyan. Huwag natin iisipin kung ano iyong maganda sa China. Marami sila doon nagtatrabaho para sa China. I work for the Philipppines. I do not work for the United States. I do not work for China. I work for the Philippines. We have to keep that thought constant in our head. What is good for the Philippines. That is the only, the national interest should be the guiding principle that we are following on our foreign policy. Unfortunately, right now as I said, we have taken a simplistic approach to the geo-political situation in our country. It’s not a simple problem. It is not going to be resolved immediately. It is not going to be resolved by amateurs. It has to be resolved by people who understand the problem- who have experience in diplomacy and who know what are the available options and what are the best options for the Philippines. Saka na iyong mga iba. Iyong atin-atin muna. Iyong Pilipinas.

F: Thank you Sir. Last, last, last question.

Q: Sabi ni Cong nga po kanina na unahin natin ang mga panunahing problema dito sa Pilipinas. So isa po sa mga nagiging problema natin, na talagang pasong-paso na, ang mga mamamayang Pilipino, about po sa corruption. So if ever po na kayo po ay tatakbo or magiging President po ng Philippines, just in case lang, pero ano po iyong puwede po niyong or masasabi po ninyo sa mga corrupt po lalo na po iyong issue po ngayon sa customs.

BBM: Well, bilang Senador halimbawa, sapat na ang batis natin. Kumpleto na ang batas natin sa anti-corruption. Sundan lang natin. Sundan lang natin ng masinsinan kung ano ba talaga ang nakasulat sa batas. Pangalawa, huwag natin ipinopolitika ang anti-corruption drive. Kapag sinasabi natin, hahabulin natin lahat ng mga corrupt, hahabulin natin lahat ng magnanakaw, huwag iyong kalaban lang. Pati iyong kapartido mo kung talagang mapatunayan na sila’y gumagawa ng kalokohan, dapat kasuhan din. Pero sa ngayon hindi yata pantay ang trato. Depende sa kulay ng pulitika. Pag napapasukan ang batas, pag napapasukan ang pag-implementa ng batas, ang pag-enforce ng batas sa pulitika, diyan tayo nagkakaproblema. That is the way the situation we have now. The law must be seen, to be applied to everyone. Walang immune. Iyan ang importante. Sa ngayon mayroon mga siguro masasabi natin, mayroong mga matataas na opisyal diyan, siguro ang pakiramdam nila, immune sila for political reasons. Tanggalin natin iyon. Pag tinaggal natin iyang pamumulitika sa pag-enforce ng batas palagay ko malaking hakbang iyon para iyong mabawasan ang corruption hindi lang sa pamahalaan, pati sa private sector.

F: Okay so thank you very much for that. I would like to thank our panel.