Tue. Jan 19th, 2021
Press Release
January 13, 2021

Transcript of SP Sotto’s interview at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay with Marichu Villanueva

Q: Given that SP Sotto has a higher satisfaction rating as Senate President and one who has garnered highest approval rating since 1990, would SP Sotto consider to run for higher office in 2022?

SP Sotto: Well, thank you very much for the kind words. Thank you. Again, good morning to you and to one and all. 2022 are still about three of four corners away. It is not around the corner. I did not given it a thought really. Frankly, I have not yet given that a thought. I have been hearing overtures, but that is just about it. I am more concerned with the work of the SP in the Senate. We want to make sure that the 17th and 18th Congress are well remembered in the journals of the Philippine history and the Senate has always been productive and independent minded. Thank you. We would like to thank our countrymen for monitoring what we have been doing because the hearing last Monday, I think was very important, We have not been able to cross all points, there are still many issues to be discussed. We would like to hear from the private sector, we invited them this Friday. We would like to hear directly from the Local Government Units and we invited them this Friday also. And the continuation of our colleagues who weren’t able to poster questions. Hopefully, we were able to help our countrymen understand as far as the road map of the immunization program of the government is concerned. So, again, thank you for this opportunity.

Q: On the policies of the government to restrict access of the vaccine program and his response the National Task Force on that matter.

SP Sotto: Well, initially, what we were thinking was that someone of us thought that in the day that we were hoping to come up with our own policy in the matter, as explained by Sec. Galvez, it is the imposition of both manufacturers and the WHO that there must be (unclear) agreement between the government who are buying it and the manufacturers either the private sectors of the LGUs who will be procuring the vaccines. Iyon ang eksplanasyon nila. The reason they gave was because they are still in the development stage of phase 3 trials and has not been completed. At ang binibigay lang nila ay ag tinatawag na EUA of Emergency Use Authorization. It is the only one that is being issued by the FDA which is different from the product registration. So, it cannot be offered commercially. That is the point that they are bringing up. Understandable, but again, the colleagues of mine have bringing issues like RA 9711, the FDA Law. Iyong sinasabi ng ani Sen. Zubiri na which is the Bayanihan II. Wherein that it is very clear and he was the one who imposed that amendment, and it says, that nothing in this act prohibit private entities for conducting research, developing, importing, manufacturing, distributing or selling covid-19 vaccines sourced from registered pharmaceutical companies. So, shall prohibit, maliwanang iyan eh. Kung ang sinasabi nga nila bakit natin pipigilan kung meron isang korporasyon or isang LGU na directly na bumibili. Ang sagot, hindi ka bebentahan. That is why my hypothetical question was e kung pumayag? I was insisting. Hindi nila masagot iyon. (Unclear) Quezon City then we have Pasig City, kasi sila ang nanguna eh. We have Manila, Valenzuela, Makati, meron na sila. Na procure na nila. Na acquire na nila. Pero, hindi pa nade deliver (unclear). Lahat iyon. Walang dumirekta. I think they all follow the procedures. (Video cut/buffering)

Q: The President was personally castigating the FDA

SP Sotto: Ang na pick up ng media (unclear). Iyon ang na pick up ng media. Hindi nila nakita iyong sinasabi mo ng na (unclear) napagalitan sila. E bakit ang bagal natin? Precisely that is the issue (unclear) that is the reason that we are conducting a road map of the immunization hearing. Ang tanong, bottom-line, bakit wala pa tayo? Kailan tayo magkakaroon at kung sinu-sino ang pagbibigyan? (Unclear) Ang naging issue before that was that bakit sila meron, kami wala? Sa amin, as far as the chairman of the committee whole is concerned, I am centering in the issue of the road map of the immunization program of the government. TApos ang isa sa napakahalaga ay makumbinsi ang ating mga kababayan na okay ito. At dapat magpa immunize tayo. Kasi nagkaroon na tayo ng history, nagkaroon na tayo ng problema sa dengvaxia, di ba? Mga reklamong ganoon. Marami pa ang medyo hindi kumbinsido. That is one of the reasons, again, I am glad that you mentioned it to me earlier, we have as a guest, an expert on vaccinology. Dr. Lulu Bravo. She was there. But, nobody asked her. We will give her the floor on Friday. We will give her the floor first para mabigyan tayo ng backgrounder. Medyo, baka mas maintindihan ng mga kababayan natin, mas madaling malaman nila. (Video cut/buffering)

Q: Will the vaccination program will be implemented the way it is presented?

SP Sotto: Keeping my fingers crossed, I hope and I think that we will. Magpakisamahan lang. Tulungan lang. May kailangan sa registration, ibibigay namin. May kailangan sa kababayan natin makisama, dapat makisama. Pero iwasan natin na mapagbibintangan ang gobyerno na may pinapaboran, iwasan natin ang merong tong-pats. Di ba” Kapag pumasok ang mga ganyang usapin, nakakawalang gana. At, mawawalan ng gana ang mga kababayan natin eh. Iyan dapat ang maiiwasan dapat.

On the issue of being choosy of the vaccines. How will the Senate address that issue?

SP Sotto: It has two sides, kasi kung anong available, gamitin na natin (Video cut/buffering)

SP Sotto: There is an amendment to the constitution. Constituent Assembly or a Joint Resolution. (unclear) So that the plebiscite for the people to agree on the 2022 elections. So, that dispels all the other issues. (Video cut/buffering)

Iyon ang isang strategy na nakikita ko. Hopefully, I will be supported by my colleagues in doing so. (Video cut/buffering)

SP Sotto: My proposal is to amend the party list law. Not to abolish them. So, dapat makisama sila dito. Makitulong sila dito. Kung alin talaga ang tama na gawin. They are ¼ of the Congress. So, siguro naman kung ano ang tama, susundin ng karamihan ng mga members ng House of Representatives. Iyon ang maganda.

Q: Are you gonna draft that bill or resolution?

SP Sotto: I have been drafting it already. Will review it by the legislative staffs tomorrow and most probably will file it on Monday.

On the party list committee report, what other possible party lists will be added to your bill?

SP Sotto: Well, right now, may mga qualifications na dina draft pa kami. I cannot say with certainty kung anu-ano ito. But then again, babalikan natin ang tunay na marginalized. Iyon muna.

Q: …that your Senate Bill No. 1, which you authored Doktor Sa Bayan have been signed ito law by the President na timely, very timely during this pandemic, So hopefully it will get the same support yung new proposed bill on the partylist. So, before we leave the ChaCha, I just would to ask, to clarify Sir, yung plan mo na one liner provision, so that means you are only supportive on the economic amendment, with that one liner? Kasi madami nang pumapasok na… so you seek your lower house support, magkaroon kayo ng LEDAC?

SP Sotto: Oo, yes, I was talking with the Secretary General of the House, former Congressman Mendoza last Sunday, and we were scheduling again a meeting with Speaker Velasco and the officers of the House of Representatives. Let’s give credit where credit is due. The issue of a one-liner idea was brought up to me by former Speaker Sonny Belmonte. Binanggit niya sa akin yan, some time ago. And naisip ko during that time, aba puwede. But it was not, it was not pursued. It was lately, that I recalled that particular point, lalo na noong mainit na yung issue nung constituent assembly or constitutional change or amendment. Naisip ko nga, kung economic provisions lang naman talaga ang target natin eh di yung one-liner na yun will be enough. That will give Congress now, a free hand to interpret the issue about media, the issue about ownership, the issue about trade liberalization. Samantalang, we’re already in the process of discussing the public service law, the trade liberalization law. Ano yan, mas mabilis, mas madali, hindi.. walang panganib doon sa mga nag-iisip na iba ang agenda ng Pangulo o ng ibang mga tao tungkol sa ChaCha. At ako naman pag sinabing ChaCha, noong araw ko pa sinasabi, yung CHA – charter change eh, pero sa akin, CHA – hindi ChaCha, CHARACTER CHANGE. Character change ang importante sa atin.

Q: Tama ka nga naalala ko, nung Speaker si Sonny Belmonte and Cong. Arthur Yap was a member of the previous Congress, they initiated a joint resolution, pero nothing happened, because sa Senate naman ang nag-stall because the previous Senate that blocked it. So nothing happened there. Do you feel na it might suffer, reverse naman ang mangyari ngayon?

SP Sotto: Ah hindi, palagay ko mas, the present Senate will be supportive, I think. Majority of the members of the Senate will be supportive. Especially kung ganon nga ang procedure, kung ganoon ang gagawin. Because, (unclear) batas ang gagawin namin eh, mawawala yung issue ng voting jointly o voting separately. Mawawala yung issue na baka biglang may tumayo, magdagdag ng pag-uusapan, baka term limits ang pag-usapan, baka biglang extension ng term. Mawawala lahat yun.

Q: So joint resolution nalang?

SP Sotto: Puwede, puwede.

Q: Except yung partylist, talagang batas ang kailangan non?

SP Sotto: Hmm. Hmm. Kasi I was just informed that Sen. Gordon filed a senate joint resolution to propose amendments to economic provisions of the Constitution. Konektado na yun doon ano. My proposal would be a ‘safe’ proposal, practical and safe.

Q: Do you need to have a LEDAC meeting, joint Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council meeting before you resume session on Monday?

SP Sotto: Mas madadali yung magkakaroon. But it cannot be done, within this week malabo. Perhaps I can request for it by Monday, we’ll know in a few days whether it can be given. Alam mo naman doon sa Pangulo, sa Presidente, bago kami makapag-meeting within 2 days before, you have a swab test. Pwede na saliva ngayon, mas madali.

Q: Si Sen. Dick Gordon na ang bahala doon sa saliva test…. Anyway Sir, before I open it to the questions sa Senate Press Cor.I just would like to take up with you yung when session resumes on Monday and wala pa kayong LEDAC, what will be your priority agenda for Monday resumption?

SP Sotto: Well, usually I leave it to the Majority leader, he always has a guide. And the guide would be what we have discussed with the other house and the executive department. In this case, we have a program, ng napagkasunduan namin, both a common legislative agenda. Still priority para sa amin ay, yung CREATE bi-cam eh. And the creation of the Department of the Overseas Filipinos and the Land Use Act, National Land Use Act, issues on the E-governance Act amendments and the imposition of death penalty for high-level drug trafficking, the National Housing Development Act, amendments to the Professional Development Act. Eto yung mga naka-pending na pwedeng (unclear) kaagad eh. And it’s still (unclear) included in the common legislative agenda. The Medical Reserve (unclear) Act, the creation of a disease prevention and control authority, I think this is also very important topic to tackle, and then amendments to the Anti-money Laundering Law, the Internet Transactions Act, palagay ko hot na hot si Sherwin Gatchalian ngayon diyan. And then, amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, ayan diba. And the Magna Carta for the barangay healthcare workers. Puro konektado sa mga nangyayari sa atin ngayon eh. Increasing the Age of Statutory Rape, the Expanded Solo Parents Act, second reading na ito eh. And the Hybrid Election Act na kailangan talagang desisyunan ng maaga at baka ito’y mahuli for the 2022 elections. Also I mentioned already kanina, yung amendments to the Public Service Act, the potable water supply for every barangay and then yung Military Uniformed Personnel Services separation, the MUP pension, medyo kailangan nating i-resolve yan dahil mas lumalaki na yung, malapit nang lumaki yung pension sa military over the budget of the entire Armed Forces.

Q: Sir na-mention mo yung Hybrid Election Act, eh bakit kung priority siya, bakit nasa dulo?

SP Sotto: Hindi, ito naman in no particular order. Yun lang ang nabasa ko, pwede kong pabaliktad binasa yun. No particular order, basta kung ano yung kayang (unclear) gawin na kaagad.

Q: Sa previous guesting mo, yung Hybrid Election Act ang gustong-gusto mong maipasa.

SP Sotto: Oo. Senate Bill…. nasa top 10 ko yun eh.

Q: Yes oo, ito ba yung Sotto Bill na itatake up mo?

SP Sotto: Ito yung ano eh, manual ang voting automated ang transmission. It’s now on, it’s pending on its second reading sa committee ni Imee Marcos – Committee on Electoral Reforms.

Q: Ang ano ang timetable mo na dapat maipasa yan, in time na ma-implement sa 2022?

SP Sotto: It’s up to the period of interpolation, naisponsoran naman yan ni.. it was already being sponsored, it’s now on its second reading on the floor. Again, we leave it to the hands of the Majority Leader, that’s his job to set the priorities kung ano ang mga pwedeng pag-usapan na kaagad — Monday and all the days to come thereafter.

Q: May House counterpart na ba to Sir?

SP Sotto: Meron. I understand meron.

Q: This will be a difficult one because the COMELEC is preparing for their usual VCM..

SP Sotto: Ang message sa amin ng COMELEC doon sa hearing, if we pass it by at least January or February daw kakayanin nila.

Q: January, February next year?

SP: This year.

Q: This year?

SP: January, February now. Pagka-naipasa namin, madali lang nila magagawa. Ngayon if we do that, even yung filing of certifcates of candidacy, will be moved. Hindi na kailangan October. Pwede ng 2022 ng January ang deadline or December. Senate Bill No. 7 yun sa akin ah, original kong finile. Tapos it’s now substituted by Senate Bill 1950. There are counterparts in the House of Representatives. Ang ibig kong sabihin, the reason na October palang nagfa-filing of certificates of candidacy na at naglalagay na ng deadline ang COMELEC antimano because magpiprinting pa. Now for every municipality, ang mga pangalan ng mga kandidato. For every 1,800 cities and municipalities, iba-iba ang mga pangalan ng mga kandidato diyan, pati mga konsehal, pati kung sinu-sino diyan. So they need that early. So ilalagay kasi yun sa balota. Now, pag hybrid and manual ang voting, hindi na kailangan yun. Ang filing of certificate of candidacy, pwedeng December na. Or pwedeng January pa nga eh. Hindi na kailangan gumawa ng listing for every city or municipality or every province. Hindi na kailangan. Pati yung listahan ng mga, punong-puno ng listahan yung likod ng balota mo ng mga partylist candidates, wala na yun hindi na kailangan lahat yun. Kapiraso nalang din yung balota mo, susulat mo na yung Presidente mo, Vice President mo, Senador na gusto mong iboto tapos yung local officials mo, representatives tapos ikaw na susulat eh. Ang dali eh.

Q: Yes, pero Sir given the present pandemic, ang Hybrid Elections mo ba will be COVID adapted din?

SP: They’re still studying that. Ang nakikita kong proposal na narinig ko sa COMELEC is that they are proposing 3 days na eleksyon. First day muna I think yung seniors and PWDs. Second day would be so and so. Tapos third day, general elections na yung mga hindi pa nakakaboto. Parang gano. That is their proposal. Para makaiwas don, para magkaroon ng physical distancing na tinatawag pa rin. Well nothing is, right now nothing is written in stone, it’s all fluid at the moment. (unclear)

Q: So ‘pag hindi niyo na-meet yung January, February timeframe ng COMELEC, what is your option on the Hybrid Bill?

SP: ‘Pag hindi na-meet yun ang sinasabi ng COMELEC, medyo masikip yan. Baka mapilitang bumalik sa automated pa rin. Pero kailangan maingat na maingat tayo pag dating sa bidding at kung sino ang mananalo sa automated na yan. Sapagkat, dalang dala na tayo sa mga nangyari ng ilang eleksyon. Diba ayaw nating mangyari uli yan.

Q: So ready naman ang kalooban ng Kongreso, to allow the previous one, the automated system that we have right now that will also require still, yung COVID adapted measure pa rin.

SP: Ah oo. Oo.

Q: There’s no need for legislation for that COVID adaptation measures during election?

SP: If it’s going to be necessary, hihingin ng COMELEC sa amin yun.

Q: Kasi 3-day election eh…

SP: Right now pwede nila atang gawin yun, without the law.

Q: Ah ganon, by administration lang. Pero subject to review ng Congress of course kasi kayo yung maapektuhan.

SP: Not only reviewed, but it can be proposed by Congress to a different strategy, or different protocol. We’ll see. That I cannot answer at the moment.

Q: Na-sound out lang kayo. You were just sounded out of this possibility. So you must also be asking the President on this scenario because at this early stage you have to prepare for that scenario.

SP: Yes, yes we have to. Oo. (uncelar) Pero until 2023 palagay ko, everything should be health protocol oriented.

Q: Pero on that particular score, wala pa kayong meeting on the 2022 polls for COVID adaptation measures sa COMELEC?

SP: Wala pa eh. Wala pa.

Q: Sir, I will just dwell on this Bill, kasi sabi mo Department of Filipinos, Department of Overseas Filipinos, priority din yun. What happened to your right sizing? Wala dito yung right sizing mo dito, sa priority mo.

SP: What I read to you was the common legislative agenda. May priority na sarili ang Senate, may priorities rin ang House. That’s not necessarily mean na nagji-jive kami. Sa amin, ang isa sa priorities as far as I am concerned is the right sizing. Now, it has been brought up in one of the hearings specially on the hearing of the Department of OFW. Nung pinag-aaralan ko yung proposal nung mga nagpopropose na department, it jives with the right sizing point. Why? Yung right sizing is yung mga hindi importanteng departamento i-collapse, o yung mga hindi importanteng posisyon alisin para yung 65% of the budget which goes to personal services will be limited at mababawasan, mas pakikinabangan natin at ng taumbayan ang public services at hindi puro pang-sweldo. Right? 65% eh (unclear). That is the reason for the issue of the right sizing. Now for the creation of the Department of Oversesas Filipinos, para kang nag-right size because you will collapsing the OWWA, POEA and other departments, other bureaus under the DFA, under the Department of Trade, Department of Tourism. Mapapasok mo lahat doon sa isang departamento lang. So para kang nag-right size. So sa lahat ng kini-create na departamento, dito ako pumayag after I reviewed the process, the proposals. Mailalagay sa isa eh. Magiging magkakasama sila eh. Kaya it does not go against the principle of right sizing.

Q: Pero how about yung Department of Risk Reduction?

SP: Ah yan medyo hindi pa papasok sa issue ng right sizing sa akin yan. It’s only my opinion because right now may NDRRMC eh, palakasin na muna yon.

Q: Yung Department of Water Resources?

SP: Ganon din eh. Hindi siya pumapasok dun sa right sizing motive. Basta papasok dun sa right sizing motive okay sa akin. Payag ako.

Q: Ang natatandaan ko sa idea ng Water Resources, yung MWSS, LWUA, NIA will be placed under that Department. Dapat i-abolish nila yun diba, if they want it passed?

SP: Oo pero I have not given a study on that matter yet.

Q: Only the Department of Overseas Filipinos. Ito yung bill na naipasa niyo na, I just want to have an update if you are satisfied with the compliance and implementation: Bayanihan 1 and 2? And now there are moves to have Bayanihan 3, may we have your thoughts on this?

SP: First let me answer it in reverse. Right now there is no Bayanihan 3, pero we extended Bayanihan 2. Because we extended Bayanihan 2, I don’t think there is necessity for Bayanihan 3. Now the implementation of Bayanihan 1, I think was very good. It could not be excellent but it was good, very good as a matter of fact. I could not say excellent because nagkaroon ng problema sa SAP, distribution ng social amelioration program which was originally an idea that was brought up to me by a businessman friend. Now the reason was yung National ID Systme, hindi nila agad tinrabaho noong panahon pa ng nakaraang administrasyon hanggang ngayon na matagal ng proposal na naipasa ngayong administrasyong ito pero hindi pa rin na-roll out. Ngayon iro-roll out na kaya hindi ko masabing excellent yung Bayanihan 1. Bayanihan 2 is still in progress. And I think naman they’re doing well, they’re doing fine. It’s not, I can’t say it’s bad, good.

Q: But at this point, you don’t see any need for Bayanihan 3?

SP: There is no necessity because we extended Bayanihan 2.

Q: Would you propose the route in making that one-liner amendment to the Constitution using the regular Bill approving the route where both chambers simply pass their representative versions. If you recall correctly, the Senate and the House did that some Congresses ago – the one liner amendment contained in a resolution was passed in the House and supported by the Senate but was blocked at the last minute by Malacanang. I think this was PNoy time, because Nanay niya ang original author ng 1987 Constitution natin.

SP: Yeah that’s possible to take that route without calling for a constituent assembly. It will go to a plebiscite. The bottom line, it goes to the people. After us, we transmit it to the Palace. It goes to the people for a plebiscite. Anything that changes the Constitution, even a period or a comma, goes through a plebiscite by the people.

Q: If you will do that route, dapat kasama rin sa COMELEC, 2022 elections.

SP: Madaling ilagay yan, YES or NO. It’s just going to be a YES or NO question.

Q: Maski na whatever, Hybrid or Automated Election

SP: Yes.

Q: Reaction please, on the COA audit report indicating that Congress is among the Top 3 agencies that spent huge intelligence funds and confidential funds amounting to P3.9 Billion. Can Senate President give us an idea how much was it spent?

SP: I have to check with my budget officer ah. I’m not too versed, I’m not even versed or well versed with the intelligence or confidential funds as far as the Senate is concerned. I don’t know about the House, definitely. But as far as the Senate is concerned, perhaps I can give you an update, I’ll try to find about it in the next few days siguro by Monday I have an idea.

Q: What can you say about the NBI findings linking PhilHealth, Morales, former Chairman and other former agency officials to the P33 million claims of dialysis center, B. Braun Dialysis Center, the report was already submitted to the office of the ombudsman

SP: Precisely what the Committee of the Whole of the Senate said. We concur. It was not a committee report, it is a Senate report. When a committee comes up with a committee report, if it’s not brought to the plenary and not approved of the plenary, it remains nearly a committee report. But when it is passed through a plenary and approved by the Senate, it becomes a Senate report..

Q: At saka nirecommend din yun di ba sa Ombudsman. We will just provide them the transcript.

SP Sotto: Yes, we did and it was not a committee report, it is a Senate report (unclear).

Q: Wow, Committee of the Whole.

SP Sotto: Yeah, Committee of the Whol. When a committee comes up with a committee report, if it’s not broke to the plenary and not approved in the plenary, it remains merely a committee report. Now but when it is passed through plenary and approved by the Senate, it becomes a senate report. Yun ang malaking diperensya. So what we transmitted to the Ombudsman was a Senate report.

Q: Wow, okay. So in this vaccine probe that you are conducting, the same process will be applied?

SP Sotto: Yes, we will apply the same. We will come up with the committee report afterwards. Hopefully the last hearing will be on Friday. I hope so.

Q: Okay. This is from our sister company, Meanne Los Baños from TV5: Senate SP, some of our kababayans would like to choose what vaccine to use those reportedly more effective and safe. Isn’t that the solution to this is to allow private companies and LGUs to procure directly from pharma companies so they can choose the vaccines which they think are most effective. Is it possible that your well-craft laws to give the LGUs and private sector authority to just allow them to buy directly from their preferred vaccine manufacturers? How soon will you be crafting this law if you have batas na gagawin?

SP Sotto: I agree. I concur. As a matter of fact, that is what we are going to pursue on Friday. We will pursue the possibility of allowing the private sector or LGUs or private individuals from procuring kasi yun nga sabi nga nila yung eh iba hindi bilib dun sa ganito, yung iba bilib sa galing sa Russia or UK or wherever. So we will insist on Friday to find a solution to that particular predicament where we are in, where a tripartite agreement is necessary and hopefully the FDA, the Department of Health, and the IATF would be able to give us or the czar – the vaccine czar would be able to give us a solution to that particular issue. It is a burning issue that remains to be resolved but I concur with what the points that Meanne said.

Q: Okay. Follow up from Meanne, is in the bill you are crafting, you said you will focus on groups that are representing those who are uh party list who are truly marginalized but the president was very specific that he is against the Makabayan Bloc. So in the bill you are filing, hindi na po ba makakasama in effect any Makabayan Bloc as legitimate party list group since the President is saying that Makabayan is just being used by CPP-NPA. How will you deal with the Makabayan Bloc in the bill you are proposing?

SP Sotto: Alright. This is not yet written in stone. I have not submitted it but this is the formula that we are drafting. There’s no mention of any Makabayan Bloc or any communist or any sector. It will be the marginalized sectors that will be again mentioned and qualified. Para maliwanag sino yung mga yun and sino ang pwede magrepresent sa kanila. Lilinawan natin yun and then we can come up with a to be able to address the particular concern of the President, what we can do is come up with a provision saying that if you are working for the overthrow of government, you cannot be qualified.

Q: Yes, and di ba public funds ang – they are being paid with public funds and they are given access to these public funds for their efforts or activities – illegal activities to oust the government.

SP Sotto: Precisely. So if your group is working for the overthrow of government, you are not qualified. You cannot be a marginalized sector.

Q: From Dona Magsino, GMA News online. Reminder lang sa GMA online, please credit the story to Kapihan sa Manila Bay. Given the buong mundo nakakaranas ng economic slump, pabor po ba kayo SP to open up our country’s economy to foreign investments through amending the constitution economic cha-cha, nasagot mo na yan. Hindi po ba mas kailangan natin – tulungan muna natin ang local businesses and entrepreneurs na makabangon lang sila bigyan ng foreign competitors.

SP Sotto: Correct. That’s the reason that we are prioritizing CREATE because the first portion of CREATE is lowering the corporate income tax of SMEs – medium, small, and (unclear) enterprises. Small and medium enterprises kasama dun. We are lowering their corporate income tax kaya agree, yes, yun ang isa sa mga priorities natin para makatulong sa kanila.

Q: Okay. According to Secretary Duque, Sinovac lang ang available na bakuna mula February hanggang June. So practically wala talagang choice sa five months na yun. Ano ang take ninyo dito SP? Sinovac po ay 50% lang ang efficacy, no emergency use approval, not even applied for EUA, more expensive, owned by private Chinese company.

SP Sotto: That is one of the burning issues that we want to resolve on Friday. Well first of all, I doubt the 50% efficacy na sinasabi. It’s a WHO imposition lang of a limit – the law limit. But I don’t think it’s true na talagang 50% lang ang efficacy nun. Anyway, papaano kung – ang tanong natin sa Friday, eh kung papaano na may available na Astra-Zeneca sa isang buwan. Kaya hindi pupwede ilimit lang. Kung ano yung magiging available antimano. Now, we’re forced to good kung yun lang talaga ang available. But what if the Astra-Zeneca, Pfizer, or Gamaleya is available or even when Sinopharm – yung Sinopharma. What if that is available? Then those will be the burning issues that we will be asking on Friday. I’m sure they’ll be prepared to answer that but again we will insist. Hindi pwedeng ilimit kasi nga yan ang isa sa mga bintang eh kaya nga ako nung una, originally, ako’y natutuwa na hindi naman pala nakafocus sa isang kumpanya lang, sa isang pharmaceutical company lang or Sinovac lang. Nakaready naman pala, naka ilang milyon-milyon yung binanggit ni Secretary Galvez na mga pagkukunan like if I’m not mistaken let me go through my records na binanggit nila. 30 to 40 million doses from the Novavax, Pfizer with more or less 40 million doses, Astra-Zeneca 30 million doses, Sinovac 25 million doses, Gamaleya 40 to 60 million doses. Ito yung mga target. Ito yung mga purchase and plan to purchase. So hindi naman naka center lang sa Sinovac. Ang sinsabi nga lang ito nga lang daw ang available, sabi nila. Eh ngayon kung magkaroon tayo ng komunikasyon ngayon na sinabi available pala yung Astra Zeneca, available pala yung Gamaleya, okay lang di ba dapat kunin na natin. We allotted the funds for that already. Sinasabi lang nila and we can verify if Sinovac lang talaga ang pwede at this point hanggang ilang buwan yan. Wag naman sana baka merong pwedeng iba eh kasi pag ayaw nila, hintayin natin yung iba. Ang tanong na – ang gusto kong tanungin kaya si Dra. Bravo importanteng matanong, kung ako ba nag-immunize ako ngayon, ininjectionan ako ngayon ng Sinovac, sa isang linggo may dumating na Astra Zeneca gusto ko magpa-injection, pwede ba yun? Gusto kong itanong. Ano ang pwede?

Q: Pero lahat yata ngayon ng mga pharma, lahat ng clinical trials, two doses lagi, one month apart. Different ano yan eh. Ang alam ko sa –

SP Sotto: One week apart.

Q: Ah, one week ba apart. Kasi yung iba one month apart.

SP Sotto: One week apart. Merong one week, may two weeks.

Q: Oo, kasi ang alam ko nga lang diyan, ang sinabi di ba sinasabi ng mga authorities, ang Sinovac is using the traditional platform na inactivated virus tapos ang Pfizer gene sequencing. Tapos ang iba adjuvant. So ako na magsasabi sa iyo, iba-iba kasi yung mix nila eh. So I don’t think hindi pupwede yung mix ng brands.

SP Sotto: Talaga ha.

Q: Oo, kita mo na dami ko natutunan eh sa Senate hearing.

SP Sotto: Dra. Villanueva ha…

Q: Hindi nakikinig lang ako sa inyo nung Monday. I listen intently. May nakikita ba si SP na danger or big risk sa inoculations using Sinovac uunahin po ang healthcare workers, kung delikado yun, frontliners pa natin ang unang mapapanganib.

SP Sotto: Frontline workers – ang priority, ang pinoprose namin ang nakalagay sa plano dun sa road map, frontline healthcare workers ang una, sunod na second priority indigent senior citizens, pangatlo remaining senior citizens, pang apat remaining indigent population, pang lima uniformed personnel at at saka kasama dun sa fifth priority yung mga teachers, social workers, other government workers, other essential workers, outside of health – education, social welfare ganyan, OFWs, remaining workforce, all remaining Filipino citizens, lahat, kung maaari lahat. Except at this point, lahat lang ng above 16 years old. Below 16 years old, hindi muna. The reason daw is because they have not conducted tests with the 16 and below of people. Kaya hindi nila masabi na kung magiging effective any of their vaccines. Dun sa point na uunahin ang frontline health workers pagkatapos baka delikado sila pa ang mag-aano. Eh pagka inuna naman natin yung iba, umaangal din kayo eh. Bakit inuuna ninyo ang sundalo. Oh di ba ganun kagad. Bakit inuuna yung ganito.

Q: Ako may tanong, bakit wala ang mga Senado at congressman diyan?

SP Sotto: Eh nung araw nung una kami tinetest dahil kailangan bigyan kami ng test, daming umaangal na netizen eh bakit daw kami tinetest eh. Magpapang-una nga ang media sasabihin ninyo bakit nagpapa-una yung mga yan. Yan ang sasabihin eh. So you’re caught between the devil and the deep blue sea and going to that statement of mine which I said na again we might be caught in the devil and the deep blue sea, that is the predicament of the IATF as far as the issue of the pandemic and the vaccination is concerned. Kasi pagpalagay na lang natin na sige wag – ano na lang, wag na muna, wag natin payagan ang kahit sino na mag-import. Yan ang sinasabi nila ngayon, di pwede kailangan may tripartite agreement at kailangan dumaan sa kanila. Eh kung hindi nila gawin yan, may problema sa pandemic eh, pag ginawa naman nila yan, papaano naman itong mga kababayan natin na makakapag import. Makakuha sila, magkakaroon sila ng sarili nila. Yung mga corporation mga ganyan, mga malalaking korporasyon kahit maliliit na korporasyon. May mga kamag-anak sa abroad, makakabili sila, madadala nila, hindi natin papayagan. So ano mas gusto ninyo, yung pandemic nandidiyan hindi navavaccinate – hindi inoculate lahat o dito sa inoculate pero may safety concerns? Dahil sinasabi ng FDA may eh kasi may safety concerns eh. Hindi daw ano (unclear). Baka safe yung mga inoculate eh. Edi mamili ka, ano gusto mo may pandemic tayo o delikado yung nagpapa-inoculate? That’s caught between the devil and the deep blue sea so I don’t know what their answer is going to be.

Q: And if may add, sinasabi di ba sir. It does not end on the vaccination, kailangan imonitor pa for so many weeks’ yung adverse events. So bibigyan sila ng card to make sure na imomonitor sila ng Department of Health.

SP Sotto: Yes, exactly. At saka in fact hindi porke’t inimmunize ka na or inoculate ka na, eh hindi ka na magmamask. Magpaparty ka na. Hindi ganun. Ganun pa rin, ang protocol mo, ganun pa rin.

Q: Mawawala lang yung lockdown?

SP Sotto: Mawawala yung lockdown. Gagalaw ng mas mabuti ang ekonomiya kesa sa sitwasyon ngayon. Yun lang ang mangyayaring mas maganda dun.

Q: And to add, your information sir because it was shared to me by the Presidential adviser on Entrepreneurship si Joey Concepcion, yung mga private donors niya from Zobel, from Ayala, from San Miguel Corporation, SM Group of Companies, they will be signing tomorrow the – ceremonial signing of the Astra Zeneca and he told me the earliest that they can get the vaccine here to arrive in the Philippines is by towards end of May pa. Yan mayayaman na yan ha. Di ba under that agreement, kalahati idodonate sa government yung kalahati sa empleyado nila. And that is towards May pa ang actual delivery.

SP Sotto: Yun nga so baka nga totoo yung – baka accurate yung sinasabi na, remove the word totoo. Baka accurate yung sinasabi na ang available kagad yung Sinovac.

Q: Yes, (unclear), if you remember inannounce na ni Presidente may commitment na siya from Chinese Xi Jinping at saka kay Russian President Prime Minister Vladimir Putin na magpapadala sila. Kaya sa national taskforce na road map nila, yun lang yung sigurado for this year. Russia and China until the third quarter – other pharmaceuticals will only come in third quarter at yun ang worse scenario. Pero if there’s a better scenario, sabi nila di ba, February makakarating din yung Pfizer daw kung merong cold chain logistics na.

SP Sotto: Ang mahirap pa nga sa sinasabi nila, pagka-inoculate ka, ang procedure nila, after one hour dun ka muna eh. After one hour titingnan muna kung merong side effects sa iyo eh. Pero gusto ko malaman, anong ginamit kay Xi Jinping? Ano ginamit dun sa (unclear)? Yan, gusto ko malaman ano ginamit niya. Ang lakas ng loob nila eh. Okay sila eh. Dapat malaman ng mga kababayan natin. Para pag yun ang available pala sa atin, aba they are good eh si Xi Jinping yun ang ginamit eh. Nagpupunta nga sa palengke si Xi Jinping walang mask eh. Eh ang lakas ng loob ni loko eh dahil na-immunize siya eh pero gusto ko malaman ano ginamit sa kanya, Sinovac o Sinopharm? (unclear) natin. (unclear) Chinese embassy.

Q: Eh ikaw sir itatanong ko, anong ano mo kailan ka…

SP Sotto: Tanong mo sa Chinese embassy, ano yung ginamit ni Xi Jinping? Malaman natin. Ano oras natin (unclear) sa Friday? Para mawala yung takot ng mga kababayan natin.

Q: Di ba si Presidente Duterte sabi niya siya mauuna tapos subsequently nagbago ang statement niya na ayaw ng mga tao ko kasi we have only one President. Pero ngayon ang latest pronouncement, he’s ready to be the first to be inoculated. Ang Senate President, is he ready to be inoculated to settle the issue of those doubting the vaccine?

SP Sotto: Alam mo ba kung sinong unang nagyaya sakin niyan? Dami kong testigo. Pito o walong tao yung nakaharap. Unang nagyaya sakin. Si President Duterte. Ano sabi niya, ano halika sabay tayo. (unclear) tignan muna natin yung mangyari sa iba. Hindi, baka nagbibiro lang yun. Ako din, pabiro din naman yung sagot ko. Wag naman seseryosohin nung iba.

Q: Actually, nung guest ko si Secretary Galvez nung December 2, the Kapihan, sinabi niya na we are not in a hurry to get those vaccines because (unclear) want to see the reaction of the other people. So sila nalang muna ang mauna para makita natin kung ano yung reaksiyon nung vaccines sa mga tinuturukan nila. Which I agree.

SP Sotto: Sana wag sila magalit kung yung mga PSG nagpanguna.

Q: Meron na tayong lab rats.

SP Sotto: Oo, at least may guinea pigs na tayo.

Q: Actually the whole mankind is a guinea pig because all these vaccines are all clinical trial. Di ba.

SP Sotto: Oo and I don’t know how successful we’re going to be in this – lahat yan, malaking bagay diyan, ipagpasa-Diyos natin. God is everything. Kung ipagpapasa Diyos natin yan, (unclear) malaki ang pag-asa na makalampas tayo dito.

Q: Which reminded me you’re a pro-life Senator since you became a politician pro-life ka lagi. Suddenly you are now amenable to death penalty except only on – only on drugs.

SP Sotto: I (unclear) drug trafficking not just drugs. No no, hindi ha. I (unclear). I changed my mind. If you’d recall, in 1992, 12 years old ka palang, nandun ka sa (unclear), magkasama tayo sa Senado. I filed the bill re-imposing the death penalty for drug trafficking. (unclear) ang mga death penalty niya was heinous crimes. Pinasa namin, napasa namin. But then again, sige napasa namin. And then the battle, the debate went on for years. Senator Orly Mercado, who was our Majority Leader then, always called it when he called it on the floor, ang walang kamatayang death penalty bill. Pabalik balik ang debate, pagbalik-balik, linggo-linggo yan, lahat ng klaseng debate. From 1992 to the time we passed it and even beyond, all the issues for and against, I have already heard. Wala nang issue sa death penalty na hindi ko narinig. Narinig ko na lahat yan. Alright. Pagdating ng panahon, eh di ni-repeal nila in the 13th Congress, inalis nila. Then later on may mga nagpropropose. Then I came back to the Senate in the 15th Congress, pagbalik ko ng 15th Congress, narinig ko na lahat nga yan, napag-aralan ko na. Nakita ko na madaming punto na tama sila, yung mga against sa death penalty, maraming tama sila. Yung mga in favor, may mga tama din. Marami ring tama. So pinag-aralan ko later on, alin ba talaga yung hindi kayang iresolve. Ang hindi kayang iresolve yung high level drug traffickers, yung mga drug lords eh. So sila dapat yung ma-evaporate. Kasi yung iba pag nakulong, nakulong na. Alam mo tama rin yung iba, palakasin natin ang justice system. Pag natakot makulong, hindi gagawa ng krimen. Mas deterrent daw yun kesa sa death penalty. But then again it depends on your definition of deterrent because may Webster definition ng to deter is to inhibit. When you (unclear) death penalty, you’re inhibiting from committing the same crime again. Eh these people who prosecute and put in jail, incarcerate persons deprived of liberty kung tawagin. Yung mga yan, hindi na makaka ulit nung krimen nila except doon sa loob. Pero yung high level trafficker, yung drug lord, nasa loob na, nag-ooperate pa eh. You’re committing the same crime. They find ways. And also sabi ko, we should remove them. Oh ngayon, eh mukhang mahihirapan, meron akong din-raft na batas at bill na napasa na namin on third reading sa Senate (unclear) sa house. It’s a bill establishing a national penitentiary for heinous criminals. Hihiwalay natin sila. Para na rin dineath penalty yun na walang death penalty. Hihiwalay natin yang mga drug lord na yan. In the same way, we create a national penitentiary for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, regional. Iregionalize mo. Bakit regional? (unclear) natin sandali yung drug trafficking. Bakit regional? Studies show and this has been for years, the study shows that a criminal kapag hindi na binibisita ng pamilya niya, nag-uumpisa magloko. Dun nagloloko, sasali na sa mga gang kung anu-anong mga pinapasukang kagaguhan dun sa loob ng NBP. Pero yung mga dinadalaw ng pamilya, hindi. Ngayon, taga Sultan Kudarat ka, paano ka dadalawin ng pamilya mo. Ni once a year baka hindi ka madalaw. Ultimo mga taga Negros, taga Iloilo, taga Surigao, o taga Ilocos, taga Tarlac lang baka hindi makadalaw sa iyo once a year eh, twice a year. Mahirap ang pamasahe. Pero kung ireregionalize mo, Luzon meron, at the moment hindi muna region ano na muna, malaking area na muna, Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao.

SP Sotto: Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao. Lahat ng mga convicts na taga Luzon, sa Luzon, sa Laur, Nueva Ecija. Lahat ng convicts sa Visayas, doon sa Capiz, may kampong malaki doon na sobrang laki ng ano. Pagkatapos lahat ng convicts sa Mindanao na taga Mindanao, doon sa Davao Penal Colony, expand mo, upgrade mo. Pero lahat ng heinous criminals, particularly the drug lords, isang island doon sa may malapit sa West Philippine Sea na pag nilusob ng China, sila ang unang-unang mabobomba, biro lang yun. Totoo yung island, doon. Doon sila nakahiwalay, no communication. No nothing, talagang ano lang, parang Alcatraz ang style. Doon, hindi sila makakapag operate. We’ll isolate them, definitely, hiwalay mo na sila and we solve that problem. So kung ayaw nila ipasa yung death penalty, ipasa nila itong bill ko. Pinasa na namin on third reading sa Senate, pending ngayon sa House.

Q: Death penalty ano ang status?

SP Sotto: For5 sponsorship pa sa amin. I am sorry to say, manlalambot na pag naipasa ito, lalambot. Lalambot yung issue sa death penalty dahil nakahiwalay sila.

Q: Pero meron akong input sa iyo, sinabi mo sa Laur. May 10,000 beds yata doon ng rehab hindi nga nagagamit dahil wala naman gustong pumunta doon.

SP Sotto: Kasi naman, that is another topic. If you will allow me more time. Yung issue ng rehabilitation at saka ng prevention, hindi ganoon talaga nabigyan ng highlight. Hindi nabigyan ng programang tama. Ang rehabilitation ng drug addict or drug dependent hindi ganoon kadali na basta i-incarcerate mo lang, ilagay mo sa rehabilitation center, hindi ganoon. Mali ang procedure na ginawa noon pa. Kasi, ang rehabilitation ng isang drug dependent, depends on the profile of the person, of the drug dependent. Maraming system, hindi pwedeng isang klase lang. Merong Minnesota 12 Steps Model, merong therapeutic community, merong faith-based, merong eclectic, merong multi-disciplinary, iba yan, depende. Kaya hindi ba kayo nagtataka, pag merong nirehab, after six months, lumabas, after two, three months, balik? Nag-aadik ulit? Mali yung rehab. Kaya hindi pupuwedeng basta may 10,000 beds ka doon, igaganoon mo? Hindi.

Q: Hindi lang yan, marami kasi popular sa Presidente, ang daming nag donate ng rehab center, nasaan na yun? White elephants.

SP Sotto: Correct, because they don’t know how the rehabilitation program should be conducted and should be (unclear).

Q: Ibabalik kita sa narco. Marami na namang local officials na namamatay. Unsolved murders sa narco list ni Presidente and the case against the President before the ICC is hanging up on his head so how do you reconcile with…

SP Sotto: Maybe I watch too much television when it comes to narcotics. The problem is, sila-sila. Oras na nagka-brasuhan ng turf yan, lahat yan may kaaway. Aside from the government ang kaaway nila, may kaaway pang iba. So kung merong mga grupo na nagbanggaan, nagtirahan, do not blame it on government right away, unless you can prove that it is government who did it, di ba? But then, what I am saying is we are hard on prevention, we do not let the 12 years-old become 13 years-old not knowing what illegal drug is, and we do not rehab those who are already drug dependents, then you will have the same thing going on. You will still have problems on enforcement and prosecution. But if you follow what I have been insisting for a long time, and I hope the next administration does this, kailangang tama ang rehabilitation program mo. Get them off the streets correctly and then you prevent the youth, grad five, six, seven, from not knowing what it is about. Kasi pag naprevent mo yan, wala ka ng bago. At sa mga luma… alright, the bottom line again, I sound like a broken record, the day we stop buying is the day they stop selling, period. Q: Nabanggit mo ang mga grade-school children, because of this pandemic they cannot go to class, they cannot go to school. They are sa mga online, modular, ano ba ang maitutulong ng Senate President to correct or improve the situation?

SP Sotto: Siguro paghandaan na lang yung mga modules, pagalingin yung mga modules.

Q: Kaso nga ang papangit, may mga palpak.

SP Sotto: Precisely, kaya nga kailangan i-upgrade naman natin, gandahan naman natin, at galingan naman natin ang mga modules na gagamitin because somehow, this pandemic, keeping the children in their houses, somehow relieves the problem of new illegal drug dependents, hindi ba? Ang problema, nagiging computer dependent.

Q: If healthcare workers are not in favor of the vaccine that will be given to them, for example, Sinovac, is it acceptable that they will lose their right to be vaccinated for free by the government as Sec. Roque earlier announced? Some healthcare workers are saying they are not in favor of Sinovac because it does not only have a low efficacy rate, but it has also about 73 recorded side effects. Should healthcare workers be given the chance to choose which vaccines will be administered to them?

SP Sotto: I think they have the right, frontline health workers sila. I think we should allow them. Kung hindi sila (unclear) hintayin nila yung kasunod, hintayin nila yung kasunod. Pero they should not be placed on the bottom of the list. Pag may dumating na bago, nasa front list pa rin sila dahil frontliner, health worker sila. Sila yung exempted. Yung mga senior citizens, katulad namin, kung ayaw, eh di doon ka, maghintay ka sa dulo. Kung ano ang gusto mo, maghintay ka.

Q: So that question should be best address to the Health Secretary sa Friday.

SP Sotto: I will bring it up.

Q: Ano ang kasiguruhan na kapag pinayagan ang pag amend sa constitution ng economic provision, hindi na matutuloy sa pagtalakay sa usapin sa politika?

SP Sotto: Precisely my proposal, di ba? A one-liner amendment that would allow Congress to address that particular issue. It has no room for any other topic. There is no room for any other topic. If you place under economic provision of the constitution as may be provided by law, period. Wala na, you cannot take up term limits, you cannot take up extension of terms or anything. Besides, the plebiscite will be 2022, so definitely there will be no term extension.

Q: What are your concerns in the government’s vaccine program you need to be clarified by the government implementer at the next hearing? After the first hearing 9of the Senate Committee of the Whole last Monday, do you think the Senate will get a complete and clearer picture of the government vaccine program in the next hearing? Or do you need to conduct more hearings with the information gathered by the Senate on the Covid vaccine program? Do you think or see any push for a (unclear) in connection with the government vaccine program?

SP Sotto: I hope the hearing on Friday will be the last and I hope that we will be enlightened more and I hope that they will accept more some of the proposals or the suggestions of the Senators. Some of the Senators are giving their positions and their suggestions based from the public. I have also mentioned to them, di ba my feedback comes from the public and the media, yun ang mga binabanggit ko. So sana, hopefully by Friday, matanggap natin lahat yan. Ngayon, what is my wish that the government can do? Fastbreak. Do everything fast. Do everything quickly, no dillydallying. Ganoon ang aking panalangin.

Q: Do you think the government is favoring Sinovac since they are purchasing Sinovac and Sinovac is arriving in February yet Sinovac has yet to apply for EUA as mentioned in the last hearing?

SP Sotto: Ang sagot kasi ng FDA diyan, yun ang unang applicable kaya kahit hindi pa nakaka apply ng EUA ay may padating na pero they are assuring us before it arrives they would have already applied and processed the EUA. So, sabi ko nga, nung una kasama ako doon sa nagbibintang bakit puro Sinovac lang, eh nakita natin ngayon sa programa na prinesent ni Sec. Galvez, hindi lang naman Sinovac, everything is presented, kaya lang ito yung mga unang available. So, it is not limited to just one type of vaccine, yun ang nakita ko, so, I am neutral about that particular issue or point.

Q: What do you say to the announcement of the presidential spokesman that only one vaccine brand from China at least until June, could this indicate that the government may be delaying the entry of the brands?

SP Sotto: I hope not, but again, I mentioned earlier, we will try to find ways to and ask government to find ways to get the other types of vaccine earlier.

Q: What LGUs and representatives from private sectors ang invited sa second Committee of the Whole hearing on Friday?

SP Sotto: We are inviting the representative from ULAP, from the League of Cities and Municipalities, yung mga leader na nila ang in-invite natin, and then from the private sector we are inviting either Mr. Joey Concepcion or Ms. Josephine Romero of Go Negosyo. And there are seventeen invited guests on Friday, if you will allow me to read them out, Sec. Galvez, Sec. Duque, WHO country representative, Sec. Dominguez, Sec. Teddy Boy Locsin, Sec. Avisado, Sec. Dela Peña of DOST, Sec. Año of DILG, testing czar Vince Dizon, FDA Dir. Gen. Domingo, the IPO Office, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines Dir. Gen. Barba, the Philippine Medical Association president, Dr. Atienza, Philippine Nurses Association national president Rosie De Leon, Zuellig Pharma Philippines, Pfizer Philippines, Unilab Inc., Cold Chain Association of the Philippines, Inc. and then the Go Negosyo representatives. So, dito pa lang, dito sa mga representative ng Zuellig, ng Pfizer, ng Unilab, masasagot natin yung mga tinatanong ng mga kasama natin sa media about being (unclear) only on Sinovac, makikita natin ang response nila.

Q: Sana unahin mo itong mga private sector kasi sila, short and sweet ang mga sagot, hindi mga long ang tanong, long din ang sagot. Anyway nabanggit ninyo si DOST kasama ninyo sa hearing. Supposedly FDA ang in-charge sa vaccines, but when you ask them about the vaccines, under the law, the DOST group in charge of the vaccine, sila ay kasama sa expert panel. So the whole bureaucracy is being bogged down by so many agencies in the vaccine, hindi lang FDA, may DOST expert’s panel pa. It’s a battle between the bureaucrats and the politicos right now. Of course the politicians would ask, bakit pa kayo nagtagal… ang mga bureaucrats, we have to follow procedures, rules and laws. How do you intend to reconcile this?

SP Sotto: I think the answer is information. We are more informed that we are not looking for a ghost or looking for something that is not possible. Exchange of information is very vital especially for the people so that the people know, di ba, especially media because media ang nagpaparating sa tao.

Q: Ang point ko is kasama pala sa expert’s panel ang DOST, hindi lang DOH-FDA and although FDA ang nagbibigay noon, they have to rely on the DOST experts panel. So may red-tape, and yet si Presidente kinut-down na nga to 21 days allowed na ang given ang FDA to release whatever approval they needed.

SP Sotto: We’ll just have to find out, I have no idea kung nagkakaroon ng tagal because of the bureaucracy na tinatawag so let’s find out ano ang nangyayari, kung nagkakaroon ng bottleneck or (unclear).

Q: The partylist amendment bill that you will file, will be co-authored by other senators, can you mention who will most likely co-author the bill?

SP Sotto: I have discussed it with Sen. Lacson so I am sure that Sen. Lacson would be a co-author, I do not know about the others yet.

Q: Any schedule of the Senate on Sen. Pangilinan’s request for an all-party caucus to discuss the cha-cha?

SP Sotto: If necessary we can call for that. Right now as I said there are other proposals (unclear) instead of the constituent assembly resolution, baka merong ibang solution if not, we will call an all senators caucus para including the minority. I had a dialogue kasi with members of the majority, I could say that it was not more or less fruitful as far as constituent assembly is concerned so we (unclear) take it up.

Q: So most likely sa bill yan talaga.

SP Sotto: Mas madali yun.

Q: Speaking of politics, how is NPC?

SP Sotto: We are still getting over the sorrow or the grieving that we have because of the passing of Amb. Danding Cojuangco but we are as strong as ever. We are there. We communicate, we have (unclear) that are vibrant, and we talk to each other almost every day, we conduct meetings every now and then, we always have a dialogue with our friends, or patrons, so we are as strong as ever. Still as strong as it was in 1992 when Amb. Danding Cojuangco formed the NPC, up to now.

Q: NPC is headed by you right now as the highest elected official of the party?

SP Sotto: Yes, I am the chairman. Even before Amb. Cojuangco passed away, he appointed me as chairman. He was chairman emeritus. No, he was chairman. We changed the constitution in 2018 if I am not mistaken. In 2018 we changed it, we reconfigured the leadership by electing a chairman, a vice-chairman, and then ten council leaders, council of elders. I was in the council of elders and acting vice-chairman. He was chairman, and then when he had some medical issues he appointed me as chairman. So, I have been chairman of NPC from that time up to now, up to the present. We want to elect a president of the NPC but we have, the other candidates that we would want are not yet ready, so…

Q: Presidential candidate?

SP Sotto: Hindi, president of the party. They are not available yet.

Q: Any closing remarks?

SP Sotto: Thank you Marichu, it is always a pleasure to be a guest in your Kapihan sa Manila Bay. We would like to thank you for this opportunity, we would like to thank our media friends and also the Senate media for joining us, and just for the record, I have asked my staff to get in touch with the Secretary of the Senate and to inform you that it is in response to the COA report that you mentioned earlier, the Senate did not spend a single centavo on intelligence funds kaya wala akong matandaan. Wala kaming ginamit na ganoon. So again, thank you, we will see you on Friday and join us on Friday and baka sakaling hindi naman abutin ng walong oras. Again, I will take your suggestions. (Unclear) presentation ng mga officials, dahil meron na silang presentations, (unclear) presentation of the private sector.

On the NPC candidates leading the Pulse Asia survey.

SP Sotto: Hindi pa namin pinaguusapan, medyo danger pa yan pagusapan dahil pandemic, it’s a turn off to our countrymen.

Q: Controlled na ba ang Covid incidents ninyo sa Senate?

SP Sotto: Yun na nga. Sen. Zubiri was suggesting that we ask permission, yun na nga kaya gusto namin kung pwede, kasi ang gusto naming unahin, yung mga empleyado ng Senate, ma-immunize yung mga empleyado ng Senado. Right now, we are very strict in health protocols. Kahit sinong bumibisita sa amin, Monday nga bumisita sa amin si Chavit, sabi ko kahit na kumpare ko pa siya, at saka very close sa amin ni Sen. Lacson, sabi ko sa kanya, hindi ka pwedeng pumunta dito kung hindi ka magpapa-swab. Swab ka muna, sabi ko. Yung iba, lahat ng pupunta sa Senate, basically, must present a health certificate that they have had a swab 48 hours before they visit in the Senate. So, all the employees there are laging chine-check. So ngayon, from that time na nadala na kami, up to now, awa ng Diyos, very strict doon sa Senate ngayon.

Q: Wala na kayong Covid cases.

SP Sotto: Wala pa naman, awa ng Diyos. Hopefully wala naman.

Q: Kasi sa House, congressman may namatay na nga sa Covid.

SP Sotto: Correct.

By Bureau