FULL TEXT: Aquino meets Inquirer Multimedia; tackles INC, love life, others | Inquirer News

FULL TEXT: Aquino meets Inquirer Multimedia; tackles INC, love life, others

, / 09:53 PM September 08, 2015

Republic of the Philippines
Meeting with Inquirer Multimedia
Inquirer Head Office, Makati City
08 September 2015



Mr. John Nery: Thank you, Secretary Coloma, and welcome again to ‘Meet Inquirer Multimedia.’ It is truly a great honor for us to host today the 15th President of the Philippines and also the fifth President of the Fifth Republic, marking his fifth year in office. Welcome to the Inquirer, Mr. President.


We only have an hour for our forum. Let me get things started by asking you something about history, specifically, about Torre de Manila. As a, perhaps you would describe yourself as a victim of history before you became an actor in history, what is your personal position on the construction of Torre de Manila and its impact on the Rizal monument?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I went to Paris not too long ago and in Paris, I understand, they have a rule that talks about architecture to preserve the old society and the concept of Paris. So, on one hand, I do see merit with the idea that there should be that backdrop to Rizal’s monument that should preserve what we have always known. On the other hand, I have sworn to faithfully execute all the laws of the land, and the other side does pose a legitimate question. It seems they went through all of the processes. Zoning is a mandate of the local government unit. They seem to have—at this point in time—they seem to have gotten all of the permits, so how do we balance the two? And somebody who can come up with the correct solution that addresses the rights of all and the concerns of the country in terms of preserving—how shall I put it?—the sanctity of the people that we are supposed to be emulating is the endeavor that we should really have gotten into. And that’s why we really await how the courts will also decide as to how to balance each and everyone’s rights in this particular matter.

READ: Aquino calls for ‘balanced solution’ over Torre de Manila


Nikko Dizon (Palace Reporter): Good afternoon, Mr. President, this is about the Bangsamoro Basic Law as usual. Sir, what’s the worst-case scenario if the diluted Bangsamoro law is passed or a Bangsamoro law is not passed at all during your term, sir?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Well, I did ask recently both the Senate President and the Speaker of the House and they both laid out, shall we say, some of the difficulties currently in passing the BBL but they both expressed confidence that the BBL will be passed. So, on the Executive’s portion, we would want to continue the engagement of our dialogue partners, specifically the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), and the programs through programs like Sajahatra. We want them to experience and the population, in general, in this region the benefits or the so-called peace dividends arising from this agreement.


So, even absent the Bangsamoro law, we are hoping that Congress will support the initiatives that will shower these people with the peace dividends and get them further engaged in the process. Having said that, we will continue to lobby with members of Congress to pass the law during our watch and pass it at the earliest possible time, so that the new mode of governance will have the maximum time to show the effectivity or the efficacy of this new mode of governance.

Ms. Dizon: Can I have a follow up? Sir, on the ground there is restlessness, and I myself am getting feedback that there could be, you know, people who might start a war again, all because they are not happy with what is happening. If war does break out, who is to blame for you, sir?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I don’t submit to the premise that war will break out. I don’t think there is any interest from the major players to re-engage in a bloody conflict. Having said that, there will be the spoilers who will want to exploit the current difficulties to show that their avowed aims of gaining what they want through violent means is the only way to go about it. So those of us who are advocating peace should really even redouble our efforts to thwart these groups who would want us to branch again into really a pointless conflict. So, who should be blamed? I think I’ll leave that up to the Filipino people who will have an opportunity in next year’s elections to gauge the merit, or lack of it, of the people who will propose themselves to lead various offices.

READ: Aquino on Bangsamoro: I don’t think war will break out


Doris Dumlao (Business Reporter): What are your thoughts on the upcoming APEC meetings and do you expect to bring up China during the bilateral and other meetings?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: China is a major economic player, and as far as the things that are happening in China currently, I’m sure all the other member countries, including the observer countries we will be inviting, will be curious to know what the plans of China are with regards to issues like the stock market, amongst other things—if there is tension with the so-called property bubble, the valuation of the Yuan, and so on and so forth. But we will be tackling mostly—it’s an economic conference, so economic issues will be at the forefront.

Ms. Dumlao: Follow up, sir. Do you expect to bring up our case, the (West) Philippine Sea case, to the APEC meeting?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I think it will be more prudent for us to await the decision of the Arbitral [Tribunal] rather than engage them in this dialogue, which… I think we have already stated our positions through various fora. So, again, we will stress on the economy—economic issues—and, specifically, China’s major role in the world economy and things that are happening in the domestic scene as it impacts the rest of the world’s economy.

President Benigno Aquino III speakd with reporters and editors during the Meet the Inquirer multimedia forum in Makati City on Tuesday

President Benigno Aquino III speaks with reporters and editors during the Meet the Inquirer multimedia forum in Makati City on Tuesday. KRISTINE SABILLO/INQUIRER.net


Ms. Dumlao: Last question, sir. Which of the economic reforms under your administration do you think will endure whoever is elected the next president?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I think all of them will endure because there is an end-result already that is easily demonstrable. Therefore, there is a truism that says ‘why fix something if it ain’t broke?’ There will be refinements and we welcome that. Perhaps there is sense of new conditions that will engender different specifics. But, at the end of the day, this formula has been shown to be a success and I think you do not tamper with things that are successful.


Kristine Sabillo (Inquirer.Net): Good afternoon, Mr. President. The Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) protest is still fresh in the minds of the public. Could you share to us how it was actually resolved? Was there indeed an agreement? And have you been in touch with INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to Ka Eduardo personally. We have liaisons that go back and forth between us. I did send the Executive Secretary to clearly state what the government’s positions were: that everybody’s rights will be protected and that… Let me just check with my memory. There were two points… But, in gist, what their spokesman said na ‘nagkaunawaan’ I think represents clearly what was achieved. There were groups out to create divisions, trying to exploit fears, etc. And we were able to clarify each other’s positions with regards to this matter. So we came to that agreement and they recalled all of their followers afterwards.

READ: Government and Iglesia ni Cristo had an understanding

Ms. Sabillo: Sir, can you elaborate more on what you meant about the groups that were trying to divide the INC?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Klaro naman nakita natin sa EDSA, may mga tao doon hindi naman yata miyembro ng simbahan nila na nandoon, nagtatalumpati—mga kanya-kanyang agenda, kung ano-anong disgruntlement—so magtataka ka naman siguro medyo ang bilis naman yata nilang nag-react, na nakahanda na ‘yung kanilang mga talumpati, at makihalubilo at mag-contact doon sa mga nangangasiwa o namamahala ng protestang ‘yon. So parang naïve naman yata tayo kung sasabihin na napanood nila sa TV ‘yon at dali-daling nakipag-ugnayan sa lahat; so malamang ay bago pa lang ‘non marami na silang iminumungkahi. Wala akong pruweba sa kasalukuyan. May natanggap ang… May mga intelligence reports tayo bago ‘non na itong mga taong ito identified with various groups that have been opposed to us even before I started in office, who were participants in this particular event, trying to exploit it for their own and separate agenda.

READ: Iglesia ni Cristo protesters occupy Edsa

Ms. Sabillo: Sir, final (question). So it was the assurance of the government that you would be handling the case fairly that made them call off the protest and there is no truth to the reports or rumors that there was an agreement about the case being eventually let go by the DOJ?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: The case will stand or fall on its merits. And perhaps you can look at the affidavit of complaints, and you yourself, I think, can assess it even if you’re a non-lawyer—I’m assuming you’re a non-lawyer. Look at it and see whether or not it proves the accusation. Under our system of laws, the accuser has the burden of proof. So, (if) you accuse someone of doing something, you have to prove it. Does it exist in this affidavit of complaints or does it not?

READ: Opinion: The Iglesia’s show of weakness

Mr. Nery: Sir, if I may, if I may ask a question about that. When did you send Executive Secretary (Paquito) Ochoa to Ka Eduardo? The protest started on Thursday, August 27. Would you remember when?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Thursday, I think, we’re actually talking to the liaison between them and us. We had meetings. Medyo nag-me-merge na ‘yung lahat ‘nung araw na ‘yon, ano.(talks to someone… ‘Saturday or Sunday?’)

Mr. Nery: Yes, sir. They left on Monday morning.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Saturday or Sunday? Probably, Sunday. Pero baka Saturday evening mayroon nang… Saturday or Sunday evening, we had a meeting in Pangarap. That was the time na ES was talking to some of their senior officials. Baka Sunday ‘yon.


Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc (Editor-in-Chief): Mr. President, I think the Mamasapano (incident) was sort of a ‘Waterloo’ for you, for your administration. I wonder if you have reached a closure because since you said “I’ll carry this to my grave,” you haven’t mentioned it at all, notably in your SONA. If there has been a closure, what was this? What event, what person, what insight—whatever?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: ‘Yung ‘Waterloo’ refers to, ‘di ba, Napoleon’s defeat and after that he got exiled to St. Helena? He never came back and that’s where he died.

Ms. Jimenez-Magsanoc: I know you’ve gotten out of the pits of ‘Waterloo…’

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Do I have closure? I still have quite a number of questions, and there are various agencies of government tasked to ferret out the truth of exactly what happened in its entirety. There is an alternative version of events that happened there, which is undergoing very intense scrutiny. We are looking for witnesses that will prove or disprove certain observations. There is a case being filed specifically for the death of the members of SAF-55 and others and we’re…

READ: Aquino on Mamasapano: No conclusion at this point

Ms. Jimenez-Magsanoc: ’44.’

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I’m referring to the (entire SAF) company that, well, most of those who died belong to, plus the civilians, etc. There is over a hundred, I think, that will be indicted over this. We are meeting probably by next week to get all of the specifics.

Ms. Jimenez-Magsanoc: Over a hundred? So I understand you have already received the Mamasapano report—the DOJ-NBI report. Is that why you’re saying this? These people will be indicted based on those reports?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: You know, I think I can… There is an alternative version of what transpired, and there is a picture that actually came out in the front page of the Inquirer that posed so many questions, and that is what we want to resolve; however, there is difficulty in getting the witnesses… I would rather not talk too deeply about the specifics because it might really hamper our efforts to get to the truth of this matter—the complete truth.


Jake Maderazo (DZIQ Station Manager): Thank you, sir, and good afternoon. Kay Secretary (Cesar) Purisima. There are newspaper and radio reports saying that DOTC is being asked to pay P7-billion in penalties regarding the LRT-1 extension contract and, of course, (Secretary Joseph Emilio) Abaya has denied this. But is there really sovereign guarantee on that contract, or at least, a government guarantee whether that’s true or not?

SECRETARY PURISIMA: Well, that is the claim of the private sector proponent and that is going through discussions between DOTC and the private sector proponent. The DOTC, being the implementing agency together with the LRTA, carries with it national guarantee, but in this particular case, we did not issue a PU (performance undertaking) for that contract.

Mr. Maderazo: So which means that we are not paying what they’re asking?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: It is really under discussion right now so there are no conclusions…

Mr. Maderazo: Arbitration?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: No, not even arbitration. So, I think, they are in the preliminary discussions of the issue.


Raul Marcelo (Business Editor): Good afternoon, Mr. President. I would just like to ask, to your mind, what would be the three most significant accomplishments of your administration on the economic front?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Well, baka naman dapat we should go further than that. I think, if there is one legacy that we will leave behind, from apathy to talagang vigorous involvement; from the idea na ‘we can’t do anything, let’s leave the country’ to ‘we can demand everything of government yesterday’—‘yung parang to produce what we want today yesterday. So that fuels the economic aspect, ‘yung you’ve changed your perceptions of what you can expect in the Philippines, and I think that’s a primary legacy that… I stated it, I think, at the start na pwede na ulit mangarap during the campaign at ‘yung mga pangarap nangyayari na ngayon.

READ: Aquino: If there’s one legacy I will leave behind, it would be…

So, for instance, baka you’ll ask questions about the traffic. Can I just reiterate the figures before? The DTI says about 20,000-24,000 cars every month, additional; 100,000 motorcycles, additional, and we recognize that some of them might not be reported correctly. We’re told that these two major Japanese manufacturers can only deliver in a two-and-a-half months, three months’ period; some models daw seven-month waiting gap. So all of us who have experienced traffic will note that these figures are not really correct. So what does that tell me? There are people, or there are lots of people, who are convinced that they cannot afford both the down payment and the monthly amortizations, which means that they look to now towards the future as a continuation, or if not, an improvement of what is happening.

So that, in turn, gives rise to so many things: our ability to challenge the established lobbying groups with regards to the sin taxes; the idea of, ‘di ba, a PPP that is very transparent and parang the rules are really clear and that there is a good expectation that you do your due diligence, it can be profitable, and we can get the infrastructure we need right now, and a whole lot of other things. But it starts out with the main attitude that has changed.

Mr. Marcelo: Sir, follow up. Looking back, what would be two areas in the economic front that you think you could have done better or more?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Well, ‘yung one thing is that pool of experts, ‘di ba? For instance, sa purchasing, when the AFP decides to modernize, how do we actually know that what we’re getting is what we really need versus what a proponent is suggesting that we need to fulfill our needs? Parang they get something off the shelf and they’re trying to dovetail it into what we want. And I have tasked the DOST primarily to start establishing a cadre of experts on so many different fields so that we avoid a situation like ‘yung telepono sa barangay.

‘Di ba, parang the way I explained it to them, how much did we spend? How many billions did we spend on telepono sa barangay that did not result in even a single phone call? Could we not have developed the talent that could have foreseen the growth of cellular communications, for instance? And, in doing so, we could have made the environment so friendly to people who did best in telcos that could have saved us the telepono sa barangay and moved our communications faster. So that’s the dream.

We spend for scholars, have them trained here, trained abroad, be of intense knowledge on the cutting edge technologies that might have implications to what we need on very many fronts—whether it’s transportation, communications, new health challenges, and so on and so forth—so when we talk to people who can supply it to us, we can specify, specifically to the intense degree, what we really need as opposed to them selling us what is available on the shelf.


Chato Garcellano (Opinion Editor): Hello, sir. When your mother passed, the clamor for you to seek the presidency was quick to gather steam. It took many by surprise including, dare I say it, yourself. But you stepped up to the plate. If you knew then what you know now, would you have been as willing to take on the job? Would you have dragged your feet or passed up the task? Or did you know even then that the presidency was your destiny?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Let me answer the last portion of the question first. I wasn’t even sure of running for reelection in 2013 and parang it had gotten to a point na you felt like something… Somebody like Don Quixote, tilting at windmills, or ‘yung sa ating expression ‘hitting your head on the wall or banging your head on the wall.’ Parang no matter what you did, no matter what risks you took, no matter what energy you expended it seemed you couldn’t change anything. So I had gotten to that point in time that you were getting to be cynical and jaded.

Now, in direct answer to the earlier portion of your question, knowing what I know now would I have dragged my feet? Perhaps… Parang I said my mother, I think, put it best. If I could have done something and I chose not to, I would not be able to live with myself, and I subscribe to the same. So if I do that, we wouldn’t be at this position, and you name it: the investment grade, the health insurance program that covers mid- to high 90s already by this point in time, the 4.4 million households that are being taken care of by Pantawid Pamilya… Siguro even the attitude of the two high school graduates who are now entering UP that represented the first corps or first cadre of those that have been assisted in the high school stage. They are entering the UP College of Engineering and I asked the lady who is entering: ‘You’re going to civil engineering, I understand. Why did you choose that?’ And she said: ‘Sir, hindi ba ‘yon math?’ Parang masyadong ganado and, of course, I am a lot of times challenged by the higher forms of math.

So to me it’s not a question e. If I knew all of these successes will be achieved, ‘di siyempre, I would have volunteered in Day One. But at that time, if I can just remind everybody, we do… I read it in your paper quite a lot of times, the very numerous issues confounding my predecessor, and we knew that we knew was a portion of what the extent of the problems were. So it’s very daunting; people will be wanting solutions even before we stepped into office, at saka tangible results, even before we stepped into office. The question was would you be given enough time to effect the changes necessary? And in fairness to our people, and the faith in our people, they did. They supported the correct measures, and we are where we are because they were there, always behind us.

Ms. Garcellano: Sir, lahat naman po tayo nagbabago. Paano ho kayo sa tingin inyo? You are quite well known for being hard-headed, marami hong nagsasabi, and obviously, if you take a position, you will stick by it. Paano ho kayo nagbago kaya nitong limang taon na ito na patapos na ang inyong term? Ano sa tingin ninyo ang pinakamalaking pagbabago ninyo?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Mas marami na ho ang sakit ng katawan ko siguro ngayon kaysa noong araw. [laughter] Hindi, seriously, ‘yung… You’re with the private sector, you’re guaranteed what? Two weeks vacation, then you have the usual Holy Week, you have the Christmas… I don’t have that. I think it’s a perpetual question between by doctors and my Cabinet—my Cabinet, more often than not—who will advocate ‘magpahinga naman kayo.’ Cesar Purisima accompanied me in that trip to Europe and America and several members of the media, both who were covering us in Europe and the group that was waiting for us in America, I understand, got sick afterwards with the pace that we were exerting. Two members, I understand, of my Cabinet—if I can recall correctly—or three of them, who accompanied me in that trip were unavailable for two or three weeks after we got back, because they all got sick. So how have I changed? That’s true, ano. This job really ages you, number one.

‘Yung ‘hard-headed,’ bakit ‘pag ‘yung… ‘Di ba, I don’t make a decision lightly, pinag-aaralan. Sa tingin namin, given what is available, this is the best solution. ‘Pag may advocate sa labas na sticks to their point, ‘di ba, parang pinupuri; ‘pag ako, ‘hard-headed.’ Ano bang pinagkaiba? Pwede bang… Hindi, kunwari, itong araw na ito sabihin ko puti ito, bukas itim, sa susunod na araw gray—pupurihin kaya ako ‘non na ‘wow, okay itong taong ito, pabago-bago ng isip kada araw.’ So ‘pag mayroong dapat ipaglaban, ang paniwala ko, talagang isagad natin ‘yung paglalaban. Pwede naman akong nag-join ‘nung bandwagon na saka na muna ‘yung BBL, pero naniniwala ba ako na ang pag-de-delay ng BBL makakatulong kanino man? Palagay ho hindi e. O, ‘di solitary voice ako in a sense sometimes, parang after ‘nung Mamasapano. Ang paniwala ko ‘yon ang tamang dapat gawin. At saka ang ikinaganda nitong Saligang Batas natin ngayon, hindi nakatutok ‘yung presidente sa reelection dahil walang reelection. So ‘yung mabigat na desisyon na baka unpopular sa ngayon, kung tama, magiging popular ‘yon down the line—sasang-ayunan ng nakakarami dahil ‘yon ang talagang tamang solusyon. So paano makakaabot doon? Kung kailangang hard-headed, e ‘di paninindigan ko na ho siguro ‘yung pagiging hard-headed. Pero ‘nung panahon ho ng nanay ko parang insulto ‘yung tinatawag na ‘balimbing’ e, o walang paninindigan, walang lugar. Dito naman, ‘pag talagang nanindigan ka, parang ang tigas ng ulo mo naman. So ganoon siguro talaga ang buhay. Maski anong gawin mo malalait ka. Kaya ako, hanggang June 30, 2016, tatanggapin ko ho lahat ‘yan—hanggang tanghali lang po, ala-una, hindi na po ako.

Mr. Nery: Sir, if you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently in your campaign? Would you have, for instance, ensured a victory for Mar Roxas? If he had been your Vice President, how would things be different?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Teka muna, ‘yung “would have ensured,” you know, if you ask… If Mar were here today and you ask him: ‘Was there anything else I could have done to also boost up his candidacy?’ I don’t think he can think of anything. None of my supporters or real supporters probably will be able to say na ‘sana ginawa natin ito, sana ginawa natin ‘yan…’ Of course, there are some theories na baka we did this, we did that… But, you know, ‘yung what would I have… Well, from the start, you had a partner that ‘di ba… From the time we were both in the opposition to that whole campaign period to the very good working relationship already, may kahati ka talagang literal doon sa trabaho. By the workings of our law, parang one year I couldn’t appoint him to anything. ‘Pag nagkita nga kami somewhere in a public setting, kinu-kuwestiyon na bakit kami nagkikita, parang automatically mali na mag-usap kami. So, in a sense, we were deprived of his talents for that one year and one can’t help but imagine what he could have contributed if he had been there from the start. So I really subscribe to the idea that we had a very good team prior to entering the 2010 elections—from the days in the Senate and even in Congress—that it could have redounded to a lot more benefits if it did happen; unfortunately, it didn’t.


Ms. Jimenez-Magsanoc: I know you love songs, Mr. President. What will be the soundtrack of your five years in office so far, if you were asked?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Siyempre, ‘yung umpisa “Estudyante Blues.” [laughter] Anyway, in a sense, hindi ko lang alam kung paano i-se-segue ‘yung “Impossible Dream” na medyo naging ‘possible.’ You know, I’m listening to this song by a singer named Eliane Elias—she’s Brazilian—and it’s an old song, “The More I See You” yata (‘yung title), and I guess in a sense that captures what I really believe. ‘Yung parati kong sinasabi, basta nandiyan kayo sa likod ko, walang imposible—referring to my bosses—and, to this day, I still subscribe to that. Kung nagkaroon ako ng tapang labanan kung sino ang kailangang labanan dahil naniniwala ako, at the end of the day, kasangga ko kung hindi man lahat ang nakakarami sa ating mga kababayan—ke kalaban natin dito o sa labas ng bansa. So I’m trying to find that song that says, ‘basta nandiyan kayo, basta kahalubilo ko kayo, basta kasama ko kayo, ‘yung pangarap niyo at pangarap ko kaya nating maabot lahat.’ And I guess ‘yung… I don’t know, perhaps that’s why I bumped into that song, ‘di ba… The line is “the more I see, the more I want you…” parang ‘yon ang point e. Parang the more I get to interact with my bosses, the better I think I govern, from the feedback mechanism to even the idea of getting recharged to face whatever the next challenge will be.

Just the other day, I was talking to somebody, tinanong ako (what is my) most memorable experience o baka most important challenge. Sabi ko siguro parang ‘yung period ng 2013 would—well, number one, hindi nawawalan ng challenges—but 2013 was kind of eerie. We started with Zamboanga, went to Bohol, went to ‘Yolanda.’ Parang may confidence ka na na after ‘nung Zamboanga, ‘wow, 100,000 mahigit na katao kayang-kaya nating pakainin; kaya nating siguraduhing hindi magkasakit; kaya nating mapalitan ‘yung bahay na nawala sa kanila’—at least the temporary shelter at that point in time. Tapos binigyan ka ng greater problem with both Bohol and Cebu na happening almost simultaneously. So akala naman namin, ‘Uy! Nalampasan na naman natin itong challenge na ito. Kaya natin ito.’ Binigyan kami ng lesson on humility by giving us ‘Yolanda.’

Tapos ngayon naman na medyo dito na tayo sa tail-end talaga, parang ‘yung iba sabi ‘lame duck hosting’—ganoon. May El Niño tayong very severe ‘yung challenge up to next year—baka up to the first quarter and a portion of the second quarter of next year—and what do you do about it right now when you could do something about it? So even before this, ‘yung probably a couple of months ago, we were already discussing with DOST and also the AFP—‘cause the AFP has the assets—‘yung cloud-seeding, which means baka pwede tayong… Makakatulong ba kung umulan na ngayon, dadagdagan ‘yung naiipon natin (na tubig), para pagdating nitong malalang panahon ng El Niño starting December pero severe by January and February. And, of course, the other challenges and the usual challenges of the pending legislation that we really are very interested in: BBL, rationalization of the fiscal incentives, and also the pension system of the uniformed services, and the others that I mentioned in the SONA.


Thelma Sioson-San Juan (Lifestyle Editor): Good afternoon, sir. Before I go to the expected question, I would just like to know and go back to the five years, what do you think… What would you have wanted to communicate to the people but which was not properly and clearly communicated?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Ang hirap sagutin niyan, katabi ko ‘yung Communications Secretary…[laughter]

Ms. Sioson-San Juan: No, I mean, nothing to do with the ComGroup but what I’m saying is because we live in a clutter of information—you have social media, you have traditional media, you have everything—I mean, this goes beyond the capacity of traditional institutions.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: The challenge siguro is ‘nung Martial Law period suppression of information; ngayon naman yata parang may information gap, and how do you actually sift from the wheat and the chaff, how do you… ‘Di ba, what is garbage, what is really important. Managing information really is such a major… It should be a subset of people entering political science courses siguro or people who want to get into politics. Hindi na sufficient ‘yung ‘the truth will find its way,’ sometimes it’s… Well, I guess it does find its way, pero sometimes parang the process is too long.

Ms. Sioson-San Juan: So what is it that you would have wanted to tell, to convey that, you know, you think you were not able to convey all those (five) years?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Siguro the times na bumaba ‘yung ating approval rating, for instance, doon na na-co-confuse ‘yung mga tao. Pero at the same time, eventually, nalalaman naman nila kung ano talaga ang nangyari at siguro ‘yon ang [iniisip natin]. Sana more efficient ‘yung aming pag-disseminate nitong truth na ito. You know, I just remembered, there was a dialogue we had… We went to Tagaytay to meet with the KBP, and one media practitioner said, we’re asking: ‘Di ba, pwedeng may balance? Kung may negative, baka pwedeng paminsan-minsan may positive. Ang sagot sa akin was, ‘hindi namin trabaho na sabihin ‘yung positive, bahala na kayo doon.’ And, to be honest, when she was telling me this and even on the trip back home—and a few days after that from time to time—sabi ko parang pare-pareho tayong Pilipino e. Para bang, ‘di ba, madalas kong nakikita ‘yung mga comment of foreigners: ‘Why do we Filipinos bring ourselves down?’

My dad had a joke about ‘yung alimango na nasa San Francisco with the fisherman. If you want me to share it, I’ll share it with you. There was pail daw of crabs. There was an American guy at the bar, and the Filipino guy at the bar, and there was a crab that was about to escape the pail. So the American guy, according to my dad, talked to the Filipino: ‘Hey, buddy! You’re crab is about to escape.’ And the guy said, ‘Don’t worry, they are Filipino crabs.’ I didn’t really get it at the time. ‘Yon pala, ‘yung point, basta may umangat guaranteed may hahatak pababa. So parang ‘pag may nangyari sa ating tragedy, i-co-cover lang for two weeks or longer kung may interes. One year later, uulitin; whether or not na-resolve na ‘yung isyung ‘yon, whether or not nagbago, bubuhayin ulit ‘yung dating nangyari. So tanong ko lang doon, why do we have to wallow in a mistake, especially if it has been corrected? In the absence of telling the positive, does that mean the positives do not happen? Parang ganoon ang point e. And perhaps, at some point in time, I’ll participate in a discussion with the academe how do we move that forward.


Ms. Sioson-San Juan: Second question. Not many know that you really love to read, aside from your love of music, of course. What’s your reading material, bedside books now?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: About a third of my bed has all of these magazines and books. So mga techno-thriller in the mold of Tom Clancy, Matthew Riley… When I read, ‘yung parteng ‘yon pang-entertain naman. ‘Pag medyo happy ‘yung entertainment at saka educational, ‘yung military history, various forms. May subsets: Civil War history, World War II, ancient and medieval warfare…

Mr. Nery: Sir, anything on the South China Sea?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: ‘Yon naman sa office ko binabasa ‘yon. [laughter] Although… Then various publications: The Economist, TIME, etc. Especially ‘The Economist,’ parang it seems I get so much knowledge of areas that are not normally covered by our own media. I don’t surf the net but I really like the hard copy type of things. If there’s something that catches my interest that I think has to be shared, I point it out to various members of the Cabinet, various agencies involved. Ano pa ba? Minsan natatawa ako there’s so much reading that has to be done in this job, tapos ‘yung entertainment ko reading din, so siguro mga every… Once or twice a month, my eye doctor reminds of these medicines na dapat gamitin ko. I have a gel that adds to parang liquid to tears, artificial tears. Nag-da-dry daw ‘yung mata ko.


Philippine President Benigno Aquino III laughs during the Meet the Inquirer Multmedia forum

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III laughs during the Meet the Inquirer Multmedia forum. REM ZAMORA/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

Ms. Sioson-San Juan: Sir, more than a decade ago, I think you promised me that I would get the scoop when it finally happens. And then we were talking and you said that, after 2016, you are actually… Well, you wouldn’t if you face some things alone. So that means there is no more scoop?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I would suggest that you take care of your health, Thelms, para we have all of the possibilities for me to be able to fulfill my promise to you.

Ms. Sioson-San Juan: My health?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Hindi natin maipapangako next week, next month, next year e. So, habang healthy ka, ‘di ba… Habang may buhay, may pag-asa.

Dona Policar (Inquirer-Bandera): Magandang hapon po, Ginoong Pangulo. Nasabi niyo na rin po ‘habang may buhay, may pag-asa.’ People say hope springs eternal and that is why I will be asking you this question: Do you ever see yourself raising a child of your own? And what would he be kaya? Would he be someone who is into politics, or someone who is into showbiz, or someone who is into both, or someone who is in between?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Pinalaki naman kami kasi ng mga magulang namin na ini-encourage kami to follow our dreams. Is it politics? Is it showbiz? Is it something else? Baka naman ako ang maka-produce ng somebody na mag-re-religious. Wala pa kaming pamangkin na pumasok sa (seminaryo). At the end of the day, I will support… Number one, first find a partner, then produce the child, then nurture the child that he gets to his greatest potential. Tutal marami naman akong imposibleng nagawa na, ‘yon siguro mas madali-dali nang konti ‘yon.

Ms. Policar: Mayroon na ba, sir, nahahanap or nahanap na?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Basta matagal na tayong naghahanap. Pero, honestly, I was talking to one of our taipans and after ‘yung topics na of interest talaga, biglang out of the blue sabi niya sa akin ‘mahirap mabuhay nang nag-iisa, malungkot ‘yon talaga.’ And the funny thing is this perhaps the second or the third time—and we don’t talk a lot—second or third time that ‘yung last topic, every time I get to talk to him, has to be something on that matter. Pero, ‘yon na nga, bahala na ang Diyos sa akin doon. Kung dito, kung may reward in the hereafter, kung talagang hindi ako entitled to any reward, hindi ko na pino-problema ‘yung point na ‘yon. Basta ang isyu, if I do get that blessing, I will support the child in the same token that my parents supported me to develop the fullest of my potential. So where he will be happiest.


Ms. Policar: Good luck to you, sir. One last question, sir. Sir, nanonood po ba kayo ng ‘AlDub’ or ‘Showtime’ ‘yung pinapanood niyo kasi si Vice Ganda BFF ni Kris. Baka fan kayo ng ‘Showtime.’

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Baka maraming magagalit ho sa akin dito. Kadalasan ‘pag nanonood ho tayo ng TV ‘yung mga (palabas) sa cable na History Channel, National Geographic, or Discovery, Discovery Turbo, ‘yung mga ganoon.

Ms. Policar: Ni minsan, sir, hindi pa po ba kayo nakapanood ng ‘AlDub’?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: May nakita akong picture, counted na ba ‘yon? May humahalik sa TV screen. [laughter]

Ms. Policar: Uyy…nanood na nga kayo. Updated naman pala kayo, sir.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Sa inyo ko rin nabasa yata ‘yon e.

Ms. Policar: Uy! Maraming salamat po, binabasa ninyo ang Inquirer-Bandera. Salamat po, Ginoong Pangulo.


Bayani San Diego (Entertainment Editor): How much weight do you put in the opinions, suggestions of your sisters, especially Kris Aquino when it comes to entertainment and cultural issues? Thank you po.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Well, parang ‘pag kay Kris ‘pag entertainment, cultural wala namang discussion e. Parang ang dating niya siya ang resident expert. But to be honest, all of my sisters normally do not interfere, unless there is something… Kunwari, kahapon, Pinky texted me about… ‘Uy! Ang laki ng asenso nitong traffic, I’m headed southbound…’—ganito—parang Sunday traffic, mga ganoon. Or mayroong mga, ‘di ba, may concerns [that] are brought to their attention para i-channel sa akin.

Pero ang nanay kasi namin noon, pag-upo bilang presidente, sabi niya ‘bumalik na kayo sa kanya-kanya ninyong buhay, ako na ang bahala rito.’ Tapos nadamay na lang kami… May coup, may baha, may pagputok ng Pinatubo—‘yung mga ganoon—kung inatasan kami to do something specifically. Parang nanay namin e, ‘di ba, nagmamalasakit kami sa kanya. Pero ‘yung ‘malasakit’ should not mean ‘makialam’ and I think my sisters also do that. So if there are, well, ‘yung typical na sisters ano… Para bang ‘pag nakita nila, ‘ang laki ng ipinayat mo o tuloy-tuloy ang pagpayat mo’—ganyan.

Minsan nag-ca-cariño ako sa kanila na parang… I cannot speak, you know. She has this salad dressing na type na type ko. Paparinggan ko na ‘matagal ka nang hindi nagpadala…’ And she actually has a calendar ‘cause hindi raw ka-healthy ‘yung Caesar salad kasi. So parang once every six months yata e… And, being a typical sister, she will call Yolly and say: ‘Yolly, fourth day na, puro natural ingredients ‘yan. Walang preservatives, itapon mo na.’ Parang i-fo-follow up ‘yung ganoon.

So, again, they tell me the successes… They’re like sounding boards and additional eyes and ears. Pero, ulit, ‘yung tumulong versus ‘yung makialam versus ‘yung makipagkuwentuhan nang walang saysay, ‘yon ang talagang pakay nila.


Fe Zamora (Inquirer Social Media Editor): Good afternoon, Mr. President. We have so many questions here and we have little time. According to one of our followers, slow internet connection. So the question is, what is the government doing—what is ‘daang matuwid’ doing to solve slow internet connectivity in the Philippines? That is a question from Jester…

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Slow internet, well, alam mo ‘yung expansion po of engaging the internet that is DOST’s proposal, ‘di ba, lot of public sites, get more of our people connected. So ‘yung slow, there is no formal yet—there has been no formal study presented to me yet but there is a question of whether or not have our telcos, parang oversubscribe. There are too many people under their services and too little expansion of the services involved. That has to be determined by both DOST and NTC. So we will have that checked out at what point is the study with regards to ‘yung capacity versus their subscriptions.

READ: PH Internet users ‘paying more’ for slow connection speed – study

Ms. Zamora: Sir, there is a follow up question related to that. Whatever happened to the ICT, I think this is the department that was supposed to handle communications and internet?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: It’s still… It’s an office. ICTO, ‘di ba? ICTO under DOST. There is a proposal for a department. I am not sure that there is a need for a department, specifically for IT. Parang currently the ICTO seems to adequately meet all of the challenges with regards to IT between cyber security, sa speed, connectivity, and so on.


Ms. Zamora: Sir, there’s another question. This is asked by Teddy Casiño and et al: “What is the government doing to stop the killing of Lumad in Mindanao?”

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Killing of Lumads?

Ms. Zamora: Lumads, yes.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Baka I should talk to Teddy Casiño after this and asked him for the details of the same. There is no campaign to kill anybody in this country. There is a campaign to get after everybody who commits crimes regardless of who they are. And I think we have an adequate track record to show you the successes of people who have long been wanted that are already been apprehended and the process still continues.

Ms. Zamora: So there is no tribe that is targeted, like the Bagani group?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: There is no… Serving the people does not entail killing any of our citizens.


JV Rufino (Mobile Editor): A question from one of our Line subscribers. He wants to ask you if you have selected your next DILG chief?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Yes, Congressman Mel Sarmiento. I have offered the job to him. Former mayor, head of the House delegation to the CA. So iyong transition is being worked out so that he is not thrown in at the deep end right away and there is a smooth transition between Secretary Roxas and Congressman Sarmiento. And of course, subject to confirmation by the CA.

READ: Western Samar congressman is next DILG chief — Aquino


Mr. Rufino: If I may ask another follow up question. Why did you choose Mar Roxas over Grace Poe?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: At the end of the day ‘yung track record, meaning experience. And I think I stated it categorically when I endorsed him, ‘yung mahaba-haba na ang service ni Mar. Nakita na natin ang performance in so many other categories. And as far as Grace Poe is concerned, I think she is a fellow traveler on the road to ‘daang matuwid.’ But at the end of the day, is she as prepared as Mar? And I don’t think anybody can argue that she is as prepared as Mar at this point in time.

So, we actually… I did propose the idea to her na, ‘di ba… ‘Yung one of the hindrances to getting our growth picture consistent is the idea that sa atin ‘pag long term five years e. With the change in administration, everybody has a wait and see attitude. What changes will be wrought. But if we could have a system wherein parties are really platform-based and issue-based and that there is a continuity to governance, then perhaps that enhances our ability to grow at a faster rate and a more wide ranging format at that.

Mr. Nery: Sir, if I can ask you a couple of questions about 2016 politics. Have you given up on Grace Poe as Mar Roxas’ vice presidential candidate?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Until the end of the filing period I don’t think we are giving up. Iba pa rin ‘yung we get united.

You know, one thing I propose to all of them was, in 1992, when my mom was stepping down, those forces allied to us split into parang conceivably four different factions. Unfortunately, there are opponents who are less also split up into two factions and that was enough to get President Ramos to win, whom my mother endorsed. So we are hoping that there is less division amongst the forces that are allied in ‘daang matuwid’ and thereby ensure that there is continuity.

Mr. Nery: Sir, how do you read Mayor Duterte’s renunciation of a presidential bid? Will that work in favor of Vice President Binay or Secretary Roxas?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I think… Iyong he is allied with us. He has endorsed me in my various endeavors into national politics. So parang I think I’d better reserve some comments less. We haven’t really talked. Can we get him onboard really fully in Secretary Mar’s campaign? So I might be premature in saying anything at this point in time ‘coz I didn’t have advance knowledge as to what he would say and to be honest with you—hindi naman sa sipsip, I did read it in today’s papers. So I think it will be best for me to talk to him at some point in time at his convenience as to what are—how we can get together if possible towards continuing the progress that this country is happening.

Mr. Nery: Thank you, sir. Sir, here is the question from our Cebu Bureau. How does the Liberal Party intend to resolve the conflict of new and original members in the first district of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities? I guess this applies to many other areas.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Hindi ko pa na-memorize kung sino ang nasa first district but there are party mechanisms involved; there are established principles also. But I think it would be best for our candidate to be the one to say because at the end of the day, when we—he does consult, sabi ko: ‘I would normally defer to what you want in the sense that you will be the one who will have to work with everybody who gets into office.’

Hirap naman na from the get-go, sa campaign pa lang hirap ka nang makatrabaho itong mga ito at ipipilit pa sa iyo. So it has to be his prerogative and I think for the most part, we have managed to settle this local issues. But of course, there is a truism that the lower you get—in terms of the hierarchy—the harder it becomes. But there will be a fair chance for all parties concerned.

Mr. Nery: Are you open to declaring certain areas as free zones?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Again, I will defer to the candidate to speak on that matter.


Mr. Nery: Sir, I have a question here about the refugee situation in—well, from the Middle East that has now overcome Europe. Are you open to providing asylum perhaps to some of them? Will you support an international conference on refugee burden sharing?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Meron tayong sa atin, in particular—the Rohingya, the Uighur and UNHCR did now approach us. In the case of the Uighur as a transient point, ano, and I think our position is if they make it to our shores, there is proof of their citizenship in another country, then… We are signatories to various conventions e. The case in point is the Vietnamese refugees, the so-called boat people from 1975. I think we finished our involvement sometime in 1990.

So we have proven as a country that we are ready to assist and, of course, there was an organization in America, they just paid honor to or rendered honors to President (Manuel) Quezon when we took in Jewish refugees in World War II. The plan was to have more but…

Mr. Nery: Only one ship arrived…

PRESIDENT AQUINO: And of course, we got occupied ourselves. So, the history is there, the culture is there. We just want to make sure that we manage it properly, that we don’t take on more than what we can handle. Vast majority of our people are still living in poverty. We’d like to take our resources to better our people and do our share—our fair share and that is a question siguro, what is fair?


Mr. Nery: That’s right. Sir, maybe one last question about international affairs. The Prime Minister of Malaysia is in hot water these days. He is accused of corruption. There has been massive protests in Kuala Lumpur. Have you been in touch with him? And how will this affect the participation of Malaysia in the peace process?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I haven’t been in touch with him, except to the formal meetings in ASEAN. And I haven’t discussed this particular problem with him. So, how will it affect us? History, I think, will bear me out. There was a point in time that, especially during our Martial Law period, there is an allegation that those who opposed to Mr. Marcos found training camps in the territory of Malaysia. What I know for a fact now is that we have Prime Minister Najib (Razak) who has been very instrumental ever since I got into this office in moving this peace dialogue forward and we hope that this policy of Malaysia doesn’t change of being really of tremendous help in resolving this long, long problem that has been festering since the late 60’s.


Mr. Nery: Thank you. Sir, we have about seven minutes. With your indulgence, we have prepared a little game. I think you have been warned a little earlier. Now, this will allow us… Okay. I was told maybe before that maybe we can have a couple of more questions from the floor. Our Day Desk Chief, Mike Lim Ubac.

Mike Ubac (Day Desk Chief): Sir, marami akong tanong, it has been a while. Sir, question lang: May vice na ba si Mar?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: There are several that are being considered. But again kanina I was asked: are you still holding the doors open for Grace? Yes. Has she accepted? Obviously, hindi pa. Sana tanggapin niya. Pero if not, there are at least two in my mind right now. Pero one that I’m really pushing for.

Mr. Ubac: Clue, sir, showbiz ba ‘yan?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Hintayin na nating matapos ‘yung process.

Mr. Ubac: Pero sir mukhang tatakbo na talaga si Grace Poe. How does the entry of Grace Poe change the 2016 terrain and would Mar win it in a three-cornered fight with Duterte, backing out tatlo na lang sila?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I think ano ‘yung… Mabalik tayo dito, ano. Anyway ini-espouse ‘nung aming grupo may continuity and how does one argue success, ‘di ba. So in our case, parang may proven quantity. Ito na na-produce. Paniwala namin starting block pa lang ito. Those who will come after us they continue the programs and the reforms that have been happening this time on our shoulders, you get to higher level at the quicker phase. And everybody who does not subscribe to that will have to explain what is your vision of something better that what is already happening.

Let me just stress that. May place in Bukidnon and… Si Bam Aquino, my cousin, went there; he was invited, tapos agricultural area producing cabbage, if I’m not mistaken. So what Bam told me was half of the road is finished, parang may portion may ganoon, may portion hindi. May karatula says by such and such a date mabubuo na ito. But the community says 50 years na kaming naghihintay para magkaroon ng kalsada rito, ngayon nandiyan na. So ‘yung kalsada, parang mas madali na ‘yung ibaba ‘yung produce, which is cabbage, I was made to understand. Pero ang dagdag pa roon, Bam says the area is like Baguio in terms of being cool. So the idea of a torusim venue, suddenly becoming available. So ‘yung mga tao roon nakikita na ang laking change mangyayari sa ating—nangyayari na at mangyayari dito sa ating lipunan.

So those who are espousing, lalo ‘yung opposition sa amin, ‘yung tinayo namin, siyempre, baliktad dahil opposition sila. Bale ‘yung baliktaran nila, magreresulta ng maganda para sa ating mga kababayan. Iyon ang challenge nitong mga competitor natin. So enhanced, I guess, enhanced ‘yung pagtakbo ni Mar.

Mr. Ubac: But would Mar winning a three-cornered fight between Binay and Grace?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Iyong mag-umpisa tayo siguro ano ba ‘yung tamang gawin? Sino ba ang dapat suportahan? Tapos ang dulo ‘non, paniwala namin—nakasandal kami sa mga boss e that’s why, ‘di ba, in one of my speeches I said kung… Next year referendum, tama bang ginawa namin, mali ba ang ginawa namin? Kung tama ang ginawa namin, babalik ito ‘yung susunod na hilera namin. Kung mali ginawa namin, sisisantehin niyo kami, karapatan nila ‘yon. At kung palagay nilang tama ay handa rin akong makiambag pa tapos ‘non.


Mr. Ubac: Sir, corruption has ebbed under your term but is far from over. How do you intend to ensure that it would not be business as usual when you step down in June 2016? And with JPE out and now back in the Senate, some doubt that the current trial would lead to conviction. Is this fear or doubt misplaced? And would you want a conviction before your term ends?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Conviction, ‘yung woud I want? What I want and what I can get, medyo magkalayo ‘yon e. Sa totoo lang, ano, yung… You know, again, probably I read it to your paper. There was a letter to the editor complaining about the length of time it takes to conduct trials. Merong constitutional provision, for instance, even the Supreme Court having a two-year max period to render judgement. Pero may nagsasabing mga pilosopong abogado, siyempre, sila rin ang nagsasabi kung kailan mag-uumpisa ‘yung start ‘nung two years.

So how do I ensure? You know, there was somebody in Naga who asked me, a young lady says beneficiary ako ng Pantawid Pamilya, paano mo gagarantiyahin na magpapatuloy ito pagbaba mo? So paano ko nga ba gagarantiyahin by Noynoy Aquino by himself? So ang sagot ko sa kanya, aba, dito sa sistema natin kayo ang magbibigay ng pahintulot may mamahala sa atin. So tayo ang magsisiguradong—‘yon na nga ang point e, referendum next year, tama ba ang ginawa namin o hindi. Paano magpapatuloy? ‘Di elect niyo ‘yung nangangakong magpapatuloy imbis na ‘yung magkokontra.

The corruption fight end? That depends to the people. Okay lang ba sa inyo? E kung hindi okay sa inyo, ‘di habulin niyo ‘yung—‘yung suportahan niyo ang mga taong hahabol dito sa mga palagay niyo nagkamali sa atin. Ako mag-isa, ano bang magagawa ko? Palagay ko may push back ako by next year. Lahat nang binunggo ko mabibigat, wala ka ng immunity ganito’t ganyan, uulanan na ako ng kaliwa’t kanang kaso. So ang tanong naman dito, okay ba sa tao ‘yon? Akong naging mukha ng laban natin, parang will you throw me to the lions and I don’t think the people will do that.

Mr. Ubac: Sir, follow up lang, prepared po kayo doon sa what Lacierda was saying “a universe of possibility” that you will be charged after you step down?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Merong nagdedemanda na sa akin ngayon na may immunity ako. Siyempre, siya at saka ‘yung abogado niya dapat yata ma-examine. Bawal nga e, ginagawa mo. So patunay lang yata ‘yung mga akusasyon namin sa kanya na mali nga yata mga pinaggagawa niya kasi hanggang ngayon hindi pa rin marunong sumunod sa batas e, dati pang mambabatas.


Mr. Ubac: Sir, quick lang, moving forward. What has happened after Yolanda, what’s the new policy after Yolanda and what‘s the message that you will be bringing to Paris for the climate change conference?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Hindi pa kami sure na tutuloy doon sa COP21 ha. We’re going to be experiencing talagang the severity of El Niño starting December. Yolanda—it’s a continuing process. Ang dami nating communities to the coastline. Ang daming… Kapag tiningnan mo ‘yung mga pinakita ng PAGASA at saka ng DOST na danger areas, especially in the coastline, parang halos wala na yatang natira, tapos may mga tanong: Saan ba natin ililipat kung unsafe diyan? So ‘yung large—paano ba sabihin ‘yon? Nagiging mas fine and fine ‘yung skin para mahanap ka, ‘pag sinabi nating “build back better,” saan ba dapat i-locate itong mga communities na ito?

Mr. Ubac: So ‘yung 40-meter na easement, sir, i-implement natin, ‘yung 2013?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: That’s only part of it. Kasi merong, ‘di ba, from the sea, meron ‘yung bababa from the mountains, merong ‘pag nagtagpo ‘yung dalawa. So lahat ‘nung scenario na ‘yon… Parang safe ka from the sea, meaning storm surge. Safe ka kung flood. Kailangan safe ka from both. Safe ka kung magla-landslide. Safe ka from ‘yung, for instance, ‘yung sa Mayon, may permanent exclsuive zone na binalikan ng mga tao, which is six kilometers if my memory is correct. Basta naglabas ng usok, parang meron ng poisonous na element kaagad doon, at matagal-tagal ding exclusive zone na ‘yon pero kapag matagal-tagal na hindi kumilos si Mayon, balik ‘yung tao.


Mr. Ubac: May phone-in lang si ma’am ‘yung FOI daw, ano daw?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: There is no change in the FOI (Freedom of Information). We’ve submitted our position. We can live with the version based on those amendments and I think the question should be brought to Congress and to the Senate rather to us. I mean okay na with the version as amended.

Mr. Nery: Sir, I hope you don’t mind by pointing out. The difference in your answer between the BBL and the FOI is—well, there is a difference.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Hindi, parang, ‘di ba, priority ko si BBL, priority ko si economic, ‘yung fiscal incentive sa rationalization, priority ko ‘yung pension na walang pension system for the uniformed services. I think medyo, my last count something like 24 or 25 priority ko. I think medyo bitin pa akong magka—‘yung certifying urgent. Sabi naman ng Kongreso: Ano ba talagang importante lahat dito? You want all 25, you want all 30. Ano ba ang pinaka-immediate sana ngayon mangayari. Medyo kinakapos na tayo ng oras doon sa BBL for them to show bagong governance will result into better situation for all of them. ‘Yung hampering our growth is that rationalization of fiscal incentives, ‘yung pension system is… [Magkano nga? How many trillion?] We need 1.3 or 1.8 trillion to fund the pension system of the uniformed services and a high of 4 or 5 trillion. ‘Yung budget natin is 3 trillion. So hanggang hindi natin pinopondohan ‘yan, the people that we’re getting in now fall in that automatic index in situation, which compounds the problem.


Juliet Javellana: Sir, actually some of these you have answered. I’ll just read the second half of this question from Lei Alviz from GMA-7. Has the Office of the President receive a notice from the Office of the Ombudsman asking for comment on the Ombudsman’s probe on the DAP?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Iyong technicality diyan para ‘pag nagkaroon ng preliminary investigation, doon sila magpapadala. Hindi clear kung papadalhan ako dahil I’m supposed to be immune from suit while in office. But the direct answer is, to the best of my knowledge, parang wala pa kaming natatanggap at wala kaming ini-expect na matanggap hanggang hindi pa na-conclude ‘yung preliminary investigation nila.


Ms. Javellana: Thank you, sir. The second question is from Au Calica from Philippine Star. I know you said that you’re prepared to wait for Leni but she’s asking if are you going to call a caucus to select the vice president for Mar because apparently Senator Poe is preferred to run for president?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: ‘Yung do we need a caucus to tell Mar who should be his running mate? Palagay ko hindi ganoon ang process e. I think I did say in my endorsement speech for him that he has the right to choose whom he think should be his partner. I think the whole party will recognize that, okay, may consensus tayong who our standard bearer will be and then once that’s decided then he should be given the range to run the campaign.

Ms. Javellana: Sir, may quick question, follow up lang. Are you inclined to choose Leni Robredo if in case Senator Grace declines to run for vice president?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Marami nang sinacrifice (sacrifice) si Leni. Palagay ko the least I owe it to her will have to have—if Mar decides it’s Leni then we talk to Leni before we tell anybody else, imbis naman na dagdagan pa namin ‘yung pressure kay Leni at this point in time.


Ms. Javellana: Sir, last on the Mamasapano picture that you were talking about, I think you were referring to this photo of Marwan in the hut when he was killed. Are you saying that this indicates a different version of what we already learned that this is a massacre or something?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Parang certain quarters did point out certain questions that arise from that picture. Does this support the so-called official version of what transpired or does it not? Ngayon, if it doesn’t support, can it be explained or it cannot be explained? That is an ongoing process. There is no conclusion at this point.

Ms. Javellana: So that is being investigated or pursued right now?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Please don’t ask me the specifics kasi part of it is getting all the witnesses. And I’m sure if there are… There are witnesses who are supposed to be able to—can render or offer testimony in certain aspects. If we say any description of them, ‘yung we are looking for them, and I’m sure other parties are looking for them also, baka naman mahirapan pa kaming hanapin sila, lalo tayong mahirapan na masigurado ‘yung malaman kung ano talaga ang nangyari and its entirety.


Joey Nolasco: Mr. President, I know you are open to all possibilities, and after five years in office, you’ve learned that in the Philippines the unexpected is to be expected. What do you think of a Binay presidency?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Alam mo siguro… Para expand ko na lang ‘yung kanina, ano. ‘Di ba nag-resign sa akin one line, tapos ang dami nang sinasabi from that period on. Ang dali namang ipakitang may katotohanan ba doon sinasabi niya. I was asked in an ambush interview what I expected him to say that afternoon. I think this was before the Cavite speech. And sabi ko nga sana he just tells the truth. Okay na ako doon. If you believe in democracy, my parents did tell me, and my father in particular said, the true test of a democracy is your ability to defend the rights of even the people or in opposition too or you don’t like. Actually, I think he said “defending the rights of your enemies is a true test of a democracy; defending the rights of your friends is the easiest thing to do.” Now, am I saying the VP is my enemy? Hindi. But I do believe that he said he is the head of the opposition and ‘yung parang… I oppose everything you did. O ‘di fine. So sana ‘yung ginawa namin… Kaya referendum e. Itong ginawa namin, palagay mo baliktad ang tama pero limang taon palagay niya tama.

So bahala na ang taumbayan, ‘di ba, at ang may karapatan taumbayan. Iyon amin bang ginawa ang tama o ‘yung pinapangako niyang—may pinapangako na nga ba? Isasangguni raw sa inyo ‘yon ba ang mas tama or ‘yon ba ang tama at mali ba kami? The campaign will make that even more glaring, ‘yung ipinagkaiba ng pananaw namin, at ang taumbayan ang may karapatan or sole right to decide who should run this country.

Mr. Nery: Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Baka lumabas lang ‘yung aming computer illiteracy dito at amongst other things.


Mr. Nery: This is actually another way to get to know you better, Mr. President, and also to have you give answers to how many items do we have? Ten? Ten items. But Mr. President, this game is so complicated, I lack the skill set to do this so I’m going to call on the radio anchor and the editor in chief of Inquirer Libre, Chito de la Vega, who will serve as game master.

Mr. dela Vega: Good afternoon, Mr. President. Actually we prepared 50 questions pero swerte kayo, malakas kayo kay Nikko, ten na lang. [laughs] So this is a match-making game. No, no, no, it’s not match making, it’s a match a word to a hashtag. And I’ve heard that the President has been instructed of what a hashtag means pero alam na raw niya ‘yon dati pa. Okay, so ganito ang ano natin, I will say a word and the President will choose among the hashtags that we have provided. Okay?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Iyong group dito corned beef hash lang ang alam. [laughter]

Mr. de la Vega: Sir, nabubuko tayo diyan sa ano natin computer literacy. Okay, so ten words, tapos we’re preparing the hashtags. I believe may nagsabi na kay Presidente ng hashtag ha. Let me just state na si Nikko at saka si Tine ang nag-prepare nito, hindi ako. So the first word, at mamili si Pangulo ng hashtag is “Noynoy Aquino.” Anong gusto niyong… Tingin niyo kapag Noynoy Aquino, anong hashtag ang dapat diyan? Ulit, ulit.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Hindi okay na.

Mr. de la Vega: Meron na, meron ng napili si Pangulo.


Mr. de la Vega: “LOL.”

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Sana tama ang pagkaintindi ko ng “LOL.”

Mr. de la Vega: Teka lang, ano ba ang pagkaalam niyo ng ano…

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Hindi ba “lots of love” ‘yon?

Mr. de la Vega: Lots of love. So Noynoy Aquino #lostoflove. That’s my President.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Thank you po sa inyong lahat.

Mr. de la Vega: Second word “inquirer.”

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Same choices ba?

Mr. de la Vega: Yes, sir, mamimili kayo diyan. Inquirer. No repetition, sir. So wala na ‘yung “lots of love.”

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Iyan na nga siguro “it’s complicated.”

Mr. de la Vega: “It’s complicated.” Next word “german shepherd.”

PRESIDENT AQUINO: German shepherd.

Mr. de la Vega: Explain namin after this. Parang mahirap ah, nahirapan si Pangulo bigla ah.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Iyong nagkaroon ako ng german shepherd recently.

Mr. de la Vega: Iyon na nga sir kaya namin tinatanong.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Four months old pa lang, hindi pa puwedeng i-train e kaya…

Mr. de la Vega: May bagong aso si Pangulo it’s half german, half shepherd. Hindi, hindi, it’s a german shepherd.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Hindi, totoo meron akong aso.

Mr. de la Vega: Totoong aso, totoong aso.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Hindi, para safe, ‘yung “beautiful.” It’s a really beautiful dog.

Mr. de la Vega: Sir, ano ba, is it male or female?


Mr. de la Vega: It’s a male. Buti na lang hindi “in a relationship” sinagot niya. “Mar Roxas.”


Mr. de la Vega: Oh… Ang bilis sir ha. Leila de Lima.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Siguro ‘yung “love pa more.”

Mr. de la Vega: “Love pa…” [laughter] Next is “Grace Poe.”

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Iyan ang “sa tamang panahon.”

Mr. de la Vega: “Vice President Jejomar Binay.”

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Iyan ang number one, ‘di ba, “e di wow.” [laughter]

Mr. de la Vega: Ito ang pinakamainit na topic ngayon, Metro Manila traffic.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Nasaan ba ‘yung may solusyon diyan? Closest na siguro ‘yung “move on.”

Mr. de la Vega: “Move on.” [laughter] Ito “July 1, 2016.”

PRESIDENT AUQINO: Hindi, June 30, 2016.

Mr. de la Vega: June 30, 2016.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: 12:01. “Best day ever.”

Mr. de la Vega: “Best day ever.” [laughter] And last sir…

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Maski half day lang ‘yon.

Mr. de la Vega: “Love life.”


Mr. de la Vega: Ang lakas ng tawa niyo, sir ha, kahit wala sa mikropono naririnig.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: “Blessed” na siguro ang ano… If you are blessed, you will have it.

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Mr. de la Vega: Thank you, Mr. President.


TAGS: Inquirer, Mamasapano

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