Interview on ANC | May 2, 2019

In an interview on ANC, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
– reported arrest of ‘person of interest’ in the uploading of ‘tunay na narco list’ video
– Senate Bill 2219, encouraging public participation in budgeting process
– PRRD’s taking up WPS issue with Chinese President Xi
– illegal Chinese workers and SMEs


Quotes from the interview…

On the reported arrest of a person of interest in the ‘narco list’ video:

“The first question that needs to be answered is, is the arrest proper or legal? Because under the Revised Penal Code, alam natin ang warrantless arrests, actually committing, about to commit, has just committed? Papasok ba roon? Unless he was arrested for violation of another crime and willingly subjected to preliminary investigation on this particular offense he is known for, then the arrest could be considered proper. But without a proper legal basis for conducting the arrest kay Bikoy, I think the DOJ or NBI should explain why they arrested him.”

“This is different because it is the First Family that is the subject of the allegation made by Bikoy. We know the President has all the resources under his disposal so that makes it different because the President can mobilize the law enforcement agencies, the DOJ, and the other Cabinet. As we’ve seen. Full force.”

“There’s more than that. Si Bikoy was obviously not acting alone. And Malacanang wants to unmask sino ang people behind him. And yan ang nag-a-arouse ng interest din among us. Sino ang mga tao? Are these political personalities or are these destabilizers? Yan ang interest natin dito.”

On the Ombudsman’s order to dismiss Jason Aquino for grave misconduct re complaint lodged by Sen. Lacson in 2017 over agricultural smuggling:

“Jason Aquino was an incidental participant simply because rice ang involved na nai-smuggle and siya ang nag-issue ng import permit after the fact. Meaning, yung rice was already declared abandoned and seized in favor of the government and yet Jason Aquino as then NFA administrator issued an antedated import permit. You cannot do that because pag-aari ng gobyerno yan. Kasi walang documentation, walang import permit. Na-seize ng CDO district collector and it was subjected to due process. Nagkaroon ng warrant seizure and detention and may hearing. And some people from the BOC then provided me with some documents which I pursued. It ended up with the Ombudsman.”

“Not on the personalities involved but on the cases that I filed. Ang finile ko rito maganda sana test case, RA 10845, agricultural smuggling. Ito ang lagi sinasabi ni Sen Villar kasi siya ang author and sponsor na parang toothless ang file niyiang legislation kasi walang na-file-an. And yet we hear day in and day out, week in and week out, na may smuggling. So I filed this as a test case. But the Ombudsman only resolved the case and about to file information for violation of Anti-Graft. Nawala ang agricultural smuggling.”

“Last Tuesday, I told my lawyers to file a motion for reconsideration to include the case of violation of RA 10845, agri smuggling, sa mga kasong finile. That (anti-graft) was already included. But it was dismissed. Ang sinasabi ng Ombudsman, conspiracy was not established. But ako as a layperson, paano makapag-smuggle ng rice paano ma-release ang rice in spite of having been declared abandoned and seized in favor of the government kung walang collusion or conspiracy between BOC personnel, NFA personnel and the smuggler himself?”

“(Based sa) evidence na present ko, obviously he (Faeldon) knew about the existence of the smuggled rice and before that, I presented a transcript ng hearing again hi Sen. Villar sa committee on agriculture, na he even emphasized he warned the rice smugglers na hindi nnyo pwede gawin yan. And he even mentioned the fact that I included when I filed the case sa CDO. So he was aware all the time.”

“I want to see a violation of law being acted upon by the proper authorities, by the court, to reach its logical conclusion if the evidence that I presented was sufficient enough to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Because right now, probable cause has already been established but as I said, I am not satisfied because I still want to pursue the agricultural smuggling case apart from violation of the anti-graft law.”

On Senate Bill 2219, allowing direct participation in the budget process:

“It is not only for the sake of transparency. Ang una rito is people’s participation in enactment of the budget from preparation phase until at least sa bicameral conference. Right now walang participation ang public except sa paggawa ng local development plans. Nasa LGC, CSOs, NGOs, multisectoral, they are included in the preparation of the local development plans but I don’t know if that is even being implemented. What I want to happen is that even during the authorization phase, ang legislation ng budget, they will be heard as resource persons, at least 1 hearing at the committee level, and even during the BCC meetings, they should be present.”

“And they (accredited people’s groups) should be allowed to get copies of the proceedings. Kasi alam mo pag BCC, walang transcript, walang minutes, walang record. So ngayon nariyan sila, kailangan mabigyan sila ng kopya ng pinagusapan sa BCC kasi ito ang the most secretive conference. Pag nag-meeting, it’s a large group of both panels. And then nag-a-appoint ng small group bicam, meaning it’s just the chairpersons of both the finance committee and appropriations committee. But it should not be that way. The budget after all involves taxpayers’ money.”

On infra projects taking a back seat due to the veto:

“I don’t think so. Most of the projects negatively affected, ang mga pet projects ng congressmen. Even Malacanang said walang naapektuhan because after all, ang Build Build Build kung di na-veto, yan ang may effect because kinaltas nila something like P70B from the MFO 1 and MFO 2. Ito ang pinagaralan ng mga ahensya not only DPWH, including NEDA, the whole DBCC, and then subjected to deliberations or discussions ng Cabinet members and then approved by PRRD. Ito ang nagalaw ng HOR and worse after the BCC report had already been ratified. Yan ang nireklamo namin. Kung hindi na-veto, doon may effect sa Build Build Build program ng executive department.”

On Speaker Arroyo’s alleged role in the budget standoff:

“She’s the Speaker of the HOR, as Sen Sotto is the SP. The SOH and SP are presumed to be in the know of what is happening sa committee and even in the plenary because it’s being discussed in plenary. More often than not if not always, the finance committee chair and appropriations committee chair would consult the leaders of both Houses.”

On the losses to congressmen due to the veto:

“A lot. P95B as I mentioned kasi standard ang 20%, they get it from contractors. And reports have it some contractors are now complaining and even quarreling with their principals, with their district representatives kasi nakapag-advance na. And this is common knowledge among contractors among congressmen na talagang may nag-a-advance because ang nangyayari, even during the budget deliberation sa floor, pinapayagan na mag-bidding. Ang assumption, kung ano ang submitted sa NEP or at least ang HOR version, yan ang ma-carry all the way. At nagbi-bidding na but there’s no notice of award kasi yan mag-finalize ng contractor na pwede mag-start ng construction. Pero dahil na-bid out na, alam kung sino panalo, malakas ang loob siyempre na mag-advance ka na. and that is happening not only for this budget year but in previous years.”

“I am very unpopular. And I have accepted it. But even among some of my peers, I know because I can feel it. When I’m on the floor we’re in the lounge maski hindi pinakikita, I can feel naguusap sila at my back. Parang corny, parang killjoy or hindi marunong makisama. But I have accepted that. Since 2001 during my first term ito na advocacy ko it’s not only now that I am exerting effort to really correct the entire budget process or budgeting system.”

“I already mentioned that. Ang P23B na natanggal from some departments nag-resurface ito sa mga provinces, ibang district ng mga senator. And I also mentioned it to them.”

“The problem is, it’s just more serious than that. When you identify a project in a province or district without consulting with the DPWH or implementing agency which is the department itself, then magsa-suffer ang project because there’s no planning. And I have pointed this out during interpellations on the floor, during committee hearings when I asked resource persons who are heads of the implementing agencies. Point out ko palagi na because of lack of planning, because of inefficiency, mas malaking nawawalang pera. It’s bad enough that we lose billions to corruption. But it’s worse when we lose more to inefficiency because of lack of planning.”

On whether the destabilization ‘matrix’ was fair:

“I don’t think it’s fair. Because in the first place by their own admission, Malacanang din nanggaling ang matrix. And it was published without proper validation. And as it turns out mukhang may mali sa matrix na ginawa.”

On PRRD’s strong statements in taking up WPS issue with Chinese President Xi:

“Given the situation and all other factors considered, I think that was the best that he could have achieved, given the situation. At least he was candid and frank enough to bring it up with President Xi of China. And of course the response was expected, na we do not recognize the arbitral ruling. But at least he made his point. To us, that’s a clear message to the President of China, na ang PH will not also take it sitting down.”

On Chinese SMEs in PH:

“It is worrisome to say the least. And I would like to urge DTI to be very careful in giving permits and licenses. Ang masama nito, pag tinamaan na ang SMEs natin. Kung ang mga big ticket projects, or big ticket investments kung it runs to billions of pesos, that’s good for our economy. Pero kung mabababa ang kinompete nilang Pilipino, SMEs, it’s bad; eventually it will hit us before we know it.”

“Pag-purchase pa lang ng condo they buy by the floors and local buyers cannot compete with the prices. Kasi halos 20% or 25% more. Ang nakakatakot din doon it could be a bubble that could burst anytime. Mabuti na lang kung sila malulugi pero pwede tamaan ang economy natin.”

“By the way we would like to commend our economic managers because we have been upgraded just very recently. Standard & Poor’s sa BBB+ tayo, just one notch below A- so nakakatuwa rin. But ang problema, baka this is brought about by the influx of Chinese investments.”