Transcript of Ambush Interview with Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III

Q: On possible Senate hearing on DOJ dismissal of charges vs. former BOC Comissioner Nicanor Faeldon et al.

SP Pimentel: Bibigyan namin ang Department of Justice na magpaliwanag sila, formally or informally, pwede in writing. Tatanungin ko si Secretary Aguirre, kasi ang isa rin naming napaguusapan dito ay yung pagdismiss din nung Anti-Money Laundering case in relation sa Philrem, in connection with the Bangladesh case. Isa din iyan na marami rin ang nagtaka at nagulat doon.

Q: Tatanungin niyo po ba si Secretary Aquirre formally?

SP: Yeah, with these two developments. Ano ba ang basehan noon?

Q: You will summon him?

SP: Yeah, but pwedeng informally rin.

Q: Sir marami nang instances po niyan sa DOJ, like yung downgrading nung murder to homicide ng charges relating to the Albuera mayor killing.

SP: Yeah, murder to homicide. But nasa court na naman na yung document.

Q: Sir sabi po ng ibang senators, parang may "pattern of questionable decisions."

SP: Well yun nga, we will also ask him that.

Q: Sir para po ba sayo kailangan na may tiga Bureau of Customs na managot dito sa shabu shipment?

SP: Mahirap paniwalaan, kasi ganito iyan, when you file a case in court, let's say a criminal case, may theory si prosecutor kung ano ang nangyari. Siyempre ganoon yun, may theory kayo, yun ang ikekwento mo sa court, backed up by evidence, na yoon ang nangyari.

So tatanungin natin sila, ano ang theory ninyo? Na 600 kilos nakalusot sa Customs, walang involvement ng kahit sinong tiga-Customs? Na may "green-lane," "green lane" pa?

Q: If the DOJ's decision is a politically-based decision

SP: Ah hindi ko masabi iyon kasi hindi naman mga politicians yung inabswelto niya eh.

Q: Sir, dahil po ba inabswelto na ng DOJ sila Faeldon, ibig sabihin noon ay palalayain ninyo na sila?

SP: Ah iba kasi, ang case kasi ni Faeldon sa Senate ay contempt. Iba po iyon.

Q: Sir so pwede po na tuloy tuloy lang ang pagkakakulong ni Captain Faledon?

SP: You can be set free by the Senate if you purge yourself of the contempt that you committed, or cleansed yourself of it. So ano ba yung contempt that he committed? By refusing to appear before the Senate committee, which is an insult not only to the committee, but to the Senate as an institution itself. So what is the solution? Yes, you agree to appear. Pag wala , the contempt is still there.

Q: On how Senate can lift contempt citation on Faeldon

SP: He has to appear. Contemptuous act pa rin yun. Refusal to answer and invoking a right, iba yun. Invoking a right, lalo na kung upheld yung pag-invoke mo ng right, rerespetuhin yun. Invoking a right is responding to the question specially if it is upheld as a proper invocation of the right.

Q: If it's on humanitarian grounds, ibig sabihin you let go of him, palalayain na?

SP: Meron pa rin kaming ongoing investigation, and if he is still a party of interest, he will be called. Hintay ulit ng Christmas.

Q: When do you intend to act on Faeldon?

SP: After TRAIN na siguro, after the budget, kasi yung minds namin medyo distracted, nakatutok sa priority. Meron 0pa tayong Joint Resolution 9, increasing the basepay of our uniformed personnel. Medyo urgent din po yun.

Q: Pagpapaliwanag po ba si Secretary Aquirre?

SP: Kahit sa akin muna, kasi ako mismo na kaibigan niya ay nagtataka.

Q: But he can invoke his right to resign to avoid contempt?

SP: Right against self-incrimination. If a question is asked na sa tingin niya will incriminate himself.

Q: During the entire exercise?

SP: Yun na nga he can invoke that right, but if the committee does not agree with you, the committee will force you to answer and if you refuse to answer, then contempt ulit yun. Advisan a lang siya against self-incrimination.

On DOTr Usec. Chavez' resignation

SP: Nakakalungkot kasi he is one dedicated public official. Alas kuwatro, alas singko ng umaga, gising na yun ready na at nasa workplace. Sayang, nakakalungkot.

Q: Did you try to prevail upon him?

SP: No. Na-surprise ako. Ako ang nagrecommend kay Cesar. Hindi niya sinabi, bigla na lang nabasa ko ngayon. Sa opinion ko, baka nadismaya siya, kinasuhan yata siya, siguro sa feeling niya he is just doing his job, hindi naman happy ang tao sa performance nung MRT, syempre hahanapin mo ang reason, you will terminate the contract of the maintenance provider, ikaw pa ang kinasuhan, but this is part of government service, ang sabi nga ng iba pag wala kang kaso, you are not doing your job.

Q: May irerecommend ka ba na kapalit ni Chavez?

SP: Hindi na, kasi I did not recommend to the position. I recommended the person.

Q: Do you think it is the right time to leave the department?

SP: Too late, nung nabasa ko irrevocable. Parang tumalikod na rin siya sa work sa public service. Pwede kaming mag-usap, ano ang dahilan. It's not about reversing any decision.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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