Transcript of Ambush Interview with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III

Q: On the visit of European Parliament delegates

SPKP: The European Parliament, they were just asking us about the status of the death penalty bill, the overall human rights situation not only here but all over the world, yun lang naman iyan, and possible cooperation between the European Parliament and the Republic of the Philippines.

Q: Cooperation on what sir?

SPKP: Cooperation on the improvement of our justice system, the exchange of information against terrorism, mga ganoon.

Q: Sir tungkol saan yung pagtatanong po on the death penalty?

SPKP: Because the entire European Union member states do not have death penalty. They are against the death penalty as a matter of principle. So that is what they wanted to relay to us. But I was already aware of that, noon pa.

Q: Is that part of their human rights review?

SPKP: No, wala, this is just a visit of four members of the European Parliament.

Q: Are they appealing to the Senate not to tackle the death penalty?

SPKP: Indirectly, but ako I have received maybe hundreds of letters and emails coming from Europe, telling me or begging me not to vote for the restoration of the death penalty. And I believe other legislators are also receiving these.

Q: Will these affect your stand on the death penalty here in the Senate?

SPKP: We will have to determine the validity of the proposal given local circumstances. Number one, will the death penalty deter major crimes? Meaning to say, will it be an effective deterrent against crimes? Number two, if the death penalty is to eliminate the criminal from the face of the earth, then isn't our present system of imprisonment not sufficient in eliminating - though alive - a criminal from society?

Q: Sir yung meeting kagabi, can you tell us yung hiningi ni Presidente?

SPKP: Yung kagabi I think he asked for the extension of Martial Law. Ngayon we are awaiting the formal letter, kasi hindi naman pwedeng verbal lang po yun.

Q: Ano daw po yung justification?

SPKP: Ah hindi pa tapos ang rebellion. That is it. Ongoing pa po ang rebellion, not only in Marawi, but in all Mindanao. He even mentioned Zamboanga del Norte, yesterday, an explosion, ganun. So yun po yun. But I am sure it will be mentioned in the letter. Of course what is in the letter is the one to be entertained, hindi yung verbal, hindi yung talk.

Q: Sir kagabi sinabi niya talaga na 60 days yung hinihinging extension kagabi?

SPKP: Ako nagsabi, ako ang nagtanong kung ano ang preferred period kung 60 days , eh parang tumango, kaya akala ko 60 days. Hindi publicly sinabi sa mic. Magkatabi na kami eh, "What is your preferred period of time, Mr. President, 60 days?" Parang tumango siya, so akala ko 60 days.

Q: Position din ba daw yun ng AFP, ng PNP? 60 days?

SPKP: We will see the letter if the letter requesting for that extension is that detailed. But whether recommendation or hindi, the power belongs to the President.

Q: Tama po ba sa Constitution, 60 nang 60 days ang period.

SPKP: Wala, sa Constitution, ang initial period limited sa 60 days, ang extension, no mention.

Q: What do you think of the 5-month extension?

SPKP: Basahin po natin yung letter request. Hopefully it will have some details justifying the period being requested. Hindi pa rin naman natin nakikita eh, so hindi ko pa masabi.

Q: Pero sir confident po ba kayo na ma-approve yung extension?

SPKP: Okay, confident ako , sa mga attendees kagabi, tsaka sa tenor ni Speaker at ni Majority Leader ng House, because sila yung may number ano. Confident ako na the request for extension of Martial Law will be approved. That if it will still be over entire Mindanao, that will be approved. Ngayon yung period, let us wait for the letter.

Q: Paano po sir yung mode?

SPKP: Sa joint session, sa Saturday.

Q: Sir yung nakita ninyong tenor, regardless kung 60 days or for the remainder of the year?

SPKP: Sa extension of Martial Law, kasi hindi pa nga tapos yung rebellion eh. Hindi talaga matatapos pa ang Marawi, even din yung clearing operations in Marawi by the 60th day, Saturday, so we really need to extend.

Q: Sir sa tingin ninyo po yung period yung pinakapagdedebatehan sa Senate?

SPKP: Most likely sa period na lang. Of course, mayroong against the extension, but again if we have a fair count of the vote, alam natin na talo talaga iyon.

Q: Sa Saturday na rin din po ba kailangang magbotohan?

SPKP: Ang aking kasing point when we extend something, it must be subsisting when we extend, so last day is Saturdayso we have to decide in Saturday.

Q: Matatapos po sa Saturday?

SPKP: We will start in the morning, until 12 midnight.

Q: So ang target at least by 10PM on Saturday? Kasi it expires by 10PM eh.

SPKP: At least by 11:59 PM.

Q: Sir House and Senate will vote jointly po ba?

SPKP: Yes, jointly. Joint session yun. Kada joint session there will be rules agreed upon kada joint session. So we will determine quorum on the part of the Senate and on the part of the House, and then the meeting will be called to order. And then we will recognize the Majority Leader for the agenda, and the agenda will be the letter, the communication from the President, requesting for an extension of Martial Law. Then, tingnan natin. Ako sana, I will suggest that we accommodate a briefing, a report from the Martial Law administrator.

Q: If ever yung briefing po open to the public?

SPKP: Yes open to the public. Sometimes if may mag-motion to be executive session, depende if we allow it, then it becomes an executive session.

Q: Mandatory po ba ang attendance ng members of both Houses?

SPKP: We must secure a quorum.

Q: Kung ayaw po nila?

SPKP: Duty na nila yun. Alam na nila yun, when they ran for senator or congressman, that they have to attend sessions.

Q: Paano po yung magiging process of voting?

SPKP: Majority of jointly voting.

Q: So parang walang say po ang Senate.

SPKP: Kung lamang ang House ng lagpas ng 23, wala na kami.

Q: Sir may briefing po tomorrow?

SPKP: May briefing po tomorrow, because this was set before the President requested for an extension. Ano ito, planado na ito na, within the 60-day original period of Martial Law, there should be a periodic briefing of the senators as to how it implemented, what is happening with Martial Law. So eto, we were able to schedule it, only tomorrow morning, but last na ito dito sa Senate.

Last na if the President requested for an extension verbally, hence whatever we hear tomorrow we can use in making our decision on Saturday.

Q: Sir executive session yung sa Monday?

SPKP: Yes, executive session.

Q: Sir ano po yung significance nung pagsama sa Senate sa joint session kung outnumbered naman po pala kayo?

SPKP: Our Constitution requires it.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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