On SJVE'S acquittal
Probably as you all know already, the dismissal of my case - my two year-old case was handed down last Friday. So I would say that at least in two years that, I must admit that in two years I have suffered, my family has suffered. In a way, it has affected also my work in the Senate. So at least the monkey's off my back. I can now focus on the tasks, on the job at hand here in the Senate.
But I have to be honest with you that, in those two years, my family has been really affected. In fact, my wife doesn't want me to run anymore because of the psychological and emotional stress that we have gone through. Siyempre, kahit wala pang conviction, there's the perception. Of course my kids are also worried, especially yung teenager kid ko who can already understand. He is already in high school and he was already asking questions about it. He was very worried.
At least I am very happy that, I have to thank, of course the Lord Almighty for hearing the prayers that I have overcome this challenge, which is probably the biggest challenge in my political career. I'm happy that my track record is again blemish-free. I have a clean track record. Of course, I would like to thank everyone for the trust and confidence since the start of the trial that I have been through for the past two years. The trust and confidence did not erode. But as they say, politics or public service is really a thankless job. That is why my family and my wife ang sabi niya kahit naman anong gawin mong maganda, hindi naman masyadong nababalita pero yung negative iyon pa yung lumalabas. So that's public service. We just continue to do good anyway. Iyan na lang ang sinabi ko sa family ko, especially my wife.
So with your acquittal sir, tuloy na tuloy ang re-election niyo sa 2019?
SJVE: We will see. Because my wife, sabi ko ano eh, this has been all my life sabi ko before we met, my whole life is already in public service. But probably, it's because she came from a different world at talagang ibang-iba, and probably she is trying to understand the ins and outs of politics. Eh talagang kung hindi naman nasa public service o politics, it's really difficult to understand why people are into it, considering that it's a thankless job. I still talk to her. Probably she would reconsider. But as of the moment, she still doesn't like me to run anymore. But we will see what the decision of the family will be.
Sir, how do you feel na na-acquit ka and yet is sa iyong colleagues - si Sen. Gringo Honasan - siya naman ang binigyan ng warrant of arrest dahil sa kasong graft?
SJVE- Oo nga eh, siyempre I'm a little sad because of the timing. Right before the dismissal (of my case) came last Friday, Thursday naman yata lumabas yung arrest warrant for Senator Honasan. I know this man - his integrity, credibility, and we have been together through the worst of times, especially during the time that we were in the opposition. Ang nakakalungkot lang, Senator Honasan has been regarded as a hero nung EDSA revolt. He had a good career as a senator and dito pa sa twilight, kumbaga sa huli pa nagkaroon ng kaso. So I am hoping that it was just a coincidence. I don't want to insinuate but, para kaming ginawang scoreboard ng Ombudsman just to pad her accomplishment. Eh mukhang kami pa ang isinama, high profile personalities that are non-liberal party, baka naman coincidence.
Any unsolicited advice kay Senator Honasan considering na dadaanan niya ang pinagdaanan nyo?
SJVE- Well to Senator Honasan, just remain strong and I'm sure that you know who you are and kapag wala naman tayong kasalanan eh, we just have to be confident and with God's help we will be able to overcome all these challenges and trials.
Isa kayo sa tumututok sa tax reform bill. Amenable ba kayo sir sa offer ni Sec. Dominguez na willing silang i-give up yung sugar tax, basta i-approve niyo lang buo yung tax reform bill?
SJVE- Well, aside from the sugar sweetened beverage provision, ang talagang worry ko yung petroleum, the excise tax on petroleum. I have yet to be convinced on how it will not be inflationary kasi medyo mataas kaagad yung excise tax that will be added to the prices of petroleum. Definitely it will be passed on to consumers. Hindi naman yan ia-absorb ng ano eh, diba? And we know for a fact, historically, that when petroleum prices go up, talagang sunud-sunod yan.
I would say that the tax reform has good intentions especially for the lower income tax brackets, workers. Pangako ng Pangulo iyan eh para medyo bumaba, kaya lang ang problema they have to get it elsewhere and probably ito nga yung sa excise tax. Baka ang mangyari niyan, since I still think it's still a direct hit kumbaga for everyday lives lahat nagpapagasolina, lahat tayo bumibili ng consumer products, pagkain, lahat, so it might be a burden to the majority of the population. Baka yung matitipid na probably five, then thousand pesos, in the long run yung araw-araw naman binubuno mo because of higher price of commodities. Kumbaga, it would be a more burdensome to the ordinary Filipino. So, I still feel that the tax reform, again I maintain that it is pro-government as it will raise the needed revenues for infrastructures and other programs. But it might not be pro-people as it will become an additional burden to ordinary consumers and ordinary people, ordinary folks.
Sir, sa Health Committee, may concern ka ba sa bird flu (outbreak) or satisfied ka ba sa nagiging measure na ipinatutupad ng concerned government agencies na ma-prevent ito?
SJVE- Well, at least from what I have been reading, we have also monitored the development, I think the DOH and the Department of Agriculture have already deployed their personnel in Pampanga, in the stricken areas. I hope that they will continue to monitor kasi nga bird flu iyan eh and we all know for the fact that Filipinos are generally chicken lovers. So I hope that they would be able to contain, sana hanggang doon na lang kung saan man yung affected areas or affected flock, sana hanggang dun na lang. At least the DOH and the Department of Agriculture are on top of the situation and we will continue to monitor the situation.
Sir, related to that, apparently yung outbreak nag-start April pa in one or two poultry farms, and yet the owners of those farms did not report it. Do you think they would be held accountable or even prosecuted for not reporting?
SJVE- I think the DA and the DOH should investigate whether the owners of the said poultry farms were negligent in reporting, or baka naman they did not know about this disease because siguro medyo bago ito sa atin eh. So, siguro the proper agencies would investigate and we will see if they are at fault. But the more important thing right now is to contain as I've mentioned, because I am also worried kasi our children are all chicken lovers. Filipinos are, generally. So, dapat nga ma-contain in that area and make sure that it does not, those affected flock, does not go out to the market.
Source: Senate of the Philippines