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article=20070226-51739 February 26, 2007 Editor's Note: What follows is the first part of a preliminary transcript of the Eleksyon2007 podcast interview with senatorial candidate Benigno Aquino III. JV Rufino : Welcome to the Election 2007 podcast. Our guest for this podcast is Congressman Benigno Aquino III. Aquino is running for senator under the Genuine Opposition Slate. Welcome to the show, Congressman. Benigno Aquino III : Thank you for having me. JV Rufino : Our first question will be from Maila Ager. Maila Ager: Hi sir, this is Maila Ager, covering the House of Representatives. First question is what made you decide to run for the Senate? Benigno Aquino III : The Senate is the one of two, I think, remaining institutions that have proven an effective check with the excesses that we feel the current administration is doing on the Filipino people. The other institution, of course, is [the] Supreme Court--and there will be even if I don't run a new composition with regards to the Senate for Senate President Franklin Drilon will be ending his term come June 30; and, as you know he has been at the forefront of our party [the Liberal Party-ed] in trying to uphold our democratic principles and ideas during the spirit of crisis that our country is facing. So, we feel that if we don't put up a fight for that position it might even change the effectivity of the Senate as an effective check-andbalance mechanism.
Maila Ager: Are there expectations from you because...being the son of a former president [Corazon C. Aquino-ed], the son of the late, martyred senator [Benigno Aquino Jr. whose assassination in 1983 led to the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship-ed], and, you know, from the Aquino clan. Benigno Aquino III : Not only from the family--everything that we've done is assumed to have been a given--but more so from other people who...Others who find themselves--other politicians who find themselves--in my same situation...there have been several instances when their staffs--their staff rather--have mentioned that you are not an Aquino [and that] you don't have to go to that this extreme of fighting this current regime. And I was saying, is that--should that--be the case? Am I something special, exceptional or the exceptions to the rule? There should be a fight, given the fact that it's in everybody's interest. Everybody should be participative in this current crisis that our democracy is facing. So in terms of expectations...I have [said] long ago, I will not be able to surpass what my parents have accomplished, which frees me from the pressures that I would have had in trying to overcome their achievements, which in turn I think leads to an efficiency in terms of fulfilling my duties at this point in time. I'm not concentrated or concerned with any other factors rather than just being able to do the best job that I can. I think I am a combination already of both the traits of my parents. My father was...tended to be...Though he wasn't dictatorial, he was such a perfect convincer of people that everybody was persuaded as to the validity of his views. Even though he had decided beforehand on a question that he proposed to everybody, at the end of the session everybody felt that they were part and parcel in making that decision.
My mother's style has always been consensus-generating. And I think I'm somewhere in the middle of both, trying to get the best traits of both and trying to be even more efficient in terms of championing the advocacies that I have fought for all this time. Again, I tend to be more--I'd like to be as thoroughly prepared on any subject, whereas my father seemed to be like, well, not the most intense expert of all subject matters, but he gave that impression to anybody. So before I'm more deliberative and perhaps even more--how should I put it?--I want to be even surer of any position that I take before I start having an advocacy, on any particular issues. So there are differences but at the same time there are, very great similarities amongst all of us, especially given the fact that a lot of my perspectives on the world, on this country, on these issues, system of government, were formed due their influences. Maila Ager: What took you so long to run for a national post? Benigno Aquino III : We had several problems in Tarlac. There are of course also the political mix that has existed from ‘98. The first person who was convincing me to run for the Senate was former president [Joseph] Estrada. And I told him that being a neophyte congressman, in fact I felt I wasn't ready. Come 2004, like a lot of the populace, we felt we had--'di ba?--parang choices that were not inspiring. I somehow decided to choose the lesser of evils and I didn't want to be beholden to a group or a person that I wasn't exactly sure of. Now I feel that with the current crisis, to do otherwise would be to be a traitor to the legacy of my parents and everybody who sacrificed for us to get to this stage, and it is high time that we continue again the effectivity of the Senate--to be an effective check and balance on the excesses that are being perpetrated now. Maila Ager: So if you get elected in the Senate, how are you going to define your term?
Benigno Aquino III : Well, number one, I'd like to try and explore the possibility together with the allies in the House of going back into making the budgetary process an effective means in achieving that check and balance. Something as simple as, well, not really, simple in concept, but hard in trying to put into process. The idea of line-item budgeting. Whereas, as you know...intelligence funds for instance. The very first resolution I filed in the House was for us to have an intelligence oversight committee. And after nine years we have to yet single hearing on that proposal. In order that we know...year in year out, we have to approve intelligence budget of over 20 different agencies and offices in government. And not one member in the House--not the chairman of appropriations, not the Speaker--would be privy to what these funds are going to. And I felt that that was an indirect violation if not the letter--the spirit of the Constitution, which says that we are responsible directly because we are the only agency of government, the House of Representatives who is, where appropriation can emanate from. But really again, any time a budget is proposed to us it will be as much as possible no lump-sum figures. We want to be able to specify exactly where everything is going. And in that sense, really support policies of government that we feel are worthwhile supporting and at the same time suppress activities that are detrimental to the people. That is easier said than done--I realize that--but you know, in the Senate, you will have less people to convince. Of course, harder to convince, but definitely freer people than the House, which is subject to so many pressures from the Executive. That is one. The other is, of course, the idea of continuing in the tradition of the Senate of enlightening the people, which is the first step towards organizing them towards concerted action for issues like the fertilizer scam.
I'm wondering if the bio-fuels program right now, which seems to be confusing a lot of people in the whole country, is the next version of the so-called fertilizer scam. And just to point out one thing, whereas you are embarking on the new strategy of addressing the energy question, you are embarking on several roads at the same time being that you are promoting several plants. When you say several, I understand that it is more than five. And of course, there is that truism that you cannot be master of all of these at the same time, if you embark on trying to learn all of them at the same time. Also the idea of processing for all of these plants was not extant until about I think three weeks ago when somebody said that there are thinking of setting a processing plant in Davao. So at the end of the day by next year after, I understand there are several hundreds of millions in the budget this year ear mark for propagating all of these so called plants for bio-fuels. I wonder if next year they will be explaining why this bio-fuel program is not working out. We're in February now. I assume by March next year, there will be reasons of either a drought or typhoon, and so on and so forth. So that would be something that, again, the Senate in its role as a means for checking the work of the Executive should be able to do. You know, and when going back to the budget, you know the choice before us this year was re-enacted budget or a budget that will give the executive practically everything they wanted, the way they wanted it. And that I think has to be really, we really have to work that out and also the CA [Commission on Appointments] is another issue. It might--we might be in conformity with the letter in terms of those being bypassed, being reappointed. But the practice has been that people who have been bypassed continuously should not be entitled to that position --the spirit of the law is a secretary can sit only with concurrence by the Commission of Appointments. And being bypassed and getting the concurrence are not exactly the same thing. So one would want to see the CA be more effective. And again, that would be will closer cooperation with the House and try to explore how do you make these two main means of providing a check and balance effective.
Maila Ager: Since you are running under the opposition ticket and once you get elected in the Senate, you will be allied with the opposition, are we going to see you changing lanes along the road? Benigno Aquino III : Well, if it becomes a different administration probably, at some point in time. But seriously, if the issue is that joining one group or another, I'm a candidate to the Liberal Party primarily. We find ourselves allied with those who are questioning the governance of the current administration, but at the end of the day, we are...we owe our primary loyalty to the people. And whomsoever should be serving their interest best, will be those that we will ally ourselves with. And to a large degree the current composition of the Senate is that it cannot be considered in any way a pro-administration slate. So, if at all we are all successful, we will be maintaining that facet of the Senate so that again there will be a need for the Executive to convince other branches of government as to the validity of its policies or programs. Maila Ager: So as long as the President is there, you will be … Benigno Aquino III : We're not making it personal. So long as they embark on the same method of governance, on this form of government--what does that mean? After we left in July of 2005, there were emissaries that were sent and asking for reconciliation. And what the minimum that we asked was, we have certain issues? Why don't at least review whether or not our issues are valid? And at the end of the day, if you think we're wrong, then I think it should be intrinsic upon you to correct what we have been showing are valid issues. Now, if in case after review we are proven wrong, then there are no more issues that are--should--separate us.
The sad part is they didn't even bother to review any of the issues. Specifically the North Rail was one topic that I discussed with one emissary. And I explained what our issues were. And in fact he practically agreed with everything I said. And he was trying to give me some justification for going on this route that is so detrimental to the people. And I said, in final analysis, how can I be true to the people and agree with what you're doing to them? So up to this date, and that was like two years ago, we have yet to see them even attempting to review whether or not they are embarking on the right path. In direct answer to the North Rail question, they will be, they're contemplating something like at least five new rails systems in addition to the North Rail; and I'm asking: If they're going to do the same method that they do to North Rail, then they did not only [not] try and listen to the validity and tried to determine whether we had a valid point, but in fact they will go even more headlong into activities that are clearly detrimental to the people, and in violation of so many different laws. Maila Ager: OK, thank you sir. Alex Villafania : Sir, good evening, Alex Villafania from INQUIRER.net. Benigno Aquino III : Yes, good evening. Alex Villafania : Sir, my first question: What Philippine laws do you think should be amended or repealed? Benigno Aquino III : 'Yung wire tapping, for me, is one of the issues. I think we should also review the mechanism for setting up wage increases through the Regional Wage Adjudication Board which has not pleased anybody, not the bosses nor the labor component.
I have a bill pending in the House right now which mandates a mandatory increase, I mean a mandatory profit sharing scheme. And various things here are auditors that will be outside or internal auditors selected by labor from a list approved by government; and then again, the basic concept is try to get everybody focused on trying to make the pie from which they share upon bigger. There is of course the 'yung the whole issue of graft and corruption amongst other agencies sa AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and DND [Department of National Defense]. For the past, I think, seven years already, I've had a special provision inserted into the general appropriations act mandating the bidding. And though there has been some movement already towards reforming distribution --for instance of their fuel, making sure that there's conversation and so on and so forth--they have not actually undergone bidding up to now. And of course, that is something that various other agencies of government should be looking into because I think there is a violation of a pertinent law, which is that special provision. Again more checks for the intelligence funds and another thing: a review of the agrarian reform law. The agrarian reform programs are supposed to last for 10 years. By next year I think it will be 20 already-there's an extension. DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform] is asking for another extension of at least five years. And I', worried...that land in the Philippines is supposed to be a finite element, but suddenly they have been saying that they have discovered--or recently discovered--more than should be subject to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, and this happens on the 19th year of the program. And given the fact that land does not beget land. How can they have not put it in the inventory to begin with? That is one question. And of course, by extending it, all of the issues attendant to it ay 'yung mga so-called, scandals, scams regarding conversion issues of the retainment by farmer beneficiaries.
Insolvency of the lending institutions like the Land Bank who have advanced "x" amount of pesos already. See, if it's a success or failure-for generally it is perceived to be a failure--and then re-enact, come up with the new scheme embodied in a new law that will do away with the errors of the previous agrarian reform program. So that at the end of the day, our farmers will really be able to benefit from it. As you know, lack of funding for things like forming their cooperatives. You have to spend two years of community organizing before you get a viable community organization. That didn't happen. Things like 'yung massive technical support, or even 'yung credit support should also be put into--should also be reviewed and be made more efficient, is also another one. But more so, I guess the primary work that I'll be doing in the Senate if elected will be to watch in all of these programs that are being undertaken by this government. 'Yung, the highlight of this year's General Appropriations Act is, seemingly the mess and the jumble that they're doing with it. For instance, under the DILG budget there is supposed to be a provision for capital outlay for equipment purchases. So I asked what equipment were envisioned to purchased, and they answered medical equipment. So I was kind of perplexed why the DILG [Department of Interior and Local Government-ed] would be buying medical equipment, and anyway it is not an expert. I understand this it is partly a grant of from the Spanish government, but you go back to what is the expertise of the DILG with regards to medical equipment. The DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development-ed] would be tasked to handle micro-financing, which again is not a core facility or core skill of the DSWD. The DepEd [Department of Education-ed] will be part of a feeding or tuition program, primarily rice, and you wonder whether that would be best left to the nutrition board for instance or the Department of Health.
So one is hard put to understand what exactly the scheme of governnance is. And that has to be looked into. As you know, the budget is a primary tool whereby you can withdraw or augment funds, augment for the things that you feel are worthwhile and withdraw from things are not good for the people. So that again would be our primary focus. One would want to revisit a lot of our laws, and go into, for instance, a recodification of the Revised Penal Code (because even our lawyers are already confused), but there are more urgent concerns. Like 'yung the investigations of the fertilizer scam previously, the North Rail, the extra-judicial killings now, and with the end view of how you stop all of these things that are wrong. So that will be--a lot of the focus will be on that. Benigno Aquino III, podcast interview transcript, part 2
INQUIRER.net First Posted 17:24:00 02/26/2007
Alex Villafania : Sir, does it mean that you're going to be...you will be coming up with bills or perhaps pushing for laws that would eventually cover the issues that you mentioned? Benigno Aquino III : Well, I already have filed in the House various measures. In fact, this last Congress is been the only one that we have been, not as prolific, primarily because after we got re-elected in 2004, by 2005 you're already engaged in this impeachment battles, all of the budget fights, you have all of the charter change forms that they have attempted to perpetrate for all of us. I think I will have to re-file mandatory profit sharing bill that I filed in the House, primarily because it has fallen by the wayside. The intelligence oversight committee for the House will be filed by allies in
the House in time because the Senate already has an intelligence oversight committee. The agrarian reform package, the revision of the Agrarian Reform Law or an amendment to it, is being studied primarily, at this point by various consultants in both legal...and those who are experts as far as agrarian reform is concerned. And I'm sure there will be a lot also with regards 'yun sa urban poor, which again is another concern. And again also something for the youth, there is a scheme for instance whereby how do we achieve peace in Mindanao? I understand one of the primary problems is [that] a lot of the people [who] are holding [the] reigns of power in both sides are those who are engaged in tense conflicts during the past...for over 30 years. To the point that they are no longer...the trust that is necessary to get at least to the first stage of any serious agreement is impossible because of the intense distrust. So one of the proposals is to have a cross-pollination. We will get students from the area, set them up in various urban areas, in Christian-dominated areas. Let them develop their old boy network or the barkadas amongst 'yung Christian youth. And the reverse, send some of your Christian youths to mostly Muslim areas and thereby get the next generation into trusting each other, which is the necessary call for any long-lasting agreement amongst the warring factions. So bills that will enable the government to do that, are also being formulated at this point in time. Then, kasi there are so many things, especially, if there is no need to keep on checking the government of this current administration. But going...having said that, one of the roles that I think I've always been playing is fiscalizing, and unfortunately there seems to be more and more calls to effectively check and fiscalize this current administration, and one could only hope that sana we could have really move on, no?
But unfortunately, instead of addressing the issues, they either, di ba, change the issues under discussion, or they keep on continuing what has been wrong already to begin with. And those of us who are opposed to that particular system, that view of point of getting us back to the pre-EDSA days, will find themselves more and more in the fight to preserve the gains of EDSA. Alex Villafania : Sir, right now the Catholic Church is a major power in Philippine elections. Right now there--it has been adamant regarding several issues for example reproductive health, the use of condoms to prevent HIV, even gay and lesbian right. For example, marriage of gays and lesbians. Sir, will you be pushing for--of course--such issues na...that the Catholic church is opposed to? Benigno Aquino III : 'Yung, my position with regards to reproductive health has been that, first thing, we must admit that there was a problem, there's a population.... Let us also admit that there seems to be dearth of knowledge, it does seek parang value formation. For instance, even in my own circle, I have one of my security men who has eight children. And unfortunately, for whatever reason, he and his wife started remembering that they would have to educate them even up to the college level a year before the eldest was about to enter college, and his comment was, 'mahal pala magpa-aral sa college no?' At that point in time, and he had thee children already by now. So, and of course what? Seventeen or eighteen when you get into college, and I asked him: In eighteen years you never thought that there would come a time when you will have to spend so much money to educate your children. And he says in effect na somehow it escaped our attention. So in my district, there is a family that I understan...I'll try to get it right...I think he has 16 children, eh. He has only one wife, and that seems so unusual, no? But specially, when 'yung the reason given is that it's nightfall [and] there is nothing left to do except to procreate raw. But anyway, 'yung--
Alex Villafania : He has several twins? Benigno Aquino III : Oh, but 16 children, that is no joke, no! So, I think the state should be part and parcel of educating all our families na, when you have children, there so much responsibilities, no? 'Yung feeding, clothing, 'yung sheltering, 'yung educating, and so on and so forth, no? So the State should come in. Then at the same time the idea of trying to plan your family so those to put into place... As to methods of planning, there are family planning, it should be the...it should be...the state should be out of it. These are your choices, then, at the end of the day, you, as a free citizen, in a democratic country, basing it on your conscience, basing it on the beliefs of his church, should be left alone to decide on what is appropriate for you and your family, OK. As far as the other issue, same sex marriage, in that sense, I'm not very liberal. I'm kind of conservative. I believe nobody should be discriminated against. We were told by a professor--the name escapes me now--but the proposed first nominee for the party-list Ladlad, who I was with in a forum--that there was somebody who was very, very qualified and who passed everything until she got to the interview portion, and she admitted that she was a lesbian and that was the sole reason for her being disqualified. I don't' agree that that should be a basis, and that [should] really be looked into. As far as same-sex marriage, I really would want to think about that a lot more give the fact that my focus would be always on the child. The innocent should not be given more even burdens than what is absolutely necessary. So for instance, if somebody undertakes an abortion, I've always had the perspective that the right of the child even supersedes the right of the mother. Because that child was not a party of the decision that led
to that unwanted pregnancy, and therefore should not be the primary focus of having to pay the price for it. So as far as that issue is concerned, I don't know. At this point in time, I don't think I will be a proponent of same-sex marriage. That I will probably be even an advocate of trying to quote unquote “Give the child a better, a more normal environment,” no? So as to give him the same opportunities that I have. Given the increasingly complex world we will be find ourselves in. I'm sorry. I forgot the other issue? Alex Villafania : The use of condoms to prevent HIV and AIDS. Benigno Aquino III : At the end of the day, no, even the Catholic church, the way I was taught, tells [that it is ] your conscience [that] is the final arbiter of what you should or you should not do. You have an obligation to listen to the Church’s teachings. You have an obligation to hear from the community of your Church is made of. But the end of the day, it would be again, your conscience, and the State should not be dictating your conscience to you. 'Yung, I think violative of the freedom of religion provision of our Constitution. So I cannot impose my set of beliefs on somebody. I can try to convince somebody else of my beliefs, but I should not be imposing. Alex Villafania : All right sir, for my last question. In your simplest explanation, or strategy, what plans do you have to adjust the deteriorating educational system? Benigno Aquino III : Like any other problem in this country it is a chicken-and-egg question. I'm an economist by training, so that tends to be my method of attack. When you have very scarce resources, it is even more crucial to ensure that you get the most bang for each peso you spend. So when you get into projects like the North Rail, the PNCC [Philippine National Construction Corporation--ed] renewal of franchise deal, this bio-fuels,
fertilizer scams, etcetera, etcetera. That was so much wastage that could have gotten into the education system. How do we change it? I'm not an expert into the fault of the education system. In my district, we have tried to provide them the facilities necessary to have at least the environment of a good education. We built close to about 350 classrooms already. The cooperation that was existed...yun...some of my role models are teachers in Marikina Public Schools System, who had to undertake second jobs away from school. Meaning they had stores in the market, etcetera, to provide their own school with encyclopedias; sometimes, they will have pads and pencils that they were giving their students. So in terms of a cadre that is very very dedicated, knowledgeable, etcetera, we have that. There seems to be...there should be a refocus of the educational system that does not train them to get into jobs that are non-existent. Perhaps, even from the primary level we can already start going to courses like ...give them technical skills, greater abilities in math, so that they can have access to, syempre, the growing IT field amongst other things. Engineering degrees, and so on and so forth. At the end of the day, like a core philosophy of mine is that a public servant is not the dictator, nor the boss, eh, in a democracy, or preserving the democracy. At the end of the day you are aware first of your limitations. Number two, your need to talk to the experts and to the target clientele. They are the ones who will--and I try to practice that in my district--you will know the problem; you will probably have the best solutions. Then, my job as your servant is to try and facilitate and expedite the solutions that seemingly is the best to all of these. Not [that] one person who claims to be an expert of all things will also be a person who's truthful.
First is, to any real solutions, an admission for where you're weak. So in that case, is in lot of other areas. Talk to the experts and try and revisit what has already been done, to ensure that you do not repeat the past mistakes and really must try to move on forward. Alex Villafania : Sir, regarding education and IT as we've already touched on the subject. Many graduates, college graduates, right now are working as call center agents, and being a call center agent does not really entail graduating from a very specific course. Do you support the call for more graduates to actually work in call centers right now? Benigno Aquino III : Well, at this point in time, when we have such a high unemployment rate, I don't think we can really be choosy. Which indicates also, why with the mistakes we have, that we are not giving them any other opportunities. For instance, I find it hard to reconcile the fact that a country that can produce a malicious [computer] virus called “I Love You” that was the consternation of everybody in this whole world...cannot re-channel that energy in that drive that creativity to something more productive. So, there's seems to be a discontinuity in our basic abilities...perhaps our education system, the value formation aspect, the opportunities, so that we can achieve the potentials, the fullest potentials of what is intrinsic in us. So, babalik--review--what are the focus of our IT schools for instance. Why is India so successful? Why have been able to re-attract their immigrants who have gone on to Silicon Valley, and have gone back to India. Can we not do the same thing? Can we not? There are so many things that can be done. And again, a core philosophy is I will not dictate on anybody, I'm open to all ideas and that would seem to be the most possible and most promising, should be supported. Alex Villafania : Thank you, sir.
Benigno Aquino III : Thank you. Tetch Torres : Hi, sir. I'm Tetch Torres. Benigno Aquino III : Hello. Tetch Torres : Justice reporter from INQUIRER.net. Sir, my first question would be what do you see as the country's three most pressing problems? And what solutions can you propose? Benigno Aquino III : Well, as an economist, it has something to do with the economy, and the idea of so many people really being in a perpetual state of want. The idea that, you know, the stereotype is a family in Metro Manila or any other urban area, sharing one bowl of noodles as the daily sustenance and any wonder what happens to that family down the line? When there is not sufficient nutrition? The other is the numbers of yung OFWs that the country is deploying. Officially it's about nine million. But we understand it's even more than that. Then you wonder of course. They make such a contribution right now but 10-15 years from now specially for those that don't have both parents...I wonder what the country will be paying in terms of societal problems 10, 15 years from now. And of course, in the political sphere, we really are in an effective state of limbo, primarily because there's so may questions and issues that have been left hanging. There's never been any resolution, and there seems to be no desire on the part of those who are in-charge of the administration of this country and the government to even put a closure to any of these and instead has kept on adding more and more issues. So, instead of 'yung...if you want to look at the net effec...'yung Magdalo uprising, from 300 people, the next was 'yung February 24 or so in 2006 were we had three major units of the AFP and PNP [Philippine National Police] mainly in the South, the Scout Rangers and the Marines being called into questions of rising up in revolt together with their generals.
So problem has not been diminished. It seems to be increasing, and that will tend to make anybody looking at it pessimistic. Because the only branches of government that are still effective in maintaining their democratic roles, the Senate and the Supreme Court, are also in a constant state of attack by the other sectors of this government. Tetch Torres : Sir, do you agree that the only answer to the country's problem is Charter change? Benigno Aquino III : In fact, I don't agree that it is Charter Change. 'Yung, like any--'di ba?--computer or...garbage in, produces garbage out. If at the end of the day, our problem rests with the idea of political survival concentrating power into the hands of those who are concerned primarily only with their survival...will not push them toward addressing the issues of the country, and the problems of the county. Now, we can go into the details like for instance, when they say that a parliamentary system seems to be the panacea for all our problems, it didn't quote examples like Italy or Japan. Italy had more government up to the 80's that it had years after World War II. There were years that they had three governments. You have Japan, which prides itself in homogeneity that has surrendered its governance to unaccountable people mainly in the bureaucracy who have decided...one of the worst excesses is to build bridges the equivalent of going to Aparri to Batanes, and it's not utilized. After completing the first they’ve had already completed the second, also to the same area so therefore there is even less usage of that facility, and they're embarking on the third bridge. And there's no accountability. So, regardless of the system, it's really the main issue is the people who will be populating that system. Sad to say, Charter change, parang I guess...another way of saying it is people who advocating Charter change are the ones who have made the system fail and expect to be
rewarded by being in power for perpetuity. And that is I guess the worst scam that can befall the Filipino people. Tetch Torres : But do you think sir that there should be some reforms made to our Constitution? Benigno Aquino III : True, but given the present atmosphere, even if those reforms are put into place, there seem to be an overwhelming desire to water down the best provisions that we had in the ‘87 Constitution. For instance, one of the thing...yung idea of the term limits...is the most attractive to a lot of our colleagues in the House, 'Yung relaxation on the rules on warrant-less arrest, for instance no? Which might increase the tendencies of some quarters...their fascistic intentions in addressing the peace and order or the crime situation will be given, parang, some say, more avenues to abuse. Is that right, also? 'Yun, regardless of any proposal we have to examine: have you complied, have you given the system the best chance? If there is, and I'm not only talking about the politicians. S'yempre, even in my district, for instance, if it’s the town fiesta, tradition has it they request for two orchestras. And I point it out, when I first started, the cheapest orchestra that time is I think is something about forty thousand pesos, for that time. So that would be eighty thousand pesos. The President of the Philippines makes only fifty thousand pesos. Intrinsically you're inducing, whoever you approach, to undertake some corrupt practices to fund these things that are not really necessary. So there should really be meeting of the minds between those who are governing and the governed, and to really chart where do you want to go. Let us not just mouth all of these platitudes and motherhood statements, but rather let us act towards the direction where we really want to go. Tetch Torres : Sir, what holds more importance? National sovereignty or our international commitments?
Benigno Aquino III : There should not be any discontinuity between the two. Our international commitment have to be part and partial of our national interests. So then...'yun...I really would...when there's a conflict, at the end of the day, 'yung...we in government are elected by the Filipino people to serve the Filipino's interests. Should there be a debate...there shouldn't be a question that this, either in national concern...I like to phrase it that way: national concerns should outweigh the international agreement relations, etcetera. That is where the allegiance has to be of anybody in government--to the people who bestowed power on this elected official. Benigno Aquino III, podcast interview transcript, part 3
INQUIRER.net First Posted 17:26:00 02/26/2007
Tetch Torres : Sir, would you push for a review of Visiting Forces Agreement? Benigno Aquino III : While I'm in the Senate? Yes, my aunt who made the film--I'm not sure if it's in the martial law years--staring Nora Aunor called “Minsan may isang gamu-gamo.” Talking about relations of the people outside of the bases. Nora Aunor's favor of expression or so-called most quoted expression is, “My brother is not a pig.” 'Yung, if a person, in a celebrated case, of a Nicole and--I don't the member of the Marine's name--If a Filipino was convicted in the same degree, he would be in jail going through the appeals process. So that is the right, and that is the penalty that a Filipino, the most important segment I guess in this society can expect. 'Yan nga bang foreigner not the subject to the same law? Recently, I saw on one of the cable channels, the former prime minister of Singapore, Goh Chok Tong, if I'm not mistaken, and they were
talking about this teenager, an American teenager who vandalized several cars and stole some street signs in Singapore. The penalty is caning and President Clinton at that time made appeals for the child, this teenager, would be spared the caning penalty and Singapore stood firm. He said there are laws for a Singaporean and they should not apply to a visitor? We cannot agree. So they paid the price, they couldn't talk when they asked for appointments with Clinton. They couldn't. They we're not given for like two years. But at the end of the day, they were treated with more respect by somebody who really should have been treating them with same respect from the get-go. Here, we will be...if we have afforded that marine all of the opportunities to defend himself then we give him again the same rights to appeal that any other Filipino citizen can have. But he can have more privileges than our citizen has? And I guess that is a minimum concern that I have with regards to the VFA. Tetch Torres : Thank you, sir. Benigno Aquino III : Thank you. Joel : Good evening. Congressman. I'm Joel. I cover the defense beat. First off, are you in favor of requiring senatorial candidates to submit themselves to a drug test? Benigno Aquino III : Well, no problems with that. But at the same time, 'yung...so you have to balance...ang issue ko lang d'yan is the issue of the privacy, no? Parang, there seems to be such a trend to impose so many conditions on one sector of society that you do not impose on any other sector of society. And I'm not saying that everybody should undertake a drug test 'cause we feel that everybody is a potential drug user. That is not the position that I'm advocating. With regards to that, I have no issue. Pero, things like 'yung single identification card which is the next step in possible, invading privacies, [ Imagine] said, in effect, we have a PIN number for
everything, your taxes, your bank accounts, your phone bills, etcetera, licenses. Knowledge is power; given the tendency of for instance, issues like wire tapping which is practiced more in the breach rather than in the observance, I would be very cautious is all of these weakening of the concept of rights to privacy. Joel : Have you submitted yourself to a drug test? Benigno Aquino III : We're not required to do so. And I would have done it already except that I have been given schedules that limit me to four hours of sleep everyday. And--I don't know--I've asked my campaign staff, for the past two weeks 'ata to get me a schedule to that test; meaning, look for what is recognized as a credible drug testing agency; schedule when I can go there so that I can submit it as soon as possible; but I have been given assignments to go to all the provinces. We have 80 provinces to cover in 90 days; I will have to remind them again tomorrow to put it in a schedule as soon as possible. Joel : You mentioned the Oakwood mutiny and the events of February 24 last year. As a legislator how will you solve the problem of restlessness in the military? Benigno Aquino III : 'Cause even before that...there was a video I once saw of the Balikatan exercises, and I saw there [Filipino soldiers] zeroing their rifles, and they were being assisted by Americans who were spraying WDT40 on the front sights. What that tells me is the front sights-- WDT40 is a lubricating oil--the front sights are no longer moving, could not be adjusted, hence the need for that oil. So I said, we can’t even give our soldier the necessary tools, consumables for them to be able to effectively carry out their job. That is, parang the lack of support that we have given them, and specially given the fact that we have spending so many billions in helping and trying to meet their needs. 'Yun, it is obvious that there is a lot of
reform that should be done with regards to government purchases in general, but even in that sphere specifically. So how would you address it? When a soldier says, like one of the lieutenants who was involved in Oakwook--he was featured in a TV magazine show--and he said, we have requested from the chain of command for items like boots or medicine and so on and so forth. Two years later or three years later they have not been responded to. Can we blame them from running out of patience already? Especially with...in Tarlac, there were lots of deployment of Army soldiers. And I was really wondering why their uniforms were like three or four sizes too big for them. And I asked the lieutenant that I came across of how we could be of assistance, and he said “pagkain sir.” And I said "pagkain," meaning what? I thought there are asking for something extra. So he said something as staple as rice. Like five sacks for his platoon for the entire month was something they would really, really appreciate. I thought: Even rice is a scarce commodity. Can you blame them? And especially when you see the disparity between the haves and have nots in that establishment. And not only that. So, I didn't want to encompass the whole issue of all their purchase at the same time so the very first that I concentrated on, 'yun nga, 'yung petroleum oil and lubricants and after seven years, I cannot claim that they have already undertaken bidding. I'm still pressing them, it is like our long-running joke already that I will always advocate it come budget time that they really, finally come to a bidding processm but it hasn't happened in this entirety. There has been some positive movement but not enough. So in that sense, I'm very hard headed, and I'm very stubborn. I will push more for that and I will look into other areas that could be expert. For instance, we're going to buy orders...there have always been these dreams of buying fighter aircraft.
There are advocates that are saying: we don't need fighting aircrafts; we need transport aircraft. We need point defenses na lang for our anti-aircraft needs. We don't want to invade anybody else. Why will we need something with offensive capabilities. Like, the rifles for our soldiers na Vietnam-era vintage. Maski naman sa ano'ng method of accounting, matagal ng fully depreciated 'to. And yet we're asking our people to rely on these things with their lives. Day in day out. So I will really be looking into that a lot more. Joel : So how much funding should go to the AFP? Benigno Aquino III : Alam mo, when I started in government, the litany has always been we don't have funds. Even for things like maintaining the Mc Arthur Highway, the primary road between the Metro Manila and the North. So in terms of how much should go to them, that is a very specific thing. And I would not like to tie myself to a specific percentage on specific figure. At that point in time when the budget comes around, what should be the most, what should have the most priority should get the best funds. Will we have for instance a need to ready ourselves with the bird flu epidemic, which we have been spared for? Should we be embarking on more assistance to agriculture because we are running out of rice, for instance, among other crops? Education, how much do we really need to revitalize it and to point it in the right direction? How much for agrarian reform? But I think is, ano, a case that should be made by the various department heads come the budget presentation time; but offhand, I really would prefer preparing for the future. That to me means a bulk, a very significant bulk, should be in education. Joel : Aside from the lack of equipment there are soldiers they can...take it upon themselves to make a statement. So how do you
prevent them from engaging in partisan politics? How do you shield them from politics? Benigno Aquino III : Well, by addressing the needs so they are no longer made so frustrated and desperate that they have to resort to these unconventional means of addressing the issues. So what does that mean? When you have something like Garci, why can we not have it investigated thoroughly? Why can not we put a rest to the issue? We have a fertilizer scam, why cannot the government produce a vital witness like Joc Joc Bolante, and instead allow him to submit himself to American justice when he should be facing the Filipino people.? Well, I guess, what I'm trying to say is, if you embark on a campaign to never really address any issues squarely, we will find ourselves getting in a worse and worse situation primarily because issues keep on piling up. If you want to cover up something you will come up with the new crime to cover up the first, attempt to cover up the first and the second and so on and so forth. And if it's a never-ending change, especially if you're young and you're impatient, you will have a--you will run out of patience a lot earlier than your seniors and you're prone more to impetuousness than those who have learned more in life and want to temper their responses accordingly. You know, when I was...when my father got assassinated, I'd really given up on the system. I really felt that those who are guilty of it were mad dogs of society. And like any other society, how do you address a mad dog who is rampaging? It is destroyed. So I wanted an eye for eye solution already found in the Old Testament. Of course, my mother, various other influences, reminded me that my father opted for the non-violent route. And therefore I committed that, based on certain parameters, on certain limitations, to go as far as possible in that particular route to fulfill his dreams.
So here, again, I will say, we have so many resources, we have spent so many billions of trillions already of pesos,and all it really needs is a little fine-tuning and even just the ability for our people to say, hindi OK yan, and say no. Stop it. For that, yung, that's the only thing. For anything wrong to transpire, people by either by action or inaction, have supported this wrong thing. When, kunyari, the Garci issue came about, they didn't want to solve it, and if people stood up and said, we want you whom we have bestowed power upon, to settle this matter once and for all. Kunyari--dito I have consult my lawyers--for things like, we will not be going to work for instance until this is resolved--[that] could have pressured government into addressing that issue squarely. Things like we will pay our taxes on the last day of the deadline for paying taxes could have probably moved government to really address that issue. Things like that. But the idea is, maski ano pa ang gawin namin ng attitude, walang namang mangyayari, ayan oh, the issue is still there. Joel : What needs to be done to stop the killings of left wing militants and journalists? Benigno Aquino III : My experience in the government has political will and exercises it. It stops. Joel : So what should Arroyo do? Benigno Aquino III : 'Ba, arrest people, get into trial, convict the guilty, What does that mean? When the President says, we will not tolerate and we will go after you, and the following day there's a new killing. Doesn’t that send the wrong signal? Parang doesn't that make the government so inutile. And so futile at the same time. And once that challenge is done to the State, the State should even double its effort so they will be stronger in the response after having been challenged.
Pero what do we get, the subsequent statement reiterating the first. What do we get? Aba eh, commissioning the Melo commission. And then once it was done, having the spin meisters work on it and say it's not a working...that's completed, parang there's a suppression again, now for information and which shouldn't exist in a democratic environment and a representative democratic environment at that. [This interview was recorded prior to the release of the Melo Commission report.--ed]. Joel : Are you convinced that the military is behind that killings? Benigno Aquino III : Well, the Melo commission report and the interview by Justice Melo said as much. A lot of them were. I will not prejudge anybody who is subject to his day in court, and his freedom to be considered innocent until proven guilty. But I think I will have even a greater concern with the government that cannot protect its citizens. Again, 'yunm you look at comparative crimes, well not really comparative crimes, but other crimes na lang. When there a rash of kidnappings, the government will go after you. Isn’t the kidnapping problem addressed?. When there was an issue of armored car hold-ups, wasn't that addressed? Didn't that stop? When there were bank robberies, but there again, para bang daily the government concentrated it, and it stopped. In terms of these murders, I don't think that the vast majority of our men in uniform are involved in this. Well, perhaps if there are, there are certain elements only. So once you start arresting some of them that already contains all the other future victims. But you have an inability to arrest when you're so much more concerned with the press releases. Rather than getting justice, are you not really in effect sending a message: “go ahead, you will not be caught anyway, you can do whatever you want”? And that is the danger of the society. Joel : Sir, what bills will be you prioritizing in the Senate?
Benigno Aquino III : I answered that awhile ago, but one of the, ano, but even before the bills, I really think it is resolutions first, eh. Resolutions really addressing the weakening of the check and balance mechanism found in the CA and in the budget process. But in terms of yung pet bills, I'm really enamored of trying to get, 'yung management and labor working together. When you're small firm, it's so easy to think of the operation being your operation, a joint operation. When you become [a] bigger firm it becomes management and union. In Tagalog, it becomes kayo at kami, and I want to get it back to tayo. And that meant for me, for tayo, is to have some a common direction by having that profit-sharing. That I think the would the first bill that I will file. Joel : Thank you, sir. Benigno Aquino III : Thank you. Benigno Aquino III, podcast interview transcript, part 4
INQUIRER.net First Posted 20:26:00 02/26/2007 Lira Fernandez : Good evening, sir. I'm Lira Fernandez. Benigno Aquino III : Good evening. Lira Fernandez : I'm covering team UNITY. Benigno Aquino III : Ok. Lira Fernandez : How are you and Tessie [Aquino] Oreta right now? Benigno Aquino III : I guess we're okay, but, of course, I can't remember actually when was the last time I talked to her. But I don't think...I've refrained from answering any question with regards to her.
Especially those that would want me criticize her. I keep saying that she's my aunt. She's my dad's younger sister. And I owe it to my dad and my grandmother, not to say about anything negative about my aunt. Lira Fernandez : How has the Aquino issue in the Comelec [Commission on Elections-ed] resolved? Benigno Aquino III : I've been getting mixed signals the whole day. Eight o'clock this morning I was being asked to comment given the fact that Theodore Aquino [Benigno Aquino III's cousin who he has sought to have disqualified--ed] it seems to have been disqualified. When we checked with the Comelec, we were told that there was a hearing scheduled. It should have been resolved today. The Comelec pronounced that they would make decisions of cleaning up the list today. Lira Fernandez : There's a third… Benigno Aquino III : Yes. This evening, I was told that a hearing was set. And later in the evening which is earlier today, they said that there's decision on the case already. So I have had six opinions on what has transpired today, and, unfortunately, there's no official word on it. And that will be the first petition that we will file. The next will be a petition on one who has the right to use the Aquino surname. Or who will have, or whose votes for Aquino will be counted to whom. We want parang the Comelec to really to define that already, to make a ruling on it. To protect again...if people are going to vote for me, to ensure that their will is correctly counted. Lira Fernandez : And will that not widen the rift between you and Tessie Oreta? Benigno Aquino III : Well, I don't think that should widen the rift. But at the same time, I'm still in constant touch with my uncle, the husband of my Tita Tessie. We've been trying to resolve this issue among [us] and there [are] other people have been trying to resolve it.
But I guess, we have to--I guess it’s clear to each other that we have to protect our own individual rights. Lira Fernandez : There are Aquinos in almost all arenas in this country, in show business and politics there are a number. So how would you like to be remembered? Benigno Aquino III : Simple lang eh. Basta I completed the assignments that were given to me, I continue the process of going to a rightful place. What does that mean? EDSA was supposed to be the start of all the things that were supposed to be right in this country. What does that mean? Martial law had a government that was the complete opposite of the concepts of, for and by the people. It was of, by one person for his benefit, and by his wishes and so on and so forth. So, the people have a right to seek redress of grievances from the government. We have CPR [calibrated preemptive response, a policy that effectively banned rallies and demonstrations by requiring government permits, and which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court-ed] now. 'Yung people can expect government support in terms of their live hood so if I farmer asked to assistance, there was a farm input program, which resulted in fertilizer scam issue. There is a...when the people responded to addressing the deficit issue, that should have been, para bang a means of ensuring that not more and more of our money is put into debt service. What we got was things like North Rail, now 'yung PNCC, and so many other things that cannot be explained with any sense to anybody who will look at even the basics. So, things that government should be doing, we are going in the reverse. So how should I be remembered? Somebody who didn't agree to the trend of backsliding. Who did everything that he could, who pushed as far as he thought possible, trying to achieve that which is
rightfully ours. Rightfully ours meaning the entire of country and not the Aquinos lang. Just to emphasize. Lira Fernandez : And being in the Senate will empower you more to do more things? Benigno Aquino III : Sa House, the reality is, for instance, 'yung President Estrada's impeachment. They were calling that we talk to, and he said, this is the issue. They agreed. And parang every issue we talked about, he agreed. At the end of the day, I asked him, and another colleague of mine asked him, so will you be with us? I'm sorry I can't. Tama ba naman 'yung proliferation ng gambling or intentions to set up gambling resorts everywhere in the country. Tama ba itong, yung marina smuggling nagrereklamo na itong lahat ng manufacturers. So and sagot ko, hindi! Agreed on all the premises of why we were leaving. But at the end of the day, pasensya na kayo 'di ako makakasama inyo, dahil ganito, ganyan, may kailangan akong iuwi sa distrito ko. And that is the reality that in the Senate you don't have the same concern. There is that more freedom. Even the numbers there are even a tenth of what it is the House. In terms of convincing people, they might be harder to convince individually, but at the same time there's a smaller amount that needs convincing on various advocacies. And they have demonstrated that they will not tolerate things that are wrong. Look at 'yung 464 [Executive Order 464, which barred top government and military officials from attending legislative hearings without Palace approval-ed] for instance. They have been the ones who have challenged it before the Supreme Court. We in the House that has been victimized by it, and the response has been, we will ask the President to grant authority to so and so and to attend their hearings. So parang baliktad na baliktad eh. Instead of asserting our rights, we will be thankful for the other agency of government or the other
branch of government to recognize that right of ours. Parang we have debt of the gratitude that we'll have to pay from them to honor our right. So that is a major difference, 'yung the degree of freedom, the degree of a... there is collateral damage. 'Yung would it the stands that I took, to a degree in my constituents in the district also had to pay a price for it, eh. 'Yung the last SARO [Special Allotment Release Order--ed] that was unleashed to my district was in 2005, and these are were hospitals, specialty hospitals like the Kidney Institute, the Heart Center and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, they didn't bother to raise 'yung notice of cash allotment and availments for it. It was not funded. So, [for] my constituents that items that were in the budget due them, they couldn't access. And in the Senate, if they will pounce on me, then they will just pounce on me, they will not pounce on my district because I will no longer have a district. The will not pounce on so many others that are partymates, etcetera because I can act independently once there. Lira Fernandez : Sir, last year, two issues that hogged the limelight are the Subic Rape case and the unabated political killings. To you, which is more important: international commitment or national sovereignty? And security or human rights? Benigno Aquino III : In national sovereignty, I answered that earlier but just to reiterate, there should not be a conflict between the two. In national interest, will dictate what international commitments we should undertake. You cannot embark on an international commitment that goes against our own laws. So what should be more important, again? I guess the issue of national sovereignty should be primary, primarily because we are given power by the Filipino people to advance their interest and to work for their causes. Everything else becomes secondary to those main goals. 'Yung second question mo was human rights or security? 'Yung the suppression of
human rights has always been justified in the guise of national security. And we have a history to go back on: martial law. And what did martial law produce? Was our security enhanced? How many were the New People's Army at the start of the martial law regime? When they founded it in--if I'm not mistaken, 1969 the most, the biggest estimate was something like a hundred people of students from the UP and the Hukbalahaps. By the time Marcos was deposed, that was 25,000 already. So the national security state did not ensure security but rather increased our insurgency problem exponentially. It also gave rise to the Muslim cessationist issue. So what does that mean? It's a failed concept. Mindanao started our primarily as an agrarian issue. People who did not have title to the land who are tilling it for generations, suddenly found themselves dispossessed of their land. What would have been the solution? lawyers, courts. Even laws enacted by Congress. What was the solution Marcos implemented? First the Philippine Constabulary, eventually the entire AFP. So what did that produce? Animosity that has..,and hostilities to have continued unabated up to today. So, what does it profit us to embark again on failed strategies? We don't really address root causes, we will not get to the right solutions. Lira Fernandez : Thank you, sir. Benigno Aquino III : Thank you. Lynette Luna : Lynette Luna, editor of Breaking News. Comelec has been in these calls for senatorial candidates to submit a certificate of drug testing. Will you comply with this? Benigno Aquino III : I've wanted to comply. I think even before I filed. When I was told, I was asked, have you submitted? Sabi ko, I'm not aware, and my lawyer didn't tell me it's mandatory. Actually, it is not
mandatory, but though given that, I wanted to dispel any suspicion from the get-go. And unfortunately, our campaign staff is not yet in full swing and fully oiled, and unfortunately, they are the only ones who can tell me if I can go anywhere. Actually, they tell me where to go everywhere, everyday, every hour. And I've asked twice for them to schedule it, and I've yet to be given that schedule. I do intend comply, well perhaps comply is not the wrong word, but to undertake the drug test, 'cause I've complied with it, in terms of renewing [my driver's] license, in terms of the first time I run, and so on and so forth. It's not really an issue. It's just a question of finding the time that does not conflict with all the commitments that have already given to me. Lynette Luna : So you will be submitting a certificate of drug test? Benigno Aquino III : Yes. Lynette Luna : A lot of candidates have been promising practically the sun, the moon, the stars to the public. Benigno Aquino III : Yes. Lynette Luna : What do you think can you give, or can you offer to the Filipino, which other candidates can not? Benigno Aquino III : I would not like to disparage any of them. But my, the theme that I have always been very very partial to, is 'yung the catch-all phrase of gawin 'yung tama. What does that mean? When, we had problems for instance, the growth sector in Tarlac of poultry, and the banks that were financing all of these poultry operations. Then the oft-reported rumors of unabated smuggling in Clark. 'Yung, we went and stood up for the rights of the Filipinos in Tarlac by challenging the authority that did not want to change it, to the detriment of perhaps political, even our physical safety and so on and so forth.
When we had issues in Luisita [the Aquino estate in Tarlac--ed], I was told it was to be politically unwise, to stand up for one side or another. I said the people of Tarlac, and this district elected me to this particular position. The situation there now is, so that you know, operating capital of about two billion pesos outside of Luisita has been lost. Eleven barangays within Luisita are engaged in farm cultivation. There is no certainty as to how they will recover their livelihood. So when there were quarters that wanted to exacerbate the problem, I'm not saying only from one side--there are actually two major forces that wanted to increase that problem--and I stood up to both of them, regardless of the consequences. I think I was fulfilling my duty. And I was doing that which is right. Now that it would help perhaps my political career even in terms of funding to join the administration slate. I cannot imagine myself joining them, and supporting all the activities that they have been doing, at least as far as from 2004 to the present, and a non-abatement of that. So, I think it's a basic philosophy that a lot of our problems are problems because we have allowed them to be, and not just to be but to be in existence, to come to fruition, and so on and so forth. 'Yung, how will a government, for instance, suppress dissent, with an Armed Forces and a police forces that is basically with the same level it was it the 80's. Where the people in violation of Batas Pambansa 880, who were peacefully assembled, got truncheoned, got water gunned, raided, and filled with tear gas and the entire populace stood up and said, “You can't do that!” Then it would not have been repeated, and so on and so forth. It's just a question of, is this right? And is this wrong? and people should really be ready to stand up for what is right, regardless. And it shouldn't really be a question of expediency, which unfortunately, a lot of our politicians seems to see that as the only reason d'etre. I guess that's what I'm trying to say.
Lynette Luna: And yet, you have decided to join the opposition? Benigno Aquino III: Yes. Lynette Luna: Which former president [Joseph] Estrada has endorsed and... Benigno Aquino III: Is a part of, but is not the only... Lynette Luna: ...the only, is now facing a plunder case. Benigno Aquino III : Right. Lynette Luna : So how do you explain that? How would you reconcile...? Benigno Aquino III : We have not advocated for instance suppression of the trial that he is undergoing. If elected senator, a senator does not review the decisions of the court. There is no direct correlation between getting elected into office, and being of service to this person. I've always been maintained that president Estrada on a personal level is a friend. We have disagreed on policies. We have opposed also certain vestiges of his governance. In his endorsement now, I've made it clear time and again that apart from my visit to his house last Sunday, if I'm not mistaken, the only other time I visited him after saying goodbye in October 2000, was the brief hospital stay he had in San Juan for something like, siguro 30 minutes. And we did not discuss my political plans. It is clear in my mind that having accepted his endorsement, it is not subject to any quid pro quo, because there was no proposal to begin with. 'Yung...I'd like to view it as, something really...such a pleasant surprise on my part, because, in all reality, I have expected that he would be endorsing my aunt rather than me. Given the fact that my aunt has never left his side. And of course that he would have all of the grounds to be mad at me.
When it came, I said, thank you. Especially, given the fact that I can, I really believe that it is not equivalent to turning back on anything that I have committed myself to, for all this time. 'Cause if that was a precondition, it would have been no deal. Lynette Luna : At the end of the day, how would you like to your term to be remembered if elected senator? Benigno Aquino III : 'Yung, I'll go back first to my district. When I was first campaigning, there was somebody who said, a lady in fact, who said, regardless of whoever is elected, we are in the same condition. What does that mean? We were poor to begin with, we were poor while that person was in office. We'll be lucky if we are not poorer after he leaves office. And that to me was the perfect way of summarizing why democracy died. It's not relevant to us. It doesn't help us. It's meaningless to us. And I couldn't accept that. And I wanted them to see that our interaction, our cooperation produced changes. And it can be something as trivial as a road. You know there's one [road in a] barangay in particular in the second district of Tarlac, in fact, in Tarlac City, which was unpaved, and this was 1998, or two years before the start of the new millennium. It was like an hour and half away, and this is not a hinterland road. This is the road that is connected to the McArthur highway, which is formerly called the Manila North road. It's the primary trunk route from the metropolis to areas of the North. And if somebody says, 'ano po ho bang pruweba n'yong kailangan na di kami iniintindi ng gobyerno.' 'Yun na 'yon. So of course that is already now paved. And then each of my barangays would have had between three to four projects, varying in terms of 'yung cost and net effect. But at the end of the day, there were changes in all of these barangays be it in infrastructure, be it 'yung access to technical training, be it...so many things. That they can say: That our interaction resulted into changes.
So what do I want? Those who are cynical and jaded say, “Be realistic, that's politics” and these are all the catch phrases. I'm sorry, but my idols are people who said, “Why should it be?” When we can, when we withdraw our support for that which is...well let me try to make it clearer, I'm sounding like one of my philosophy professors before. But I guess what I'm trying to say is, the only reason that anything can exist in any society is if the people allow it. If they don't want something, it is all just a question of people saying no. And if it's a question of something that should be supported, then again, this is just a question of organized people who are knowledgeable and who would say yes to it. So what I'm trying to say is we are not condemned that accept that which you find. You can't change it, but if you are committed to changing it, that's the only requirement. And if not, you have actually supported maintaining the status quo. And if you're committed to it, the only sensible reason for doing that is because you're happy with the status quo. So if you're not, then you should do something about it. Now, why do I do that, primarily because there are those who really sacrifice so much, and they don't even get to taste the freedom again. And at the end of the day, we're not able to face them and will I be telling them, thank you, ha? You know, we didn't treasure it. And I don't know, when I see them...my father's face, then some of his other allies and colleagues. There seems to be something intrinsically wrong....if I choose not to undertake my share of the burden. Benigno Aquino III, podcast interview transcript, part 5
INQUIRER.net First Posted 20:30:00 02/26/2007
Erwin Oliva : Hi, sir, I'm Erwin Oliva. I write about technology and topics on the election. Anyway, sir, what we're doing right now is
called a podcast and many advanced technologies are now available to the peopl,e and you've have been in debates in Congress right now about Internet voting. Benigno Aquino III : Hmm. Erwin Oliva : So my first question is, how do you intend to use technology in your campaign? Benigno Aquino III : Well, 'yung right now we're limited to the conservative, which means TV ads, radio ads and so on and so forth. There are various proposals to use SMS, websites and so on and so forth. I'm not that technologically savvy, so I'm leaving it up to the experts to determine. And of course, being in the opposition, our resources are not as extensive as those of the administration. Then, that will really be just a question of 'yung what will generate the most impact for our campaign? And also there are the questions. There was some proposal, kasi, for instance, of [a] database of cell phone users. And automatically, I said, are we not violating anything in terms of 'yung constitutional rights to privacy of this and that? And there was a...that's perfectly legal. Of course, the proponent would say that. I'm having that checked before embarking on that. Erwin Oliva : When do you intend to do some SMS campaigning? Benigno Aquino III : I will really want to check on what legal constraints there are, if any. Erwin Oliva : I think the Comelec is still working on that sir. Benigno Aquino III : Parang siguro, I don't want to being accused of a violating not even in the spirit aspect. Erwin Oliva : OK.
Benigno Aquino III : Because I was senior vice chairman of the civil, political and human rights committee and again communication between two individuals is privileged, well, supposed to be subject to the privacy provisions of the Constitution. Erwin Oliva : What are you thoughts on Internet voting as I mentioned earlier and the full automation at large? Benigno Aquino III : 'Yun, again, I don't know if I'm a prisoner of history, but Tagalogs have this saying of “para makarating sa paroroonan, kailangan tignan 'yung pinanggalingan.” And Americans and other western countries would have the idea of history repeating itself. Now, in 1986 we had computer programmers walking out in the official tabulation of the results of the snap election, because what they were inputting was not being recorded in the tallies. So what did that show us? Whereas the mother of cheating right now involves so many conspirators and each one in turn can become your potential witness to expose and to find out that there is cheating ongoing, and also to serve as the means of convicting the perpetrators. When you get into technology, it is not again the cure-all. In fact, it can make cheating worse because if you have such a good programmer who manages to disguise all of the lines of codes so well and you only talk to one--there a conspiracy siguro of that person who wanted votes tallied for him and that programmer. And before you were able to prove it, in case you're able, ever able to ferret out how it was done, baka naman not only the term was finished, but perhaps two terms has already been finished. So what was does [that] point out? It's not really a question of the form, the system, the methodology. It really goes back to the person involved in the process. It can be the most primitive system. It can be the most advanced system. But at the end of the day, if there are entities who are intent on subverting the people's will, they will be able to do it and our job is to ensure that we make it even more difficult for
them or even more unrewarding for those who that will subvert the people's will. Erwin Oliva : So, you're saying sir that despite of all these modernization plans we have in Comelec, we need to change the people within the agency which have been…? Benigno Aquino III : 'Yun. Just to give you...one of the simple suggestions has been...prior to martial law there were mandated majority, automatic commissioners representing either of the two parties. There were proportionate representation, if I'm not mistaken. Of course, I was a toddler in the pre-martial law years, but both parties, not just the administration appointees were put into position. Can we get to do something like that? Unfortunately, we have a lot more parties than two. So does that mean that every party that sets up is entitled to one commissioner? That becomes unwieldy. But that can be a compromise to that. That is so simple. 'Yun, I think. I'm not a lawyer but in a general sense, if violating the election or Omnibus Election Code results in permanent disqualification from running for public office, if you're tempted with tens if not hundreds of millions to do some magic on election time, I guess, people who are so inclined will say, "what do I care? I'm never allowed to enter politics." Perhaps we should revisit penalties for those who will destroy the fundamental building block of a representative democracy, which is the people expressing their will and that is done through an election. So that is another thing, again, simple thing to do. So, 'yun. The bottom line is people will cheat because it rewards them. So you have to find out, why? How do you make it non-profitable for any of these people. 'Yun nga no? Talagang major penalties, make it. There’s so many things you can do. Representatives, commissioners in the Comelec representing, not just an administration side but also the opposition, so that intrinsically, you will make them less able to conspire with each other.
Erwin Oliva : So, on that issue sir, there were suggestions this week on opening up the appointment process to the Comelec, because there's one more position open--has been vacant since February 2006. There were suggestions from the civil society to open it up to the public, to allow the civil society to have a say in the appointment. And it has been history, under the current administration that always there have been ad interim appointment, meaning, when Congress is adjourned. It's a nasty habit, as they say, by the President. Benigno Aquino III : Well, hopefully, she changed this time around. But I will not hold my breath waiting for that change. Erwin Oliva : On another topic sir, you mentioned about IT awhile ago, how do you intend as a potential senator to develop the ICT industry and the science industry? Benigno Aquino III : Well, number one, when I was a grade school student, I really was fascinated with all of my science courses. Be it biology, geology, and we had a problem with physics. It was more of an interaction with my professor, or even chemistry for that matter, any of the sciences...What I'm trying to say: My teachers were able to inculcate and encourage us to really...it seems that so many things that we can understand more fully, primarily using science as a weapon. You make it so interesting. Now if we have a dearth of scientists, and then I guess it points out that perhaps we should review how we are inculcating these. How do we encourage our students to go into those fields as supposed to envisioning themselves being a manager in a Makati corporation? How do we, and of course, you provide all of the necessary infrastructure. The computers, the interconnections with wi-fi or fixed lines, servers, promotions to all of these international competitions, scholarships to various higher areas of higher learning for this particular field. Look at rewards, or reward structure, perhaps incentives to those who will undertake all of these directions of government. What are these incentives?
Lessening of, for instance taxes on equipment that will be imported primarily in support of IT education. And whole gamut, and at the end of the day, like with everything else, I admit I am not an expert on everything all the time. Therefore I will always tap those who are more knowledgeable than I am or any given topic and come up--and even those who have opposed my ideas--and come up with the best possible scheme and for solution for any issue or any problem facing us. One of the things my father taught me was you should not exclude those who are opposed to your ideas. Your ideas and their ideas might result in a cross-fertilization of your good ideas mixing with these good ideas [and] coming up with the better product than either of you could have come up with individually. So the way he put it, your thesis and his anti-thesis might produce the synthesis that is better than either of your positions, and I'd like to do that. Erwin Oliva : Thank you. Sir, my last question is very light. On a lighter note, what gadgets do you use, techie gadgets? Benigno Aquino III : Cell phone, an iPod. Well, I used to be even more into it. When the Walkman was the craze in my generation, I was one of the first to have it. Erwin Oliva : [Laughs] Do you own an iPod right now? Benigno Aquino III : Yes. Erwin Oliva : OK. What songs does it contain right now? Benigno Aquino III : Practically, I don't say all the songs recorded in the world, for all genres except for rap. Erwin Oliva : Rap, okay [laughs] Benigno Aquino III : Is Rap and hip hop the same thing?
Erwin Oliva : Yeah, I think so. I don't know. [laughs] Benigno Aquino III : And even the--what is called R&B now. It used to be Rhythm and Blues during my time, and R&B now seems to be actually the same thing. Erwin Oliva : Pop rock? Benigno Aquino III : Yeah, but, again, 'yung I'm fond of...I think it's called house, which is the same beat as a, what disco was to us. Before that it runs... especially when you're caught in traffic. Of course the song of my generation also which invokes all of the memories. The CD, the DVD player as other gadgets. 'Yung there is a...it's a still camera na movie camera na using memory cards, rather than any other media tape, optical mediums on. What else? You know for the past nine years I have not really been...[laughs] you have to schedule everything to the extent that even when you get sick you have to ask the good Lord to schedule it at this certain junctures. So if at all I have relaxing moment has to do with miss, the stereo system that I have been here in Quezon city and also in my districts, which gives me a lot of hours of rest especially reading, and I'm not into e-books. Somehow, I really want to hold the book. In everything want the hard copy which does not necessarily mean I have a hardcover book. Can be a paperback. Unfortunately, everything that we had to do, I keep on starting books, winding up, seeing the first two chapters and then pausing until the next break, which is non existent. Erwin Oliva : Thank you very much, sir. Benigno Aquino III : Thank you.
Benigno Aquino III, podcast interview transcript, part 6
INQUIRER.net First Posted 20:31:00 02/26/2007
JV Rufino : Good evening congressman, I'm JV Rufino, the editor in chief of INQUIRER.net. Earlier, you mentioned agrarian reform and labor management. And I couldn't help thinking that your concern for these issues might stem on the fact that, the Aquinos are a land-owning family in Tarlac. How did the fact bring about your concern for these issues and don't you feel you have to be advocating agrarian reform, your motives might be questioned, in effect. You could argue that there's a conflict of interest with that. Benigno Aquino III : Can I handle the second one, 'yung labor and management issues? JV Rufino : Go ahead. Benigno Aquino III : 'Yung every time, parang it's a seasonal thing that the conflict between management and labor happens with regards to 'yung wage issues. Of course, managers could say, we can't afford the cost. Labor will say, we can't afford to live. And we have a replay of this tragedy year in year out. And I've always wondered, why should that be the case? Then you go back to handle the problem start. Just thinking about it. Then I used always the analogy of a small panaderya. When you have two employees, and the manager says meron tayong dagdag na order mamaya, pwede ba kayong mag-overtime? Opo, 'kan'ya. O eto 'yung bonus n'yo at the end of the day. Parang it was so easy for them to visualize that entity as the combination of all of their efforts. As opposed to, when you are bigger firm, there is management side and there is the labor side. In Tagalog it's even more dramatic eh. Kayo at kami.
So I was just thinking, how do you get them back, the thinking of the kayo ang kami, to the tayo? How do we get back to the tayo, which is where it started from? One of the schemes that we're proposing is that profit sharing thing. Whereby, labor...cannot hide from labor if a company is making good, or at the same time if it's making bad. No matter how many books are supposed to be kept by management, they will know whether it is in complete detail or not too complete detail, what the status is. The part of the provision of that bill, is the hiring of an auditor to audit the books of the firm that will be subject to the choice of labor from one list approved by government. They have no more leeway for whether they will grant it or not. It's mandatory as a first step towards getting to the point na we make our pie bigger. We make the profits get bigger. We have a bigger pie to share, and automatically we are entitled to this proportion of that bigger pie. In terms of agrarian reforms, 'yung even ano, our experiences...my grandfather for instance...my father also were very particular lest we exhibit any sign of being selfish...as a kid, you have a favorite candy, you would want to preserve all of it for yourself. I guess all of us at some point in time, when we were kids, would have had our hand caught in the cookie jar trying to get more [laughs] than what we could take out. If we take too much of that. Your mother or father would say, OK, buksan mo 'yung kamay mo, then when you open it, remove your hand that was caught already in the jar. So that was the simple lesson. But in my father's case, whenever he saw me, he would get from me the bag of candy and distribute its contents to everybody that would pass by. Meaning, my sisters--who might have liked that candy or even if they didn't like it--they were given. The maid, the driver, the bodyguard, anybody, everybody and anybody to the extent that a lot of times, I would be given the empty bag of candy and told, ganyan ang napapalad ng swapang, itapon mo na 'yan dun sa basura.
So that was a very important lesson that they taught to us. So eventually, it became second nature to share. My grandfather also did that. 'Yung to the extent that, you think we're like a socialist and played in the country. You are taking care of...especially it was more manageable size of about a thousand five hundred employees, from birth 'til death. There were no problems that any of our co-workers had that were not part and parcel of our problems. My grandfather said lahat sila pamilya. That was well and good and it was manageable but when it became four times the size of what we needed in terms of a labor pool, it really became unmanageable. But even agreeing to the SDO program, committed us to inputting more and more of capital that was not directly related to that core business which existed elsewhere and we owe several billions already in trying to make a go of it in fulfillment of the commitment we have with our co-workers. Having said all of that, is it's self serving/ No, no. To be honest, that is the core program of my mother. We lost a lot of political will when she insisted that agrarian reform would be one of the avenues for growth in this country. Of course the model, like Taiwan. I think the first time that I heard is from my dad. One-hectare ownership; people who get their land redistributed will be paid; they invest it; or they even just put it in the box, a source of, source of savings for investment, and so on and so forth. Anyway, what I'm saying is why I will review 'yung agrarian reform? Of course, when you asked repayment, you will be given very low figures as to how many have been able to repay. There are a lot of (donor) stories where they haven't even reached the five-year program or even the 25-year stretch, later or another, 35-year stretch. They are no longer working on the land given to them was afforded to them by the state.
Now, at one point when they were trying to hit us completely, they said, we have to revisit the agrarian program in Luisita because it did not [work], the farmers lot has not improved. So I ask, are we changing strategies? We are no longer giving them an opportunity. We are now guaranteeing that the farmer’s lot everywhere will improve. And the sponsor, and the budget measure of the DAR at the times said that no, we are not changing. We cannot guarantee that. There'll be people or industries or there are people who will be lazy. There are people who can manage certain basic business skills and there are those who cannot. There are those who have little managerial skills, and there are those who cannot master any skill on that aspect. So, it is not a success that it should be. It will be a perpetual drain especially if you have a DAR concerned with its continued existence. The basic concept is finite set of land, finite set of beneficiaries. So there's a start and there should be an ending. When suddenly after 20 years, they say we have discovered a million and a half, if I'm not mistaken, new hectares of land that should be subject to other. Are we going to perpetuate what was wrong before? And what was wrong? There are a lot of failures, the beneficiaries did not benefit from it. Then before you embark on a new one, it is commonsensical to make sure that you will not just be repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Okay, so what happens? 'Yung asset-less poor, suddenly have assets that is already an increase in the potential for the economy to grow. Those who are previously landed, now also have capital free off that land that can be used elsewhere to fuel even more growth. So, do it correctly, then that is one of the routes towards our progress. But repeating...there are more and more drain on government resources, our farmer beneficiaries are not provided all of the wherewithal to make a go of it...guarantees only a downwards spiral and no possibility of an upward movement. Therefore, for anybody
who looks at it sensibly, devoid of emotions, a revisit, a review, is fundamental before you embark on a better program. JV Rufino : You talked about labor management. You basically seem to be harkening to the time of your grandfather when it was manageable as you say, so, I notice, things for labor management, it sorts of its casting things in a paternalistic role. Benigno Aquino III : No, no, no. JV Rufino : Is that right? Benigno Aquino III : When I was thinking about it. For instance, union officers are elected by the union members. Like any other politicians, he has to keep on producing more and more of either wage benefits or non-wage benefits to be able to retain his hold in that union. Well and good, when the company continues to grow. But once you reached a mature level, it ceased to grow, where do you get the wherewithal, to continue meeting the increasing cost? So if left unchecked, you are guaranteeing a conflict which might lead to a demise of the corporation that both of them are seeking to maintain if not to make grow. So I asked, where does it start off again? Again, the idea of whereas before, it was clearly when you're smaller unit, clear that it is, you belong to one entity. The minute you had formalized relationships of management on one side and labor on the other side and seems that from the get-go there is already conflict. How does the conflict engender the cooperation necessary for growth? So my focus is, how do you get back to a focus on cooperation, rather than confrontation. And being an economist, the profit incentives seems to be the main means of getting them towards cooperating rather than conflicting with each other. JV Rufino : Meaning there's a role for union? Benigno Aquino III : Yes. 'Cause there are certain businesses that are really oppressive. But what they're trying to do is get everybody to a
more reasonable state. None of the grandstanding. None of the proforma posturing; but rather, a real analysis of--these are our concerns. These are our viewpoints. These are our viewpoints, but there shouldn't really be irreconcilable differences, since the core belief is, if we, if we cooperate and make this thing grow, there is a bigger pie to share. JV Rufino : I see. Benigno Aquino III : In simplest term that I think is what I'm hoping to be a party in achieving. JV Rufino : My final question is, part of legislation here is a pork barrel. What are you thoughts on that? Benigno Aquino III : When I was entering Congress, I thought I could say, no pork barrel. But then the reality is, everything really is centered on the Executive, and meaning, Manila-centered. The farther you are away from Metro Manila and especially if you're not considered a priority project of whoever is in Malacañang, even basic things like, maintenance of your roads, becomes an issue. 'Yung, I'd like the people to be aware that, number one, my barangay captains were the ones who taught me about it. Second, their (PDAF) portion has gone into maintaining the McArthur national highway, which is not our concern. What has been left, that if we didn't attend to it--if we didn't fund it--it would have been unattended and it probably non-existent by this point in time because the Tarlac river's higher that McArthur highway and it's an asphalt road. Every time it overflows, it floods and of course, hot asphalt dissolves within 24 hours, and if we stop the floods, well, water would still be remaining there for like a week or two weeks. Then, obviously, no more road. And then when they rebuild it, they also rebuild it with that asphalt. Even if they hadn't addressed the flooding problems. So the PDAF funds have gone into areas of clearing 'yung water ways for that
caused the flooding, have gone into direct repair of the Mc Arthur highway which is again is not sole concern of the people of the second district of Tarlac. How about 'yung PhilHealth and hospitalization that also has been funded by that. I guess, I can stand pat on my record and say: "Anybody wants to look at it? We can demonstrate to you where it went." A lot of times, I don't like to fund, so-called soft projects which is medicine and things like that, directly. We'd rather fund the hospital, who will be sourcing the medicine, and having our constituents go there and access it, which is what we believe those who are the poorest in society should be entitled to. So, will we give it up? 'Yung I'd like to say yes. But a lot of times, that is the only way for you to access budgets that are indirect, that will directly meet the needs, not only of my district, when as a congressman, or still a congressman rather, but a lot of other areas in the country. Again, if you are not visited and a priority by either the president or certain Cabinet secretaries, and even if those government secretaries make you a priority but they don't have the wherewithal, sorry. So I was asking students at one point of Feati, if I'm not mistaken, they were asking the same thing. And to put it in the proper perspective. "How many of you have to travel across a river today to reach school, or go through a road that was not paved." And out of about a thousand, there were two that raised their hands. At in my district, this is ‘98 or ‘99, you can probably reverse the proportions, and I ask you, if you are entitled in Metro Manila to certain services, why we in Tarlac should not be entitled to it. Especially, a Cabinet secretary would pass through Edsa and will see the problem. We will be lucky if he passes through one of our roads and says, Uy, kulang pala dito. So, the pork barrel is a leveling; but somehow, there's a basic minimum that each and every district in the country will get a portion of government expenditures. Without it, it is very likely that there'll be areas that will have zero.
JV Rufino : Well, then, what about the practice of--many of our readers in the website often write about this--where every other government projects you see is named after so and so, and so on. Benigno Aquino III : You know, the typical thing there is, ano, in my first time, I actually asked, that my name may not be put into this project, because I felt that was not an accomplishment, my accomplishment. That was our accomplishment, meaning the constituency, the bureaucracy, JV Rufino : Not really your personal funds, no? Benigno Aquino III : But towards the end of the first term, I was being asked what I have been able to accomplish. And it was also difficult to start giving them this ano, parang two-ream size list, to each and everybody who ask. So should we publicize it? There's a side of me that say no, but the reality is, without it there are many few people will go out of their way to go for instance, the DPWH and say, ano ba ipinagagawa ng congressman namin dito, or will go to the DepEd and say, how many classrooms have they built? And I guess in a sense, those in that community will know that there was a change. Talking about...I have about 159 barangays, will they visit each other barangays as part of their civic duty, I don't think so. We're giving them a piece of information. Is that such a big crime, again, I don't think so. And also, given that there's be so much focus on the so called pork barrel, I'd like people to be aware that they are very, very restrictions on it. Whereas the same restrictions should not happened in other agencies of government. So far when the AFP there comes to buy, and also there was a question in certain LGUs. Issues of transparency, their leeway, the guidelines are even a little bit looser.
JV Rufino : So to sum up you're basically saying that, the system makes its impossible to not use the pork, do not make us of the pork barrel. Benigno Aquino III : You can or you can't. You can choose not to use it but of the same time, the people--JV Rufino : But the people expect you, I mean in a certain contract, for a congressman, a certain project has to go to your district. Benigno Aquino III : Well, given the choice of nothing or use the pork barrel, I don't think anybody here in this room can go to his constituents and say, Oy, alam n'yo magpaka martir na tayo, maski na entitled tayo dito sa portion ng national budget, tatanggihan na natin. Oy pag dito may dumating sa 'tin na kalsada na hinulog ang langit, di tayo magkaka-kalsada, dahil tinanggihan natin 'yung pondo natin na pwedeng gamitin d'yan sa kalsadang 'yan, or tulay, yung deck, and so on and so forth. 'Yung, it is part and parcel of our job in legislation. The second is to ensure that we get naman the rightful share. And unfortunately, from the ‘97 financial crisis, with regards to Congress, the litany has always been, walang pera, walang pera, walang pera. Well try to lobby with the budget department. Hindi kami priority this year. Pwede ba kaming i-priority next year? Kung hindi pwede next year, pwede ba dun sa third year? And by that time you know if you're still not a priority and you’ve finished your second term. Something as simple as, helping a business in the district, I think it was a bus company. This bus company was not allowed to go into Metro Manila. So people in Tarlac who are going to go to Manila had to take two rides because they could stop only at the boundary of Metro Manila, which is Valenzuela, which is--ano 'yung Petron na station-which is very far from the end of the expressway. So we asked the LTFRB [the Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board-ed] if there was some provision that they could be allowed, just an ability to u-turn at that end of...and they would provide their own station, and
so on and so forth as part of supporting businesses in our district. It took them five years to give us an answer, and the answer was no. So again, I will be lying. Originally I didn't want to, but then when I saw...it couldn't really get it in any other way, especially the farther you are from Metro Manila. Then I don't know how I can face my constituents and say you know, you could have had that easing of the hardships in your life, and then decided, so that we will all look very good, to say, no thank you. I can’t face them in good conscience if I do that. JV Rufino : OK. On that note, thank you very much. Benigno Aquino III : Thank you also.
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