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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile May 13, 2009

Q         :           (on Press Secretary Cerge Remonde's confirmation)

SP        :           He's done his job very well. So, I will congratulate him publicly.

Cerge   :           You know, Senate President Enrile gave me my first banner story as a

reporter when I was a correspondent of Manila Bulletin and he was the Defense Secretary. About his stand at that time when he was beginning to already declare his independence from the Martial Law. It was a scoop.

SP:                   This was in Magellan Hotel. We had a long interview and he asked very penetrating questions and I said this guy will go somewhere else. And he did. This is the proof of that prediction.


Q         :           Sabi po ni Congressman Ortega, GMA may run as Prime Minister kung

matutuloy yung Cha-Cha.

SP        :           Si Victor? There's no question if we adopt the parliamentary system. If we

can adopt a parliamentary system, she is eminently qualified to become a prime minister.


Q         :           Sir, possible pa ba?

S          :           At this time, on my personal viewpoint, it depends upon how they will do

it. I consider it very dim but I do not know about their strategy.  


Q         :           Sir, bakit dim?

SP        :           Because of the time left to do anything. You see, they may propose

amendments and approve it and we still have to draft a plebiscite law and then appropriate the money for it and then the preparation for plebiscite. I do not know whether we have the time.


Q         :           If Cha-Cha happens:

SP        :           If, like Kipling, If. If it will happen or could happen, then if the Supreme

Court says that the process is correct then we have to respect the will of the people if it is approved in a plebiscite.


Q         :           Can the President be the Prime Minister?

SP        :           She can be a prime minister. There's no prohibition in the Constitution.


Q         :           So you think she still has the support among her peers.

SP        :           I think so. There is a presumption that being a leader of this nation, she

has a residual of followers. In the district where she will run, because she will not run nationwide, she will be running in her own district  and if her party will have the majority of the members of the parliament, then she will be the prime minister.


Q         :           Anong mangyayari sa 2010 election?

SP        :           E kung amended na ang Constitution, e di wala. And that is the big "if".

Personally, my prediction is that we will have an election in 2010 because as I said, the time is the insurmountable barrier to any changes in the Constitution. This is something you cannot rush. It has to be thoroughly debated by the nation, by the people, by all sectors of society because it will affect their lives. It will affect the future course of history of this country. The time is very limited. I find it rather dim. Personally, that is my perception.


Q         :           It would be a miracle if that will happen?

SP        :           It is not a miracle, only God can make miracles. But as human beings, we

can evaluate and assess situations and my evaluation is that it is almost an insurmountable task because of the time constraints.


Q         :           Sir, according to Senator Pimentel, i-o-oppose nila tomorrow sakaling

magstart na ang preliminary inquiry sa complaint versus Villar?

SP        :           They are entitled to oppose. That's given. We respect their position but we

have to proceed. If they have the number to overturn the decision of the Chair, the Chair has already put in the agenda a preliminary inquiry. Well, if they have the numbers to overturn the decision of the Chair, they may do so and I'll respect that decision. Otherwise, the only way which they can stop the preliminary inquiry will be for them to go to court.


Q         :           May mga amendment na?

SP        :           We have already accepted all the amendments that will grant this

particular respondent a fair treatment of his case. If we have to amend the rules later on for future cases, so be it. But we have to deal with this specific case. If they want to test it, they have to bring it to the Supreme Court. And we are willing to argue the case before the Supreme Court. We cannot go on and on and on in a debate. The issue of rules has been fully debated. We have given all of them the time to raise their issues.


Q         :           (On poll automation)

SP        :           I tell you, all my life, I have been a lawyer and was trained in the

courtroom, I know when the proposals are not intended for delay and I know when they are intended for delay. And I am going stand my ground even to the point that I am unseated if they have the numbers to do it. Enough is enough.


Q         :           Sir, yung assessment n'yo, they have the intention to delay?

SP        :           Very obvious. A committee on constitutional amendments, constitution of

codes and laws, when we were discussing the automation and I happen to be present, and I directed a warning to the members of the COMELEC present to see to it and be certain that the automation will work. If they have any doubt, I call them to prepare for a manual election. Why did they suggest that? We cannot afford a situation where there is a re-election. There will be chaos in this country if there's no election in 2010, unless we amend the Constitution and we adopt another system of government or installing authority in this country. If we maintain the present the Constitution and we have no election in 2010, imagine a country without a President, without a Vice-President, without a Senate, without a Congress, without governors and mayors to run their local government. This is chaos. This is going to be anarchy. It's one for himself.  


Q         :           So, what are the options? Either full automation or manual?

SP        :           No, I said go ahead with automation but prepare for the eventual need for

a manual election.


Q         :           Option ba sayo yung partial automation?

SP        :           Hindi pwede na partial ang automation. They are not authorized. The

authority given to them is full automation. If they cannot do full automation, they must say so and prepare for a manual election.


Q         :           If it's going to be manual, what will happen to the supplemental budget


SP        :           They can only use so much that is needed for a manual election. They

cannot spend the amount.


Q         :           Sir, you are not convinced doon sa reason nila?

SP        :           I don't know their reason. If there are no people qualified

to handle elections in this country; if they cannot go automation, they must make a proclamation to that effect to the public convincingly and prepare for a manual election. We cannot afford not to have any election.  


Q         :           Do you think there are any deliberate efforts on some sectors to make…?

SP        :           I am not imputing any ill motives to anybody. I deal with situations

objectively and realistically. If we cannot go automated election in 2010, the authority on elections which is COMELEC must be frank enough to tell the people the truth and nothing but the truth and prepare for a manual elections. Otherwise, they will be held responsible.  


Q         :           On Committee of the Whole

SP        :           Yes, my God, if I rule and my peers do not agree with my hearing, they

have all the options, they can throw me out as Senate President, they can remove me as Chairman. I grant them all the prerogatives. I am not clinging on to my job of being a Senate President or Chairman of the Committee of the Whole. I have to do my duty as the presiding officer. If anybody does not like my ruling, they can ask for reconsideration. If I feel that all of these machinations, if there are such machinations or maneuvers, to delay the proceeding, they better not test my resolution.  





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