Ambush interview with President Benigno S. Aquino III during the Youth Day “Pilipinas Got Bukas”

Mr. Noynoy AquinoImage via WikipediaAmbush Interview with President Benigno S. Aquino III during the Youth Day “Pilipinas Got Bukas” in Rizal High School:
On the meeting with former Senator Mar Roxas about the discussion with Taiwan officials, the contingency measures for the Filipinos in the Middle East, the possibility of the increase in oil prices, and other topics

Rizal High School, Pasig City
February 23, 2011; 9:30 hrs. EST


Q: Sir, have you spoken to former Senator Mar Roxas?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I got a text from him yesterday and before that he was in touch with me. He was reporting the progress or the lack of progress in the discussion. But, I’m supposed to meet him today for him to give me the full report.

Q: Sir, what’s the initial feedback that you’ve got from him?


PRESIDENT AQUINO: Well, parang hindi ganoon ka-successful. They were asking for us to apologize and I don’t believe that there is something we have to apologize for. Given the facts and the circumstances we [unclear] were making the decision.

Q: So, are we now in a—parang in a rip with Taiwan because of this, sir—because they threatened to parang freeze the hiring of Filipinos now?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: That is their prerogative if they want to do it, pero nasa atin rin naman siguro. Kung siguro para may mag-away, kailangan may dalawang gustong mag-away. At, pinaliwanag nila iyong posisyon nila. Pinaliwanag natin iyong posisyon natin. I’m sure that there will be a resolution perhaps, immediately, but there will be a resolution in time.

Q: But eventually, will extend iyong that we’re going to make representations again, sir, or for now that’s it, sir?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Tuloy-tuloy po iyong ating MECO to represent our interest. Pero, iyon na nga may political realities na ganyan ang Taiwan and that we have to face-up to. We understand where they’re coming from. Hopefully, they understand also where we’re coming from.

Q: So, how can we help iyong mga Filipinos to be affected by this development, sir?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Kung saka-sakaling freeze ho, we will direct the DOLE, POEA and other concerned agencies plus iyong TESDA, the two for retraining and we can look for other places that we have. We will assist in deploying them, too. There are other territories, for instance, that have signified a desire to hire our OFWs. Pero at the same time, alam naman iyong focus ko: if we can provide the jobs here, why not here?

Q: Are you personally disappointed, sir, doon sa nangyari? I mean we cannot help the situation?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Siguro dapat ang importante doon both the People’s Republic [of China] and Taiwan came to us and told us about the existence of these syndicates preying on their citizens, ‘di ba? So, we did what we could; we arrested based on their complaints. We gathered the evidence, and in effect, parang we were sending out the message from our perspective iyong Pilipinas hindi safe haven for criminals. So, importante siguro doon natigil iyong criminal activities nitong sindikatong ito. And, everything else after that the secondary. Hindi naman siguro mas maganda na iniwan lahat dito sa Pilipinas at nagpatuloy sa kanilang criminal activities nila. Perhaps, I think both entities will recognize that or should recognize that.

Q: Sir, nag-start na po iyong repatriation ng mga OFWs natin sa Libya. Ano po iyong directives ninyo for those who are in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen, sir?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Well, I’ve asked the PMS to coordinate from—medyo matagal na rin. Alam niyo, parang non-stop. ‘Di ba, nag-umpisa kay Korea? Tapos, iyong Egypt at saka ngayon naman itong Libya, Bahrain, et cetera. So, mayroon naman tayong mga systems and procedures already in place. Pati iyong saan pala tayo kukuha ng fundings, may instructions ang DBM. But bottom line, siguraduhin paano ba natin mako-contact lahat. So, they tell me that; malilit siyempre iyong ating embassy. The bigger ones will have about 25, most siguro 50 personnel. Ngayon, in Libya and Bahrain, I understand, there’s a substantial number of Filipinos more than Egypt. And, mula noong umpisa pa lang nitong crisis na ito, pero hindi ako tumitigil nagtatanong sa kanila, are we in contact with them? Mayroon na bang contingency plans? And, as of last night, parang iyong pinadala sa aking… ay hindi pa kailangan ng tinatawag na forced repatriation. Voluntary pa lang ang ginagawa nila kagabi. Parang tayo ay servants of the people. Tapos, ina-assess naman nila kung nagde-deteriorate lalo iyong sitwasyon. Perhaps, they should be acting faster, DFA in particular, and we will be correcting that.

Pero, the systems are in place. And, kung kakailanganin nga, I understand that arrangements have already been made for our citizens to be brought to safer locations. Pero, as of last night, voluntary palang ang binabanggit.

Q: Sir, follow up lang. Do we have any contingency measures in case na oil prices begin to spike because of this?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Well, I talked to the Department of Energy at saka hindi iyong when in case they spike—they have been spiking mula noong sa Egypt. Hindi lang naman kasi Egypt—lahat ng places—Yemen before that, Tunisia also. Saudi Arabia is reacting; Kuwait, I understand, is also reacting. Ngayon, biglang may Bahrain. Bahrain na parang nobody was thinking was any problem. And Libya, Libya I think is the fourth largest producer. So, paanong hindi mag-aapekto ‘yun? Hopefully, for instance, sa power plants maraming nagko-consider sa shifting to natural gas. And, natural gas is something we have. Perhaps, iyong high time na rin sa consumption mabawasan natin ‘yun, pero in the short run, there might really be a spike until things stabilize. So, hopefully, the situation there improves na hindi ma-curtail iyong global economic recovery.

Q: [off-mike]

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Matagal nang schedule ‘yan. That was supposed to be… there’s a celebration in Kuwait that unfortunately coincides with our EDSA celebration. The Vice President volunteered. Then, I asked him if you [Vice President Jejomar Binay] could represent me in this celebration. So, he is proceeding to Kuwait. Sa instruction, siyempre, one of the primary topics was to be iyong our OFWs [have] their protection. So, that will be his main agenda.

Q: Sir, kailangan mo lang sagutin. May sinasabi si Bongbong [Marcos], kung hindi daw dahil sa Edsa 1 ay Singapore na daw ang Pilipinas?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Alam niyo, ang Edsa kasi ang hinahabol natin pagkakaisa. Makikipagbangayan ako sa kanya siguro. Isa na lang, ano? Sa mga interesado po, tingnan na lang ninyo kung magkano po iyong ating foreign debt noong nag-umpisa ng panunungkulan ang kanyang ama. At noong ’74 or so, isang daang milyon lang po ang pinag-uusapan. Noong pag-alis po nila nasa bilyon na tayo at maraming bilyon. So, paano naman natin masasabing Singapore na tayo. Sa totoo lang ho, talagang ang dami ho kasing puwedeng sabihin, pero parang nakakasira sa diwa ng Edsa. Siguro, baka ang pinakatamang sabihin lang doon, nagkaroon sila ng pagkakataon na para magkaroon tayo na maiangat ang ating ekonomiya. Pero, iyong resulta naman ho talaga after 14 years from ’72 to ’86, tayo po ay—‘di ba—napag-iiwanan na ng lahat. At hanggang sa ngayon, ang dami pa rin ho nating binabayaran na pinagmulan ay iyong maling panunungkulan niya—iyong tatay pala niya—dahil hindi naman pala siya nanungkulan noon.

Q: Sir, Marcos burial? Sir, may in-charge na?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Marcos burial—I talked to the Vice President. And, I asked him if he could be the one to decide on the case dahil sa akin nga, maski ano pa ang desisyon ko, sasabihin namemersonal ako. I talked to him roughly before he went to China.

Q: Okay naman, sir?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Well, isa rin ho siyang may strong opinion about the matter, pero siguro naman, less ang criticism na pinepersonal niya.

Q: So, you took it? Okay na, sir?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: He will give it a fair hearing. Then, he will come up. He tells me the results of their study. Kanina, marami ng quarters na nagsasabing hindi dapat. Ayaw kong magsalita dahil sasabihin ngang personal. Noong ako po ay hindi pa Pangulo, alam naman po niyo iyong opinion ko. Personal ko, hindi pa rin nagbabago.

Salamat po.