Sen. Bam Aquino said he would rather work on solutions to real problems of Filipinos instead of waste time on fake news and baseless accusations against opposition leader, Vice President Leni Robredo, and her hometown, Naga City.
“Bakit pa tayo mag-aaksaya ng panahon sa mga pekeng balita? Ang tunay na isyu, nagugutom na at nahihirapan ang mga Pilipino dahil sa taas-presyo. Solusyunan at aksyunan na natin ito,” said Sen. Bam.
“Sana pakinggan ng administrasyon ang totoong hinaing ng tao,” added Sen. Bam, referring to the cries of Filipino people due to the high prices of goods caused by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
Sen. Bam remains hopeful that the government would see the urgency of enacting the Bawas Presyo Bill into law to spare Filipinos, especially the poor, from additional burden.
“Ito ang totoo, magtataas ulit ng excise tax sa petrolyo sa Enero. Dagdag dalawang piso kada per litro. Saan na tayo pupulutin? Suspindihin na natin ito,” stressed Sen. Bam, one of four senators who voted against the ratification of the TRAIN Law.
In his Senate Bill No. 1798 or the Bawas Presyo Bill, Sen. Bam wants to suspend the excise tax on fuel under the TRAIN Law when the average inflation rate surpasses the annual inflation target over a three-month period.
Now that the Commission on Elections has spoken on the issue of the 25-percent threshold, Sen. Bam Aquino is confident that the Presidential Electoral Tribunal will do the right thing in the election protest filed against Vice President Leni Robredo by losing candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“With no less than the Comelec saying that the 25-percent threshold should be used in the manual recount, we expect the PET to use it as guide in making the right decision,” said Sen. Bam, campaign manager of Vice President Robredo in the 2016 elections.
“In the end, I am confident that VP Leni will be vindicated from the false accusations made against her and her victory will be proven,” added Sen. Bam.
In its comment to the PET on the motion for reconsideration filed by Vice President Robredo, the Comelec informed the PET that the vote-counting machines used the 25-percent shading threshold in the 2016 elections.
The Comelec said it used the said threshold to ensure votes are not wasted due to inadequate shading or that no accidental or unintended small marks are counted as votes.
Earlier, VP Robredo filed a motion for reconsideration after the PET allowed the use of the 50-percent threshold in the manual recount for vice president.
If used, the 50-percent threshold, that was last utilized in the 2010 elections, could lead to massive disenfranchisement of votes for both camps, Robredo’s legal counsel Romulo Macalintal insisted.
A senator said the camp of Vice President Leni Robredo does not deserve the P50,000 fine imposed by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) for violating the gag order, saying they were only defending the truth amid the black propaganda from the camp of losing candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“Kailangan bang pagmultahin ang nagtatanggol sa katotohanan,” said Sen. Bam Aquino, campaign manager of Vice President Robredo in the 2016 elections.
Sen. Bam sees nothing wrong with the pronouncements by the camp of Vice President Leni Robredo, stressing that they were only out to counter the lies and black propaganda from the Marcos’ camp.
“Kailangan mo ring ipagtanggol ang sarili mo laban sa kasinungalingan at paninira na inilalabas ng kampo ni Marcos,” said Sen. Bam.
“Mula sa akusasyon ng square sa balota at basang balota, puro kasinungalingan na lang ang inilalabas ng kampo ni Marcos. Sila lang ang dapat pagmultahin at hindi si VP Leni,” added Sen. Bam.
Earlier, the PET imposed a P50,000 fine on both camps for violating the High Tribunal’s gag order on the election protest filed by Marcos.
Robredo’s legal counsel, Atty. Romulo Macalintal, said the Vice President should take a stand against the lies propagated by the Marcos camp.
“Sometimes, we have no choice but to speak out, in order for the public to be enlightened amid the relentless black propaganda, which aims to discredit the recount being spearheaded by the PET,” Macalintal said in a statement.
Sen. Bam Aquino believes President Duterte has no hand in the moves to impeach Vice President Leni Robredo.
“Iyong pagkasabi ni President Duterte na hindi siya involved, naniniwala naman ako doon. The same way na si VP Leni ay hindi involved sa pagpapaimpeach kay President Duterte,” Sen. Bam said in an interview.
“They both said na wala silang kinalaman, can’t we just leave it at that? Because in the end, mas gumugulo iyong bayan natin kapag pinag-aaway sila,” he added.
The senator criticized groups creating a division between Duterte and Robredo, saying the country will be at the losing end if the rift between the top two leaders continues.
Sen. Bam also urged allies of President Duterte to follow the Chief Executive’s order to stop moves to impeach Vice President Robredo.
“That’s already a sign, a signal and a message for his allies. Iyong mga grupo, iyong mga kaalyado ni President Duterte, sana makinig naman sa kanya,” Sen. Bam said,
Sen. Bam was referring to Duterte’s message to allies to stop any attempt to oust Robredo from her post, saying the vice president is only exercising her right to free expression.
Despite the President’s pronouncement, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and a group of lawyers both insisted that they will pursue Robredo’s impeachment.
“Kapag itutuloy pa iyan, sinabi naman ni Vice President Leni na handa naman siyang harapin ang kailangan niyang harapin. So tingnan na lang natin,” said Sen. Bam.
The senator also insisted that being critical does not equate to plotting for the removal of the president or the destabilization of his administration, adding that the vice president and the minority in the Senate will continue to point out lapses in governance.
“Our democratic institutions, especially the Senate, must show that we can operate justly without succumbing to intimidation and pressure”.
Sen. Bam Aquino issued this challenge to fellow lawmakers amid plans by the House leadership to file impeachment complaint against Vice President Leni Robredo.
“Democratic institutions must stand up and fight for our freedom and democracy while we still enjoy it”,” said Sen. Bam, the deputy minority leader in the Upper Chamber.
According to Sen. Bam, the impeachment complaint may reach the Senate if the House leadership “will bully and threaten the Congressmen, like what happened in the death penalty vote”.
“But I have faith that my fellow legislators can still stand up to pressure that may be put on them and act fairly on the matter,” said Sen. Bam.
“Clearly, this reaction from leaders of this administration is coming from the obsessive need to curb dissent or disagreement,” he added.
Earlier, the Liberal Party, to which Sen. Bam belongs, described as “baseless and orchestrated lies” accusations linking Vice President Robredo to moves to undermine the administration.
The LP stressed that Robredo is not and will not be part of any destabilization moves. The party added that President Duterte himself declared that Robredo had nothing to do with destabilization efforts against him.
Transcript of media interview in Iriga City
Q: Reaction sa ginawa ni Digong na hindi niya ipakukulong (ang mga pulis na involved sa Espinosa killing)?
Sen. Bam: Alam mo, pabagu-bago ang statements niya tungkol diyan. I think, binago na rin ng Malacanang ang sinabi niya.
But definitely, kung talagang may nakita tayong mga pulis na gumawa ng masama, dapat silang makulong.
That’s the rule of law. Hindi puwedeng mapawalang-bisa iyon nang basta-basta na lang.
To be frank, may sinabi siya kahapon. Binago today. Alam niyo, hindi ko na rin alam kung ano ang mga ibig sabihin talaga.
Siguro, iyong panigan na lang natin is kung may sala na ginawa, na mukha namang meron. The NBI has said it, internal affairs, iyong medico legal, iyon rin po ang sinabi na rubout ito, dapat talaga managot ang mga pulis na iyon.
Q: Kumusta po ang Liberal Party?
Sen. Bam: Lahat kami ay nakasuporta kay VP Leni. Ang mahalaga po ay matuloy niya ang kanyang misyong tumulong sa ating bayan.
She said it many times in the past na hindi naman kailangan ng gobyerno upang makatulong sa ating bayan.
If you remember, medyo late na rin siyang nakapasok sa Gabinete at nakaplano na rin kung paano makatutulong sa mga nasa laylayan kahit walang government agency.
Ngayong wala na siya sa Housing, I think what’s important is tayong sumusuporta sa kanya, we help her to be able to do her mission na tumulong sa nasa laylayan ng lipunan.
The party is solidly behind her sa kanyang desisyon at sa mga susunod na hakbang na matuloy ang kanyang misyon na tulungan ang mahihirap kahit wala na sa Gabinete.
On bill against “no permit, no exam policy
Sen. Bam: Masyado yatang grabe na hindi mo papa-eksaminin ang bata dahil hindi lang makabayad. We want to make this illegal, gusto nating pagmultahin ang mga guro, administrador at mga eskuwelahan na gumagawa nito. We want to make sure na ang hindi makatarungang gawain na iyan ay matigil na. We’re hoping na mapasa natin ito sa ating committee para matigil na ang practice na ito na hindi makatarungan sa mga kabataan.
Q: Ang problema po ng ating mga estudyante sa high school, elementary at nursery ay ang mga field trip, film showing, among others. May magagawa ba kayo para ito’y matigil na dahil ito’y lumalabas na anti-poor dahil nasa public school na nga, papagastusin pa ang mga magulang?
Sen. Bam: We’ll try to find a way na mabalansehin po iyan. Ang ganyang extra-curricular activities, maganda rin iyan for the development ng mga bata pero kung hindi na siya ma-afford, hindi na siya maganda.
Narinig na rin namin iyan na maraming bata ang hindi nakakapunta. We’ll try to find a way to balance that out kasi pag in-outlaw naman natin o tinanggal natin completely, hindi naman iyon maganda rin.
We’ll try to find a balance. Magandang mabigyan ng subsidy ang ating mga eskuwelahan para mas marami ang maka-avail nito.
Q: Kanina sa program ko, may nag-text. Baka puwede mo ring sabihin kay Sen. Aquino na ang public schools, baka puwede maging free, as in free, sa mga bayarin. Bukod sa PTA dues, marami pa ring hinihingi sa mga pupils like homeroom projects, tours, sarsuela, tickets etc. Baka puwede rin silang maglaan ng funds per student sa mga public school.
Sen. Bam: Iyong mga sarsuela at non-essential matters, dapat hindi na ituloy o di na gawing requirement. Ang public school system natin, gusto ho natin libre iyan. Ang alam ko ho ngayon, ang mga gastusin na lang ngayon ay iyong uniform.
Ang iba pang fees gaya ng field trip at film showing, gusto ho nating ma-minimize natin iyan at mabigyan ng tsansa ang bata na maka-experience niyan nang hindi malaki ang ginagastos.
But again, it’s about finding a balance. Most of the expenses sa ating schools, subsidized na po iyan. I would even say, more like 90 percent or 95 percent may subsidiya na po. Ang palagay ko, maganda pong tingnan iyan.
Ang sinisikap naman natin ngayon, maging free rin ang tuition fee natin sa state universities and colleges. Iyon ang next natin na binibigyan ng pansin. We’re hoping to pass that by next year.