Interview with Sen. Pia Cayetano

News Release
August 23, 2012

Transcript of ambush interview of Sen Pia S. Cayetano
On Sin Tax, ‘Plagiarism,’ Pro-RH Ateneo professors

Q: Ma’am, kanina pinagsabihan n’yo po ‘yung alcohol companies because hindi katanggap-tanggap for you ‘yung naging mga concerns nila. Can you just repeat to us what you find objectionable about their concerns?

PSC: Well ngayon kasi ang pinag-uusapan na sin tax law, kailangan kasi magkasundo tayo na ang objective ng sin tax law is talagang magpataas ng revenues ng gobyerno. So para mangyari ‘yun, tataas nga ang presyo ng bawat produkto na sakop ng sin tax katulad ng alcohol na inumin at mga tobacco products. So kung ang sasabihin ng mga industriya na tataas ‘yung [presyo ng] produkto nila at magiging mahal, given na po ito. Given na po ‘to. Kung hindi natin kayang tanggapin ito, hindi uusad ang Senate Bill na ito. Kasi po sa buong [mundo], tayo na nga po ang pinakamababa na tax sa tobacco products at sa karamihan ng alcohol products, kung hindi sa lahat, tayo na ang pinakamababa. Ang gusto ko tanggapin ng industry, aminin nila na marami pang… pwedeng-pwede pa nating itaas dahil po napakababa na po natin.

Ano pong effect nito? Ang effect nito, nabibili ito ng kabataan. Madali itong nagiging past time. Kailangan ho na mayroon tayong social responsibility. ‘Yun ang challenge ko sa industry. Ano ang inyong corporate social responsibility? Hindi ba ang kailangan sa ngayong panahon ay isipin niyo na kung ang produkto n’yo ay hindi naman nakakabuti sa mga tao, then work with government so that yung revenues na ito maibalik naman sa tao. So ‘yun naman ang pinaka pakay ko. And ‘yun nga, aside from the fact na pinakamababa na nga ang taxation dito sa atin, gusto ko na intindihin at tanggapin nila na napakaraming health effects – cost ng health effects – na kahit tumaas ang revenue ng gobyerno sa nakukuhang taxation dito, ang dami pa ring health consequences na hindi nababayaran. Sa bawat isang tao na magkaroon ng tama sa baga dahil sa lung cancer dahil sa kaka-sigarilyo. Magkanong halaga nung pagkawala niya ng trabaho o pag-aabsent niya? O pati po ‘yung second-hand smoke sa kanyang pamilya? Lahat ho ‘yun may effect. Pati ‘yung alcohol. What is the effect of alcohol on a family? Ilan ho ang nagda-drive at nagkakaroon ng aksidente? Mawawalan ng tatay, mawawalan ng anak. Ilan ho ang makakabunggo ng ibang tao at makakamatay ng ibang tao? Ilan ang pedestrians na tumatakbo [na nabunggo] dahil sila rin ho ay lasing? Ano din ho ang epekto sa kabataan na lumalaki sa isang bahay na may alcohol abuse? So may social consequences itong mga ‘sin products’ na dapat intindihin natin habang ginagawa natin ang sin tax measure na ito.

Q: Ma’am ano ang implication ‘pag ‘di nila tinanggap ‘yung sinabi n’yo?

PSC: Ang implication nito is forever, magkakaroon tayo ng mga issues na kulang ho ang ating budget sa health care. Kulang ho, wala ho tayong ospital. Kulang ho ang pambayad sa gamot. Eh ‘yun ho talaga because we live in a country where hindi natin napapahalagahan ‘yung kalusugan ng tao dahil ‘yung buong sistema natin, hindi nagtutugma-tugma. So ‘yun ang isang objective ng bill na ito, na i-ayon ang tax revenue collection dun din sa pangangailangang pangkalusugan.

Q: Ma’am may mga tobacco farmers na nagra-rally sa labas. How would you answer ‘yung concern nila na mawawalan daw sila ng trabaho?

PSC: Madali lang po ‘yun eh. Kasi po ganito po ‘yun eh. Kung ang nagra-rally po dito sa atin, ang habol po nila ay siyempre trabaho nila, mahalagang bagay po ‘yun at dapat kailangan talagang bigyan natin ng pansin. Dito ho sa sin tax measures, lagi ho mayroon diyang livelihood component. And I will fight for the right of every Filipino, of every farmer, of every fisherman, sa lahat ho ng manggagawa na magkaroon naman ng trabaho. So hindi natin intensyon na mawalan sila ng trabaho. Ang importante is maging creative ang ating gobyerno to look for alternative work for them at hindi po maganda na ginagamit para hadlangin ang pag-usad ng sin tax bill. Ang kailangan, siguraduhin na ang bill na ito ay mayroong mga probisyon para sa kanilang trabaho. ‘Yun ang mahalaga. Dahil hindi naman pwedeng kapalit ng trabaho, kalusugan naman ng buong Pilipinas. Hindi naman tama ‘yun. So ‘yun lang. Palagay ko naman po kung ipaliliwanag ito ng maigi, matatalino po ang ating mga kababayan, maiintindihan nila ito. Ang pinaglalaban nila ay seguridad ng trabaho nila and we owe them that. Help them shift. Eh kinagisnan na ho nila ‘yun diba? Kasalanan ho ba nilang kinagisnan nila na produkto na inaani nila ay tobacco? So tulungan natin silang gawin ‘yung shift na ‘yan.

Q: Ma’am but the debate na kapag sobrang tataas ‘yung presyo, yung public mas tatangkilikin nila ‘yung smuggled na sigarilyo at alak… (inaudible)

PSC: We cannot live in denial that we live in a country that is an archipelago. So marami – smuggling will always be an issue that we have to contend with. Pero to say, para n’yo na hong sinabi na ‘wag na natin ayusin ‘yung meat industry natin. ‘Wag na rin natin ayusin ‘yung rice smuggling. ‘Wag na rin natin ayusin ‘yung smuggling ng kotse dahil lahat na lang maipapasok ng smuggling, di ba? Hindi naman ho tama ‘yung argument na ‘yun. Ibang issue ‘yung palakasin natin ang ating mga borders para hindi ho makapasok ang smuggling, but it cannot be used as a reason to allow products that are detrimental to continue to flood the markets.

Q: They’re appealing for a progressive, fair sin tax.

PSC: Dapat naman po talaga fair and I do not claim to be a tax expert. Basta ho ang aking personal is I will work with the committees to be sure that we get the best possible. There will not be a perfect one, that’s for sure. Meron at merong aangal, but I will always choose a bill that will side on protecting the health of our people.

Q: (inaudible) …dahil po sa issue with Senator Sotto, pati na ho kayo inaakusahan po ng pag-plagiarize ng some parts of your speech…

PSC: Well, I’ll be happy to explain that. I’ll just get my file. From what I know, there were two [speeches] of mine that were singled out. Let me start by saying that from the very start, and for those of you who follow me on Twitter, sinabi ko dun, bago pa ho mangyari ‘tong issue na ‘to, that I have always acknowledged the intellectual property right of every writer. I myself am a writer and a blogger, so ina-acknowledge ko po ‘yun. And I believe that everyone is due the proper acknowledgement that kanilang source of work ‘yun kasi nakalagay naman po ‘yun sa ating Intellectual Property Code, that from the moment of creation, your right—your literary work—is protected. So having said that, that is also my practice when I deliver my own privilege speeches. In fact, I brought a copy of the speech that was subject of the blog. And if you will read it, from the very first paragraph, in-acknowledge ko yung UNEP, the United Nations Environmental Program. And from here, dinefine ko na yung mga programs ng UNEP. So sinasabi nila na bawat sentence, during my speech, dapat i-acknowledge ko po yun. Mahirap naman gawin yun during the speech. So from the very onset, I acknowledged UNEP, in the very first sentence.

And then sa lahat po ng aking uploads sa website, nandyan po yung proper footnoting. Now my staff has told me that in some cases, dun sa lumang WordPress site [namin] hindi napapasok yung mga footnotes [formatting from Word file of speech], that was a technical glitch. I will always acknowledge na dapat talagang ma-identify ang mga source. And in my case, yung mga UN [documents], they really want us to freely use these materials. In the case of the other [speech] which was the one on the MDGs, sana po may konting [research], nag-abala naman po ang nag-blog. Kasi actually, that speech was never delivered on the Senate floor. There was a request during – this was International Women’s Day [March 8, 2011] and you will see that on the Senate Journal – that the speech was never delivered.

In fact, what I did, nag-adlib na lang ako on the rights of mothers and then I showed a clip, a video clip. Unfortunately, ang nangyari, ‘yung media officer ko akala ‘yun ‘yung nadeliver kong speech. Na-upload ‘yun. Again, technical glitch, hindi nalagay ‘yung footnotes but I have always acknowledged that the proper footnoting should be there. So napakasimpleng bagay and I find it quite malicious that they would try to impute malice on this. But rest assured to all the writers, to all the bloggers, that I believe that your literary work should always be protected and should always be acknowledged.

Q: Ma’am yung CBCP threatened to blacklist ‘yung mga Ateneo professors na sumusuporta sa RH Bill?

PSC: Well, there are two things here. There’s freedom of religion, and there’s freedom of expression, and also academic freedom. So you have to balance that. I cannot interfere with the freedom of religion of certain groups. But I will always protect the freedom of expression and academic freedom of any other group so I leave that up to them. And I am grateful that there are groups, in fact, in the US, if you look at the history of the pro-life movement, there have been many priests and religious groups who have voiced their different opinions. But sa kanila na po ‘yun. Hindi ko karapatan hong makialam dun sa mga views nila and I am just happy that many, regardless of personal views, choose to acknowledge that RH is a right that every person has. #

Notes prepared by media staff:

1) Sen. Pia Cayetano’s privilege speech dated June 5, 2012 on ‘World Environment Day’ was initially posted on the senator’s website without footnotes. This after the footnote formatting from the original MS Word file of the speech was omitted after being uploaded on her office’s WordPress website administration site. The technical omission has already been corrected.

2) Sen. Pia Cayetano’s privilege speech dated February 23, 2011 on the Millennium Developent Goals (MDGs) was a draft MS Word file version that was never delivered by the senator in session. A final version of the speech was supposed to be delivered on March 8, 2011 (on the occasion of International Women’s Day), but due to time constraints in the session at that time, the senator opted to deliver a short impromptu speech instead. The draft MS Word file (dated February 23, 2011) was inadvertently posted by the senator’s web administrator instead of the impromptu speech that was actually delivered by Sen Cayetano on March 8, 2011 as officially recorded on the Senate Journal.

For reference on #2:
Screen capture of Senate Journal No.72, p.4, dated March 8, 2011

Full copy of Journal No.72 link from the Senate website: http://senate.gov.ph/lisdata/109519340!.pdf

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