On survey lead, and the days leading to the election:
MAR: We would like to be in the forties. I’m now in the high thirties, thirty-seven. So now we have like a ten-point lead over our nearest rival, and a ten-point lead with one week to go—we’re not relaxing. We’re not relaxing. You know, Karen, a lot of our time now, with Senator Noynoy, is spent dealing with the issue that we were talking about, the counting of the votes, the irregularity of the elections. Because if indeed this is a sample of what will happen on election day, where people’s votes are not recorded, where there is a huge discrepancy between the manual and the counting machine. I don’t want to be alarmist, Karen, pero gulo ito, di ba? And so I really hope that the Comelec will really take this seriously. I hope the Comelec will take seriously our advocacy—for a manual audit , manual audit, immediately after election. . . The Comelec schedule kasi is that they will audit two weeks later. E aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo? Among the problems . . . was mayoral, gubernatorial. Can you imagine if all the towns and provinces of our country, tensionado tayo? My god, talagang napakasama niyan sa bansa natin.
On parallel manual counting, and PCOS machine defects:
Q: Why is it that you prefer a manual audit, given the problem we just saw with the PCOS? Do you want a 100% parallel manual count?
MAR: A hundred percent parallel manual count is okay, except that we’re not geared up for it. Di ba, where’s the paper, who’s going to actually do it, what are the precautions to be implemented? The Comelec’s never prepared for a 100% manual count. So kung pumasok tayo sa isang pamamaraan na hindi naman napaghandaan, that will be subject to so much question . . . Nasa batas naman yan e: Magkakaroon ng sampling, na kung saan, titingnan kung ano ba ang resulta ng bilangan ng makina, is the same as how the ballots are done. Tulad ng nangyari sa report. At kung maayos naman, kung tugma, e di at least may kumpiyansa tayo. Ang mahalaga dito, Karen, is kung ano man ang binuga nung makina, malalaman na ng sambayanan yan. Pero hindi natin alam kung totoo yan. Di the proof whether that is actually the actual count will come two weeks later, one month later. Samantala, nabulaga na tayo kung ano man ang resultang to. And if nobody trusts it. . .
On Senator Noynoy’s warning of a possible People Power:
Q: So the issue was really trust, right? Do you support Senator Noynoy’s call for People Power?
MAR: Senator Noynoy and I are committed to making sure that the people’s voice is heard. In our democratic system, the people’s voice is heard through the ballot. Pero kung wawalang-hiyain yang prosesong yan, kung guguluhin yan, tulad nung nakita natin sa report na hindi naman pala totoo yung lumalabas, iba-ibang bilang, iba-ibang kandidato, ibang usapan na yun. So ang point namin, we are committed to the democratic process. We want to make sure that the people’s voice will be heard.
Q: So how do you respond to Archbishop Rosales who said [People Power at this time] is crazy?
MAR: How can anybody not permit the people’s voice to be heard? E kung mali yung lumabas, hindi naman pala yan yung tunay na boses ng tao, di ba vox populi? How can anybody be a party, kasabwat sa pagtatago ng tunay na boses ng tao? But we do not take his comment very personally.
On endorsements of organized groups:
Q: What’s you reaction to Pastor Quiboloy endorsing you as VP?
MAR: I’m very very grateful to Pastor Quiboloy. He is a very respected man, and his congregation . . . I actually said na sana pati si Noynoy ang naisama nyo. Sabi nya na sa kanilang pagpupulong, in their church, yung iba nga ang lumabas.
Q: So is INC endorsing you and Noynoy?
MAR: We only hear rumors and speculation. But we don’t really respond to that. I guess soon we will know, at the proper time.
Q: But how valuable will the INC endorsement be?
MAR: It will be very valuable . . . If we are talking about membership, 5 to 6 million, a big number. It would be a very big help and at this point . . . major, organized groups come out and express their support . . . in the next couple of days.
On Ang Ladlad:
Q: What happened between you and Ang Ladlad? They chose to endorse Binay. But then we had Danton on the phone on this show, and he had said that he was willing to work for you, but you didn’t put out any money for some sorties, I think, in Bicol, if I remember correctly. What happened?
MAR: I think that the statement speaks for itself, no? They had asked for some financial support . . I investigated when that happened. Palagay ko naipit lang yung pondo, hindi malinaw kung ano ang nangyayari. Siguro nagmamadali sila, nagtampo sila, so they went the other way. We’re still friends with Danton.
Q: Have you spoken after that?
On Joey Salceda:
MAR: You had a reporter there yesterday. In fact, we were in Albay yesterday, Legaspi, Bulangui. Iniikot namin yung Albay. And Joey was there, extolling me, endorsing me, raising my hand. And the reporter, Maricar Bautista, of ABS, caught that also on film. So I think a picture paints a thousand words.
On Senator Chiz Escudero & Binay:
Q: What about Senator Chiz Escudero endorsing Binay? Several people think that it might cause division, given the fact that he’s for this NOY-BI tandem.
MAR: In our culture, nobody likes the third party. Matahimik, matibay, buong-buo ang samahan ng Noynoy-Mar, and people try to break that, they try to make issues between Noynoy and I. Pero matibay ang aming samahan, tahimik ang aming pagsasama. Nagkakaisa ang aming pananaw sa lahat ng issues. Matagal kaming naglaban. I mean, I respect everybody’s right to endorse whosoever that they may want. But for me, wala akong B. Wala akong baho, wala akong bisyo, so okay lang sa akin yan. [laughs]
Q: Ayan yung susunod na tanong. Kung si Binay, ayon kay Chiz, may B—e sabi mo na wala kang B. So anong meron ka?
MAR: K [laughs]
Q: Sa totoo lang, nagkaroon ba kayo ni Senator Chiz ng problema, dun sa media teams?
MAR: Wala, wala naman kaming problema. If you remember, Karen, Senator Osmena, who was the coordinator, had to now begin to focus on his campaign. So instead of spending time on the Noynoy campaign, he had to spend time on the Osmena campaign. So nandun ako, tumulong kami lahat, the entire ticket contributed, etc.
Q: But what didn’t you like about it?
MAR: No, there was nothing that I didn’t like. So, everybody contributed. And it wasn’t because may inalis o tinanggal. There were just no people assigned. Siguro nagkaroon ng intrigahan, nagkaroon ng pagsisikipan, and credit, some of the rankings in the orientation, so yun, lumaki. Pero wala namang isyu dun. Para sa amin, buong-buo, Noynoy-Mar ang dinadala ng kampanya.
Q: Do you think he’s a formidable opponent come 2016?
MAR: He’s not even my opponent now. He’s not in the race. I don’t know what he’s doing, nobody else knows also what will happen six years from now. Right now, we’re focused on the campaign.
On VP cabinet post:
Q: If elected, given a cabinet post, which portfolio would you like to handle?
MAR: Peksman, hindi pa namin napag-uusapan ni Senator Noynoy ‘yan. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. We all have our experiences and what we can bring to the table. I have national experience. As a DTI Secretary, I negotiated with the national treaties. I started the BPO call center industry here, panahon pa ni Erap n’un when we started that, and ngayon 400,000 jobs na. Ang karanasan ko hindi lang sa isang lugar, hindi lang sa isang siyudad, pero pambansa. Nilabanan natin ‘yung cement cartel, pharmaceutical cartel. Kung anu-anong paninira ang itinapon sa akin, pero hindi tayo natinag. Ngayon, ‘yung mga gamot, unti-unti nang bumababa ang presyo at sakaling palarin kami, talagang pupukpukin namin lahat yan.
Q: In terms of Cabinet posting, how do you feel now that Binay has said that 3 months ago, Noynoy has asked Binay “What Cabinet post do you want?”, and Binay said DILG. Noynoy said, “Sige, DILG, sa ‘yo na ‘yun.”
MAR: Senator Noynoy told me that conversation months ago. This was in an effort to have Jojo join the team as a Senator. And it was a fallback, kung hindi siya manalo sa Senador, DILG s’ya. But that was in a context na susuportahan niya ‘yung ticket. E, nagdesisyon si Jojo na ang kanyang pangulo ay si Erap. Nagdesisyon si Jojo na labanan niya ako, so magkahiwalay na ang landas na tinahak namin. Tapos na ‘yung usapan na ‘yon.
Q: If Aquino does not win the elections, and you did, will you join the People Power that Aquino was alluding to?
MAR: First of all, I am absolutely confident that Noynoy Aquino will win the elections. We have 20 to 30 volunteers per PCOS machine. From the time that the PCOS machine is tested and sealed, babantayan mo ‘yan until May 10, so shifting-shifting ‘yan. Isa sa mga strengths ng kampanya ni Noy and Mar is the huge volunteer organization, NGOs, yung mga kusang loob na tumulong, hindi nababayaran ‘yan, hindi empleyado ‘yan, all over the country.
Q: In terms of local government officials, you’re secure with that?
MAR: Very confident. We have a very broad network. There are many… apart from the LP, there are so many who were in different chaleco, pero yung sample ballot nila, Noynoy-Mar. This is their way of showing na ‘Hey, before elections, nasa inyo na kami’. So they will send us the sample ballot, kung ano ang ipinaimprenta nila, ‘yung resibo from the local printer para ipakita talaga na hindi lang ito isa o lima o sampu, daang libo ito, na ikakalat nila sa lugar nila. We feel that there is a huge organization that will support Noynoy-Mar.
Q: Do you think Noynoy Aquino is more qualified than you? What are Aquino’s oustanding accomplishments?
MAR: I think Noynoy is very qualified. Remember, ako ‘yung nagparaya kay Noynoy. Hindi ko naman siguro gagawin ‘yun kung hindi ako bilib sa kanyang kakayahan, most importantly, kung hindi ako bilib sa purity of his heart. Para sa akin, the purity of his heart, the generosity of his spirit, is his key qualification. Marunong siya tumanggi sa sarili niya. I mean, naging anak ng bayani, anak ng pangulo, hindi nagsiga-siga, hindi naghari-hari. He knows how to discipline himself. The moment you are president, wala ng magsasabi ang mali mo e. A President who has feet on the ground. Walang ere, totoo, matapat.
Q: Let’s go to issues, Loren was here the other day. I think this is a legitimate issue. In terms of agrarian reform, 1,645 hectares of land in Brgy. Mascap, Montalban, Rizal is owned by the Roxas family. Is this correct?
MAR: No it’s not, it’s owned by the Aranetas, my forebearers. This was bought as residential/commercial.
Q: When was this bought?
MAR: In the ’70s. May agrarian reform na nun eh Marcos time. Ang classification nito ay residential/commercial and it was bought as such. Hindi ito agricultural na kinonvert. Commercial/residential na po ito. Hindi ganon. And nung nabili ito bigla na lang may nag claim na kanila din ito. Some of them are magsasaka, some of them are urban poor na nag plant don. So napunta sa korte. it’s been in court all these years. Naging congressman ako, naging secretary ako, naging senador ako ni minsan hindi ko pinakialaman yang kaso na yan. Kahit sinong fiscal, kahit sinong nasa DAR, kahit sinong huwes, kahit sino wala silang masasabi na tumawag ako na nakikiusap tungkol sa kaso na yan. In fact just to prove to you,it’s been there I think 15 years already. So walang nagmamaniobra diyan. We will follow what the law says, we will follow what the court says.
Q: But you are not gonna push for this to go into agrarian reform?
MAR: It’s not agrarian land to begin with. Diba?
Q: So you are not going the Hacienda Luisita way where people are forcing Noynoy to give out the lands?
MAR: No it’s different because this is not an agricultural land to begin with. There were no crops to begin with. This was bought by my forebearers already as residential. In fact it’s called Bagong Silangan because this is where supposed to be the migration or the expansion of Metro Manila would be, not as agricultural but as bedroom communities or suburbs all over Metro Manila. But right now it’s in court, it’s in the Supreme Court. We’ve won every step but it’s now in the Supreme Court and we will just await whatever happens that the court says. And we will follow. By the way I did vote for CARP. I mean, I am for CARP. All of the agricultural lands owned by my forebearers have been voluntarily offered to sell. We are in compliance with the law. So it’s one of those paninira na gumagawa ng issue na wala.
Q: So what you are saying is you voted for CARP and you’ve done your part, but this land is not agricultural in nature. Okay. Alright with the Cheaper Medicines, I’m sure you’ve heard of this already but it’s been b rought up a couple of times wherein you used it as a brand of Mar Roxas. I mean you used it as a branding in terms of success while you were in the Senate. But they also say that you the genuine author of the law was the murderer of the law by watering down the Cheaper Medicines Act itself, the original version. Now they talk about the P1 billion lobby fund that must have gotten into you. What happened? Did you water it down?
MAR: Absolutely, completely a lie. There is no watering down. In fact I will show you who in fact wanted to water it down, Mar Roxas’ version, which by the way the Senate unanimously approved. Unanimously, including Villar, Loren, including those who are now criticizing it. In fact there were press releases praising it as an accomplishment of the Senate. I have it on file ha. mga praise release nila that they were part of the effort. Okay. Mar Roxas’ version. The President, through the Secretary of health, is accountable. Their version, what they’re pushing, what they pushed, a board, which will include pharmaceutical companies in that board, representatives. Let me ask you Karen, you are sitting here in the news, may napapala ba tayo sa Energy Regulatory Board? Sa Toll Regulatory Board? Sa Road Users’ Tax Board? Lahat ito ng board board na ito na nagtuturuan lang, nagpapasahan lang. There is no accountability. Walang pananagutan, walang mananagot, wala tayong makakalampag, wala tayong mapupukpok. Kaya pagod na pagod na ako don sa pasahan, sabi ko ‘ibigay natin sa Pangulo.’ Tutal siya naman ang may mandato, ang Pangulo din mag-a appoint. And then why not the President na? So that we can say ‘We gave you this martilyo to pukpok the prices.’ What have you done with it? Rather than a board. You tell me now what is the watered down version? A board that is diffused, that has no accountability which may include representatives from the pharmaceutical industry, or direct accountability to the highest elected official of the land, the president?
Q: Okay, was it only about that? What about certain medicines that they say? I know there are 22 essential medicines that are included.
MAR: Also absolutely false. There is no limitation inthe law. The law says in fact go after all medicines, right? In fact I think there are more than 100 medicines. If you add all of the… 3 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg… I mean they are in the hundreds. Let me ask you even my katunggali, she did not know that the Lipitor she takes 3x a week used to be P105 a tablet, ngayon P50 na lang.
Q: But in the market is it really P50 already?
Q: Right now? No, I don’t take Lipitor. Thank God for that.
MAR: Karen naman. Your whole news organization right now, send out a reporter right now before the end of your show he can come back. Send him out may botika naman diyan sa tabi he can come back, it’s P50. Norvasc, para altapresyon, eto naa-altapresyon na na ako dito (laughs), dati P47 and tableta, gnayon P22 na lang. Diamicron para sa diabetes yan. You know diabetes is a big problem in our country. 8 million people have diabetes, and there are another 16 million with what they call high sugar, pre-diabetic. Meaning if they don’t watch out, papasok sa diabetes. Ang gamot diyan Diamicron, twice a day. Dati P15 per tablet, ngayon P7 pe tablet because of our law. Ang savings mo per day is P15. You know what P15 is? Kalahating kilong bigas, dalawang paketeng noodles.
Q: So Suplico has no basis?
MAR: He wasn’t even a congressman. So you know all of these are paninira. Hindi na nila maiangat ang sarili nila eh yung puno na may matamis na bunga binabato nila.
Q: How will you help run this country aside from being a mere assistant or adviser? That’s a good point. Well you have Noli de Castro went into HUDCC and worked quietly. Is that gonna be your style like ala-Noli or you are gonna be out there?
MAR: Whatever the role is, I believe that the president gets to assign you what he wants. But I also believe that the vice-president has a mandate and the most important that the vice-president can do with a president is to tell him the total, unvarnished truth everytime. Because the president cannot fire you. If you’re a Cabinet na wala kang boto, you can be fired, matatakot kang magsalita eh. As vice-president, nakatanggap ka ng boto, pwede mong sabihin na ‘chief mukhang alanganin yata yan ah.’ You know you can advice him strongly, you can tell him what you think, you can tell him kung ano talaga ang nangyayari.
Q: And that’s a good point.
MAR: Because there is the technical skill. I mean my credentials are well-established. So there’s the technical skills but I think the most important is to be able to say what’s really happening, as an alternative view. The president can accept it, reject it, can modify it, whatever, but at least nasabi mo kung ano yung saloobin mo kung ano yung katotohanang nakita mo. That’s a good check and balance because as I said, if you are the president you live in a bubble, in a coccoon, where everything you do is wonderful. And you need people. Wise presidents have people around them to tell them the truth.
Q: Okay. Are you amenable to revising the 1987 Constitution? And do you have any plans for Pinoys living abroad?
MAR: I’m open to revising the Constitution but I don’t think it’s our problem. It’s not our limitation. You know i was 4 years DTI secretary, all of these international investors ang puntahan niyan, ang reklamuhan niyan yung opisina ko. Not once did they say, ‘change the Constitution.’ They all said, ‘kinikikilan kami sa Customs… yung barangay captain hino-hostage kami na kung hindi namin i-hire yung anak niya, isasara niya yung access sa planta namin.’ Yun ang mga problema ng investors dito, harassment eh. Hindi naman yung mga malalaki na nasa Saligang Batas. In fact I was just talking to Robert Kwok who set up the new Shangri-la in Boracay. He said ‘Mar, I don’t own the land. I don’t need to own the land. I don’t own the land here in EDSA Plaza, I don’t own the land in Shangri-la Makati, I don’t own the land in Shangri-la Cebu.’ Owning the land is not a restriction. We just want good government so that we can conduct our business. So changing the Constitution in terms of economic viability I don’t think is our limitation. Our limitation is good governance and the corruption. Corruption talaga ang pinaka prolema natin.
Q: Now in terms of Pinoys living abroad, what do you plan for them?
MAR: What we want for them to do is find a hospitable environment here so that they can consider coming back and bringing their capital with them, bringing their know-how with them. A huge portion of the India economic success is because all of these Indians studied abroad were assistants, managers, vice-presidents in companies abroad and then they found that ‘uy, I can bring my savings and my technological know-how back to India.’
Q: And they’re number 1 in outsourcing.
MAR: Yes. Kaya ang sinasabi namin, ‘Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.’ Lilinisin natin ang gobyerno, we can implement programs. This is just on the side. When I was DTI, i bought 30,000 computers, desktop computers, brand new, international bidding, Japanese funded, not alone, grant. Walang anomalya, nothing. Delivered and everybody working as computer laboratories, 10 or 20 computers per high school all over the country.
Q: So you’re saying it can happen?
MAR: It can happen. Pwede yan, itutuloy natin yan. And that is what we hope to bring to the country.
Q: Okay. maraming nagsasabi na hindi siya iboboto because of his wife Korina, ano’ng masasabi niya dito?
MAR: Sorry na lang sila (laughs).
Q: You’re not really in love ha?
MAR: It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
MAR: (nodding). Honey I hope you’re watching ha (laughs).
Q: A lot of people kid about you having a very strong mother. Your mother’s really strong?
MAR: She has a strong personality. I like strong personalities.
Q: Is that why you chose Korina?
MAR: It’s possible. I like strong personalities.I like to have an engaged conversation, dialogue, relationship. Eh kung lahat na lang ng sinabi mo okay, eh parang kausap mo na lang sarili mo diba. I mean, i enjoy it. I’m confident in myself. okay lang sa akin ang may strong personality.
Q: But you were a bachelor for a very long time. Many people thought you’d never… I’ve heard about that, I’ve heard about you. So what did it for you? At one point people are saying that you were gonna get married because of the presidency. But by that time you weren’t running for president anymore and you both still got married.
MAR: You know I don’t pay attention to all of these comments. Korina and my relationship is very strong. we’ve been together through up and down, over 5 years as boyfriend-girlfriend. So matibay naman ang samahan namin. Kindatan lang kami nagkakaintindihan na. So I’m very happy where I am. All those doubt, all those who have a comment, okay lang sila.
Q: You feel Korina is misunderstood somehow? I mean it went all over Twitter the other night so I might as well ask you. During the Tears for Fears concert, when she came out on the big screen, she was booed in Araneta. Why do you think does that happen?
MAR: I don’t know. Maybe it was cheers. I don’t know because I was not there. I have no idea. I don’t even know if that actually happened. The point lang is there are many, many people who admire Korina. She’s the most trusted, the latest poll she’s the most trusted journalist in our country. She certainly did not go there to draw attention to herself. She was there enjoying like everybody else and so hindi naman tawag pansin sa kanya so nag-enjoy lang siya don. By the way wala naman siyang reklamo eh or kwento when she came home.
Q: Oh that’s really nice ha. Regarding the big issue, you remember this when it came out.
MAR: Well your own network, your own news department revealed that it was a set up by, I won’t mention names na, by a katunggali. Diba they were all wearing the orange color. Yung waiter mismo sabi ‘inaantay namin si Senadora Loren.’ Kayo mismo nag report non ha hindi ako, inuulit ko lang. Roll the video tape. Asan ang video tape nyo? kayo nasabi non hindi ako. So nabubuking, gasgas na. Kaya lahat nitong paninira kay Mar Roxas na nilusaw daw ho yung batas, na ako daw author ng VAT. I’m not the author of VAT, I’m not the sponsor of VAT, hindi nga ako sa committee na yon. Kung ano-anong paninira.
Q: But did you vote for VAT?
MAR: Yes I did vote for VAT.
Q: Alright. VAT has taken on a major… it’s an election tool. It’s a sore election issue. Why do you think is VAT important? The EVAT.
MAR: Well my view is taxes is not what’s wrong. What’s wrong is when you steal the tax. Yung pambayad sa pulis, hindi naman sa hangin nanggagaling yan. Pambayad sa teacher… In fact, yung pambayad sa lahat nitong giveaways, cake, kung ano-ano man ng katunggali ko, ng isang katunggali ko, kabahagi niyan galing sa VAT ha. Because VAT goes into the Internal Revenue Allotment which goes to all local government units. Kung ninanakaw ito at hindi bumabalik sa tao, yan ang masama. So ang feeling ko is nirereklamo ng tao na hindi bumabalik sa kanila buwis na binabayad nila. By the way same issue sa GSIS. All over the country kahat saan kami pumunta lahat ng teachers, sundalo, pulis, lahat ng kawani ng gobyerno ‘ayusin niyo GSIS sir, ayusin niyo ang GSIS.’ And what’s the problem? Same thing, nagbabayad sila. Hindi pa nga nila nakikita yung sweldo nila kaltas na yung GSIS eh. Nagbabayad sila ng buwis sa GSIS pero pag report sa GSIS kung nakabayad na sila o hindi, mabagal, late. Therefore they have no benefits. Ang reklamo naman ng tao is ‘nagbabayad kami, asan yung serisyo namin?’ Kung pumasok tayo sa Jollibee o sa McDo, pagbayad natin may hamburger o kung ano man yon. Pero dito sa gobyerno pagbayad natin, wala nakikita na lang natin yung mga matataas na opisyal kung ano-ano ginagawa sa pera natin.
Q: Please talk to our voters before we go.
MAR: Thank you, maraming maraming salamat. Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. Ito po si Mar Roxas, kilala po ninyo ako, matagal na po akong nasa public. Wala pong sikretong tinatago at ang track record ko naman po alam niyo: walang mantsa, walang bahid, o katulad ng sinabi ko kanina, walang bisyo. Walang ibang ginagawa kundi ang matuwid at matapat. Yan din po ang aking hangarin, suportahan ko ang pangulo ko si Senador Noynoy Aquino para maihatid po ang katapusan ng korupsyon at simula ng kasaganahan. Nandito na po tayo, iilang araw na lang po, magpursigi po tayo, bantayan po natin ang ating boto. Ito po ang ating paraan para makamit ang pagbabago para sa ating bansa.