BCDA Tax Amnesty, EO 464, Northrail Transcript of Interview - 9/30/2005
ON BCDA TAX AMNESTY
GORDON: Today I am happy to tell you that there will be a tax amnesty as proposed for all manufacturers in the zone like Clark and Poro Point but at the same time we are also giving the provisions for a previous export processing zone law that would allow Subic, Clark and other special economic zones like Poro Point to have the same tax incentives. So Clark is not just getting the 5 percent, they will also get all the incentives given by the special economic zone act of 1995.
INETRVIEWER: What is the total investment for Clark that we want to protect?
GORDON: P19 billion. This by the way will include also sa mga tourism facilities nila. Yung mga investment doon sa tourism but Clark will no longer be a duty-free area. But we are going to prepare legislation para magkaroon d’yan ng Duty Free Philippines.
INTERVIEWER: So the action sir is that for the years that there was no collection, the amnesty will cover that?
GORDON: Yes. Piso lang ang ibabayad nila at wala silang fines, penalties and interest. Walang liability whatsoever.
For background, noong araw sa pagmamadali sa pagpapaalis sa mga Amerikano ay gumawa kami ng bill at nag-lobby kami sa Senado para sa Subic. Malinaw doon sa Subic na port plus special economic zone at malinaw yun ibinigay na tax incentives na 5 percent.
Sa kagustuhan ni President Ramos at that time na matulungan din ang Clark at Poro Point ay ibinigay niyang lahat ang incentives na ibinibigay sa Subic, pati free port at 5 percent. Yun pala wala naman pala iyon sa batas. Nakalagay lang doon ay powers and functions of PEZA at that time doon sa Bataan. Nang madisakubre ng Korte Suprema iyan, natural isasa-isangtabi iyan. They would strike down the law so kami sa Committee on Revision of Laws and Constitutional Amendments immediately went into high gear.
Nag-file sila ng resolution sa House. Ang gusto nila sa joint resolution ay ang I-restore. Hindi naman pwede I-restore ‘yun dahil wala na yung mga senador na gumawa n’yan. So the intention cannot be established and you cannot ask the present House and the present Senate to say that this is the original intention of the law when it was filed. So minarapat namin na mag-file ng bill and today I am very happy with the help of Senator Enrile that we are finally able to get a bill the would proclaim a tax amnesty for all these manufacturers and tourism facilities and those who invested in Clark and Poro Point. This will also hasten the development of Clark, Subic and Poro Point as well as even Baguio because of John Hay when it restores the confidence of the investors and I can say that the Philippines can right itself when it makes a mistake.
ON EO 464
INTERVIEWER: Malacanang said yesterday that the Senate is not actually investigating in aide of legislation but actually in aid of destabilization?
GORDON: The responsible sectors in this country must see to it that this beautiful system called checks and balances on separation of powers are there to protect the people not to protect any individual, any president, senator or any businessman but there to allow for active discussion by the President and the Senate to allow for active interrogation by the Senate, of the Executive and allow for, as the case today, movement forward.
That is why I thought that EO was a mistake. I even dare say that as a declaration to whoever advised the President to issue that statement, to have himself shot because the President comes from the Senate and they are trying to send a wrong message that grilling here is very difficult. I went through the same grilling when I was a cabinet minister. I went here and I went to the House. Some of them sometimes knew the matter, some did not know the matter, some were abusive some were not. But if you handle yourself correctly, if you are candid and sincere the Senate is not going to give you a hard time. Ang problema lang talaga doon kay Gonzales ay talagang humarap sya dito and the Constitution is clear if he doesn’t ask the Presidents consent, he can go and he did and when he did he wasn’t candid, sincere and direct and that is why he got into trouble.
INTERVIEWER: You have suggested sir that to avert the possible constitutional crisis of this natural some steps be taken, how do you intend…?
GORDON: The Supreme Court of the United States handled more cases like this because of their almost 250 years history, where the Executive and the Legislature clash on matters like “executive privilege” or “separation of powers” and “check and balances”, where they have always suggested that the Supreme Court will not interfere with co-equal branches of government and will allow certain leverage when it comes to matters of national security or confidentiality that affect the security of the State.
To a certain extent, that is what the EO says but on the other hand the Supreme Court of both countries and we have to look at them because our law is expanding after that as well as our Constitution, provides clearly that the Senate and the lower house – the Congress, can have this interaction with the President. And only if the President so states in writing, she or he decides that this is a matter of confidentiality, can ask for an executive session. But otherwise cannot prevent government officials from having appearances. Of course, they will have different opinions. Now it is precisely where the Supreme Court of the US and I think this is where both house must create compromises, create active discussion so that rules of engagement can properly be undertaken without being antagonistic. Otherwise, you are all aware that if this happens, the government is not going to move further.
So I propose, that avenues be open for dialogue, for discussion, for compromise so that we will understand each other.
Sometimes I suspect that they are trying to lay the predicate for an abolition of the Lower House or the Upper House because some people are advocating Unicameralism. We must be careful to watch the tea leaves because most of the time people are creating scenarios to lay the predicate for a bigger agenda. It could be an agenda for Unicameralism. It could be an agenda to cover up, on the part of the President. It could be an agenda on the part of the Senate to try and extend the impeachment. This particular case, media’s role is very important. Hindi pagsabungin lamang ang dalawa kundi ipalabas ang tunay na katotohanan upang maintindihan ng publiko kung ang nangyayari.
We must ask ourselves whether this is good for the country and I think in so far as I am concerned, we have a good democracy, we have a good system. All it needs is a little fine tuning.
INTERVIEWER: Sec. Bunye said that Senate President Drilon is actually part of destabilization plot. Do you believe that the senate presidency is being used to carry out this destabilization plot against the administration?
GORDON: I have known the Senate President for a long time. We were in the same law office together but I know that he is a responsible individual. I don’t think he will take part actively in any destabilization effort. He has pronounced his views but I don’t think he will do so. On the other hand I have known also Sec Bunye, we were in the same school together in Ateneo. He is a responsible man but he is also an actor for the President. He recites lines and scripts so that at times this would create major responses that we do not have to create - an atmosphere of responsible confrontation. He should never resort to personalities. I think we should try to stick with issues, that is the best way to inform the public of what is required under the circumstances.
INTERVIEWER: Going back to your proposal to hold a dialogue first, is it better to hold a dialogue first before the Senate President goes to the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the EO?
GORDON: There is a case, the court will even try to say, to tell both contending parties “Wala nabang compromise ito? Mag-usap kayo” I think this should be done. I strongly propose that the President take the initiative to invite the Senate and the Senate also host one event like them in a neutral area so that they can all get together. These people have worked together before.
INTERVIEWER: Do you expect the President to go out of her way to meet and hold dialogue with Drilon?
GORDON: I hope so. We are trying to unite this country. We are a wounded nation. We cannot afford all this cat-fight and dog-fight.
ON NORTHRAIL PROJECT
GORDON: I think that yesterday’s meeting was very productive even if the Cabinet members did not show up. The state university of this country is saying illegal itong mga contract and there was nobody to defend the administration. It also shows that we maybe having the wrong train built. Hindi ko na tinitingnan yung gastos ng train. Ang hinahanap ko palagi is “would this train be good to the country?” The expense will always be there. There are always attempts to make people have a kickback and unless you have proof of that, wait until you have proof but in the meantime focus on is this – is the correct train and railroad being built and put in? Dapat na pag-usapan ito because they are building a train for passenger but not for cargo. It is a passenger train and you cannot make money on passengers. The money is in cargo and passenger traffic and the fact is that the train is a lost leader.
We are building the wrong train, the wrong railroad. Pag nagawa iyan and then we will have another mistake like Piatco, nuclear plant, etc. Everybody is focused on the overprice but not on the essence or the purpose of the investment. Kapag nagawa iyan at hindi naitigil, malaking bukol na naman sa atin iyan na babayaran ng taumbayan.