WATCH: Pacquiao, Drilon 'spar' in the Senate

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon lectured neophyte Senator Manny Pacquiao on "very basic" principles in government on Wednesday, March 15.

This came after Pacquiao insisted on the 2nd day of their debate the need for a Philippine Boxing Commission (PBC) – an idea Drilon opposes as the existing Games and Amusements Board (GAB) can instead be strengthened.

The day before, Drilon also grilled Pacquiao on his first sponsored bill, which seeks to create the PBC to "focus" on the boxing industry and combat fighters.

Read parts of the transcript of the debate between the veteran lawmaker and the neophyte senator, who had motioned to oust Drilon and other Liberal Party senators from key posts in the Senate.

On common sense and boxing

Drilon: We should not keep on creating additional bureaucracies because tomorrow, Mr President, we may have a horse racing commission; we may have a professional basketball commission; we may have a cockfighting commission; and all sorts of commission on the excuse na hindi po natututukan ng GAB itong activity na ito (that the GAB is unable to focus on this or that activity). That is precisely our point.

On the one hand, the majority in this Chamber has just sponsored a measure which will rightsize the government. On the other hand, we have here a bill which will expand the bureaucracy. That is all that we are putting on the table, Mr President.

Pacquiao: Mr President, I do not think the gentleman from Iloilo understands what boxing is, what combat sports is. It involves here lives of athletes. As I have said, a lot of athletes died in this sport. So, we should have a separate commission for the combat sports, especially boxing for their safety.

Drilon: Mr President, yes, I may not understand boxing in the manner that the gentleman understands it. But certainly, we understand what government is all about. I cannot understand how the creation of a separate boxing commission will save lives that cannot be done by the Games and Amusements Board.

Pacquiao: It can save lives, Mr President, because makakapag-focus sila (they can focus).

Drilon: Hindi ba puwedeng mag-focus ang GAB (Can't the GAB focus), Mr President?

Pacquiao: Mr President, to focus in one sport is not easy. It is easy to say but it is not easy to do, especially GAB is handling more than 20 sports. How can they focus in one sport? We have common sense to understand that, Mr President.

Drilon: I have common sense, Mr President.

Pacquiao: I stand corrected, Mr President. I apologize for my word. But, people die here. It involves life. What I am talking about is, how can they focus if they are handling more than 20 sports?

On boxing and GOCCs

Pacquiao: Mr President, if the gentleman from Iloilo cannot be convinced or agree with my proposal to create a boxing commission, it is better to close this interpellations and let us – I mean we can do voting or –

Drilon: Mr President, in the tradition of the Senate, there is no closure rule. Is the gentleman saying that we are now terminating the period of interpellations when we are just on page 2 of the bill?

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III: I think that was not a formal motion anyway, just a comment from Senator Pacquiao. Is the gentleman moving to terminate the interpellations?

Pacquiao: It is a comment, Mr President. It is not a motion.

On placing the commission under the Office of the President

Drilon: May we know why, Mr President, it has to be under the Office of the President? Would the gentleman tell us how many offices right now are under the administrative supervision of the President?

Pacquiao: Under this bill, there will be 7 members, one is we call the chairman and 6 board members to be chosen by the President.

Drilon: Our question is: Why do we want to place the Philippine Boxing Commission under the administrative supervision of the President?

And let me explain the context of the question. Mr President, I had the fortune of being an executive secretary in the Office of the President. And we cannot imagine the number of agencies under the Office of the President. So that what happens, because of the sheer number of agencies under the Office of the President, they are like flying saucers just revolving around, nobody supervising them because the executive secretary simply cannot supervise them.

Pacquiao: Because, Mr President, the President appoints the 7 members of this commission.

Drilon: Mr President, the President of the Republic is the appointing authority and he appoints everybody in this bureaucracy unless delegated to the department secretary or another official. The fact that one is appointed by the Office of the President is not a justification for putting the agency under the Office of the President.

It can be that the Philippine Boxing Commission have the commissioners appointed by the President and be under the Games and Amusements Board for administrative supervision.

Pacquiao: I think it is best to be under the Office of the President.

Drilon: Why, Mr President?

Pacquiao: Because it will be for the best interest of the agency, Mr President.

Drilon: I am sorry?

Pacquiao: It will be for the best interest of the commission, Mr President.

Drilon: What is the best interest of the commission that requires that it be placed under the Office of the President?

Pacquiao: Mr President, same thing with GAB. GAB is under the executive secretary.

Drilon: So, since the GAB is under the Office of the President, the Philippine Boxing Commission, without any rhyme or reason, should also be under the Office of the President.

Pacquiao: What is the question, Mr President?

Drilon: The only reason why the proposal is to place the Philippine Boxing Commission under the Office of the President is because the GAB is under the Office of the President. Is that correct?

Pacquiao: Yes, Mr President. I think and I believe that the best format is for the boxing commission to be under the Office of the President.

Drilon: But I thought the rationale that is being presented before us is that the GAB is too big and, therefore, we must focus on boxing. So, why are we putting the commission on the same level as the GAB insofar as reporting to the Office of the President is concerned?

Pacquiao: Because, Mr President, I believe it is the best format in terms of organization. The President will appoint the members of this commission.

Drilon: You know, Mr President, I hope I can convince the gentleman from General Santos that the mere fact that a government official is appointed by the President is not a justification for the direct supervision of the President over a commission or an agency. I think that is very basic.

Pacquiao: Yes, I understand that Mr. President.

On Pacquiao's willingness to amend the bill

Pimentel: There was a model being followed. And if there is something wrong, then maybe it is curable through an amendment of the measure. We can cure it. It is still curable by amendment.

Drilon: Yes, we will propose that amendment, if that is acceptable to the sponsor. But the way the responses to the questions that we raised are concerned, it is not acceptable to the sponsor. And, therefore, we can reasonably conclude that a proposal along that line will be rejected, that amendment along that line will not be accepted.

Pimentel: Well, I do not know. Mr Sponsor (Pacquiao), would you like to react? I think it is too early to be rejecting ideas.

Drilon: No, Mr President. It is not very early. Because from the answers, it is quite obvious that the sponsor would like to insist that the Philippine Boxing Commission should be under the administrative supervision of the Office of the President as found on Section 4.

Pacquiao: Mr President, if that is the issue, we will study the issue.

Drilon: And the sponsor will be open to an amendment at the appropriate time?

Pacquiao: No problem with me, Mr President.

Drilon: All right.

Pacquiao: As long as it will not stop me from creating this Philippine Boxing Commission, Mr President.

Drilon: Well, I cannot stop the gentleman, Mr President. I am only one vote here in this Chamber. There are 24 of us, so I cannot stop the measure. I can only vote for if I find this consistent with the general principle that we have learned or against it. But that is only one vote. I am in no position to stop, Mr President. Just for the record.

Pacquiao: Thank you, Mr President.

On boxing as an 'industry, good business'

Drilon: Now, why is boxing called an – industry under this bill?

Pacquiao: It is a livelihood, Mr President, for so many people.

Drilon: It is a livelihood. But it is also a sport.

Pacquiao: Yes, Mr President.

Drilon: And the preference of the sponsor is to call it an industry. Just for the record. I am just curious, this is the first time I come across a description of a sport as an industry.

Pacquiao: I am proud to say, Mr President, that it is a business.

Drilon: Sorry, sorry?

Pacquiao: Good, big business industry, Mr President.

Drilon: It is a business…

Pacquiao: Big business, Mr President.

Drilon: It is not only a business, it is a big business.

Pacquiao: Yes, a big sport business, Mr President.

Drilon: If it is a business, why are we spending public funds for the retirement of professional boxers who are in business, who are in big business, in fact?

Pacquiao: Mr President, kinukolekta ng commission, ng GAB iyong licensing fee, medical fee, everything, at iyon ay iniipon nila (the commission, the GAB collects a licensing fee, medical fee, everything, and the amounts are accumulated).

Drilon: I am sorry, but the answer is a little bit off-tangent from our question, Mr President.

Maybe, Mr President, to allow the sponsor more time to review and prepare for the interpellation, we can suspend in the meantime and take it up again.

Pacquiao: No, Mr President, I can answer his questions.

Drilon: All right, sige (okay).

Pacquiao: I said it is a business, Mr President.

Drilon: All right.

On why there are 7 members of the commission

Drilon: Seven. Why 7? Why not 3? Why not 5?

Pacquiao: Mr President, we made it 7 to get more consensus.

Drilon: I am sorry.

Pacquiao: Consensus, Mr President.

Drilon: What?

Pimentel: Consensus.

Pacquiao: Consensus.

Drilon: We make it 7 to make it consensus.

Pacquiao: Yes, Mr President.

Pimentel: Get more consensus, that was what I heard.

Drilon: Why can we not have a consensus if it is 5, or if it is 9, or if it is 3? Why 7?

Pacquiao: It is better to have 7 members, Mr President, because it was patterned from the Games and Amusements Board.

Drilon: Mr President, we are just following the pattern, therefore, of the Games and Amusements Board when we placed it at 7.

Pacquiao: Yes, Mr President, and we do not deny that. We are just separating it from the GAB.

At this point Drilon finally moved for suspension. When the session resumed, both senators agreed to end the interpellation for the day and just continue the "3rd round" of the "match" when Congress resumes session on May 2. –