#TalkThursday: Power and the future

In this week's edition of #TalkThursday, Maria Ressa talks to Cavite Representative Joseph Emilio 'Jun' Abaya

Hello and welcome to Talk Thursday.

Today, we have a low-key man who holds tremendous power but you wouldn’t know it from the way he works behind the scenes. He’s humble.

The former commander of the Philippine navy, he is Emilio Aguinaldo’s great grandson. Most recently, he was the principal author of the sin tax bill which finally passed the House of Representatives after more than a decade. He was also the House’s impeachment manager and chairman of the powerful appropriations committee. He’s the money man. AND for politics, he’s the secretary general of the Liberal Party.

Join Maria Ressa in welcoming Rep Jun Abaya. Tweet your questions to @rapplerdotcom or post on Rappler’s Facebook page

Ressa: About the impeachment trial
Abaya: We believed that’s in the right form. I won’t admit it as flawed. It goes beyond than we actually saw People see it as more than conviction. It’s a new era of change

Ressa:On SIN tax bill. Why is it important?
Abaya:I feel that the reason why bills before were not passed was because there was no president behind them.
I look at it objectively. Sanctuary objective – regulating a particular habit to achieve certain goals. We’re trying to regulate the bad habit of smoking and drinking.Resistance against sin tax bill came from congressmen from Northern Alliance, a powerful political bloc. Abaya says farmers will benefit from proceeds from Sin Tax bill.

Ressa: On FOI and RH Bill
Abaya: Focus on FOI and other pending bills. That should move forward. RH Bill passed the senate tribunal and is now in the amendment phase.

Ressa: What are the chances of passing? (of RH Bill)
Abaya: It’s in the plenary. I’m not sure what the Speaker’s guidance will be. There’s still a long line of interpollators. I’m not clear of its direction. To be honest, I’m not with it. It’s because of upbringing and faith.I still believe that we should have that freedom to protect life. Life begins upon conception and not upon implantation Down to the road, the problems of other countries are experiencing right now is that their culture changed. Clearly there are relevant issues that should be addressed…. But the solution is probably good governance.

Ressa: On FOI?
Abaya: There’s a green light on that. There will be opposition to other congressmen who have personal concerns but at the end of the day, the president’s support will be the one that matters.
Another key legislation would be the anti-trust.

Ressa: On 2 Trillion budget
Abaya: Funds will go to CCT, up to P40 billion; K+12, a show of political will
1.8 budget following a trend. Education is a demonstration of political will. Even if K-12 is not properly studied, we can adjust it along the way.

Ressa: On the present state of the Philippines
Abaya: We’re half way through the term of PNoy. I don’t think a target will be clearly hit by 2016 but we’re moving forward
When you have a sin tax law, you can expect credit rating upgrade,” Sin taxes will create a trend. To clearly to make it unaffordable to the youth. But we have to balance it with the tobacco farmer.

Ressa: On the progress of bills
Abaya: 99% of bills filed there, the truly successful bills are the ones who are prioritized. There are bills that are being signed now that are being pushed a decade ago.  Legislation is hard. Successful bills are those that are prioritized. If you have the President behind you, it makes it easier

Ressa: On the other bills to be passed today – AMLC, Sin tax, climate change
Abaya: Sin tax will be passed. Climate Change, I really don’t see any problem.
To make sure the SIN tax bill will be passed. It’s a new record high. I’ve always said that if we can spend the budget properly, we can generate growth in the economy. It’s the job of the government to serve the people.

Ressa: Chance of RH Bill to be passed
Abaya: Silent surveys on RH bill. 50-50

Ressa: How would you describe the philippines today?
Abaya: The Philippines today is much better than the Philippines of yesteryears. We’re prouder as a nation Surprisingly, we are accomplishing things given the direction of the president. Political leadership and political will be exercised if your heart is in the right place.


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