Press Release
March 29, 2006

Transcript of Senate President Franklin M. Drilons press conference

Q: Abalos is insisting that they will go on with the verification of signatures

SPFMD: The Comelec will be verifying these signatures and use government resources at their own risk. Remember that in the case of Mega Pacific case, because of the failure of the Ombudsman to follow the directive of the Supreme Court on the prosecution of those responsible for the Mega Pacific scam, the Ombudsman was cited for contempt by the petitioners. The matter is now pending before the court. How the Supreme Court will handle this motion to cite in contempt the Ombudsman will be controlling insofar as the possible action that any party can take on any defiance that the Comelec may commit on the PIRMA case that the court decided in 1997. In the case of Miriam Defensor Santiago vs. Comelec, the Supreme Court expressly ruled that the Comelec is permanently prevented or enjoined from entertaining any petition on peoples initiative until a law is passed. No law has been passed. Therefore, it is at their own risk that they defy this directive of the Supreme Court. Chairman Abalos being a lawyer, and all the election registrars all over the country to participate in this gathering of signatures and in verifying these signatures will be doing so at their own risk of being cited for contempt before the Supreme Court for defying a clear directive of the court prohibiting them from entertaining these petitions.

Q: An order should be given to provincial registrars to desist and not to entertain this petition?

SPFMD: The election registrars all over the country are well-advised not to entertain these petitions as the Supreme Court has permanently enjoined the Comelec from entertaining these petitions. I am warning these election registrars: You will be entertaining these petitions as election registrars at your own risk.

Q: Ang explanation ng Comelec is that verifying the signatures is just part of the process, hindi iyon mismo ang petition

SPFMD: At the appropriate time, they may have to present that argument before the Supreme Court. I believe otherwise.

Q: The Santiago vs. Comelec case was not unanimousthe court may reverse the ruling

SPFMD: The decision was made by the court en banc. Except for two dissenting opinions, all the justices then concurred with the decision. Of course, its a matter for the Supreme Court to decide. But until the Supreme Court decides otherwise, the injunction stays. The Comelec should follow this injunction. The Comelec decision is part of the law of the land. The decisions of the Supreme Court will be no different from a law passed by Congress insofar as its force or effectivity is concerned.

Q: The CA passed a resolution on Cabinet secretaries who failed to comply with documentary requirements

SPFMD: The Commission on Appointments today passed a resolution citing the rules of the Commission which says that the nominees and the appointees should submit to the Commission all the documentary requirements. Otherwise, they stand the risk of their appointments being rejected. And if the appointment is rejected by the Commission, then they can no longer be re-appointed. Once they are rejected, they can no longer be re-appointed as distinguished from being simply bypassed. All the Cabinet secretaries who have failed to comply with this requirement were duly notified. If at the deadline they have not submitted these requirements, then the Commission has the discretion under our rules to reject. Whether or not the Commission will reject depends on the judgment of the Commission.

Q: Is it a surprise that Mayuga is being confirmed today despite a warning from the Senate that they will hold his confirmation if he does not reveal the Mayuga report?

SPFMD: The Commission was convinced that it is out of Vice Admiral Mayugas hands. He has submitted the report. He has followed the chain of command as it should be. He submitted the report to the chief of staff. The Chief of Staff has submitted it to the Secretary of the Department of National Defense for transmittal to the President. So insofar as Vice Admiral Mayuga is concerned, he has complied with his duty. The Commission was convinced that he should not be faulted for the non-release to the public of this report. I call on the Secretary of National Defense and the President to release this report to the public.

Q: How soon?

SPFMD: As soon as possible.

Q: Ano ang deadline for the Cabinet secretaries to submit the requirement?

SPFMD: They are given 15 days from receipt. They received it on March 21. Effectively, we will take this up when we come back after our Lenten break. Thats the reality.

Q: On usurpation of public function

SPFMD: That was in response to the question what is the effect of a rejection? The effect of a rejection is they cannot be re-appointed. And if they continue to perform their function, there can be usurpation of public function. But only at that point kapag na-reject na. (end)

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