Press Release
May 15, 2006

Transcript of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon's Press Conference

On the term-sharing agreement

SPFMD: I will certainly honor my gentleman's agreement with Senator Manuel Villar. As we have announced in our joint statement in July of 2004, I will support Senator Villar's bid for the Senate presidency when the 3rd regular session of the Senate of the 13th Congress begins in July of this year. Under our rules and as shown by tradition --- as in all leadership changes in the Philippine Senate, the incoming Senate President will have to carry the mandate and support of 13 senators expressed through a signed resolution. I will sign that resolution.

On the statement of Sen. Miriam

SPFMD: There is a statement by Sen. Miriam Defensor that there will no longer be a Senate in July. My comment: from what I understood from Sen. Defensor-Santiago's statement, she expects the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of the House of Representatives being able to do the constituent assembly on its own to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution in total disregard of the Senate. Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago expects a ruling by the Supreme Court by July of 2006 that the proposal that the House of Representatives can simply fulfill the requirements of 195 votes will be sufficient to constitute a constituent assembly even without the participation of the Senate. On March 21, 2006, no less than 22 senators expressed the position that the Senate and the House must vote separately in a constituent assembly before any amendment or revision of the Constitution can be introduced. This proposed Senate resolution No. 473 was signed by all senators, 22, except for Senator Jun Magsaysay who is on sick leave. This resolution was adopted unanimously by the Senate without any objection on March 21 and is now Senate Resolution No. 75. We intend to rely on the authority of the entire Senate through this resolution unanimously adopted, in bringing the resolution before the Supreme Court if the matter is brought by the House of Representatives to the Comelec as the process would be, through a request that a plebiscite be conducted. We intend to oppose that resolution in the Comelec on a proposal to conduct a plebiscite should it be brought before the Comelec and whatever decision of the Comelec will certainly reach the Supreme Court. I am confident that the position of the Senate will be sustained by the Supreme Court, we have strong legal arguments and that I do not believe that the issue can be resolved by July.

There is also a news report that 3 of my colleagues will join the House-initiated constituent assembly. Convening both houses of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives, into a constituent assembly requires the passage of a concurrent resolution to be passed by both houses of Congress. In fact, the House has passed a concurrent resolution which called for the constitution of a constituent assembly by both the Senate and the House. What happened to this resolution, I think it was passed December of last year. If I'm not mistaken, this was referred by the House to the Senate for our concurrence and we referred it after first reading to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revisions of Codes and Laws where it is now pending. This referral of the House clearly indicates that the House recognizes that the Senate must concur in a resolution constituting Congress into a constituent assembly before we can validly convene a constituent assembly. In fact, this issue of the constituent assembly, I understand, would be in the agenda of tomorrow's LEDAC meeting which I will attend. We intend to present the Senate resolution before the LEDAC. This is a Senate resolution which I will execute as Senate President and will be the basis of any future action by the Senate insofar as these issues are concerned.

Q: Do you think the Supreme Court can't act on the House resolution if the Senate has not..

SPFMD: The Supreme Court will only act on a case filed before it. The process is that the Supreme Court will review the decision of the Comelec that will conduct the plebiscite. By way of background, what is the process? The process is assuming that the House will insist that they can do it alone. What the House will now do after having presumably the signatures, they will now ask the Comelec to conduct a plebiscite in order to ratify the proposed revisions to the Constitution which they will propose. It is in the Comelec that the legal battle will start because in the Comelec, we will take the position that there can be no valid plebiscite because there was no valid constituent assembly. It is now the resolution of the Comelec that we brought up to the Supreme Court.

Q: They will convene first into a constituent assembly before asking for the plebiscite?

SPFMD: They can convene as a constituent assembly. That is to us, an exercise in futility from a legal standpoint.

Q: Hindi pa pwede immediately iakyat sa Supreme Court..?

SPFMD: There are two schools of thought on this: you can go up to the Supreme Court immediately or you have to wait for the Comelec. There is the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, meaning, that the Supreme Court in a number of cases in the past has ruled that where the remedy is available in the proceedings other that the Supreme Court, that proceeding must first be exhausted. That principle could be applied in this case.

Q: The Senate will present its position as an institution?

SPFMD: That is correct because the Senate has already passed a resolution unanimously approved on March 21.

Q: Were you able to confirm Sen. Santiago's statements on Sen. Lapid and Sen. Angara?

SPFMD: I have not confirmed but even assuming that that is the case, Sen. Angara and Sen. Lapid assuming that they will attend, they will be attending in their personal capacity and cannot carry the institution of the Senate because the Senate as an institution has passed a resolution expressing the position that voting must be done separately. Sens. Angara and Lapid were among the signatories.

Q: Do you find it extraordinary that a senator would call for the abolition of the same institution where she is a part of?

SPFMD: I would not comment on that. Each senator is entitled to his or her opinion.

Q: Are you coming to LEDAC tomorrow?

SPFMD: We will be having a caucus this afternoon; I called for a caucus. We will be discussing the priority measures; on top of this will be the budget which was delayed in the House for about 9 months and referred to us as we went on our Lenten break. I have discussed the issue on the passage of the budget with the Chairman of our Finance Committee, Sen. Villar, the Minority Leader, Sen. Pimentel and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan and we have agreed that we will present to the senators in our caucus this afternoon the need for us to pass the budget before we adjourn. We will also discuss what other legislative measures we can squeeze into this tight schedule and we'll present the same tomorrow at the LEDAC.

Q: Will you confirm to individual senators if they maintain their stand on Con-Ass?

SPFMD: This Con-Ass resolution was adopted by the Senate. It is not only a resolution of the individual senators but of the Senate as an institution. Therefore, any changes in their position must be through a Senate action.

Q: They cannot just withdraw their signature?

SPFMD: The resolution is already approved by the Senate. This is Senate Resolution No. 75. This is the resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that any proposed amendment to or revision of the Constitution requires the approval of the Senate and the House of Representatives voting separately. This was adopted by the Senate on March 21.

Q: They cannot somersault?

SPFMD: That is their own decision but the Senate as an institution has taken this position. For this resolution to be set aside must require the majority vote of the Senate.

Q: The Senate is against Con-Ass itself or only against the 'voting as one?'

SPFMD: The resolution says, "to express the sense of the Senate that any proposed amendment to or revision of the Constitution requires the approval of the Senate and the House of Representatives, voting separately."

Q: Kung voting separately, would the Senate agree to a Con-Ass?

SPFMD: That is a matter before the committee of Sen. Dick Gordon. A resolution of that nature must be presented as a committee report by Sen. Dick Gordon as chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws.

Q: The resolution referred to the Committee of Gordon

SPFMD: That is the resolution of the House constituting both houses of Congress into a Constituent Assembly, which is now pending in the committee of Sen. Gordon.

Q: Would the leadership sanction senators who would change positions?

SPFMD: No, there is no such thing.

Q: Are you going to convince your colleagues in the Liberal Party to support Villar?

SPFMD: There is no party position on this. I signed the agreement not as party president. I was not even party president at that point. It is a personal matter between me and Senator Villar.

Q: Will you campaign for Senator Villar?

SPFMD: I already made a statement. I said I will support the bid of Senator Villar.

Q: Would you also convince those who voted for you to vote for Senator Villar?

SPFMD: I have already made a statement on this. I said I will support the bid of Senator Villar for the Senate presidency.

Q: Do you plan to discuss that in the caucus?

SPFMD: No, there is no plan. I already made a commitment.

Q: How does the process work?

SPFMD: As I have already stated, under our Rules, and by tradition of the Senate, in any change in the leadership of the Senate, the incoming Senate President carries with him the support of 13 senators through a signed resolution. I will sign that resolution.

Q: Villar still needs 11?


Q: On the budget

SPFMD: Senator Villar and I will propose to the Senate caucus this afternoon that the report of the finance committee on the budget will be presented on the floor on May 22.

Q: What other measures will you act on?

SPFMD: We will also exert every effort to pass the measure on electoral reform, which Senator Gordon is working on. There is also the measure which proposes to establish the Credit Bureau, which is in the final stages of interpellation.

Q: Sa LEDAC agenda iyung Constituent Assembly

SPFMD: That is a proposed agenda in the LEDAC. I received a notice saying under Roman Numeral II, proposals for the convening of a Constituent Assembly to be presented by Constantino Jaraula.

Q: Is the majority in favor of Con-Ass.

SPFMD: I have not discussed that with them. (end)

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