Press Release
December 11, 2006

Transcript of Sen. Franklin M. Drilon's interview
with Korina Sanchez (ANC)

Q: Immediate past Senate President Franklin Drilon joins us today and you are in proper funeral attire

SFMD: As Teddy Boy Locsin said, Con-Ass is dead.

Q: Joe deVenecia said this will go on

SFMD: I don't really know. Given the fact that he said, in 72 hours, you come up with a Con Con resolution or we proceed with the Con-Ass. He said that on Saturday and in effect, he said by Thursday morning, we will proceed with the Con-Ass.

Q: Saturday was what they say the last gasp for air

SFMD: That is what people are saying. Maybe we should put all these behind us now. No one can deny that the Sigaw petition in the Supreme Court, now the Con-Ass process in the House, has divided the nation. It has caused so much political tension. My plea with Speaker Joe and President Gloria is to put these all behind us now. Sabi nga, tama na, sobra na. Bayan naman. Tama na muna ang mga ginagawa natin na pagbabago ng Saligang Batas. Father Bernas said in this morning's Senate hearing, 'yes, the 1986 Constitution can stand review but is this the time to review it?' And he said, 'because the amendments must be done in a calm manner not in a state of turmoil as we are today.' He said, 'the single biggest argument against the proposal to change the form of government is the behavior of the House of Representatives now.' Maybe it is best that we put all of these behind us now. I think the Supreme Court has spoken in the Sigaw ng Bayan petition. I think the House of Representatives heard the people in their effort now to run through the Con-Ass. I think it is time for us to move forward, put all of these incidents, which has caused us political instability behind us. Let us face the future with a resolve to address many other problems facing the nation.

Q: What exactly is the Senate doing today?

SFMD: The Senate today is hearing the proposed amendments to the Constitution because this is part of the process. You are asking what can be done today; maybe the Comelec can now issue what you call the political calendar for next year; that this is the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy; that the campaign period starts at this time. So that it can give the people an opportunity to look forward to the May election. We are now going through this process of electing our new set of representatives in the May election rather than all these speculations of the May election being postponed, about the present congressmen extending their terms of office and lifting the term limits. All of these provide political uncertainty and it affects our economy. It affects our people.

Q: What do you think are the clergy or the people are praying for when they go out to the streets tonight and hold their prayer vigils?

SFMD: They are praying for, in my mind, that our friends in the House of Representatives would discern and be calm and listen really to what the people are saying. Because it is not a tyranny of numbers, that you have 195 and that makes it right. This is not the way it should be. What we are precisely doing is that we are trying to control those who control power. That is what is happening. Because then, precisely, the system of check and balance, arising from the separation of powers, is designed to prevent the tyranny of numbers. This is what is happening simply because they are saying 'we are a bigger house, we represent more constituency therefore, we can do what we want.' And that is not correct. It is not simply a tyranny of numbers. But it should be a reasoned approach. Otherwise, you will have people on the streets; otherwise, you will have the clergy saying that what you are doing, Mr. House of Representatives, is immoral.

Q: The 72-hour ultimatum is nothing to you?

SFMD: It's out of place. It has no place in a reasoned society. You cannot be cowed into saying that 'okay, we act on it because the Speaker said we have 72 hours.' I think the Speaker has realized this folly

Q: They are asking you to put your money where your mouth is. How are you going to respond to the challenge for Con Con?

SFMD: That is why we are hearing this resolution now. And it is not the first time we are hearing it. As Chairman Gordon said, we have heard this before. As Father Bernas said, 'is it the right time to review the Constitution, given all this turmoil we are in?' Christian Monsod of One Voice, said, 'can we conduct a valid Con Con given the fact that the Comelec has lost the confidence of the people in being able to supervise an election, which is credible.' In other words, they say, 'before we jump into this, let's put it in the proper environment.' So all of these questions are coming up. Again, this has raised political tension as Father Bernas said, 'let us do it when the environment is calmer, is more stable rather than rush into it when there is so much division and political tension going on in our country today.'

Q: How do they undo themselves?

SFMD: Father Bernas is saying, and let me quote him, 'the strongest argument against the proposal to change the form of government is the behavior of the House of Representatives now.' In other words, if we are going through all of these, the way the people would see the behavior of our friends in the House, then you can argue against changing the form of government. But all of these, as I said, at this stage, given the political tension, given the problems that we have, I think I can say with confidence that the reasoned mind would say, 'let's put this behind us. Let's revisit this again when things are calmer.

Q: What about putting one more question in the May election, on Con Con?

SFMD: Under the Constitution, Section 3, Article 17, it provides that you may put this in the ballot and ask the people whether they would want a Constitutional Convention. That is perfectly valid. That is in order.

Q: Do you think there is enough time to inform the electorate about this?

SFMD: It's a difficult question to answer. We have a lot of NGOs around, we have the government. Maybe it is the responsibility of each of this group to educate our people. Just on the question of whether or not the people should be asked, that is provided for in the Constitution.

Q: There seems to be nothing said about the required time before this is presented to the people in a referendum?

SFMD: No, only in the case of the plebiscite where the Constitution provides that the plebiscite cannot take place earlier than 60 days or later than 90 days from the time the petition is submitted to the Comelec.

Q: Do you think Congress will still continue with what they planned on Thursday?

SFMD: I don't really know. What Speaker de Venecia said, 'Mr. Senate, you have 72 hours, starting Monday.' The unanimous view in the Senate is, 'thank you, Mr. Speaker but we don't need deadlines.' Therefore on Thursday, certainly not a single senator will be there.

Q: What is Senator Santiago's position?

SFMD: Senator Santiago signed the resolution in March 2006, saying that we should vote separately in an amendment to the Constitution. That was signed by 23 senators and adopted as a formal resolution by the Senate. We have a resolution, where the Senate, as an institution, said 'we have our position, the sense of the Senate, is that we must vote separately.' So that even if 23 senators would appear in the Thursday plenary, as long as that resolution has not been repealed by the Senate, then, that is the official position of the Senate. Therefore, no one can bind the Senate except on that binding resolution.

Q: On this morning's hearing on charter change

SFMD: Former Justice Mendoza was very clear, he said, 'the House and the Senate must have a joint session and must vote separately.' Former Con Con delegate, Pabling Garcia, Governor of Cebu, an expert in Constitution, a member of the House before, said, 'the Senate must vote separately.' There is unanimity in that. What is important, and let me emphasize, is that all of them, particularly Father Bernas today, he said, before we can even talk about voting separately or the three-fourths vote, or the 195, the first issue that must be tackled is whether we agree to convening a Constituent Assembly. And that is only by a majority vote of the Senate. That has not been even secured. Because what the House did was pass a resolution and invited the senators individually. I received my invitation. They did not ask for the concurrence of the Senate. Therefore, because of this non-concurrence by the Senate, of the resolution calling for a Constituent Assembly, then the proceedings are completely unconstitutional. Even if all the 232 members of the House vote for the amendment, it is still invalid because concurrence of the Senate to convene us into a Constituent Assembly has not been secured. That is the view of Father Bernas in his column today. That is the view of Pabing Garcia, expressed in the committee today. I have been advocating that since last year.

Q: You have a very sweet smile on your face these days

SFMD: I enjoy this intellectual exercise. I enjoy expressing my views on this and telling the people what we believe is right.

Q: Is there any word exactly why the Asean summit was postponed?

SFMD: Not officially but I think it was a security issue. (end)

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