Press Release
November 11, 2008


Upholding the arrest order issued by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago at the hearing last 23 October, 13 senators signed the contempt citation and arrest warrant against retired Police Director Eliseo dela Paz, acting comptroller of the controversial PNP delegation to the Interpol conference in St. Petersburg , Russia .

Under Senate Rules, the Committee on Foreign Relations by a vote of a majority of all its 17 members, may punish for contempt any witness who disobeys any order of the committee and order him to be detained under the custody of the sergeant-at-arms until he agrees to testify.

Yesterday (10 November), 13 committee members had already signed in favor of the arrest warrant, namely: Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, Mar Roxas, Edgardo Angara, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Ramon Revilla, Jr., Miguel Zubiri, Rodolfo Biazon, Loren Legarda, Jamby Madrigal, Francis Pangilinan, Aquilino Pimentel, and Manny Villar, the Senate President.

Santiago 's staff said committee members who did not sign the arrest warrant included Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Joker Arroyo, and Jinggoy Estrada.

Out of 17 committee members, the required majority is 10 members, but as of Monday evening, 13 members had already signed.

Santiago said that the normal procedure is for an arresting team, usually headed by Gen. Jose Balajadia, Senate sergeant-at-arms, to serve the warrant and to detain the arrested person in the Senate premises.

Santiago said she will set the next committee hearing to receive Dela Paz's testimony this coming Saturday, November 15, in order that he can immediately testify and purge himself of the contempt.

Santiago also said that Dela Paz can invoke his right against self-incrimination, but he cannot make a blanket invocation.

Instead, he has to wait for the question to be raised and then invoke the privilege against self-incrimination, but he must obey the ruling of the majority of the committee members present on whether the right has been properly invoked.

If Dela Paz continues to refuse to answer the question, the committee may punish him again for contempt for "contumacious conduct."

In another development, the committee report on the Moscow incident that was finished and circulated for signature before Santiago left for the ICJ elections in New York, has already been signed by seven committee members, and needs only three more signatures so that it can be considered as approved and included in the Order of Business.

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