Press Release
November 11, 2008

Transcript of interview with Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago

On the right against self-incrimination of Joc-Joc Bolante

In the case of Bolante, I'm afraid he will appear [in the Senate] only to invoke his right as an accused not to testify at all. The privilege of the right against self-incrimination depends upon whether the person is an accused or a witness. If he is the accused, he has a right not to testify at all. If he is merely a witness, he has to take the witness chair and he must wait for the questions. If he thinks a question may incriminate him, he can invoke the right against self-incrimination. But it is the committee that must decide whether the right was properly invoked or not. If the right was not properly invoked and he refuses to answer, then he may be cited for contempt again. The distinction between an accused and a witness has to be observed. There is no doubt that Bolante is an accused because he has a pending case with the Ombudsman.

He might appear merely as a courtesy to the Senate or the House, but he has a right to invoke his constitutionally protected privilege against self-incrimination. If the person is the accused himself, he has the right to completely abstain from testifying, unlike an ordinary witness.

Out of courtesy to the Senate, the House could have requested that Bolante be made to appear in the House. It was in effect a sin of omission, because the Senate has custody of Bolante. They cannot remove him from St. Luke's hospital without the Senate's consent. It was an oversight on the part of the House.

On the warrant of arrest against Eliseo Dela Paz

As of last night, we already got the required majority for the arrest warrant. In fact, Senate President Manny Villar has already sent me the arrest warrant. It will be transmitted to the Senate sergeant-at-arms, Gen. Balajadia, so I expect him to be arrested tonight, if possible.

The arrest warrant was already issued as of last night. I can set the hearing as soon as possible, because if Dela Paz testifies, he purges himself of the contempt. I will give him the opportunity to purge himself of the contempt as soon as possible. We will have a hearing this Saturday morning (November 15).

Ang problema ni Dela Paz ay meron ng report ang fact-finding committee ng PNP na wala daw kasalanan ang ibang opisyal, maliban sa kanya. His own organization has already thrown him overboard to the sharks. As a former trial judge, I suspect that he is being made a sacrificial lamb. They are hoping, by this strategy, to protect the higher officials who must have been conspirators as well. I hope that Dela Paz will feel aggravated enough by this effort to simply junk him at a critical point, and that he will have no choice but to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

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