Press Release
January 19, 2009

Transcript of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago's interview

On her chronic fatigue syndrome

It is actually the long term effect of the assassination attempt in 1992. We never revealed it because my campaign managers said that it will be used against me, people will claim that I am already mentally and physically incapacitated. But now I have to say it because media might speculate on why I am not present in certain occasions.

I was on a car on a Sunday morning going to a speaking engagement up north in a campus. All of a sudden a military jeep came running towards us at high speed and changed lanes so that he will deliberately hit the back of my car where I was seated. I was almost dead on arrival. It was never revealed to the media. I know it was an assassination attempt because immediately the next day, anticipating public response and sympathy, there was an alleged letter to the editor from Tarlac (I was at Tarlac at that time) that I had made the whole thing up just to win sympathy. People went to my hospital room in Tondo in Metropolitan Hospital and they can see for themselves that I could not even talk and that I have swollen to about five times my normal size because of all the bruises that I have suffered. My sister who is cardiologist in Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles said that because of my inherent heart condition--two of my younger brothers died of heart attack--I would be suffering Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. And I did.

Who do you think was behind this?

Ramos, very clearly. I have always maintained that. He was at that time the candidate of the administration. I did file a criminal complaint for frustrated murder against the driver of the jeep to the fiscal in Tarlac and he immediately dismissed it because of course he wanted to earn brownie points with the administration.

On the Baselines Bill

I have already made contingency plans. Sen. Pimentel can defend it. But basically what we are doing is we are just complying with the archipelagic doctrine, that is to say we draw our line that encloses all our islands. We have not included the controversial Spratly Islands as part of our archipelago, and that diffuses the tension that has been generated by China and the other claimants of the Spratly Islands . They have protested some of the versions that enclosed the islands within our archipelago. To sidestep the opposition from other states, we have instead adopted in the foreign relations committee a version that puts the Spratly Islands outside of our archipelagic domain but considers them a regime of islands belonging to the Philippines .

What that means is that each island will have its own base point for measuring such things as the territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, the continental shelf, and so on. Since all of these areas of jurisdiction in international maritime law, I found that these areas of jurisdiction of the Spratly Islands within the baselines from which we start measuring. They will have their own. In effect, we will not be expanding the maritime jurisdiction so much that the other countries will begin to complain because we overlapped with their exclusive economic zone or their continental shelf, for example.

What we have done is we preserved our archipelago, we have preserved our relations with Thailand , Vietnam , and other states, and at the same time, we preserved our claim to the Spratly Islands . We leave that to the negotiations to the next UN Conference on the Law of the Sea. I will deliver the sponsorship speech on Monday.

On Puno as a presidential bet

That is a poison chalice. They are offering a cup of life-giving water to a person who needs it, but, unknown to him and you both, it is toxic.

We already saw that when former Justice Marcelo Fernan aired his plans to run for president he met immediately a very stiff wall of resistance from the political parties and other political leaders. Because he was so disappointed, eventually he made up his mind and ran for senator and he won. He even became senate president.

I know from somebody intimate with the Chief Justice that, as a scholar of the law like me, he has an attitude problem. I have an attitude problem so I put myself in his shoes. I think he has an attitude problem because an academician will take two lifetimes to adjust to a politician's life. I think--if I may be so bold to put words in his mouth--he absolutely detests the political lifestyle.

There are three things you have to comply with: one, money; two, money; and three, money. I happen to believe that Chief Justices are honest public servants even from the beginning, so where is he going to get at least three billion pesos? You can't raise three billion; it's only money that makes money. If you don't start with anything at all, you can't hope to raise that much. He will have no money. He has no party. That party that offered its facilities to him is a nonexistent party and exists only in the media if you consider it in conventional terms.

And it creates a problem with jurisprudence because you have a question of the chief of one branch of government crossing over to another branch of government in the light of the fact that the executive is considered a political branch and the judiciary is a nonpolitical branch. What will then happen to the nonpolitical nature of the judiciary if its justices took it into their heads to prepare the way for a possible presidential campaign? So there is just too much complication, foremost of them is that the Chief Justice will never allow himself to be carried away by these intimations of temporary popularity.

The reason why the Supreme Court is low in public approval is that the Chief Justice is a very self-effacing man. He does not like to talk about himself, much less about his ambitions. So there is no hope. That is hopeless. That is a hopeless cause.

I think this is one of the most corrupt governments in the world. I think more of us will agree to that. Not only government--this is a very corrupt society. And the Chief Justice is correct in denouncing it. However, to create a denunciation into a springboard for a political career is highly dangerous. It might even be terminal.

I am not discouraging him. In fact if he will run I will vote for him. But it has no relation to reality. These are just people spinning their wheels. And he is too smart not to know what is being done to him.

Who is urging him to run?

People who might be his friends now, but they would not be real friends. No true friend will ever induce any person to enter Philippine politics in its present complexion. For the chief justice to enter politics is tantamount to expressing a death wish.

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