Press Release
May 21, 2009

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

Q: Sir, what will happen next?

SP: The next step in this proceeding will be preliminary conference to be held between now and the next session of the Senate Committee of the Whole which will be on Tuesday at 9 o'clock. In that preliminary conference, the representative of the Committee of the Whole, who are actually the Secretary of the Committee and the General Counsel of the Committee including the Special Counsel of the Committee will call the parties to a meeting and to submit their briefs and then, the report of that conference will be prepared to determine what facts were agreed upon between the parties, if there are any stipulation of facts, and what are the issues that are not agreed upon to be the subject of the hearing. After that, the hearing proper will be set by the Committee once it gets the report of the preliminary conference.

Q: Sir, kailan na po yung mako-compel si Senator Villar to personally appear before the Committee?

SP: No, we cannot compel him if he does not want to appear because there was a rule in the original ethics rule which will compel the respondent to submit his brief and if he will not, he will be punished for contempt, but that was removed from the rules at the behest of the Minority members in the Senate.

Q: Sir, tama ba sa Tuesday trial proper na?

SP: Hindi pa. We will set the date of the trial.

Q: What is your comment on the participation in the voting of Senator Madrigal?

SP: She is the complainant. That is not prohibited.

Q: Can she vote also in finding Senator Villar guilty or not?

SP: Well, we will come to that when we come to the end or when we impose the sanction.

Q: But in this case, she can vote for the substantial?

SP: She can vote for the continuation of the hearing because there is a substantial credible evidence.

Q: Sir, immediately after the preliminary conference, i-set na agad yung trial?

SP: Yes. We will set it.

Q: Can you elaborate on the experts that you want to invite?

SP: I do not know yet. We will find out if we need any expert. Q: Sir, according to Senator Arroyo, it is a very dangerous experiment daw itong ginagawa ng Committee of the Whole. SP: It is not an experiment. I respect all their opinions; there is no danger. Let history decide. Let the future take its course but I do not entertain fears that they entertain. If justice demands it, we must take the risk.

Q: In case hindi humarap si Villar, magpapatwag na lang kayo ng ibang mga legal experts from DPWH?

SP: Hindi namin kailangan si Sen. Villar as an expert to tell us what we must do. It is his right to present his evidence as a respondent. Siya ang respondent dito; siya ang nakasakdal. Kagaya rin sa ibang mga kaso, yung nakasakdal, may karapatang ipagtanggol ang sarili niya. Yun ang sinasabi namin at nasa kaniya yun kung gusto niyang humarap dito para ipagtanggol ang sarili niya.

Q: Sir, among the evidence that you consider substantial and credible pertain to the double insertion that you yourself had investigated?

SP: No, no, no. We are just reciting the facts as they existed in the record. We will appreciate all those facts when we evaluate the totality of the evidence and come to the conclusion whether he is innocent or guilty.

Q: (inaudible)

SP: I simply said that he was the one who suggested that amendment to the budget.

Q: You said he has no wrongdoing?

SP: Well, the mere request for an amendment is not a crime; is not a wrong. I do not know. It is the relationship of that insertion to the other facts that we'll probably make it a part of the evidence to spell out a wrongdoing.

Q: Sir, yung trial proper, are you counting months for that?

SP: This will take sometime because I do not know the extent of the evidence to be presented. We simply summarized the evidence that we have so far but this will be presented properly and they could be objected upon by the lawyers of the respondent if the lawyers will appear, and that will take time to resolve the objections on the evidence.

Q: How long will you think this will last?

SP: I don't know. It depends upon how fast the presentation of evidence and how long will be the cross examination.

Q: After the sine die, will you still meet, Sir?

SP: Yes, after the sine die if we do not finish the case.

Q: You'll continue?

SP: Yes.

Q: During the recess?

SP: Until it is terminated.

Q: Kanina you were encouraging the senators to exert extra effort in finding out the truth?

 SP: I was asking them to evaluate the evidence. The word is evaluation. That is a personal thing.

Q: Sir, pwede sila mag-conduct ng individual ocular inspection?

SP: Yes.

Q: Paki-clarify lang po kung sino ang mga a-attend sa conference?

SP: Yung complainant at respondent o kaya ang kanilang mga abogado.

Q: But the members?

SP: Inatasan namin yung General Counsel at Secretary of the Committee and the Special Counsel to act for the Committee.

Q: Open for media yung preliminary conference?

SP: No. That's what we call pre-trial conference between the parties.

Q: Pero pag di dumating ang isang side?

SP: Ire-report nila yun. Everything must be subject of proof.

Q: You have only two days ...tomorrow and Monday?

SP: We have two more sessions, I think, or four more sessions. After this, four more days.

Q: Why are Sen. Escudero and Lapid not around?

SP: I don't know. You better ask them. They were informed. Maybe they have some personal things to do.

Q: Two days pa rin po ba a week ang trial?

SP: Yes. We have established that schedule.

Q: So possible po sir, after ng preliminary conference sa Tuesday, Thursday start ng trial?

 SP: Yes we will set the date for the trial because there is a public announcement to be made.

Q: Sir meron pong study na yung Congress po hindi masyadong pinag-aaralan yung budget, kaya maraming lumalabas na corruption?

SP: Bakit hindi pinag-aaralan? I study independently regarding syntax on the economy, impact on the economic growth to the country including the distribution of funds across the land. But I am no longer the chairman of the Senate Committee.

Q: Sir nabasa n'yo ba 'yun, nasa Inquirer po siya ngayon?

SP: I didn't study, who made the study?

Q: UNDP, sir.

SP: Who are these people in the UNDP? Who are they?

Q: Do you think its fair, 'yung report?

SP: I would like to know who they are and I will ask them what is your basis in making those statements.

Q: Sir, yung sa case po ni Sen. Villar, the gravest penalty is expulsion?

SP: Yes.

Q: And the lightest penalty, sir?

SP: The lightest penalty is just admonition.

Q: Is it the same with reprimand?

SP: No, reprimand is pagagalitan mo, admonition is pagsasabihan mo.

Q: Sinong magdedetermine?

SP: The Committee, the Senate will be the one to decide that.

Q: Botohan ulit?

SP: Oo, botohan ulit.

Q: Sir, admonition is merely majority of the members present in the quorum?

SP: I don't know because the Constitution says two-thirds to expel I think or to suspend, but I suppose we can have a smaller number to give an admonition. I'm not sure, I have to ask the secretariat to study that.

Q: Sir, how would you determine if its admonition or expulsion?

SP: It will be a range of penalties, pagbobotohan namin 'yun.

Q: Sir, pag na-admonish ang isang senator magiging foul ba ito para pagtakbo niya sa presidente, o walang effect 'yun?

SP: No, walang effect 'yun. Ako na-admonish.

Q: Sir, if the recommendation is for expulsion or suspension but you failed to get the two-thirds vote ...

SP: Wala. 'Yun lang ang parusa, kung 'yun lang ang pag-uusapan natin. All of these question are not studied yet, I have to ask the lawyers of the Senate to study this. This is my first time to preside in an Ethics Committee hearing.

Q: If Sen. Villar doesn't really participate throughout the proceedings, automatic expulsion na ba 'yun?

SP: Hindi naman. We cannot be sure of the votes of the members of the Senate. You can sense the decisions of the members; they have different reasons so you have to assess that.

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