Press Release
November 11, 2009

Transcript of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago's Interview

On the Senate committee report on the ZTE-NBN scandal

First, let us remember that the ZTE (hearing) was an inquiry made in aid of legislation. So the first thing you should ask is where is the legislation since it took over two years to hear all the witnesses. Secondly, I am conferring in part and dissenting in part just like Sen. Arroyo for the reason that it was too long and the result was simply a series of recommendation to the Ombudsman. In effect, we give to the Ombudsman the power to veto the decision of 24 senators elected for the Republic. I don't think it should be that way. So, during my first appearance on the very first hearing I immediately said or before the hearing na dalawang grupo lang ito na nagkakalaban tungkol sa partehan nila. That is what's adopted by the executive report. But, also after most of the major witnesses have already testified, I wrote the chair of the committee to already transmit it to the Ombudsman so the result wouldn't be too late. We couldn't investigate the president anymore because this November, the Congress will be taken up with the budget hearings and our conference committees, and then official break, and then it will be the start of the campaign period. Then there's no point in investigating her and more because she's stepping out of office. If this has been done earlier, then there would have been some substance to that recommendation.

Secondly, with respect to the recommendation to charge everybody else, it's a very even-handed although laconian decision. It's solomonic because it finds everybody guilty. In effect, we have been acting as a surrogate of the Office of the Ombudsman in trying to conduct a preliminary investigation. I have repeated over and over that it is not for the Senate to look for probable cause--that's the function of the Ombudsman. The Senate should only act on prima facie evidence and that was finished a long time ago. The thing here is:

1. As a result of the hearing, the President cancelled the contract, which I believe was unconscionably manifestly excessive and adverse to the Filipino people; and

2. The Supreme Court threw out a petition to void the contract.

In effect, we are whipping a dead horse. The one advantage to the nation was that the contract was cancelled. But the disadvantage to the nation was we took up so much time and energy discussing something that was no longer an issue at that moment. If we want to judge for example, the probability of other people involved, we should rely on the Ombudsman because the Senate does not have the abilities to do so.

News Latest News Feed