Press Release
January 18, 2010

Privilege speech of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues:

An avatar is an embodiment of an idea, as in, Ronaldo Puno is the avatar of corruption and electoral fraud in the Philippines. He should not be confused with Reynato Puno, the Chief Justice, or the Punong Mahistrado. Ronaldo Puno, the DILG Secretary, should be known as Punong Magikero, because he is devoted to the occult arts.


Punong Magikero has been trying to live up to his self-proclaimed reputation as a political operator, meaning a person who manipulates his principal into the belief that electoral fraud and subsequent governmental corruption will result in victory. In this capacity, Punong Magikero recently caused the following disturbing tactics:

  1. The ominous transfer of the fighting capability of the national police to Metro Manila; and

  2. The equally ominous transfer of local police chiefs, starting on 9 January 2010, and including the following provinces: Pangasinan, Cavite, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Leyte, etc.

Transfer of Firepower. Punong Magikero has ordered the transfer of the heavy firepower and urban armored capability of the PNP to Metro Manila, where he has succeeded in generating financial resources. For example, Punong Magikero authorized the sale of government land at Fort Bonifacio, which used to be operated by the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC). He signed a contract, but of course it does not include the kickback that he made for himself.

But most recently, he has taken the following steps that should be disturbing to all national candidates:

  1. Transfer to Headquarters, Special Action Force (SAF), of all armored units that were issued to Regional Special Action Forces (RSAFs), Regional Mobile Groups (RMGs), and Provincial Mobile Groups (PMGs). This has resulted in a very big dip in offensive and defensive capabilities of such units in troubled areas, such as Mindanao.

  2. Transfer to Headquarters, SAF of all crew-served weapons, e.g., Cal. 50 Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) and Cal. 30 Light Machine Gun (LMG), after he ordered their recall.

  3. Stockpile at Headquarters, SAF of around 2,000 units of modern sniper rifles previously acquired by PNP, which he inexplicably refuses to issue to the proper police officials.

Transfer of Police Chiefs. Under R.A. No. 6975, the DILG Act of 1990, Section 51; and the Police Reform Act of 1998, Section 63, local executives should participate in the administration of the PNP. The provincial governor shall choose the provincial director from a list of three eligibles recommended by the PNP regional director.

The city and municipal mayors shall exercise operational supervision and control over PNP units, except during 30 days before and 30 days after the elections, when it will be Comelec that shall have the power of control and supervision. The term "operational supervision and control" includes the power to employ and deploy units or elements of the PNP through station commanders. In addition, under law, mayors have the authority to choose the police chief, from a list of five eligibles recommended by the provincial police director; and the authority to recommend the transfer, reassignment, or detail of PNP members outside of their respective city or town residences.

Punong Magikero admits that, contrary to law, he refused to allow governors and mayors to choose the police chief, on the flimsy pretext that his handpicked men are occupying office only in a temporary capacity. Doesn't he read the DILG Act? It is mayors and NOT the DILG secretary, who have the authority to recommend the transfer, reassignment, or detail of PNP members outside of their city or town residences! Punong Magikero, by his own admission, has committed the crime of unlawful appointments under the Penal Code, Article 244.


Punong Magikero sells himself as a criminal "kingmaker" because he has unique ability to persuade sitting presidents to give him access to, and control of, large financial resources, which he uses to manipulate people, perceptions, and even the results of elections. But apart from corruption, he has not exhibited any particular ability; his best asset seems to be the capacity to put his conscience to sleep.

The modus operandi of Punong Magikero is to project a situation, to the point where a sitting president becomes hostage to the situation. He creates a special official and non-official relationship with a sitting president.

Punong Magikero has been the obsequious lackey in turn of Presidents Ramos, Estrada, and Arroyo. At present, he juggles all three of them. When Pres. Ramos failed in his bid to change the charter and secure a second term, Punong Magikero immediately began sidling up to Pres. Estrada. But when Pres. Estrada was under siege for illegal jueteng, Punong Magikero disappeared from the scene, and instantly started licking the boots of Pres. Arroyo. Now that she is leaving the presidency, Punong Magikero right away ordered his cousins to ingratiate him with the Liberal Party, at the same time effecting contact with the Nacionalista Party.

Last year, Punong Magikero announced his vice-presidential candidacy, under the Lakas-Kampi party. But when surveys showed that his party has no chance of winning on the national level, he withdrew with alacrity. He has told those with whom he is intimate that if his presidential candidate fails to raise his survey ratings to two digits, he will surreptitiously abandon his party. Hence, he is secretly peddling himself as an election manipulator and kingmaker. His pitch is that he will enter into a secret, but strong political alliance, using as his power base the full force and awesome resources of the DILG and the PNP. Punong Magikero is entertaining an agenda known only to him, but not to Pres. Arroyo.


Jueteng King. Punong Magikero, as ex-officio chair of the National Police Commission, is charged with such functions as: to maintain peace and order; and to investigate and prevent crimes, effect the arrest of criminal offenders, bring offenders to justice and assist in their prosecution.

Punong Magikero is the jueteng king, for he has the power to prohibit, or the power to allow, illegal gambling throughout the country. And yet, in turn Pres. Estrada and now Pres. Arroyo are taking the rap, while Punong Magikero has managed to evade responsibility. He has unquestioned ability to kill stories about him in the media. As a favor to both Presidents Estrada and Arroyo, he acted as mediator in the grant of pardon to Pres. Estrada.

Saboteur in Mindanao. During the 2004 and 2007 campaigns, Punong Magikero lavished both Ampatuan and Mangudadatu clans with unlawful power over the illegal purchase of firearms, of votes, and of ballot boxes. When the Maguindanao tinder box exploded, Punong Magikero knew that his electoral fraud would be exposed. To prevent exposés by both clans, Punong Magikero was able to persuade the president to impose martial law, which has since been lifted.

Nonetheless, the two clans are both gearing up for a full-scale battle for control of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat. Control over these two adjacent provinces will in effect assimilate the ARMM with Region 12. Again, Punong Magikero is resorting to the magical trick of disappearing into the woodwork, hiding behind Pres. Arroyo and exposing her to political calumny.


Punong Magikero struggles to project himself as an intellectual, but he gets along on a mere four-year degree, Bachelor of Arts. That qualifies him as a policeman; but under the law, he is not even qualified to be city police chief, for which the qualification is Bachelor of Laws or master's degree. He started with grade school and high school in Ateneo, but finished high school at MLQ University. Was he kicked out of Ateneo? He claims to have masteral credits - just like millions of other Filipinos. Why didn't he finish even only a master's degree?

He graduated in 1968, married that same year, and started out as administrative officer of the managing firm of Philippine Airlines. He languished in the private sector, until he got lucky and started his DILG career in 1974. Again he languished there, until he wangled a job at the Philippine embassy in Washington D.C. He was then able in 1987 to relocate his wife and seven children to the North River Mountain Ranch in West Virginia. Thus, this unremarkable bureaucrat became owner of a ranch in the United States.

What does it say of Punong Magikero that his family lives in the U.S., while he makes money here? The Constitution, Article 4, Section 5 provides: "Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law." Even if he remains a Filipino, Punong Magikero suffers from dual allegiance. Last year, as documented by the Commission on Audit, he even used public funds for a TV ad campaign, preparatory to his self-declared intention to run for vice-president.

With his BA degree, he was blissfully unaware that the Election Code prohibits him from running for public office. The Election Code, Section 68 provides: "Any person who is a permanent resident of, or an immigrant to, a foreign country shall not be qualified to run for any elective office under this Code." Even assuming arguendo that he shuttles between the U.S. and the Philippines, as owner of a ranch, he probably uses an investor's visa, which requires an investment in the US of at least $200,000. Where did he get the money to invest in a ranch in America?

The dual allegiance of Punong Magikero is evident in the fact that he worked in 1989-91 as so-called political consultant of the American lobby firm Black Manafort Stone and Kelly. He may have remained Filipino in name, but he served with an American firm promoting American interests in the Philippines. As a foreign agent, did Punong Magikero register under Batas Pambansa Blg. 39, an act regulating the activities and requiring the registration of foreign agents in the Philippines?


Then finally, Punong Magikero turned to his dark side. In 1991, he worked as so-called consultant in the Micron Public Affairs Company. In this capacity, he embedded himself in the camp of Fidel Ramos, and honed his skills at dagdag-bawas as operator of the Sulo Hotel Operations Group. As media reported, the group of Punong Magikero exercised his unique brand of electoral magic. Very simply, he merely diverted the provincial certificates of canvass from the various provinces to the hotel, where he applied snopake to my votes, and exchanged it with the votes of his master Ramos. Then he submitted the certificates, snopake and all, to the nearby House of Representatives.

Despite the systematic cheating of the SHOG under Punong Magikero, Ramos merely managed to eke out a tiny margin. I filed an election protest, until the Supreme Court dropped it, on the technical ground that by that time I was already running for senator. Notwithstanding this big question mark in Philippine political history, Punong Magikero proudly spread the word that as a tactical magician, he was responsible for the questionable victory of Ramos.

Punong Magikero then proceeded to embed himself in the camp of Joseph Estrada, although he was not needed. Unlike Ramos, Pres. Estrada won overwhelmingly, on the basis of his movie-star popularity among the masses. Anyway, for his pains which he himself took care to publicize, Puno became undersecretary, when Pres. Estrada was concurrently DILG secretary.

When the president was forced by events to relinquish the post, Punong Magikero achieved his lifelong ambition: to become DILG secretary, and ex-officio chair of the National Police Commission. Punong Magikero betrayed his lust for power and his personal cowardice by initially holding office inside Camp Crame. He went around Metro Manila with a garish entourage, embedded in the middle of a convoy of big sports utility vehicles, sirens screaming and flashing. His convoy was bigger than that of the president.

In January 2000, Punong Magikero wheedled Pres. Estrada to nominate him as Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. That was certainly an achievement for the holder of a B.A. degree! Unfortunately for Punong Magikero, the Commission on Appointments bypassed him. He was unable to work his black magic on the Commission, where many members believed that his appointment to a respected community of intellectuals would be an international scandal from which the Philippines would never recover.

In 2004, spending inordinate amounts of money, Punong Magikero was able to "magic" himself into representative of Antipolo City. He was now so power-hungry that he even made a vain attempt to install himself as Speaker of the House of Representatives. When the representatives, who were aware of his dirty tricks, rejected him, Puno resigned to become, once more, DILG secretary.

When his nomination came up for confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, out of courtesy to Pres. Arroyo, I did not veto him, just in case he had reformed himself for the better. Wiser than me, former DILG secretary, now the iconic Minority Leader, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, stated: "Malacañang wants Puno at the DILG, so the administration could make use of his political expertise as a political operator par excellence in mobilizing local government executives to support charter change." (Emphasis added.)

Still, Punong Magikero got the job, but became unhappy. He thought he could make more money as Executive Secretary. Resorting to his usual tricks, he began to target Sec. Eduardo Ermita. However, in 2007, Punong Magikero failed to work his black magic on the media. Punong Magikero hatched the plan to distribute money in paper bags to congressmen and local executives right in Malacanang itself. Punong Magikero's devious mind sourced the money from the P1 billion contingency funds of the PNP. When media published photos of public officials with paper bags leaving Malacanang, Punong Magikero as usual vanished and left his president exposed to the so-called payola scandal.


Punong Magikero is not only the avatar of corruption and the jueteng king, he is also the denial king. He has caused and funded the filing of a petition with the Comelec seeking to cancel my candidacy, and another petition with the Supreme Court to disbar me. Of course, he denies it. The two petitions are identical, in that they constitute a rehash of all the black propaganda that Puno threw at me during the 1992 presidential campaign. He even added accusations that can be called scatological and inhumane. Let me quote just one example of his execrable mind:

Obstruction of apprehension and prosecution of criminal offense. When her son Alexander Robert violently died in her house in La Vista, Quezon City on 20 November 2003, respondent claimed it was "suicide." Law enforcement agencies of the government were not allowed to conduct scene of the crime investigation. She had the cadaver of her son immediately cremated, thus destroying, suppressing, and concealing the very corpus delicti of the offense.

What manner of diabolic creature on the face of this endangered planet is Punong Magikero? How can someone, even one so low on the food chain, write these lies concerning a tragedy so widely covered by mass media, and even broadcast on TV for weeks? What kind of moral imbecile is this creature?

Punong Magikero thinks he can dissolve me into puddles of tears this way. But I am past all pain. For on the day my son died, I, too, died. I have moved forward, but as a mother I will never get over the loss of one of my two children. Punong Magikero has tried to stab me in the heart, and then proceeded to twist the dagger. Ha! I have been undead for nine years, and the mission of my life now is to fight corruption to the bitter end. I call on this august Senate: witness from what hellish depths this twisted creature attacks me!

In both cases, his lawyer is Bonifacio Alentajan, a lawyer kicked out of the Pasay City fiscal's office for the offense of corruption. As special assistant to the justice secretary, I was personally present, when Alentajan wept crocodile tears and managed to plead with both the justice secretary and his undersecretary to let him resign instead. He is now facing two disbarment complaints, in addition to a third one that my staff will file against him. Alentajan, who does not even have a law office, is notorious among lawyers as a gun for hire.

Last Thursday, the Senate media told me of a rumor purposely fed to the grapevine, that if I do not desist from this privilege speech, two congressmen will attack me and my husband today in the House of Representatives. As the source and funder, Punong Magikero is thus guilty of the crime of violation of parliamentary immunity under the Penal Code, Article 145. (While Article 145 has been declared inoperative with respect to freedom from arrest, it appears to have been declared unconstitutional in Martinez v. Morfe, 44 SCRA 22 (1973). However, the 1987 Constitution has restored the congressional privilege from arrest, and has presumably reinstated this provision, which penalizes the use of intimidation and threats to prevent any Congress member from attending meetings and expressing his opinion.)

When confronted by his president, Punong Magikero simply denies everything. But, as the Bible says: "The triumph of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is momentary." Job 20:5. I have tried my Christian best to be friends with Punong Magikero. But he is irreversibly corrupt. I went toe to toe with him when , as DILG Secretary, he ordered, without public bidding, the award of a P3.6 billion monopoly to an obscure firm to conduct mandatory drug testing on all policemen throughout the country. TV showed that this extremely lucky firm held office in a ramshackle accessoria without even the semblance of the proper laboratory machines. In other words, Punong Magikero awarded himself, through a dummy firm, P3.6 billion of the people's money.

More recently, after public hearings, on the basis of official audit reports of the Commission on Audit, this Senate has recommended to the Ombudsman, the investigation of Punong Magikero for the following crimes:

  • In November 2008, the scandal of the "euro-generals" of the PNP, who tried to bring out of Russia, euros amounting to P6.9 million;

  • In August 2009, the illegal use of public funds for TV infomercials, including Punong Magikero whom the COA found to have diverted almost P1 million;

  • In October 2009, the scandal of the brother of Punong Magikero, Rodolfo Puno, who as Road Board executive director was found by COA to have misspent P60.5 billion from 2001 to July 2009. Punong Magikero was extremely upset, because he was in the habit of seeking illegal favors from local government executives, in exchange for funding of road maintenance, improvement of road drainage, traffic lights and road safety devices, and air pollution control. He acted as if he owned P60.5 billion.

The Office of the Ombudsman has stated that these Senate recommendations for the criminal investigations of Punong Magikero and his brother will soon be resolved. Perhaps this is why Punong Magikero is desperate and is trying, out of naked revenge and in his own fiendish way, to destroy my candidacy, as senator. Why does Punong Magikero turn his malicious ire on me? Why is he so brutal and full of venom in his attacks of a personal nature? Why does he not have the guts to submit to the COA his explanation for the missing billions in taxpayers' money and his ostentatious lifestyle?

I humbly submit that in a culture of corruption, the fitting moral tone should be righteous indignation, not blindness to what is going on. Every Filipino has a moral duty to exhibit blazing indignation at corruption and at reprehensible abuses of power. We do not have to wrestle with the angels on the question of whether we should tolerate crooks in our midst. In fighting corruption, I have been portrayed as an egotist or a rake-hell, and it may be said that I was asking for grief. But as a Christian and as a Filipino, I insist on the belief that I can do something, no matter how much it might cost me. We cannot afford a national community composed of people whose main talent is doing nothing that might jeopardize their status in society.

In 1992, I was elected president of the Philippines on the platform of fighting corruption, before Punong Magikero worked his black magic. I was elected senator two times on the same anti-corruption platform. If I do not continue to fight governmental corruption, I would be remiss to the leaders of Asia who made me laureate of the Magsaysay Award for government service, with a citation "for bold and moral leadership in cleaning up a corrupt governmental agency." I would be remiss to all the youth in this country who selfishly worked as unpaid volunteers during my presidential and subsequent senatorial candidacies. And I would be remiss to the Filipino people, if I behaved like a monkey who sees nothing, hears nothing, and says nothing. For evil to triumph, it is sufficient that good men and women shall do nothing.

As immigration commissioner and agrarian reform secretary, I have seen corruption and stopped it. As senator, I have heard of corruption, documented it, and exposed it. I have faced wrong, and tried to make it right. This is not magic, it is the truth. Here I stand. I can do no other.

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