Press Release
January 25, 2010

Transcript of interview with Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

On Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales's comment that she will only accept the nomination if the choice of Chief Justice would not be made by President Arroyo

It is an extremely impulsive and ill-advised statement because she already shows that she has prejudged the issue of whether Pres. Arroyo, in the face of two conflicting Constitutional provisions, has the authority to appoint the Chief Justice. Justice Morales said, "I would like to be nominated only by an appointment by the next president." In effect, she has already prejudged the case. She is saying that President Arroyo does not have power to appoint the Chief Justice. In that case, when the issue rises in the Supreme Court in the proper way, she will of course inhibit herself. In practical terms, because she and Justice Antonio Carpio are first cousins and they always vote in a certain way, there is no hope that Pres. Arroyo will ever appoint them either. So it is no great sacrifice for her, that she will not accept a nomination for Pres. Arroyo's appointment because there is no hope for her to be appointed together with her cousin since, at first, The Firm, to which Justice Antonio Carpio belongs, was in the good graces of the president, but then grew out of the president's favour when the president accepted the resignation of members of The Firm, like Avelino Cruz as legal counsel for the president. Because of this rift between the president and The Firm, Justice Antonio Carpio began writing extremely severe criticisms of the president's actions, and was always joined by Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales. That is why there is no sacrifice here, there is no self-effacing gesture because she has no hope of being Chief Justice anyway. I wish that she would just accept a proper and becoming silence. Normally a justice does not speak to the public. She has committed the sin of prejudging the case, she has already made up her mind on the matter before the Supreme Court .

On the C5 issue

First of all, this is a stalemate. The Rules of the Senate provide that to be able to discipline a colleague, we have to muster two-thirds vote of the entire membership of the senate out of twenty-three, and that would mean a vote of at least eighteen, and neither Sen. Enrile nor Sen. Villar has a vote of eighteen. So this is going to be a stalemate. The only proper action that can be done is to accept the committee report because it already has the required signature of twelve. But still, twelve is not sufficient to make the recommendation of the committee valid, effective, and statutory. He will simply release the report, or a summary thereof, for the records to go into the senate journal but the Senate cannot adopt it anyway because neither party cannot gather the votes required.

The Rules of the Senate provide that we can discipline for disorderly behaviour and it can even be as much as suspension or expulsion. A censure is always, in Administrative Law, an disciplinary action.

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