Press Release
February 19, 2010

Kapihan sa Senado, February 18, 2010

On whether Senate can take up C-5 report when it reconvenes on May 31

What I can say they can always try but it will be very difficult considering that by that time Congress will be convening as a canvassing board and there will be hardly time to do serious legislative related activities. They might desire to do that but we in the minority are prepared to rebut whatever they want to do and prevent any hasty ramming through of decisions that have no basis as far as we are concerned.

That's right the report is fit for the files perhaps of the Archives of the Senate but otherwise the issue will continue to become an issue and it is probably better that it is discussed on the campaign trail where it properly belong because it is more political than ethical.

When the next regular session convenes can that issue be revived because even if he loses the presidential election, Villar is still a senator until 2013.

I would suppose so any senator who sits in the halls of the Senate can be subjected to ethical complaints at any time while he's there.

Maski na may bago, even if there are new faces already?

Certainly, because the senators are supposed to be responsible for their own actuations especially in the field of ethics.

What is your take on the President appointing the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court the few days she has leaving the office?

I'd like to repeat the provisions of the Constitution that prohibits the President from making so called midnight appointments and the only exception seems to be executive positions which are demanded by the exigency of the time. So meaning to say, in my view the position of the Chief Justice which becomes vacant incidentally on May 17, seven days one week after the elections. Ibig sabihin nun more or less alam na ng tao kung sino'ng nanalo especially because we are automated and I supposed the new President should be given a chance to appoint the next Chief Justice.

In the meantime, is it anything wrong for the sitting Associate Justices to name an Acting Chief Justice until the next President sits.

Probably the word Acting Chief Justice may not be appropriate but an acting or a justice managing the affairs of the Supreme Court in the meantime can be done and I take a leaf from the example of the late Heidi Yorac, you remember there was a time when the Comelec, which is also incidentally constitutional body pagkatapos wala pang chairman so they sort of among themselves settled in the meantime na wala pa -- ikaw muna ang mag-manage ng affairs ng Comelec and it was done. So I guess there is a way of doing it without violating the Constitution.

So naming it an acting chief justice would be an acceptable compromise.

Could be, sure.

Because I was just thinking between May 17 and July 1 there's no Chief Justice because there's no new President yet. If the sitting President cannot or prohibited from appointing, the incoming President sits July 1 so between May 17 and July 1 parang may... put it interregnum.

Yes but not interregnum as you put it will also be within the 90 day period within which the position may be filled up so that's still within that range of the need to fill the vacant position of Chief Justice within 90 days from vacancy.

On govt-MILF peace talks

Yes, I read in the papers this morning that the MILF and the government peace panel have decided to terminate the talks and the MILF had handed over a position that they would be amendable to accepting a federal state for the Moros of Mindanao. And I think that is within precisely my advocacy for the adoption of a federal system of government not only for the Moros of Mindanao but for the entire country. The reason I am widening the scope of that federalize proposal instead to limiting it only to the Autonomous Region is that if you give only the autonomous region a federal state I am sure the rest of the country will be complaining. I have heard it from the league of governors with whom I have discussed this issue and they said that it will be unfair if sila lang ang bibigyan ng mas maraming karapatan at mas maraming bahagi sa resources ng bayan. So in order to make sure that the rest of the country is not unduly upset by the creation of the federal state of the Autonomous Region my proposal is to federalize the entire Republic as you already heard me time and again discuss the issue.

Pero yung concept nyo yung federal state in Mindanao, is it limited to the Muslim areas?

No, precisely in Mindanao my proposal is that we will have at least three federal states -- one Northern Mindanao, one Southern Mindanao and the third one is the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao. And in the Visayas four and in Luzon another four federal states.

The thing is that President Arroyo wants to leave some kind of a legacy if you want to call it that she was able to secure the peace in Mindanao that had eluded administrations in the past. It would be a historic accomplishment if she is able to do that but as events turn out the talks have been stalled for some time now and have in fact stopped. And so the events will now dictate that necessarily the peace talks will have to be resumed when there is a new administration.

The same policy with CPP-NPA?

I don't think so. We're only talking about the Muslim secessionist rebellion. As far as the communist rebellion is concerned it is my view that federalizing the country will also dissipate the causes of the NPA rebellion because we will have more development among the various federal states and hopefully justice will be more accessible instead of the present system where even Senator Trillanes who is senator of the land, has been detained for how... four years na siguro without his case moving and that is why I'd like to interject at this point that the IPU and the Committee on Human Rights of which I am now the chair actually the IPU is very concerned about this non-movement of the cases. I mean it is the stand of the IPU that if Senator Trillanes has committed any crime go ahead prosecute him, put him to jail, convict him according to law but do not detain him for so long na walang nangyayari parang ganoon. So I am happy that there is a new development, bail was granted to him although that is only for one case hopefully the other cases will follow soon along this line.

Anong use ng bail na yan, its only on paper I mean he is still in detention

No but at least in one case he has overcome that problem of course if there are more than one or several cases, he will have to tackle them as they come.

There are cases that are non-bailable but if it is shown that the evidence is not that strong posible pa rin magkaroon ng bail. So it is not that hopeless. It is like, for example a person who is accused of a crime that used to be sentenced by death penalty, unbailable din yun, but if the accused can show that weak ang evidence ng prosecution they could be granted bail. I remember even in the case of Jinggoy, di ba Jinggoy was implicated in the plunder case, unbailable yung plunder di ba. But he was allowed bail.

Bribery yata yun?

I don't know but my recollection is that he was implicated along with the case of his father.

Still do legislative work or just convening to a national canvassing board?

Actually kung ipitin mo talaga, you manage your time very strictly it is possible to tackle maybe one or two non-controversial you might say pieces of legislation, but if you take up a matter that is controversial, can you just imagine the time that it will consume because certainly we are not just going to allow it to be take up without a fight, that's for sure, if we are talking about the C-5 report.

Kailangan na lang ratification, anim na bills yun?

As I said if the bills are not really that controversial I don't think you will find difficulty assuming there is a quorum.

Do you see a boycott by the minority at the opening day?

Now look that is precisely where disagree with the Senate President because the minority is being blamed for that failure to muster a quorum on Feb. 3 but the minority consist of five-members in a 24 member House that means 19 belongs to the majority minus Trillanes because he is in detention, minus Ping because he cannot be found. You still have 18 or 17 members of the majority. And therefore, that is what we are saying mustering a quorum is a function of the majority not an obligation of minority, not at all.

Not to mention the issue of the number of votes?

Yes, that's correct. That is why I am saying that if the bills they intend to take up are not controversial it is possible to pass them. Madalian lang naman yun but if you are talking about C-5 I think you'll have a problem.

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