Press Release
November 17, 2010

Transcript of Sen. Santiago's interview on
the plagiarism case in the Supreme Court

I am a UP graduate, and my inclination always is if there is doubt, I will resolve the doubt in favor of the up faculty, so I am in favor of extending compassion to the UP faculty. They should be commended for being so vigilant that they can catch certain plagiarized quotations in Supreme Court decisions. That is an extraordinary skill. I don't think they should be faulted for doing what they did. So I support the case of the UP faculty.

Plagiarism is like passing off a fake as an original. That is a crime in our Penal Code. In the same way, in the intellectual world, plagiarism should be considered, in effect, an unforgivable crime. You can make all kinds of excuses of why there is no attribution but if you are the signed author of a document, let's say a decision of the Supreme Court, you are the last person to read the document so you will be able to catch all imperfections in that document. Besides, once you affix your signature you should be ready to defend your work.

In colleges and universities, without reaching the level of responsibility of a Supreme Court justice, a student caught plagiarizing is immediately flunked or kicked out of school, so I don't know what kind of moral example is given by the actuation so far of certain parties.

On Sec. Luistro

I don't have to comply with any procedure in order to impose my one-person veto, because Section 20 of the Rules of the Commission on Appointments provides that any member may move for the suspension of the consideration of any nomination, and immediately the Senate president will simply suspend. So once I file the motion, I don't even apparently need a second person to second the motion, I don't have to be subjected to debate by my colleagues. It's an automatic veto, and it is unconditional. There are no conditions in Section 20. I want to test the extent of Section 20. I am very confident that if this would be raised in the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court will rule as it has always ruled that the internal rules of the legislative branch are already sufficient to itself, that the Supreme Court will not interfere with the rules. Just one person can veto the other 23 members of the Commission.

Sec. Luistro said he is ready to answer MDS's objections

That is a very good attitude, and in fact in my letter I purposely requested the chair to ask the nominee to answer my objections in the hearing, but apparently there is not enough time. That is precisely what I want him to do, I want him to answer. I will give him a sporting chance because I'm a lawyer and a former trial judge. I'll surely hear from him first before I make a final decision of whether I shall invoke Section 20 or not. I could change my mind. I'm not going to be intransigent, I will not be blindly vindictive. I would like to know.

He graduated elementary and secondary school in La Salle in Lipa, but it does not say whether he graduated with honors. He took his AB, and I think even his masters degree, also in La Salle, and there is no indication either that he graduated with honors. At saka anong karapatan niya na magpatakbo ng public schools in the Philippines? He is a product of and he is working in a private school in a private university. Naiintindihan ba niya ang karamdaman at mga hinaing ng mga public school students at faculty?

If necessary, I will stand there (in the plenary session) all by my lonesome and invoke Section 20.

Plus, I think it's time to announce that I intend to invoke Section 20. I have never invoked Section 20 in my entire career in the Commission on Appointments. But this is my last term, and I think I should have invoked Section 20 with respect to certain cabinet members who proved to be corrupt and who spent the people's money trying to destroy me because I expose their anomalies in the halls of the Senate.

Are you going to invoke Section 20 on other cabinet members?

Yes, maybe half a dozen. I'm going to massacre these people. I have law on my side. I was given that power. Yung mga smug, self-satisfied, non-elected appointees. This is a very lightweight cabinet. They are so lightweight they are liable to float off on their own delusions of grandeur. Akala nila kung sino sila. Dumaan muna sila sa halalan because the power of the government is exercised by the people, by the electorate. In an election they cannot just set themselves up as arbiters of moral or political values in our society. Sino sila? They call us names, they try to obstruct and destroy our personal reputations, and year after year of trying to work ourselves blind. I'm going to teach them a lesson in humility. God, reform the world and begin with me.

I call them lightweight because according to the Constitution the only criteria are merit and fitness. I interpret it to mean like this: you should possess a curriculum vitae that manifest academic excellence. Dapat kung estudyante ka hindi ka mediocre dahil kung mediocre ka, eh di katulad ka lang ng ibang tao. Dapat magpakita ka ng talino mo. Kung walang ganoon, I will invoke Section 20. This man has low IQ�he is committing a crime against the Philippine government and society. Mga low IQ sila tapos ang tatapang nila.

Pangalawa, merit should also include not only academic excellence but also professional excellence. Has the nominee been given by respectable organizations awards for excellence in his profession? Dapat ganoon. You should not be given a cabinet position just because you are a political groupie. They are so sycophantic. They should be declared enemies of society because they inestimably raise the president's own conception of himself. They mislead the president when their only field of knowledge is not what is demanded by public service but the ability to profess themselves as nominees for an Oscar Award, mga artista. Akala mo loyalista sila, yun pala pumupuwesto lang sila para kumita ng pera at saka nag-aambisyon na tumakbo na senador sa 2013. They have to pass through an eye of a needle before I restrain myself from invoking Section 20. Biruin mo, ilagay mo iyan sa kapangyarihan ngayon, gagamitin niya ang lahat ng kasangkapan niya sa departamento niya para manalo siya.

Who are these lightweight cabinet members? The executive secretary?

I met him personally. He has sound ideas, very surprisingly, on how to work as executive secretary for the president. In the first place, he is open to other opinions, he is not opinionated. In the second place, he has accepted and tries to implement the policy of listening to all experts before he makes an official statement so I think that is a very good attitude. Ang nakakagimbal talaga is the prospect of lightweights would be appointed to the cabinet and then use the cabinet funds and resources to launch their senatorial candidacies for 2013. Huwag muna, magpakahinog muna sila sa cabinet.

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