Press Release
March 9, 2011

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

On the impeachment of Gutierrez

Q Possible po ba na sa May na darating 'yung impeachment?

SP If you are talking about possibility, possible. Probability? I do not know, pagbobotohan pa. Possibility, yes.

Q Ano po ang masasabi ninyo sa (inaudible) na mas confident si Ombudsman humarap sa Senate?

SP I will not make a statement. You know, I will tell you that as far as I am concerned, when I handle a case here involving the fortune, the rights and the well being of anyone, I have no friends. I have no enemies. I clear my mind of all biases and partialities. I will decide the case if I have to decide it on the basis of clear and convincing evidence.

Q Do you expect your fellow senators to do the same sir?

SP You know, impeachment trial is a judicial function of the Senate although they say it is political. Still, it is the rendition of justice by an institution of the people which is the Senate. In some cases, it is political. In the case of (inaudible) when he was impeached by his peers in the Roman Senate. It was a political trial. In the case of Lord Hastings, that was a political trial. When you are elected, it becomes a political issue but we are dealing here with appointees, with people who have not gained their jobs from the electorate. We have to look at it with more circumspection.

Q Are you saying the Senate will not be influenced?

SP I am not saying anything right now. Q There are suggestions that you hold a special session.

SP I will not make any suggestion, I will deal with the problem when it comes to us.

Q Are you open to calling a special session during the break?

SP I will dance according to the tune that will be played by the government. I will not make any suggestion.

Q May call po si Gutierrez for some Senators to inhibit kasi daw may bias na?

SP We will come to that when we come to trial.

Q Bakit po May? Dahil po ba maraming magbabakasyon sa April?

SP Recess kami. It just happened that the matter is coming to us and maraming mga commitments 'yung mga iba. I cannot hold the trial unless I have the full Senate. The full Senate must be present because they have to hear the evidence and each one of us will have to vote according to conscience. This is a conscience vote.

Q Pero sir, marami pong nagsabing magbabakasyon na Senators?

SP I will request them not to leave the country during the hearing of the case.

Q Kung may impeachment po, daily po ba Katulad ng ginawa kay Erap?

SP Oo. Ganun din. We can do it at night, we can do it in the daytime.

Q Babaguhin pa po ba 'yung rules ng impeachment?

SP Oo, pag-aaralan namin ulit 'yung rules.

Q Televised din po?

SP Bahala na kung anong gusto nila. Pwede rin na walang television. Pwede ring full television.

Q But it is open to the public?

SP It is always open to the public. We are not doing a trial in chamber. Star-chamber trials, out of the view of the people 'yun.

Q To reiterate, no earlier than May and you will start with the rules?

SP I do not know yet whether it is May. I do not know whether it is March or April. I do not know.

On the President's marching orders

SP I have yet to hear from the President whether he issued a marching order.

Q The Senators are not covered by that?

SP We cannot be covered by any imposition, suggestion, or any influence from anybody because we are performing a quasi-judicial function. We have to exercise as human beings, to the extent possible, the degree of independence and objectivity befitting the function that we will discharge.

Q Gutierrez can expect a fairer trial?

SP When you say fairer, you are making a comparison. Pardon me with being very careful with semantics, because you know, words can kill you. You read Richard Ogden, The Tyranny of Words.

On the suggestion of Sen. Recto to reduce the VAT on petroleum products

SP I am in favor of lower taxes pero we'll have to consider the broad issues of needs of the country. You know, the power to tax is the one great power upon which the existence and progress of a nation is based. It is as important as the air to the man who breathes it. 'Yun ang hangin ng gobyerno. Taxes. It is the power to destroy, but it is also the power to keep the country alive.

Q Does it merit a study?

SP Yes. Everything is always in a (inaudible). We have to study all the laws, in order to see where we can improve our lives. Nothing is static in life.

Q Sir, the proposal to use the VAT proceeds to roll back fuel prices, will that require legislation?

SP Yes, because our taxes that you collect will go to the general fund for general use. Now, when you specify a given tax for a given purpose, you require legislation.

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