Press Release
July 13, 2011

Transcript of follow-up interview on Sen. Santiago

On changing the PCSO's charter

Dapat lahat ng kinikita ng gobyerno dinideposito sa national treasury. Pagkatapos, ang paggastos sa pera na iyon ay ayon sa budget na una, sinusulat ng presidente tapos binibigay sa House of Representatives at sa Senate. Kaya dapat napupuna at napapaliwanag ang bawat gastos ng pera ng ating gobyerno.

There is no just one set of funds in the national treasury; there are several funds, for example, the charity funds of the sweepstakes. The board is free to authorize the appropriation or the spending without going through Congress and without going to media scrutiny. Meron tayo the Pagcor funds, otro din yun. Just like the road users' fund noon, binatikos ko rin, dahil only a small group of bureaucrats determined how it should be spent.

My point is there should only be one control over all earnings of the government wherever they come from. It should go to just one fund and this one fund should be the basis of the budget of revenues and expenditures. Iyon lang ang gusto kong mangyari kaya papalitan natin ngayon ang batas ng Pagcor at Philippine Charity Sweepstakes. Hindi na sila puwede gumastos ng pera na sila sila lang. Kinikita nila dapat pumunta sa national treasury. Hindi sila ang magdedetermine, magdedesisyon kung paano gagastusin iyon. Basta 'pag may kinita sila e deposito nila sa national treasury at isama na nila ang lahat ng pera na kinita ng ating gobyerno. Ang kongreso ngayon ang maghahatol kung saan gagastusin iyon.

On whether the bishops should be questioned further

Iyon na nga sinasabi ko, kasi kamukha ng road users' fund iyan--tanong dito, tanong doon--sometimes, they're not related to each other. Kaya mas maganda sana kung pinabigay nalang ng affidavit ang mga bishops because it's going to take time. If you interpellate one you have to interpellate all of them just to be fair to them. That will take time. They will simply repeat what has already been said in an official letter signed by their CBCP president issued to the chairperson of the Blue Ribbon Committee, and today, read by him again in the public hearing. Basically, this will be a repetitive process.

I personally requested a member of the media plus a member of the staff of chairperson Senator Guingona to witness my blood pressure. My blood pressure reading was 160 over 100. The normal is 120 over 80. So I'm at risk of stroke. I was trying to hurry up with my paper, which was actually only 10 pages but I don't see why I have to be admonished that I should stop now to give everybody else a chance. If I'm talking in my field of specialty, which is constitutional law, if I am talking in my official capacity as chair of the committee on the revision of laws, then I should be given some leeway, don't you think? I should be given an extra 2 or 5 minutes, which is what I tried to do.

Is it true that you will file a criminal case against some members of the PCSO for depositing their funds in a private bank?

No. what I was saying was let's initiate the criminal prosecution now. What I mean is, because the Senate does not have that power, to make a recommendation now without waiting for the rest of the controversial aspects of the so-called PCSO anomaly, to already send recommendations to the ombudsman, to start the preliminary investigation that the PCSO board members and other public officials are responsible for illegally depositing of P1.5 billion of PCSO funds in a private commbercial bank despite the fact that the law provides that whenever a government agency earns money, that money should be deposited in the Landbank or in the Development Bank.

To clarify, you mentioned that there are people behind the "Pajero bishops" propaganda?

That's right. The public will not spontaneously call the issue "Pajero bishops" if someone had not put that thought in their heads. And if someone can make this basic unintelligible mistake as calling the SUVs Pajeros when none is a Pajero at all, then that can only mean that perhaps a PR practitioner designed this entire program. We're barking up the wrong tree. We are only talking 7 million, and there is even a constitutional issue involved, maybe it's correctly appropriated or not--as we said, we have to wait for the Supreme Court.

Why the emphasis on 7 million pesos when there are billions that on the surface were apparently abused and wasted by these officials? Why are we being led this path? Who is manipulating the scenarios?

They are trying to cover up bigger multibillion peso anomalies in the PCSO and PAGCOR, and they have conveniently found a scapegoat in the CBCP because, you know, it makes a sensational headline.

I feel outraged, and I really feel that there is an air of final desperation about our government if people who have not been elected can feel free-despite the installation of a new administration based on its anti-graft platform--to steal billions of pesos from the people's money.

I understand that there is a certain PR practitioner has been going the rounds at least in the print media, emphasizing the bishop controversy. That is my understanding. I haven't had time to check it out. Of course he is free. That is a very legitimate profession. But if he is purposely maligning other sectors so as to derail the Blue Ribbon investigation on the PCSO anomalies, then it already becomes a criminal effort to cover up obstruction of justice.

Can you name this person?

No, not yet. I'm just wondering why we are spending so much time and effort on 7 million pesos when there are billion-peso anomalies involved. And why all of a sudden when I'm coming to my workplace am I assaulted by this group who are all against a group of people under investigation without even having heard their side. They could have just sat here and listened first and then go out there and start waving their placards up and down.

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