Press Release
December 1, 2011

Transcript of Kapihan sa Senado with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

On Bautista-Horn revealing an assassination plot to former President GMA

SP: I don't have a comment for all those things. I've been through those things before and anybody thinking about that would be the most foolish idea has ever been concocted by anyone.

On GMA's assassination being a gimmick

SP: I don't know. it's possible pranksters. What's the purpose of harming the former president? I do not know the scenario or the thinking of people but I can never discount anything. It seems rather improbable. If I look at it closely, what would anybody gain by taking the life of the former president? What would be gained by anybody? In fact, it could not be the administration because with the present situation, as it is, it would be the most foolish of anyone in the administration to think of harming an adversary. Look at what happened to former president Marcos; he was blamed for the death of Ninoy. It caused the collapse of the Marcos regime. Whoever is thinking about it, I am not discounting the possibility that some people are creating of that kind of havoc but whether it's true or not, I would say that it is a little farfetched.

No government administration, whether it is Aquino, Estrada, Marcos, or in the future would ever gain in making a threat or a plot against a life of an adversary, a nationally known adversary.

I'm not in the position to believe that the present administration is insane enough to think about assassinating anybody who is nationally known and perceived to be an adversary.

On Pasay RTC releasing a court order transferring PGMA to Veterans Hospital

SP: That is within the discretion of the court, because at this point, the one that has custody over the person of the accused is the court, not the Supreme Court, not the Congress, not the Executive.

Veterans Memorial is a good hospital. I think in the case of Erap, he was allowed by the court then to go to Tanay. First, he was billeted in the Military camp, and they allowed him because he has a property adjacent to the Military camp to put up a house there, and they allowed him to stay in that house but it is guarded, integrated as the part of the military camp. I visited him in Sto. Domingo, first, Erap, when he was arrested, he was brought to Camp Crame. He was actually put into prison then he was transferred to Sto. Domingo. Because of the May 1st rally at the EDSA Shrine, for which I was charged. eh wala naman akong ginawa doon. Natutulog ako sa bahay, hindi ko naman alam na pumunta 'yung mga rallyist sa Malacañang. Anyway, I accepted the fact that I was notorious. They charged me then I went to the Supreme Court and I established that I was not in any way responsible for the rally in the Malacañang. I went on a "habeas corpus" in Supreme Court. First, they allowed me to bail then, they decided the case in my favour. But I stayed in the jail in Camp Crame for seven days.

On the budget

SP: We always passed the budget on time. Except when I was chairman of the committee, we also finished the budget before December but the bicam was overtaken by the Christmas recess, so we finished it in January. Ever since I became Senate President, the budget was actually completed before the end of the year and enforced at the beginning of the year.

Q: What is in store for the Senate these remaining days of 2011?

SP: We will continue to debate the RH Bill and then the Anti-Trust Bill. I think we will tackle that next week. The committee report is being passed around, and many other bills that are now in the hands of the Committee on Rules, but the RH Bill will have to be thoroughly discussed and debated. I must tell you that I consider this bill as one of the most delicate bills to come by because it is not just a health bill. I will support this bill if it is solely to provide health measures to womanhood, but this has an impact to our country and its future. Not only in terms of health, but in terms of its economic growth and in terms of its security. In terms of its viability as a country. You cannot have an economy without people. If we are not careful in enacting the RH Bill and in crafting it, we will reach a point in time where we have no farmers, or there are very few farmers. Very few fishermen. Very few producers, very few tax payers. Very few consumers. What kind of country are we going to have? You will have an ageing population, and if your population is mostly senior citizens, then your economy will suffer.

Q: But I think the argument is that the economy cannot support that much people.

SP: We can support. The Cagayan Valley alone, composed of just five provinces, can support at least 30 million people, properly developed.

Q: The RH Bill looks like it has more future next year.

SP: I don't think it will pass this year. There are many issues to be clarified. We are not delaying it. I have just started discussing the economic impact of this bill because I m concentrating on the population aspect of this bill. I have not yet dealt with the religious aspect of this bill, and there is a security aspect of this bill.

On issues involving the Supreme Court and former President Arroyo

Q: Starting with the TRO, there were talks already of a Constitutional crisis between the Executive and the Judiciary?

SP: I don't think there is a Constitutional crisis. What is happening is that there is a difference of opinion on the part of the implementing branch of the government and the interpreting branch of the government. The Supreme Court is designated under the Constitution to interpret the Constitution and the laws and to make decisions on cases brought before its jurisdiction. Of course, it is the right of the Executive to argue the case, and ask for a reconsideration of any decision of the High Court. I think that is what is happening now. If there is any disagreement whether one should obey the other. In the end, it is the Supreme Court that must be obeyed if we want this country to function as a democracy.

Q: It looks like the situation is being made worse because the attacks center on the Chief Justice himself.

SP: Well, it is only normal for people who disagree with anyone who has the power to make decisions, to challenge the independence, impartiality, and fairness of the judge but in the end, it will all depend on the judge to decide whether he can live with his conscience in dealing with the issue before him. That is also true in the case of the Senate.

Q: The most popular charge being hurled against him is that he is a GMA appointee and a midnight appointee at that.

SP: You used the words "midnight appointee". I know the case of the Chief Justice because I studied the legal basis of his appointment. If Gloria Arroyo did not appoint a Chief Justice at that time, then there would have been no Judicial and Bar Council. You could never constitute a Judicial and Bar Council even after the President was replaced because the presiding chairman of the Judicial and Bar Council, who must select a replacement for the position of Justice Puno, was the Judicial and Bar Council. They were the ones to process. And if there were no Chief Justice at that moment, how can you appoint a Chief Justice, if Gloria did not appoint a Chief Justice? In fact, it is my opinion that the appointment of a Chief Justice, did not have to pass through the Judicial and Bar Council. In fact, under the present Constitution, if they will analyze it very carefully, the President, whether it is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo or Noynoy Aquino, or somebody else in the future, when a similar situation like what happened in the case of the retirement of Renato Puno will take place, you will select a Chief Justice from the people who are already inside, because if the Chief Justice is out and there is no Chief Justice, you cannot convene the Judicial and Bar Council. Because he is the chairman. Like the Senate President. The Senate President is the chairman of the Commission on Appointment. If you have no Senate President, that body cannot be convened.

Q: Anyway sir...

SP: If the thesis is correct, that all appointees of the President must be inhibited when it concerns cases involving that President, then all of those justices in the Supreme Court will have to inhibit themselves, those were appointed by the former President. Then you have no Supreme Court. What kind of a system are we going to have?

Q: Di ba parang nagiging petty na yang suspicion na yan na basta appointee ng Pangulo, the sitting President feels beholden to the appointee?

SP: You are assuming a fact. I am talking about the logic of the proposition. I am not defending anyone here. I am just scrutinizing the logic of the proposition that if a person is appointed by a President, you assume already that that person is loyal to that President. If that is true in the case of Gloria, then it must be true in the case of the people, the appointees of the incumbent President, like Justice Sereno, Justice Bernabe, Justice Reyes. All the justices, based on that presumption, the other Justices will be partial to the former President. I don't think that is a correct presumption. There must be a concrete evidence to be presented to show the bias of the person the Justice in favor of the accused whose case is being considered in that Court. That is a matter of fact, so I am not in a position to judge, one way or the other.

Q: Like I said, that is a vicious, never ending cycle.

SP: What I am trying to caution everybody, is that we must be very, very careful in dealing with this problem because there is an international audience watching us, how we conduct democracy in this country, and we are supposed to be the first democratic republic in South East Asia. I hope that we protect that image. While the three branches differ in opinion, I think we should approach the difference in a more benign and cautious manner in order not to hurt the national interest.

On the plan to "put the little girl to sleep"

SP: "Put the little girl to sleep". Who is the little girl? Baby? A newly born baby? You do not have to worry about a newly born baby. She goes to sleep. If that is a metaphorical statement, they refer to someone else. Well, putting a person to sleep is an act of kindness, but if the meaning given to putting one to sleep is something else and that is to inject a little drug on him or on her, since she is a little girl, then that is something else. I don't think there is any doctor who would be crazy to do that.

Q: Sa food daw po ni GMA?

SP: Then all the nurses who will be administering the food will be under investigation, even the caterer. You know, if you are in the hospital, there is a provider for food. I don't think they will be crazy to commit such an act. They will destroy their business, and if they are proven to have done it, they will go to jail. It is not easy to do that.

On GMA's hospital arrest

SP: You cannot dispute the power and the authority of the Court in handling the custodial confinement of a prisoner. When a criminal case is filed before a Court and a warrant was issued and served, the person is arrested. When the return of that arrest is submitted to the Court, the Court acquires jurisdiction over the accused and from then on, the movement, the privileges and the place of confinement of that accused person is addressed solely by the Court and no one else.

On the death threat against GMA

SP: If I were Malacañang, I would conduct an investigation on that claim because that's a serious charge. If something will happen to the former President under confinement, and I'm sure a guard was posted in the hospital to guard her since she's already in the custody of the Court, then whether it is true or not, whether the Palace has anything to do with it, the finger of suspicion will point to Malacañang. I don't think they will be that foolish. If they want to accept my two-cents worth of advice, they should find out whether there really is a threat.

The people who made that statement must indicate the source of investigation.

On rumors that the source is connected with Malacañang

SP: If that is the case, to be fair, they have to reveal that source. If this was the time of President Marcos and I am in charge of security, I'll demand revelation, a disclosure of the source of information. That's a very serious matter.

They can select whoever they want to investigate it and let it come out in the open.

To me, it is improbable. But even if it is improbable to me, if I were Malacañang and if I were the one dealing with the case of former President Arroyo, I would welcome an inquiry to that threat. To threaten a former President, especially in her condition, if indeed there was a threat, is a serious matter because it will create a political problem for the country. It will create a problem for Malacañang and it can create a problem for the former President.

Congress should not be the one to investigate the possible threat against the former President. Lahat na lang sa Kongreso. We must have faith in the Executive department.

On the improbability that Malacañang is behind the threat

SP: What would Malacañang gain if they will harm the former President? If they have any intention of harming the former President, assuming that there was ill motive and they want to harm the former President, it would be silly for them to file a case against her and show their hands that they are the ones responsible for the injury to the former President. It is rather improbable for me unless we assume the people in Malacañang are crazy, which they are not. I don't think Malacañang will do such a thing.

Who would want to harm a very sick person? If the Aquino government has an enemy and they want to create havoc in the country, it is possible. But I think it is far-fetched.

When you talk about the rightist in this country, you talk about the military. What will they gain? They will stage a coup? That's silly. A coup at this time is foolish and far-fetched too.

In the case of Ninoy, the former regime said there was a threat against Ninoy, that's why I sent him a telegram and I was very careful in wording the telegram. "I was instructed to send you this telegram that there is a threat to you." When he came back and he was harmed, the finger of suspicion was pointed at Malacañang. That is why I am saying that based on my own experience, it is not profitable for Malacañang to threaten anybody because they will become the victim of the threat. What will they gain?

On Arroyo's house arrest

SP: Kung may threat sa tao, kahit sa bahay ka o nasaan ka, they will get you unless you have a bullet proof house.

On maximum facility

SP: That requires analysis of the facts. That is why it is better to find out whether there is truth to this claim so that the quantum of security to be assigned to the former President can be assessed.

On Veteran's Hospital

SP: Safe din siya doon because it is surrounded by a steel-bar fence and they check the people who goes in and out. That is why there is a need to find out the truth about this supposed threat so that the security force needed to secure the former President can be determined.

On whether GMA can apply for house arrest if the threat is real

SP: It is up to the Court to decide. My opinion is immaterial. It is up to the Court because it is responsible for the safety and custody of the accused.

On the difference between Ninoy and GMA

SP: In the case of Ninoy and former President Marcos, it was known not only in the country but all over the world, that there is antagonism between them. There were also claims that there were other parties who were interested in harming the former senator. In the same manner, under the present climate, it is well known, at least in the country, that there is a seeming antagonism between Malacanang and the former President. That is the parallelism between the two cases.

Imagine if something will happen to the former President. Mayroon din siya followers. It will create a problem for the country.

On rumored threats against JPE's presidency in the Senate

SP: As I have said, I am ready to give this position to anybody who can present to me 13 names. They can have it. I am not clinging to this position. From day one I told Senator Drilon, Senator Pangilinan and everybody that anytime they do not want me anymore just present to me the numbers. If they want me to resign, I will resign. They can get somebody else to take over.

On rumors of term sharing with Senator Drilon

SP: I have no term sharing with anybody. I do not share my position with anybody. My position as a senator was given to me by the Filipino people. My position as a Senate President was given to me by my peers in the Senate. I did not ask for it. If they want to replace me, tell me. As a matter of responsibility, I cannot abandon the job but once they show me a list of 13 names I will vacate the position.

On GMA being confined in Veterans Memorial Hospital

SP: Well, it is the right of a patient to select the doctor who will attend to his/her ailment but there are limitations once you are arrested by the authorities, if you are confined. Now, if the government will provide the doctor, then it must assume the responsibility if something happens to the patient. That is why this is a very delicate matter. This is addressed to the wisdom of the parties involved. I would not assume if I were in the government to provide a doctor for a patient that is under my custody. In the case of Ninoy, we allowed him to select his own doctors when he was under our custody. We never provided any doctor for him.

On the doctor-patient confidentiality covered by jurisprudence

SP: That is covered by the rules of evidence. A doctor cannot be compelled to testify regarding the condition of his/her patients. Just like a lawyer cannot be questioned about his relationship with his client. A priest cannot reveal what was said to him in confession.

On the DOJ wanting GMA's doctors to testify before the Supreme Court

SP: Well, if somebody will raise an objection, I think it will be under the Rules of Evidence. You see, the Rules of Evidence are a part of the Rules of Court. I am sure the Supreme Court will know what to do.

On his advice to GMA's spokesperson who said the threat came from Aquino's camp

SP: I don't give advices or lessons. I have to be paid. You know I'm a highly paid lawyer. I am not saying that Elena Bautista is not telling the truth. Inaanak ko 'yun sa kasal. Taga-Cagayan 'yun sa amin pero kung totoo 'yun, and I'm sure that she would not say that unless she has a basis for saying it. Dapat talaga 'yun kung ako ang masusunod, talagang suriin, pag-aralan. Hindi biru-biro 'yan. Baka may prankster na gumawa niyan o baka totoo naman na may rightist. Kailangang malaman. But to assume, to indicate, that that threat comes from a particular place, is only a surmise, a suspicion. You have to prove it by facts, by evidence.

On opposing the motion of Senator Santiago to terminate the interpellation on the RH Bill

SP: That will be decided by the body. I will have to ask for a vote. Kapag nag-motion siya, then that means she is presenting the decision to the plenary. Then I will ask the body to decide. Kung sasabihin ng Senado let's terminate the interpellation, then they'll have to argue their case very well to convince that that is so because I doubt whether there is a rule that you can close the period of interpellation. We are not delaying, we have plenty of questions. Ipapakita ko sa inyo 'yung mga hindi ko pa natanong na mga questions, ang dami.

On Malacañang playing it cool on the issue of Charter Change

SP: We respect the position of Malacañang. But on the other hand, the responsibility to amend the Constitution belongs to Congress. You read the Constitution, Congress, by -- vote of all its members may propose amendments to this Constitution. It did not say Congress with the approval of Malacañang with due respect to everybody.

The Speaker and I talked about this and we will be meeting again in January about it. We are not doing this for any motive other than to help the country move forward. We have no political agenda. I'm no longer running for re-election for that matter. Not even as a barangay captain. I'm doing it in my honest belief that we have to review the economic provisions of the country in order to hasten the economic development of this land because of our growing population so that we can create jobs for our jobless people.

I have not heard them say it will not improve the economy. You will never know how deep the water is until you step into it. That is their opinion but in our belief, based on our experience, I think we have been delaying. We have applied this Constitutional mandate for more than half a century already and it has not brought us any good, considerable progress. Yet the other countries around us, who do not have these limitations, are progressing.

On the Legislative Summit in January

SP: My understanding is that the Speaker has assembled some people in the House of Representatives to provide an item listing of the provisions that will be considered by us for possible revision. I agreed with him that he should initiate it there and then we will look at it here to make it easier for the process to gel instead of us also doing the same thing and we will be quarreling. It is better that they start it in the House and I know more or less what I'm going to do if we're going to participate in it but I would like to see what their position is.

We already agreed that we will tackle this as separate Houses of Congress. So, that means voting separately. That's no longer a problem for us. That's a very technical issue. The fact is, we cannot operate as a one body unless the Constitution says so.

On BIR requiring taxpayers to disclose more financial information

SP: That is within the power of the Secretary of Finance. I could not recollect the provision of the Internal Revenue Code regarding the power of the Secretary of Finance to issue rules and regulations governing income taxation. That's a part of income taxation.

On the decline of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since last year

SP: Alam mo, 'yang GDP parang stock market din 'yan, pataas, pababa depending upon the condition. We are affected, we are not isolated from the world. If the world suffers a cold, we also get affected. Now, if it becomes a matter of local policy whether they inject more money in order to counter the world problem, I think that's what they're doing, to stimulate the economy. Nangyari din 'yan sa different administrations. You have a cost that rises in your economic production. You are affected by floods, typhoons, drought and disasters.

On another Pinoy being executed in China

SP: There's nothing you can do about this in the same manner that we do not want other countries to interfere with our criminal justice system. We should not interfere with their criminal justice system. We can appeal. But you know, China is unlike us. They are very strict in the enforcement of their criminal laws. Here, tayo ay maawain, madaling pakiusapan pero doon hindi. So, we have to respect the sovereign rights of the country. We have no jurisdiction over them.

On Vice President Binay going to China to plead the case

SP: Hindi waste of time 'yun. They are trying to exhaust all remedies to help a fellow Filipino but I think the Chinese government has already indicated that they have to enforce their laws.

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