Press Release
March 6, 2012

Transcript of interview with Senator Miriam Santiago

Let me just say from the onset that I just came from the clinic and I have been diagnosed once again at 140/90 so I have high blood pressure and that I'm a little bit dizzy.

On the Senate impeachment court admonishing Atty. Aguirre for his actions last week

Justice has been done and honor has been satisfied. I understand that today and even last week he was already apologizing to me, and I've already said that the purpose of the power to cite for contempt is on the corrective and preservative principle--you want to preserve the dignity of the court, you want to correct misbehavior. It is not punitive or vindictive, so that is the correct penalty and I agree that that should be the penalty, particularly if he shows the proper spirit of contrition which apparently he did.

I must say that there were about fifty people there (outside) in a rally mostly composed of his hometown in Quezon, his people in his office. I must say that I say that I was underwhelmed. I was selected by millions of Filipinos in the May 2010 elections, so I am not likely to be impressed by fifty people.

I accept Atty. Aguirre's apology. If he offers an apology, it will be uncivil of me to refuse it. I have had many of these instances before where the lawyer is overwhelmed by the heat of the moment and then he commits in the very presence of the judge some misbehavior, and sometimes it is not intended on the judge--it is intended in the heat of passion either to dominate the argumentation or it is intended against a certain witness or lawyer. So I am very used to these situations. I just hold the gavel and say "You are in direct contempt. Sheriff, take him to city jail." And he can say "Your Honor, please, I would like to apologize."

Denying the suppression of evidence bank records

That is the correct attitude on the part of the judges. The general rule is in case of doubt, just admit the evidence. It's not going to work such a jeopardy as it would seriously affect the human rights of the person under the Bill of Rights. Normally you have to specify what is the purpose of admission. Normally the judge says, just for simplicity's sake, admitted for whatever it is worth. It does not necessarily mean that the case will turn on the admission of a particular piece of evidence.

Does the trial cause you to have high blood pressure?

It could be because I never suffered from this wildly erratic high blood pressure before. In fact, I have been told by some doctors that I have reactive blood pressure�I am reacting to what I am seeing. For example, that lawyer needs to be taught a lesson because he went there for the purpose of publicizing and exposing himself. I would be surprised that any practicing judge would have approved of his conduct except those who are just totally obsequious now to Malacañang and do not care anymore how the public views them. I strongly suggest to the media that they go to the part of the internet that features the graphic artists because they are very fond of making cartoons out of the personalities involved in the impeachment trial. They are very funny. I think it is one of the best ways to gauge what public opinion is because we don't have a referendum.

On the proposal to change the schedule of the impeachment hearings to cover whole days from Monday to Thursday

It depends on the age of the judge. The younger people might stand it, but older people like me will likely end up in the hospital. It's too stressful if you're really paying attention to the Rules of Court, and we really insist that they should be followed.

What do you expect from the defense panel?

They better learned their lesson. They should come to court better prepared with their evidence and in a more logical structure. You noticed that in the very first day everyone expected the prosecution to present evidence on Article 1, but instead wanted to shift to Article 2. So there already was some confusion that they caused among the senator-judges who had been preparing for Article 1, and so on. But now that all these lessons have already been taught--and I hope learned--I don't expect the defense to commit the same mistakes.

Remember that the job of the prosecution is much harder than the defense's. The presumption is always that the accused is innocent. In effect, the prosecution has to work against that presumption. Remember the rule that he who alleges must prove his allegations. To allege is not to prove. You have to prove every thing that you are saying. Whereas the job of the defense is to say "No." The burden of proof is on the prosecution, and the rule is that the prosecution cannot depend on the weakness of the proof of the defense. The prosecution must prevail on its own strength alone without considering the weakness or the strength of the defense. All the rules are in favor of the accused because our Constitution is very conscious of our Bill of Rights. In fact, the Bill of Rights is really the starting point for the entire concept of the Constitution. In the case of the defense, all they have to do is concentrate on the fact that the evidence is equivocal with respect to their client.

The outcome of the case will depend on the standard of proof. If you say that the standard of proof is proof beyond reasonable doubt, it will be hard to convict because there will always be doubt. If it is substantial evidence, in all likelihood the prosecution will win because you just present a little bit of evidence that is already substantial. So it depends on the standard of proof. We have left the standard of proof to every single senator. When you choose your standard of proof, in effect you are already imposing judgment on the accused. In my case I will adopt the proposal of Prof. Charles Black of Yale University who wrote Impeachment: A Handbook. His recommendation is overwhelming preponderance of evidence. It is very complicated because we might be operating on different standards of proof.

What I want to do is propose that, in any impeachment proceeding , there should first be a seminar by UP College of Law or a similarly reputable law school like Ateneo or San Beda for all the Senators and maybe even the House of Representatives.

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