Press Release
July 12, 2012

Excerpts from Kapihan sa Senado with
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago (Part 1)

On Chairman Brillantes of COMELEC and reporting to the ICC

MDS: We have always been friends. In fact, I consider him a decent person, but I feel that he is under pressure by certain political enemies, so he has to answer these planted questions of whether I should resign, and when. The thing here is, number one, there is no law that allows a public official or even the collective Senate to compel a Senator to resign. There is no such legal basis. Number two, I cannot report to the International Criminal Court at my discretion. They have their own rules there and they have to obey it. So, that is the end of the story. I just remain as a Senator until the ICC calls me to duty. You see, ang ICC, iba siya ating domestic courts. Sa ating domestic court, pati sa Supreme Court, pag dumating na ang retirement age mo, basta iwanan mo lang lahat ng kaso mo alis ka na, wala ka nang pakialam. Pag dumating na yung petsa ng retirement mo, wala ka nang magagawa pa, o wala silang expectations na may gagawin ka pa, basta iwan mo na lang sila lahat diyan, bahala na. Sa international tribunal, iba ang patakaran nila. Kung merong incumbent judge, at may limit ang number of judges, for example, ICC, ang limit ay 18 judges at any one time. Now kung may incumbent judge that is now due for retirement, even if his retirement date has already arrived, he is prohibited from leaving the court until he has finished all the trials and all the appeals in which he has participated.

Nakita ninyo na mas logical ang sistema sa ICC, dahil sa ganung paraan, sigurado ng mga partido na matatapos ang kaso. Kasi kung iwan mo yan, if you are working as a collegiate group of three, for example in every chamber in the ICC, pag iniwanan ninyo yan, di kailangan kukuha sila ng panibagong judge at yung judge na yun, kailangan umpisahan na naman sa simula ang buong kaso. So, to waste the time of the other two judges and of the parties. It simply wastes the time and expense of the ICC. Iba sila sa atin.

Nagkakamali itong mga kalaban ko, dahil akala nila basta may retirement date ang incumbent judge sa ICC, basta magpapakita ka at aalis. Hindi pwede yun. Kami namang mga bago, hindi naman kami pwede mag-report dun sa kagustuhan namin, dahil pag nandiyan pa ang incumbent judge at tinatapos pa niya ang bista niya at magreport kami, di sobra na kami sa 18. Kaya maaari na kung ang incumbent judge whom I am scheduled to replace needs three or four more years to finish his trials and appeals, I cannot report for duty there. I am not considered as employed by the ICC until after I have been called to duty. Kung kailan man yun, pati ang ICC, hindi nila alam.

I would say that all of these questions about my resignation comes only from the same source that conducted black propaganda against me during the impeachment trial. Naalala ninyo nung impeachment trial, meron sa internet na nag-umpisa daw siya ng kampanya para matanggal daw ako sa ICC. Hindi pa nga ako nakapag-report doon, gusto niya patanggal niya ako because of my alleged mental instability as evidenced by my outburst during the impeachment trial. Ngayon, siya na rin ang nag-umpisa ng black propaganda sa akin nung 1992, nung tumakbo akong presidente. Itong tao, nagpapanggap na abogado pero the Supreme Court of San Francisco found him guilty of malpractice of law and ordered him to pay a fine of about US$135,000 to a Filipina whom he defrauded. He did not have enough money, so he declared himself bankrupt. Kaya maski-sino, pwede mag-upa ng taong ito. Malalaman ninyo yan sa internet kung hanapin ninyo ang pangalan niya. Manira maski kanino, yan ang paninira niya. Gusto niya na idisqualify ako sa ICC. Ngayon naman, yung nagsuhol sa kanya, nanunuhol na naman ng ibang tauhan, na kailangan, magreport na ako sa ICC. I tell my enemies, pwede ba? Make up your minds. Should I report, or should I be disqualified? Kung anu-ano ang mga imbento ninyo sa akin. Magbasa muna kayo ng statute of the ICC. This is all the result of overwhelming ignorance of the law. Kaya I tell all my enemies, ayaw ninyo talaga sa akin, then treat me like a nuisance. If that is the way they look at me, I propose that they should read the provisions on abatement of a nuisance under the Civil Code. Kung may puno ka, pwede mo patayin. Kung de-kuryente, pwede mo ihinto. So, I tell all my enemies who just want to get rid of me, after I was voted by millions of Filipinos to serve a six-year term, I tell my enemies, stop molesting me.

On Charter Change

MDS: I've always been against constitutional amendments because in August immediately after sessions, we will immediately conduct committee hearings on the budget. That is our timetable. After the last SONA of the President and during the last session of the Congress, we always immediately attend to the budget. August until December, budget na ang pinaguusapan. During that same period, yung mga senatoriables who are running for re-election will all focus on the campaign for May 2013 elections. You just have no time. You cannot push the CHACHA initiative in a manner that will go around the need for full-bodied consideration. It's not an ordinary law. It is the constitution of the Philippines. The earliest that it can be taken up by both chambers of Congress will be after May 2013.

Q: Is it a waste of time if we do it before the May 2013 elections?

MDS: Well, You know the procedure in the Senate. If there is an amendment, then we will have to conduct a public hearing. I will call everybody with an interest in the subject particularly the young people in our universities because it is they who would have to live with the consequences of any of these amendments particularly the amendment to do-away with the 60-40 percent requirement in ownership. What they want to happen is they want to liberalize these industries completely meaning to say the foreigner can come here and own completely the corporation that he has formed. The constitution is a permanent document. It is not the law. I don't see what is the urgency of constitutional amendment. At the earliest, it should be set after the May 2013 elections.

Q: Considering the bad timing, what do you think is driving this movement?

MDS: Certain corporations who are interested in the natural resources of our country, want to invest here but they want to own the whole thing. They don't want to give the 40 percent to the Filipinos. They want total freedom to control their corporation in the repatriation of their profits to the own home countries. Some politicians are morally convinced. I'm not saying that we should automatically blame them but what I'm saying is we need time to study this matter. It is not as simple as it sounds.

Q: You think they are pressuring politicians?

MDS: When you say pressure politicians, we mean the pressure of their countries. America for example will do anything as long as it gets protection for their American Companies. The UK does the same thing. It has a prince who is assigned to go around the globe to make sure that he talks to the head of state for protection of British companies.

On the selection process of the National Artist award

MDS: Oo kasi komplikado. Hanggang ngayon, namatay na si Dolphy. By the way, you can have a National Artist for various aspects of culture. Its not necessarily a conflict between the National Artist for Dance or Theater. The process is very complicated. Maybe they really want to leave out those who are undeserving but still its so hard. We don't even know when they will accepting nominations. Sana yan fixed date of the year. That's the NCCA together with the CCP and then they recommend to the President. I hope that they will fine tune their procedures so that it will be easier for somebody without prestige or even power to nominate the best.

On the nomination of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima as Chief Justice

MDS: I will say that my eyebrows rose to the ceiling when the Secretary of Justice outright refused to obey a TRO because law students are taught that when the Supreme Court issues a TRO is like God has issued a mandate to obey immediately. But she's trying to explain it saying that she was not able to get it on time. However, that could be a reason for questioning her. Let's just see her explain this. If she becomes Chief Justice and under her the Supreme Court issues a TRO and someone refuses to obey it using the same grounds then she will certainly be in a dilemma.

Santiago: Well, anyway, the PNoy administration is in a dilemma there if it appoints a person too closely associated with the President. Then, people will say that the impeachment trial was just a melodrama. It was implemented to remove somebody in favor of somebody better-controlled by Malacañang. There is now reasonable doubt whether the man was really guilty but at the same time the President will want to have a control, if possible, of the Supreme Court. That's the dream of all presidents. So, I think we have to choose somebody non-controversial but has a record of expertise. I have, in fact, a certain person in mind. Of course, my priority would be a female simply because we never had a female chief justice but there is another public official whom I think fits my requirements for non-controversial character. So, we cannot afford more controversy after the impeachment.

On former Senator Magsaysay running again for the Senate

Santiago: Well, why not? He was already here before. He turned in a good term of office. So, he's certainly qualified even only from his experience. It takes about two years to acclimatized yourself to legislative culture.

On Senator Santiago's Health

Santiago: Well, it is normal (blood pressure). I am prohibited from reading newspapers or listening to political news which is extremely difficult but it will settle down when I go to the Hague.

On her priority bills

Santiago: In my case, the priority bill should be the Reproductive Health Act, the Anti-EPAL Act, the Act against the commercialization of human organs which is a particular affliction of the poor in our society and my pet bill which nobody wants to touch with a 10-foot pole, the mandatory teaching of ethics from elementary to college. It used to be called Good Manners and Right Conduct. So, these are my own suggestions. But generally, you know, politics is an art of compromise. That's why we have to compromise on what bills should be given priority.

On PNoy not delivering on his SONA promises

Santiago: Most presidents do that kind of thing. He's not particularly guilty. I guess he just wants to raise our spirits so that we can have something to hope for.

On the Supreme Court flip-flopping decision on the fixed salary of bus drivers

Santiago: It's usually caused by the fact that they did not have access to all the facts when they issued the first order and then a fact comes like a postscript or I mean to say evidenced fact, fact which is evidenced by something or other and then they changed their mind. So, in effect, that's a flip-flop but sometimes it cannot be helped.

On the 2013 election

Santiago: Well, I'm in a quandary because the Constitution explicitly provides that political dynasty shall not be allowed. Of course, there's never been any bill in either Chamber because the bill will affect, precisely on a personal basis, many members of both the House and the Senate. So, it becomes a matter of personal discretion. Personal delicadeza. If you have a Constitution that says, personal dynasty shall not be allowed, how much closer can you be within the terms of a dynasty than being the parent or the child of a politician? Certainly, that's a political dynasty. It would be another question if, for example, you're nephew in the fifth degree or you're cousin in the fifth degree. You could have a benefit of a doubt there whether that's a dynasty. But you cannot be closer other than your spouse and your own children so definitely that is contemplated in the term political dynasty. But since we do not have a law and that particular law is not self-executing, it cannot be implemented as it is. It has to be implemented by a law. It all boils down to what we call in the Philippines, delicadeza or the sense of propriety. In other words, kung nahihiya ka, hindi ka tatakbo ng ganon. At kung tatakbo ka naman, di magiging walang hiya ka.

You cannot pass it (Anti-Political Dynasty Law) with the present mindset of the Congress. That is the problem kasi apektado sila. The best thing you can do is to make it self-executing in a new Constitution. It should be so detailed that it can be executed without the benefit of an implementing law.

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