Press Release
April 18, 2013


On Ombudsman's dismissal of case vs military generals

Normally, the Ombudsman will dismiss it for insufficient evidence so that reflects on the incapacity of the prosecutors to assemble evidence sufficiently to establish prima facie case. I cannot say on that basis they are not guilty but on the other hand, we cannot say that they are guilty. So, it's the call of the Ombudsman.

On whether DOJ can still pursue case

Palagay ko, yes. You can move for reconsideration on the dismissal at that level. Wala naman 'yan double jeopardy.

On whether stronger evidence is needed

Siguro palagay ko because it was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence. The prosecutors have to assemble more credible evidence.

On whether the senate investigation on military corruption was rendered useless by the Ombudsman's decision

Hindi naman but baka 'yong opinion ng Ombudsman, 'yong evidence gathered by the Senate is not sufficient to show prima facie case. Kailangan pa rin additional evidence to be produced by the prosecutors. Marami naman mga investigation ng Blue Ribbon natin na pinapadala natin either sa DOJ or Ombudsman na hindi rin ina-actionan. But I think let us not jump into conclusion that just because the case was dismissed that wala sila culpability, nor can we say that they are guilty - that's presuming guilt rather than innocence.

On whether there was negligence on the part of the prosecutor

May-ari may nag kulang sila sa paghanap ng additional/sufficient evidence. Si Rabusa complainant lang siya so kailangan 'yong prosecutor mismo. Usually naman mga ganyan it's either the lack of skill or the lack of diligence on the part of the prosecution.

On Brillantes' disappointment on SC ruling regarding airtime limit

I think sa reglamento, 'yung election matters are exclusively given to the judgment of the Comelec. The Supreme Court can only reverse it on the ground that the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion. Ibig sabihin, maling mali naman 'yung judgment nila amounting to lack of jurisdiction. 'Yung ang principle doon. In other words, it takes so hard to upset or reverse a decision of the Comelec on matters of election because the Constitution itself lodges that judgment only and exclusively with the Comelec.

So judgment call 'yung broadcast time. It requires some industry practice, it requires some knowledge of broadcast, it's highly technical, and sa Supreme Court, you cannot get evidence anymore but at the level of the Comelec, they gather evidence, they can receive evidence. Mga technical 'yan and very discretionary points of law that Comelec are able to gather evidence and expect witnesses which the Supreme Court cannot.

That is why ang prinsipyo doon ay when it is addressed to an administrative body like the Comelec, then the Supreme Court will not disturb, will not reverse that judgment unless there is palpable, gross abuse of discretion. And proving gross or palpable abuse of discretion takes quiet a lot of arguments. Hindi 'yung basta basta.

On whether SC's decision will affect comelec's preparations for election

Exactly. That argument is in line with the wisdom of the Constitution that in matters of elections, leave it to the Comelec because election is time-bound and we should not be changing its rules in the middle of the game. The ultimate principle is that all election matters will be judged exclusively and solely by the Comelec, unless, and it's a very big unless, the Comelec abuses its authority at saka hindi lang plain abuse or neglect but gross abuse of discretion. Mahirap 'yan iprove gross abuse of discretion.

On SC's decision on airtime limit

Tignan mo ang economic consequences niyan. When the ruling is per channel, 120 is the quota per candidate per channel, ASB-CBN, GMA, etc. 'Yung sinabi nila per station, aba iba na 'yan. Dahil ang isang spot ngayon, 30 seconds, will cost the candidate P450,000 sa tv. So 'yung isang million mo ay dalawa at kalahati spot lang. Kung ang spot mo a day is only tatlo, hindi ka maging competitive kahit napagaling ka na. You have to have at least six spots a day. Sa makatuwid dahil ganito ang rule of the game, aba 'yung marami pera, puwede na siya mag lagay kahit 14 spots in a day. Disadvantage talaga 'yung walang pera.

So kawawa yung mga walang perang kandidato?

Yes. Disadvantaged talaga economically.

Is it true that under fair elections, may provision daw doon na dapat 30% lower ang sinisingil pagdating sa political ad kumpara doon sa mga regular commercial? Merong ganoon? Bakit hindi ninyo sinusulat yun? Kailangan sinusulat ninyo yun. Dapat maremind natin yung mga media outlets to not gouge the candidates.

With this status quo ante order, mas tali daw ang mga kamay ng COMELEC?

Hindi pa naman yata final. That is the initial ruling, plus you can file a motion for reconsideration and the current ruling of 120 minutes for TV and 180 for radio will be maintained.

Ang concern ng mga candidates, paano kung i-avail nila ngayon yung per station tapos magdecide ang Supreme Court na tama yung airtime limit ng COMELEC, baka daw po maging basis yun ng disqualification.

Hindi pa nga binabago yung present COMELEC ruling, because hindi pa final but you can file a reconsideration and when you file a reconsideration, maii-interrupt yung stop order. Palagay ko ang applicable pa rin, yung current rate prescribed by the COMELEC, not the new rate as prescribed by the Supreme Court.

Pero hindi ba yung ang inisyuhan ng status quo ante order?

Hindi pa naman final yun. I think, as a lawyer, it is not final yet because the parties can move.

So hindi pa rin free yung mga kandidato na i-avail nila per station?

Palagay ko. Usually, pag gusto ng Supreme Court na final, sasabihan nila na this is final, non-appealable. No motion for reconsideration will be entertained. Pero walang ganoong (unclear), so that means it is not final yet and the parties will be allowed to file reconsideration.

Palagay ninyo the COMELEC will be ...

Hindi. Palagay ko hindi, at yung ruling ng COMELEC has been going on for almost half of the campaign period. All candidates have planned on that basis and no one can say we were misled na hindi naman pala ito ang limit. No one can say that because of that, he was at a disadvantage. Fair and square pa rin pero pag binago mo yan, after almost 60% of the campaign period has lapsed, medyo may unfairness na rin yan. It will cause a surprise on the candidate.

On compelling survey firms to divulge their subscribers and those who commissioned the surveys.

In matters of election, the COMELEC was given by the Supreme Court almost plenary power. It can prescribe rules and regulations as long as they are reasonable. I think it is quite reasonable to require a polling organization to disclose who commissioned it. In fact, in the United Kingdom and in some commonwealth countries, you cannot do a poll one week before the election and you cannot disclose it two weeks, two days or three days before the election because it can cause trending. It can be an unfair disclosure. As long as the rules are intended to make the game fair and square, I think the public will accept it.

According to some survey firms, meron silang confidentiality agreement doon sa mga nagco-commission or sa mga nagsu-subscribe.

But this is a matter of public domain. Public interest ito. Hindi naman confidential kung sino ang nag-commission, di ba?

Sa tingin ninyo there is necessity to divulge?

What is confidential about the identity of these sponsors? Isn't it better, for the sake of transparency, that you know who are sponsoring it, because katulad ng campaign finance, we have a regulation that you must disclose what you receive. Ganun din yan sa sponsorship ng polling. I am in favor of any regulation by the COMELEC that will inspire confidence in the electoral process and will achieve transparency and fairness. Fairness is essential in elections.

Do you have any comments or analysis sa mga lumalabas na survey results when it comes to Senatorial candidates?

There are surveys and surveys. There are established surveyors and pollsters, there are new ones, there are organizations, and there are also individuals. Not everyone is fully equipped or has the discernment to know and understand that, that is why I am for more disclosure about polling methods, about polling identities, about sponsorships, etc.

Now, what is my comment about polling? I think polling is necessary as a measure of the pulse of the people but my only gripe and comment about election polling in our country is that it is almost historical, laging late, belated. You cannot make the survey as a basis for action. Most of the results were surveys taken two weeks ago. In this fast moving exercise, three days is already mahaba na. In three days time, many things can happens.

In other countries, overnight they can do a survey. That is why, for instance yung Obama campaign, they were able to see where Obama is weak and therefore they can direct the campaign ads and campaign efforts at that state and it makes quite a difference. That is how up to date and accurate polling in other countries are. I am sure we will get to that stage as well but I think we still have a long way to go to achieve that.

Considering yung mga pumapasok sa Magic 12 na Senatorial candidate, do you think yun na rin ang magiging resulta pagdating ng election?

It may indicate a trend but it may not necessarily be the exact outcome of the final vote because fast moving ngayon, the sentiment is so volatile and it changes from week to week. You have seen that in the surveys, the ranking changes quite rapidly except maybe the top three or four. Maybe not in that ranking, but they are already there. The rest, talagang volatile.

Sir, do you have any fearless forecast kung ilan from Team Pnoy and UNA? Palagay ko 9-3.

On the recent 2013 Senatorial survey

Usually, it is governed by the Election Commission Rules. In the absence of the federal law, the Election Commission usually provides for that rule. The objective nga is to ensure fairness to all that you don't publish false standing or mislead the voters and the information you give is timely.

On the SC ruling on Comelec decisions

The primary rule is that the Comelec is given the authority to decide electoral matters. In lawyers' lingo, it simply means that the Comelec is the ultimate judge. As a judge, you exercise full discretion and judgement. Since we are living in a rule of law, no one is going to be above the law that is why there is an exception there that if you abuse your judgement in a gross matter, then the court can intervene. Mahirap magprove ng gross abuse ha? You must establish an almost reckless deliberate and willful disregard of the law. In this case, parang hindi naman ata gross, willful and deliberate, eh. Yun ang sinasabi ni Chairman Brillantes. Hindi naman kami naakusa na we issued that ruling recklessly and in a gross disregard of the law.

Sir, parang nagiging kontrabida ngayon ang Korte Suprema?

Hindi naman. That's part of the check and balance in our system because of the overarching principle that no one is above the law. Even the Comelec, although they have been given exclusive and sole authority to be the judge of elections, cannot do it recklessly and with grave abuse. Andun naman ang Supreme Court.

On the ruling of the SC regarding political ads on TV

Hindi naman pero in a way disappointed ako dahil almost 2/3 of the way na of the campaign. Candidates have prepared and planned their broadcast according to the time limit. Siguro na upset yung budget nila or na-panic yung walang pera. Pero yun naming maraming pera, tuwa naman sila. That's the kind of surprise the law doesn't want to inflict on citizens.

Will it affect the preparation of the Comelec in the upcoming elections?

Hindi naman. It upsets the prepartions, budget and temperament of candidates. Nasira ang planning nila. Kung sana inissue tong ruling na to, after the rule was promulgated, wala sigurong problema or damage, diba?

May partylist group asking the SC to postpone the partylist elections on May 13 and i-reset nalang sa October to coincide with the barangay election?

Palagay ko, abiding by the Supreme Court ruling or deferring it to October, the same issue will be raised. Yung mga maeexclude na naman in October, sasabihin naman nila na ipostpone natin. The issue will not go away. Might as well, on the basis of current ruling, we proceed with the election because the preparations have been made. The ballots have been prepared. I think there will be more damage than good if we defer it.

Do you think Chairman Brillantes should resign?

I think he should not resign. Chairman Brillantes is probably one of the most brilliant lawyers in this country not just in elections but in other matters. He has been a practioner for a long time to be turned off by a reversal from the Supreme Court. That should not be sufficient reason for him to quit his job. He's doing an excellent job. The election is not over yet until the final count.

Hindi naman personalan 'yun. 'Yung decision ng Supreme Court is not directed at him. I think you can express your disagreement or disappointment over the Supreme Court decision short of resigning and creating an entirely new set of problems than his feeling of being revamped.

As a long standing practitioner, and a good one at that, these things, he should take it in stride. He's no stranger to reversals.

He should not resign. He's doing a wonderful job. He should see this exercise through and he should not feel slighted by this turn of events because as a long standing lawyer, we're accustomed to being reversed by a higher court.

On the Congress having only one representative in the Judicial Bar Council (JBC)

Mag-rotate na lang. If the Congress cannot get the Supreme Court to change its mind and the ruling stands that only one has to represent the Congress, then the congressmen and the senators should do a rotation. Mag-alternating service na lang.

Whoever sits should make a judgment. The other House will accept it.

On his plans after his term

First of all, I will serve as President of Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC). The main office of GOPAC is in Ottawa, Canada. Maybe I'll go to Ottawa, two weeks every quarter. But I'll be doing quite a bit of travelling because GOPAC is organized regionally through the regional chapters in Africa, Middle East, Latin America and Oceana. That will keep me busy but what I want to do is initiate these round tables on policies. Some professors of universities in the Philippines have set up an Angara center for law and economics and I'd like that think tank to focus on policies and policy-making in the country and help members of Congress formulate good policies for our country as a form of public service.

On offers by the Aquino administration

Wala and I'm not inclined to accept a position in the government where I will be an official again because I have served the country for 34 years from UP to now. That's almost half of my professional life. That doesn't mean that I will shy away from public affairs. I will be involved in public service in a non-official way. If I'm asked to do a specific assignment, I will do it willingly and gladly.

On coming back to the Senate

Hindi naman. I hope that my son will carry on.

On the probability that his son will win

Based on the latest survey I saw that places him at number 7 and they said that the trend is upward for him, I am confident that he will ultimately land a Senate seat because of his qualifications, I think Filipinos are intelligent enough to choose good people for the Senate. I hope Sonny is one of them.

Volatile ang sentiment. He maybe in the winning circle this week but next week, lalabas ka. You have to keep persuading and talking to people.

On his son pushing for his pending bills

Sana because I think some of them, if I may say so myself, are very good measures and I hope that he will refile them. Marami pang measures that I will leave behind, for instance, yung expanded scholarship program ko. Mabuti na lang at na-announce ng SSS at GSIS that they'll be setting up a multi-billion scholarship program because I got that commitment from them when I was having a public hearing on that scholarship bill. So, I think Sonny's job will be much easier because both financial institutions are committed including PAGCOR and PCSO.

On NoKor unrest, US military base in the Phililippines:

Hindi naman siguro magtayo ng base, but we allow them to use our bases only in case of emergency. Emergency and temporary bases lang.

So, walang mavi-violate sa constitution, sir?

Wala, wala. This is not establishing a permanent military base permanently, e. He's allowing an ally based on a treaty agreement to use our base in case of war or emergency.

Pero yung nuclear threat?

Palagay ko, unlikely. No reason for that.

Birthday wish daw for Erap tomorrow?

I wish him longer life. I wish him a hundred years. Di ba ang nanay nya, 99 years? Ngayon, life begins not at 40, e. Life begins at 60. So, bale 16 years old lang sya. We wish him success and victory.

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