Press Release
September 14, 2013

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon
Kapihan sa Annabel's
Saturday, September 14, 2013

SP DRILON: There are two issues I'd like to discuss. First, the ongoing siege in the Zamboanga City. We regret that this has had happened. Indeed, no one wants this kind of a situation. However, having said that, other countries were similar incidents had happened, the rule is we rally around the flag. We rally around the President, and in this particular case I would strongly suggest that we leave it up to the President because he is the commander in chief. The President has information which is not shared to everyone and therefore, when he makes a decision, it is on the basis of the facts made know to him. Let us rally around the flag and let us support the President. Let him have a full control of the situation and make all the decisions.

We cannot afford to have any other form of government in any other part of the country. Sovereignty is something we cannot compromise. There is only one president, one armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, one government. We cannot accept any other force or any attempt to divide sovereignty.

Second, when the case is filed, the Ombudsman has three options. First, the Ombudsman can dismiss outright the case for having no basis. Second, to review the submission and evaluate whether or not there is basis to require the respondents named to file a counter affidavit. Third, to accept the filing as efficient and therefore require the filing of counter affidavit. The second is, to me, the more rational process that will be adopted which is the Ombudsman will now evaluate the submission of the NBI. After evaluation, they can take two options: one, conduct further fact finding investigation if the Ombudsman feels the evidence is insufficient and two, consider the fact finding stage as having been completed and therefore, require respondents to file counter affidavit within 10 days and conduct a preliminary investigation.

Remember that from newspaper accounts, there are a dozen of boxes of evidence which means it will take time to assess. It is not a simple case where a one-page document is submitted.

Q: Will the Senate suspend the senators upon filing of the case?

SP DRILON: No. there must be a process; there must be a case filed in the Senate. Of course, down the road, if the conviction carries a perpetual disqualification from holding office, that conviction will expel effectively the legislators from holding office.

Q: When can the court release a warrant of arrest?

SP DRILON: Walang period because it is addressed to the discretion of the Court. In fact, there is a remedy availed of under the rules by the respondents which asked the court for judicial determination of probable cause. Meaning, they want the court to now review the exercise of the prosecutor that indeed there's probable cause. There is no period stipulated as to when a warrant can be issued.

Q: Does the Ombdusman have the power to act on this case administratively meaning to suspend the legislators?

SP DRILON: Whether or not that power to suspend can be exercised as against the members of Congress is debatable. Why? Because under the Constitution, the power to discipline members of Congress belongs to the House or the Senate as the case may be. There were a number of cases then, Jalosjos, and now, in the case of Cong. Arroyo, she is still allowed to discharge the duty of a congresswoman because she has just been charged. This supports the theory that indeed, the application of the Constitutional principle that a matter of disciplining members of Congress belongs to both Houses.

Q: On SK election?

SP DRILON: On Monday, we will pass on third reading the postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan election.

Q: May makukulong ba diyan?

SP DRILON: There will be a process that will be followed. A trial will take place in the Sandiganbayan if a probable cause if found by the Ombudsman. If the evidence of guilt is beyond reasonable doubt, may makukulong diyan.

Q: On the effect of the pork barrel scam in the Congress?

SP DRILON: Admittedly, this has affected the Senate and the House. But I find this as an opportunity to enable to strengthen the institution afterwards. Yes, there may be a weakening of the institution, but I am confident we should be able to strengthen our democratic institution afterward.

On the PDAF

SP DRILON: We will wait until the House firms up its position in the form of amendments that will be introduced in the general appropriations. Until that point these are just views and positions of the members of the House. We will await the full action, the final act of the House. In fact several Senators have stated the position that we will not avail of the PDAF. That kind of position i think we will debate in the Senate.

We would like to see how they treat the PDAF as an item in the budget.

On the staff of senators who went on leave

SP DRILON: The senators can issue an order for them to return to work.

On the Sangguniang Kabataan

SP DRILON: First thing, they go on consensus whether to allow the opportunity to reform the system. Having said that, what is important is the capacity of the incumbent SK officials to hold over. Why? Because as of today, they are already... If the elections are not postponed, all of them cannot run anymore because they were last elected three years ago and the youngest three years ago would be 18 years of age today, therefore they are disqualified. When you postpone the election, the issue therefore is can you hold on to your position when in fact you are no longer qualified to hold that position? Senator Bongbong Marcos has taken the position that the fact of postponing the election does not change the substantive qualification which is age, so therefore they can hold over. Now, we should have a definition of how to fill up these vacancies. To me that is where the debate should be, but in any case, we approved the senate version on the second reading and we will approve the third reading on Monday with the understanding that the matter will be discussed again in the bicameral committee.


Q: Kahapon sir si VP Binay sinabi niya na may ceasefire nga. Si Chairman Misuari nga po mismo ang kausap niya. So ang ibig sabihin po nito alam pala niya all along yung nangyari. Ano masasabi niyo dun?

SP DRILON: Well, ako, nandito ako sa Maynila hindi ko alam ang nangyayari dun. Sa akin lang, dapat suportahan natin ang pangulo sa mga panahon ngayon dahilan siya po ang responsible dito. He's the Commander-in-Chief of all our Armed Forces. He is the President. He has the responsibility of maintaining the sovereignty of our country in every corner of our nation. So, let us support the President and let's give him the full discretion to make the decision.

Q: Sir, yung pag-alis po ng mga Chief-of-Staff, do you think that's a sign of guilt?

SP DRILON: I do not know. I didn't even know that until I read it in the papers because they can leave in their private capacity as long as they do not use any government funds.

Q: Sir, as a Senate President, ano yung attitude niyo yung mga senators mismo under fire when it comes to the PDAF case?

SP DRILON: It saddens me. But as I've said, I am confident that the Senate, as an institution, will be able to recover and strengthen our institution.

Q: Kahapon po meron na naman pong anti-pork barrel rally and people are asking, meron bang kahihinatnan itong mga ito? Ano po yung message ninyo sa mga tao?

SP DRILON: Ang mensahe ko po, sabi nga ng Pangulo nung SONA, 'We will go where the evidence leads us and let us just await the development'.

Q: Sir, ganun din yung attitude niyo as Senate President when it comes to Senators who might be charged?

SP DRILON: We are operating under the rule of law.

Q: So walang mga mag-protect sa mga senators?

SP DRILON: There is no such thing. The senators can take care of themselves.

Q: Common practice ba yun sa Senate na yung mga Chief-of-Staff, they can sign papers?

SP DRILON: That depends on the senator. They can do it. I delegate a lot of administrative work to my Chief-of-Staff. You cannot handle all of these. The senator has the prerogative to designate the Chief-of-Staff, the scope of the work and that includes matters which the Senators can do but is delegated to the Chief-of-Staff. There is limitation on what duties can be delegated to the Chief-of-Staff. Except of course author bills.

Q: Tama ba yung sinasabi ni Senator Jinggoy before na hindi trabaho ng mga senador na icheck kung naiimplement yung mga pera na nilalabas nila?

SP DRILON: I think that's the matter that goes into the merits of the case. That is the matter for the Ombudsman now to determine. It's a matter of defense that they will raise.

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