Press Release
March 25, 2015


After her speech for the Maynilad Leadership Talk at GT-Toyota Center, UP Diliman

You said in your speech that we should think about MVP for president. Was that an endorsement?

Yes it is. People who are like him should be in the position of leadership. It should not be people from highly publicized careers, because the careers where they are, the leading celebrities, might blind them to think that their qualifications are inspirations for the job. I'm particularly talking about people from mass media, films, and television. My qualifications are, number one, the person should be honest, but that is the most difficult qualification to determine, because there is no guaranteed test for honesty in public service. The second is professional excellence, and the third is academic excellence.

As I've said, before the 2016 elections, my hope is that we can amend the Constitution, among other things, because we might need to amend it anyway from the BBL law. Amend the Constitution and change the qualifications for public office and require at least a college degree. Because right now, a person can run for president without graduating even from high school, but you cannot be a policeman unless you have a college degree. So, we have to reconcile these contrarieties in our society.

On her presidential plans

Well, just because it's an option for me, doesn't mean I have to close all options. I'm just saying, thinking aloud, to the young people what type of candidate I have in mind. Maybe we can run a survey on the Internet and find out what the educated young think about all this circus in politics. Kaya nagiging corrupt kasi wala silang moral character, mahina ang moral character nila dahil sa kulang ang edukasyon. So, this all starts with voter education.

On the manifesto urging former Sen. Lacson and Sen. Poe to form an alliance for 2016

That comes from the camp of either one of them. In practical terms, you cannot think of any person or persons who will come together and say let's spend our money on a full-page ad. It's too expensive just to express a casual opinion. And number two, they did not present any strong case why they should pick these two people together. It's not like they have some experience or they have some mileage in working together and prove to be a very cohesive and effective team. So, these make it suspicious right away. These are just the original ramblings of the clash of tectonic plates that will occur in 2016. This is just the start of the campaign. In that case, as a veteran candidate, I can dismiss it offhand as part of the PR work of a team working for either camp.

On who she thinks lied during the Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash

I do not have to identify personally, but it was an orgy of truth-twisting. I would say, you notice in America, it depends on the judges, the judges sometimes prohibit mass media coverage. You cannot expect the full truth in an event heavily covered by the media. The media has an effect. As they say in Philosophy, the presence of the observer changes the observed. Iba talaga ang kilos ng tao basta nasa harap sila ng media kaysa 'pag sila lang. Kaya kung minsan sa court hearings, merong hearings held privately in camera. So, since the expectations were low anyway, exactly, the reality ruled the fears to be well-founded. Many were not telling the whole truth. You know, if you tell half a lie or half the truth, that's no longer the truth. Remember that the oath is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. They were telling the truth, but from their own point of view. Truth has many versions during that hearing.

What do I think of the committee report? I signed it only to show that I joined the general sentiment. It does not mean that I agreed with every one of the findings. It's simply that I wanted to express the sense of the Senate as a collective.

On federalism for the Philippines

No, it will create more problems. Number one, the Filipino people will have to realize that they will lose the right by their own single vote to choose the president of the Philippines or whoever will be called the head of state, maybe prime minister or premier. Imagine, you and I will not directly have the power to choose in our individual ballot who we want to be president of our country. Instead, first we elect our members of parliament who are the equivalent of the congressmen. And then, once selected, they---that gang of politicians---will choose from among themselves. Now, how does that work on practice? You notice that we always have a Speaker of the House and a Senate President, but they have never been popular. None of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, none of the Senate presidents has ever been popular because of their work as such. That's because people believe that they mostly devote their time to manipulating politically available resources for their own good. So they play politics, that is the impression, and that is why no speaker or senate president elected by their own colleagues has ever been popular. That will exactly be the situation if we change to federalism. The masses and the entire electorate will not choose who the president will be. We leave that choice to a group of politicians, and we know how those politicians act. Mostly, their actions are always attended by corruption. So it could be possible if we elect corrupt members of parliament, it could be possible that if they put themselves on sale, the candidate with the highest bid or the highest bribe will become the next prime minister. That's what I fear because of the present state of our masses.

On the MILF report on the Mamasapano clash

It is of course expected that [the MILF] will justify [the actions of their men]. We have the BOI and a Senate report on behalf of the government and we have an MILF report on behalf of the rebels. You can immediately see that there are two perspectives on the incident. Generally, in a court of law, the decision will go in favor of whoever has the closest approximation of the truth. But since we are not in a court of justice, this issue has to be referred to the court of public opinion.

But it is ironic, I must say---and maybe indicative of truth distortion---that they claim they had no knowledge of these two high-value targets the government was pursuing and yet those people were apparently just a couple of kilometres away from the hideout of the MILF at the time. Do they mean to say that they had no knowledge of who were in the perimeters of their homeland? That's an incredible claim. They cannot pass the test of credibility and that casts a shadow on the whole report.

I cannot accept that high-value targets are living right there---maybe not even just the fringes, but right there---in their heartland, and they disclaim any knowledge. What does that say of their military organization? That means that if they cannot even conduct simple intelligence-gathering activities, they do not deserve to be treated as partners to a peace process.

On the resumption of hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law

There are three committees to which this matter has been assigned: The first committee---the major committee---is local government; the other one is on peace and reunification; and the third one is on constitutional amendments, which I chair. My own report is finished, but I understand that the committee on local government headed by Sen. Marcos is not finished. Instead, it is in the middle of its proceedings. We all have to wait for all three committees so that we can produce a coordinated report, or we can at least produce three reports. So I don't expect a report by those three committees any time soon. Don't hold your breath.

On Aquino's refusal to apologize over the Mamasapano clash

That is a hindsight question. How should he have handled the situation? It should have started at the very beginning. The truth should have been revealed immediately. The moment that the crisis began brewing, immediately the President should have, by himself, told the truth to the Filipino public.

Now, there is a question of, "Well if that is the truth, why are you not apologizing?" The answer is because he wants to avoid any liability arising from a confession after his term finishes in 2016. Remember that when he is no longer President, he becomes liable to all manner of suits. He loses his immunity from suit, both civil and criminal. So he is afraid that if he apologizes, in effect, some court might consider that as a confession admissible in court. Therefore, he will be his own worst witness. That is why he does not want to apologize. He wants to evade any criminal or even civil liability after 2016.

On the Ombudman's power to suspend Makati Mayor Binay

This is a case of first impression. Una, na-serve na ang suspension, saka pa lang nag-issue ng TRO ang Court of Appeals. Maraming kaso sa Korte Suprema tungkol sa TRO, the power of the Ombudsman, and what happens in such a case. So pinili ko ang prevailing case. Meaning to say, that is the leading case, and that is how the law should be interpreted. It is the case of Gobenciong v. Court of Appeals.

Sabi ni Mr. [Gobenciong] sa Korte Suprema, "There is something wrong with that Ombudsman. Ginawa niya ang preventive suspension ko na immediately executory. Hindi dapat ganoon kabilis. I still have time, under the Rules of Court, to file for reconsideration. Why did she suspend me immediately?"

Ang sabi ng Supreme Court, "There is a law giving that power to the Ombudsman." It was talking about the Ombudsman Act. The first reason of the Supreme Court is it is a locally awarded power given to the Ombudsman by the law. She has that power. The second is that it was not a penalty. We are not yet talking of suspension as a penalty; we are only talking of a preventive suspension. The only purpose of a preventive suspension, said the Supreme Court, is to prevent a sitting official from tampering with the records in his favour. The Court said that it's not even penal in nature yet, it's only preventive. That's why the Ombudsman can even issue a preventive suspension order without a hearing. She does not have to listen to the other side, because she is not punishing, she is merely preventing. That is the ruling in that case.

Normally, since it is the prevailing case, it should be followed in the case of Binay. There should therefore be no case of contempt found against the Ombudsman and her co-respondents such as the Secretary of Justice and others under this ruling. That's what the Supreme Court ruled. It's almost an identical case. The case was brought before the Court of Appeals and then it was brought to the Supreme Court. Likely, whoever loses at the level of the Court of Appeals will bring the case on a petition for review in the Supreme Court. So this contempt case will take a long time to litigate.

On the gridlock between suspended Makati Mayor Binay and acting Mayor Peña

The case has to be resolved by the courts as soon as possible because of the resulting gridlock between the two mayors. The immediate issue now is: Who will be followed by city hall employees. There are many reasons why the two parties want to be the acting mayor. The first reason is that there is a lot of money-under-the-table going on in every city hall in the country. The mayor, normally, in that kind of a situation, is also privy to that transaction. So he will lose a lot of money staying out of office for six months. Another reason would be the 2016 elections. Whoever is the incumbent will, of course, have the bigger advantage during the elections.

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