Press Release
October 4, 2016


Mr. President. Distinguished colleagues.

I rise today in response to what has been going on in and out of the halls of the Senate. In my 12 years as a legislator, I do not recall ever rising to respond to current events. Maraming beses po tayo tumayo para mag sponsor ng panukalang batas o committee report o resolusyon. Pero ngayon lang po tayo tumayo para mag komento sa mga nangyayari sa Senado, partikular na sa Justice Committee.


The Senate is not an institution of our own invention. Mula nung panahon ng ninuno natin meron ng Senado. Nung panahon ng ancient Rome and Greece, ang Senado ay dapat tumayong konseho ng mga nakaka-alam, mga dalubhasa o eksperto. O ang tinatawag na council of wise men.

As we celebrate the Senate's 100th year tomorrow, let us remember that the people have traditionally looked up to the Senate in times of difficulty, as a check on dictatorial tendencies, as a prober of anomalies in government, as a voice for the unlearned and the oppressed who have nowhere to turn for counsel.

The Senate has produced many of our country's finest men and women. Men like Ninoy Aquino, father of our last President and uncle of our hardworking colleague the chair of education, Senator Bam. Men like Jovito Salonga, Lorenzo Tanada and Jose Diokno who fought for democracy and freedom. Men who thought and planned big, dreamed big dreams, and built institutions. Just the other week we lost Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.


Deliberative bodies have existed practically since time immemorial and will no doubt continue to exist.

Inherent in the power to legislate is the power to investigate. Kaakibat ng ating mandato bilang Senado na mag-balangkas ng batas ay ang kapangyarihang magpatawag ng mga pagdinig, para magabayan tayo sa paglikha ng makabuluhang batas.

Legislative inquiries such as those before the Justice Committee to look into alleged extra judicial killings no doubt serve a purpose, and to this representation, that purpose can be only to:

First, find ways to improve law enforcement and the justice system. Senator Lacson, as a former police chief and having come from the ranks, said that he knows and understands their psyche, knows their frustrations over a flawed judicial system with unsympathetic, sometimes corrupt prosecutors.

I was encouraged by the line of questioning of the Minority Leader, Senator Recto and my seatmate Senator Joel Villanueva during yesterday's hearing, where they sought to elicit information regarding the weaknesses in law enforcement and the dispensation of justice, and more importantly perhaps, they sought to promote SOLUTIONS!

Second, to strengthen the Rule of Law and the respect for the law. A civilized country must train its law enforcers properly, to have respect for basic rights and due process. Mr. President I do suspect that there is a great temptation to exact swift justice on the part of our law enforcers given the difficulties encountered in securing convictions against known drug pushers or criminals.

The work of the Justice Committee is of tremendous importance in today's society. We must dig deep to know what the weak links are. Is it in the arrest stage? The investigation stage? The prosecutorial stage? Saan po ba nakakalusot ang mga criminal? Bakit po tumatagal ng husto ang mga kaso sa korte? Bakit maraming nakakalusot sa asunto? Nakakakuha po ba ng abogado ang mga mahihirap? Patas ba ang laban? Paano mapapabilis ang takbo ng mga kaso?


In fact, throughout the conduct of the EJK hearings, many important realities and points were brought up--particularly about the state of our law enforcement agencies.

We learned about delays in the issuances of search warrants. Gen. Dela Rosa said that the time a judge issues a search warrant greatly varies--ranging from three (3) days to several months. This varying period hampers not just the PNP's anti-drug initiatives, but in fact their operations in general.

We heard about the difficulties the PNP face with empowering their personnel. Gen. Dela Rosa cited the lack of PNP training facilities. COA reports that the PNP needs 3,000 more vehicles--as those existing are either personally owned by the police or loaned from LGUs. The PNP reportedly needs 18,000 short firearms and over 16,000 vehicles just to meet the ideal 15 minute-response of the 911 emergency service.

We also learned that 8 out 10 cases filed in PDEA end up being dismissed and that it takes, at the very least, a decade to convict those who are charged on illegal drugs. We should look into Sen. Pangilinan's suggestion to convene the Joint Judiciary Executive Legislative Advisory Council to iron out issues and gaps to speed up and modernize the justice system. The Senate can lead, but it cannot fight the battle alone.

Mr. President, the work of the Justice Committee is bigger than you, or me, or the President, or the Chairman, or any other senator. It should not be reduced to a game of my witness is better than your witness.

Our work here should transcend our political affiliations, because what we do here today and tomorrow, though they may not echo through eternity, will certainly have lasting effect on the public and our institutions.

Tumitingala po ang taumbayan sa Senado para hanapan ng solusyon ang matitinding suliranin ng lipunan. A sad day indeed if our people lose faith in the people who seek to protect them and if our people do not wish to go through established institutions to seek redress.

Let us focus on making JUSTICE real to our people. Yung ramdam talaga nila at ramdam din ng mga may masasamang balak, na kung sila'y nagkasala, sila ay mapaparusahan. LET us work in the coming weeks and months and years to move our justice system in the right direction, and to restore public trust in our institutions. JUSTICE must be swift and certain and ABOVE suspicion.

I am confident we can do it Mr. President, kaya natin yan. I look around the room and I see 2 former Secretaries of Justice who were both eminent law practitioners; I look at the current Chairman who labored for over 12 hours yesterday leading the Committee and am reminded of his days as Chairman of SBMA, when discipline was all around Subic.

Simpleng bagay, nirerespeto ng taumbayan ang speed limit dahil alam nilang mahuhuli sila at kung mahuli, walang lusot. I see beside the Chair his co-Chair, the gentleman Cavite a former head of the Philippine National Police, who is also known for his no nonsense approach. Add to this the brilliant presiding officer of our institution who also previously chaired the Justice Committee. As I said earlier, the gargantuan task of reforming our justice system cannot be accomplished by this body alone. We will need the help of the other branches.

Mr. President, the collective experience and wisdom of the aforementioned individuals coupled with the idealism and energy brought by our young colleagues (cite whoever in hall) is surely a great resource waiting to be tapped in the service of building better legal and judicial institutions.

We remember the words of Jose W. Diokno: "Yet justice must somehow be done or attempted to be done if society is to hold together. The alternative would be anarchy or dictatorship; and having experienced both, we Filipinos want neither. The question of what justice is is more than theoretical; it is imminently practical--and urgent. Somehow we must seek to answer it, however short of the perfection our answer may be."

This is why I rose today Mr. President, because every little action we take within view of our countrymen, can either elicit respect for, or diminish trust in, the Republic's hallowed institutions. I call on our colleagues, myself included, to exercise restraint, calm, sobriety and mutual respect in all our dealings with each other. Cognizant of the great purpose we are called upon to serve and to do justice to every Filipino.

Thank you.

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