Press Release
December 17, 2014


On the custody of Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton:

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago: That can be a subject of negotiation as it always has been. But the thing is, we don't want a negotiation in bad faith. Remember that other serviceman who was causing a furor nationally because of a similar case? Suddenly, without anyone having advance knowledge, he just flew on a plane and was no longer within our jurisdiction. The alleged victim herself was also granted a visa, so she also flew to the United States. That, for me, was proof of bad faith on the part of the United States, because everything was done in silence. If there is any arrangement to be made, it should be made transparently and the result should be made known to the public as soon as possible.

Our view of the VFA is that after a warrant of arrest has been issued, jurisdiction pertains to the Philippine authorities. Therefore, it is the Philippine government that will determine where the person must be detained. Normally, any person who has been formally accused in court goes to city jail. So Pemberton should go there. The normal measure for Filipinos should be taken as the normal measure as well. Otherwise, we will be giving undue discrimination in favor of a foreign national in our own country. We don't want that to happen. All that the Philippines is asking for is that the steps to be taken with Pemberton be pursuant to the steps to be taken with a Filipino is a similar situation.

On "very important prisoners" at the New Bilibid Prison:

That has been old hat. That's news of very old standing. That means that every time there is a change in leadership, that part of the detention center is left untouched. That also means that this system is protected by very high personnel, probably up to the Justice department, because the Bureau of Prison is under the Department of Justice. Of course I don't necessarily mean the Secretary of Justice. But there is a group of cabal in the Department of Justice who make sure that people understand that they extend their full protection to the men who conduct their business in the National Bilibid Prison. Several years ago, I recommended that we follow the procedure in the United State where prisoners are allowed not luxurious but at least improved circumstances of detention over those who are treated in the regular manner. Then we can make them pay and give the money for government funds. Unfortunately, that suggestion was not taken seriously. But this is done in the United States. If you cannot prevent it, then you must mitigate it. This has been going on for perhaps decades, and it has not been stopped. This means that this is institutionalized. Therefore, because there has been such a dramatic disclosure of the present situation, it should behoove the Department of Justice to name not just those who are actively involved in the system but also those who have protected it from the very start.

What should be done to the NBP officials who have allowed this?

There are principals, whereas the others are just accessories. If they are principals by commission, then they have higher criminal liability.

On bringing back death penalty:

We will have very stiff opposition from the European countries. I remember when there was a move to abolish death penalty, those who were strongest in its favor were the European countries. They tried to persuade us as much as they could. It would also not sit well with the Church, especially with the scheduled visit of the pope. The Church has always been anti-death penalty.

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