Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago cried foul over reports that so-called VIP prisoners enjoy extravagant accommodations in jails.
“How can there be justice in our correctional system when we have a double standard between poor and rich inmates?” the senator asked.
Santiago cited news reports of rich high-risk prisoners in the New Bilibid Prison staying in airconditioned rooms, enjoying contraband supplies such as illegal drugs and alcohol, and even taking in sex workers.
Some VIP inmates reportedly drive around the penitentiary grounds in golf carts, electric motorcycles, and tricycles.
It was also reported that the maximum security compound has its own dress shops, wet and dry markets, fruit stands, as well as facilities such a jazz bar, plaza, and tennis court.
“These prisoners are supposed to be experiencing punishment for their crimes, not taking a vacation. They are making a mockery out of the justice system by turning our jails into their own private resorts,” she said.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, member of the bicameral Commission on Appointments, denounced as “indubitably unethical, unprincipled, and reeks of trapo politics” what she said is a plot to obtain confirmation of DSWD Sec. Corazon Soliman, over her opposition and those of certain House representatives.
Santiago said that the Commission on Appointments, headed by Senate president Franklin Drilon, originally scheduled the plenary session for Soliman’s nomination yesterday (Wednesday).
But earlier yesterday, Drilon suddenly postponed the plenary session for Soliman’s nomination to next Wednesday, June 11.
“On the June 4 plenary session, I am allowed to raise my veto against Soliman. But on June 11, I will lose the veto, because of the Rules of the Commission on Appointments. Thus, Drilon and his Liberal Party cohorts will be able to deny my veto power by simply postponing the plenary session by one week,” Santiago said.
Santiago said that Soliman has been “overstaying” as acting DSWD secretary from the time Pres. Aquino assumed office, and the LP is now resorting to “dirty tricks” to get Soliman confirmed.
On the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed by the US and PH yesterday (28 April 2014)
This is an unfair surprise on the PH Senate which, under the Constitution, shares the treaty-making power with the President. All the while, the Committee on Foreign Relations, of which I am chair, expected that any such Agreement would be signed by the two Presidents. I have argued that such an Agreement should first be submitted for concurrence to the Senate. (There was no hint that the Agreement has been downgraded, for signature not by the two Presidents, but only by the defense secretary and the American ambassador in Manila.) This contretemps does not indicate good faith on the part of the two Presidents. The use of guile in diplomacy should be limited to state-to-state situations, and should not include a situation involving only two branches of the same government.
What should Filipinos think about when it comes to this agreement with the US?
Filipinos should keep uppermost the supremacy of the Philippine Constitution. We should not accommodate any foreign power at the cost of the sovereignty of our Constitution, even if the problem is presented as if it were a problem of national survival.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago named Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who is accused of plunder, as the “brains and financier,” of an alleged psywar destabilization operation that she said began with yesterday’s story in an opposition paper alleging that ranking officials of the Aquino administration are the mastermind behind the pork barrel scandal.
The long story, carried prominently by an obscure opposition newspaper, suspiciously quoted unnamed sources, and failed to refer to any official document.
The suspicious story cited anonymous sources claiming that the most guilty in the pork scam are Pres. Aquino’s trusted allies in the Liberal Party, namely, DBM Sec. Florencio Butch Abad, Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala, Senate President Franklin Drilon, and the self-described independent senator Francis Escudero.
At various intervals, the story claimed that there is an alleged list of all other high public officials implicated in the pork scam, held by at least four people, none of whom revealed the contents of the list.
Those who claim to have this list which, at this writing, has not been shown to the media, are: Janet Napoles, also accused of plunder; justice secretary Leila de Lima; controversial personality identifying herself as an alleged whistleblower, Sandra Cam; and presidential assistant and staunch Enrile ally, Panfilo Lacson.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said that “there is a vast, costly, and sinister disinformation operation” to compel the Ombudsman to grant the motions for reconsideration of three senators whom she has found to be liable for plunder in the pork barrel scam.
“The principals in this massive psywar operation are: Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile; his former chief of staff Gigi Reyes; and Enrile’s ally and attack dog Panfilo Lacson,” Santiago said in a commencement speech yesterday at the Lyceum University-Laguna.
Santiago earlier made the same accusation at separate phone-patch radio interviews with Radyo Bombo Iloilo, and with Radyo Inquirer.
“Enrile, 90, is facing suspension from office as senator, and imprisonment in a detention cell while facing trial. He is desperate to prevent the Ombudsman from filing the case against him in court,” Santiago said.
She said that this “trinity of unholy conspirators” include Lacson and Reyes, because both were granted safe haven in Cagayan, his hometown, by Enrile.
Lacson was a fugitive from justice who was never punished by the court when he finally appeared.