Miriam: Chief Justice issue now closed

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a constitutional law expert, said that the issue of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s assumption to office has already been laid to rest under the doctrine of res judicata, meaning that it can no longer be relitigated in court, because it has already been decided with finality.

“After the Supreme Court decision in De Castro v. Judicial and Bar Council last March, which settled the issue, any petition is now precluded, on the theory of so-called collateral estoppel,” she said.

Santiago warned critics to obey the rule of law, which she defined as “the doctrine that general constitutional principles are the result of judicial decisions determining the right of private individuals in the courts.

“The problem with the critics is that they mistake the law as it is; with the law as it ought to be, according to their layman’s interpretation. A line has to be drawn between the rule of law and the dystopian concept of freewheeling ethics,” she said.

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Transcript of Sen. Santiago’s interview over at DZBB – 16 May 2010

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago was interviewed by Nimfa Ravelo the day after the Commission on Elections proclaimed Santiago as a second-term senator.

MDS: Galing lang ako sa Tagaytay and I had time to think about the past elections and come to certain conclusions. Pinag-isipan ko kung ano ang pinapahiwatig ng ating halalan. Una, itong si President [Noynoy] Aquino natin ay kailanman hindi nag-ambisyon maging presidente; nakita mo naman bilang bahagi ng Senate media na tahimik lang siya at hindi siya nangangampanya o nagmamalaki na tatakbo talaga siya kahit anong mangyari bilang presidente. Hindi man lamang dumaan iyan sa bibig niya, ang pagka-presidente. Ang leksyon siguro diyan ay bawat tao siguro ay may destiny or swerte—swerte niya siguro ang maging presidente kahit anong gawin mo. And to be fair to president Aquino, he never decided for himself. I never heard him saying any personal ambition .

Pangalawa, kahit hindi ako kasama sa kanyang Nacionalista Party, ang kandidato kong pagka-Senate President ay si Sen. Manuel Villar, at malamang siya na nga ang maging Senate President dahil meron kaming numero, we have the numbers. Ang tingin ko diyan, kung gusto niyang maging Senate President, he already has it.

NIMFA RAVELO: Iyon nga po ang gusto kong itanong sa inyo, kung ano ang inyong tantiya sa kung sino ang magiging Senate President

MDS: Ang pagkaalam ko ang Liberal Party ay sumusubok din, pero meron pa lang silang mga anim pa lang na tao. You know we need a majority of the senators, kaya malamang ang mangyayari sa Senado, it will be playing the part of the loyal opposition, as they say in the parliamentary system in England. Ibig sabihin, dapat sumuporta pa rin kami sa president dahil ang gulo-gulo ng bansa kung mag-away ang dalawang sangay ng gobyerno, at masama ito para sa negosyo. Kung sumama ito para sa negosyo, bagsak ang ekonomiya.

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Breaking News from Inquirer.net: Santiago warns Aquino on an ‘opposition’ Congress

By Christine Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:28:00 05/16/2010


MANILA, Philippines — Likely president-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III may face an opposition Congress, with defeated presidential candidate and Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, incoming Pampanga representative, working to gain the Senate presidency and the House Speakership respectively.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago raised a potentially challenging situation for the would-be Aquino government, as she stressed that Villar had the “numbers” to regain the Senate presidency. She added that Ms Arroyo, being a shrewd leader and having made preparations for her new life in Congress, could just clinch the House leadership.

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Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a constitutional law expert, told the Senate media that the Election Code does not allow postponement of elections nationwide, although it allows the Comelec to declare a failure of elections nationwide.


“There is a big difference between postponement of elections and declaration of failure of elections.  In the case of postponement, the law allows it only in a political subdivision, such as a town or a province.  In the case of failure of elections, the law allows it nationwide,” she said.

Santiago made the statement during an interview yesterday (Wednesday, 5 May 2010) with Senate media who were aboard the plane returning to Manila from Iloilo City, where Santiago joined a Nationalista Party rally.

“The key phrase is found in the Election Code, Section 5, which authorizes the postponement of elections in any political subdivision, emphasis on subdivision,” she said.

Santiago also cited the 1988 case of Dimaporo v. Comelec, where the Supreme Court ruled that the Comelec may postpone the elections only “in the province or locality concerned.”

Santiago also predicted that if election lawyer Romulo Macalintal has already filed his petition with the Comelec to postpone the elections for 15 days, that petition is “doomed,” for lack of time.


“Under R.A. No. 7166, only the Comelec en banc has the power to postpone an election.  But it can only do so, after due notice and hearing to all interested parties.  Between now and Monday, there is not enough time to serve notices, file oppositions, and present evidence,” she said.

Santiago said that Comelec yesterday (Wednesday) started distributing a “continuity plan,” as provided by the Automated Election Law.

“This continuity plan is designed in case of a systems breakdown or any such eventuality which shall result in the delay, obstruction, or nonperformance of the electoral process,” she said.

Santiago also said that unlike postponement of elections, the provision on failure of election allows the Comelec to call for a new election within 30 days after the failure of elections.

“If we proceed with the elections as scheduled, in case there is serious cause, the Comelec can still declare a failure of elections.  The causes for the declaration of a failure of election may occur before, or after, the casting of votes or on election day,” she said.

Santiago said that in the 2010 case of Roque v. Comelec, the Supreme Court quoted Comelec chair Jose Melo, who said that a nationwide failure of elections is impossible.

“Under the principle of primary jurisdiction, if the courts or the Comelec have overlapping jurisdictions, the court prefers for the Comelec to first resolve the issues,” Santiago said.


Santiago also said that the Rules of Court provides a disputable presumption that official duty has been regularly performed, and hence, that the continuity plan distributed yesterday by the Comelec will serve to uphold the will of the people.

“Thus, the burden of proof will be on the petitioner.  He has to present a preponderance of evidence to show that the reported lapses of the PCOS machines are not anecdotal, but either universal or preponderant.  It will be extremely difficult for the petitioners to present evidence prior to election day,” she said.

Santiago also quoted the American election authority Floyd Mechem.

“Mechem said that the date of the election is a matter of substance.  The date set by law must be substantially observed, or the election will be void. Substantial observation is enough, and slight variations will not invalidate the election.  That is the case law,” she said.