(Sen. Santiago being interviewed by reporters after her speech in the symposium at the Far Eastern University Auditorium on 27 January 2011)
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a multi-awarded former RTC judge, said that she finds it “suspicious” that the prosecutors in the Garcia plunder case found no strong evidence, in the light of the legal provision that in a plunder case, it is sufficient to show a pattern of criminal acts.
“The anti-plunder act provides that it is not necessary to prove each and every criminal act, and proof of a mere pattern of criminal acts is enough. Thus, there seems to be no basis for the prosecution’s findings that evidence against Garcia is insufficient,” she said.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s speech at the symposium sponsored by the FEU “Y” Club, Institute of Arts and Sciences Student Council, and the Political Science International Studies Society, at the Far Eastern University Auditorium on 27 January 2011.
The Constitution provides: “The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building.” In addition, the Constitution also provides: “Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.” Thus, it is no less than a constitutional mandate, to give young people a vital role in nation- building. To empower young people in our universities to play this vital role, the State should consistently uphold the principle of transparency in governance.
In social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, you have the opportunity to express your opinion in fighting the culture of corruption in our society. And the Constitution protects you by guaranteeing the right to information. You can go to any government office and obtain access to official records. But in today’s society, you do not have to physically go to the government office concerned. You can access its official records on the internet which, together with mobile phones, constitute what are now called the new media.
Our Constitution is unique among the constitutions of the world, because it has a specific provision protecting the right to information, thus: “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, . . . as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.”
With this constitutional background, I urge you as FEU students to study the case of WikiLeaks, winner of the 2009 New Media Award for human rights reporting, from Amnesty International.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago will be the main speaker in a forum headed by the Scrap VFA! Movement on 4 February 2011 at 10:00 a.m. at the Claro M. Recto Room, Faculty Conference Hall, at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago yesterday said that online journalists and bloggers should be included in a Senate bill seeking to protect journalists.
Senate Bill No. 455, now pending in the Senate plenary, amends the Penal Code provision on murder. It qualifies to murder the killing of members of the broadcast and print media in the lawful exercise of their functions.
“There is no reason why only members of the broadcast and print media should be included in the proposed law,” Santiago said. “Due regard must also be given to practitioners of the ‘digital media,’ or those whose mode of communication is the internet and mobile phones.”
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws, said that hearings on proposals for constitutional revision will begin in the middle of February next month.
“It is the prerogative of Congress to initiate charter change hearings. It might not be a priority for the executive branch, but it will be among the priorities of the legislative branch,” said Santiago, a recognized constitutional law expert and professor.
Speech at the founding anniversary of the PNP Intelligence Group at Camp Crame, Quezon City, on 17 January 2011
Human Security Act
One of the better ways to observe the founding anniversary of the PNP Intelligence Group is to take a brief look at R.A. No. 9372, “An Act to Secure the State and Protect our People from Terrorism,” also known as the 2007 Human Security Act. The law defines terrorism as a crime under the Penal Code, which creates a “condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand.” The penalty is 40 years imprisonment, without the benefit of parole.
Since terrorism is a modern global phenomenon, the law gives to the police or any other law enforcement official expanded power to conduct surveillance of suspects, and to intercept communications, or in other words, to conduct wiretapping. But you can only do this upon written order of the Court of Appeals. Further, you are prohibited from wiretapping communications between lawyers and clients, doctors and patients, journalists and their sources, and confidential business correspondence.