Archive | November, 2011

Interview transcript – 28 November 2011

29 Nov

On the RH bill: Who among the Senate leaders are allegedly using delaying tactics?

What we are hoping is we stop now the period of interpellations because this has gone on for so long. The interpellation has gone so far as to cover the chemical composition of a contraceptive pill! What is the relationship of the chemical composition of a tablet to the merits of the reproductive health bill? Our position with Sen. Pia Cayetano is that we should now move on to the period of amendments. However, we shall still be willing, during the period of amendments, to answer interpellations just in case there are still any left. That is at least so we can move forward because the public is now very restive.

In my last university symposium, 3,000 students expressed through their student leaders the suspicion that the length of time that has been taken by the interpellation is deliberately being resulted to as a delaying tactic. The student leaders there, who came from U.P., La Salle, and Pamantansan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa, declared that any senator who votes against RH will be considered by their group to be an anti-youth senator.

Who among the senators are causing the delay?

These are the officers of the Senate, since we have to obey what the officers tell us.

When shall you move to the period of amendments?

Perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow. I still have to consult with Sen. Cayetano. It’s not in the agenda today. Normally, it is the Senate Majority Floor Leader who determines, after consultation with the Senate President, on what should be the agenda for the day.



25 Nov

Some 3,000 students of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa pledged thru social media, to urge Congress to vote on the Reproductive Health bill, after 10 years of legislative debates.

The students vowed to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media at an assembly sponsored by the Forum for Family Planning and Development featuring Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, author of the RH bill.

Santiago was welcomed to Muntinlupa by Mayor Aldrin San Pedro, who was one of the special guests of the university.



24 Nov

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago today filed Senate Bill No. 3069, which mandates the Department of Justice to apply with the Regional Trial Court for the issuance of a hold departure order (HDO) against an accused person under preliminary investigation.

If approved by Congress, the measure will, in effect, nullify DOJ Circular No. 41, and remove from the Secretary of Justice the power to issue HDOs against persons under investigation for alleged crimes committed.       


Interview transcript – 23 November 2011

23 Nov

On this morning’s Commission on Appointments hearing on the appointment of Mr. Domingo Lee as ambassador

This has been more or less a characteristic feature of the Commission on Appointments. If so much as just one senator or congressman has his curiosity unsatisfied, we have to keep on postponing the deliberations until all the questions have been answered, and the person involved—the congressman or senator from the Commission on Appointments—has already reached a conclusion on whether he should vote yes or no, meaning to say he will exercise his one-person veto. If we, for example, in this particular committee on foreign affairs, override Sen. Osmeña, who is interpellating, certainly he will exercise his veto in the plenary session. So it’s useless to stop him at this point. If he has anymore questions, we just have to wait until he feels that the nominee has satisfactorily answered his questions or not. That is for him to decide. We cannot stop him because, otherwise, it will be counterproductive. He will just exercise his one-person veto in the plenary session.


Interview transcript – 23 November 2011

23 Nov

On the calls for Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation from office

Ang lagi kong sinasabi, kung sinumang opisyal ang involved, iyan ay para sa kanya, hindi siya pwedeng mapilit. Personal decision niya iyan, nasa kanya iyon. Halimbawa, kung masyadong matagal ang absence niya, for delicadeza dapat na lang siyang magresign. Ako noon, nag-leave for six months dahil may sakit nga ako, nagtanong muna ako sa human resources kung kailangan kong magresign kung ganoon katagal. Pinag-aralan nila ang civil service law, at wala naman palang minimum limit iyan, kaya hindi pwedeng sabihin na gayong six months akong absent pwede na akong magresign. So it is for the House of Representatives as a collegiate body to decide whether the number of absences has already exceeded what they consider reasonable. But remember, there was one member before from the Visayas region who was absent, I think, for years and he was not compelled to resign. So that will have to be a private decision from Rep. Arroyo because, after all, it will concern her health.



23 Nov

The right to privacy of a person accused of a crime is subordinate, but only to a limited extent, to the public interest in obtaining information. The constitutional right to a public trial is a privilege intended for the benefit of the accused. Public trial does not entitle the press or the public to take advantage of the accused’s involuntary exposure at the bar of justice “to picture his or her plight in the toils of the law.” This was the decision of an American court in the 1956 case of In re Mack.[1]


Interview Transcript – 21 November 2011

21 Nov

The issue of whether the DOJ-Comelec task force to investigate election fraud is constitutional is a no-brainer.  It is constitutional. Number one: the Constitution provides that the Comelec is an independent agency. Number two, in the landmark case of Macalintal v. Comelec, the Supreme Court itself said the meaning of the phrase “the Comelec shall be an independent” means that it shall be independent of both the Congress and the Supreme Court. Neither Congress nor the Supreme Court has supervisory authority over the Comelec, and therefore we should leave the Comelec alone to discharge as it sees fit its main function which is to ensure free, orderly, and honest elections. So if the Comelec decides to go into a joint partnership with the DOJ in the trial and prosecution of electoral cases, that is well within its mandate. I am afraid that this petition from the Arroyo camp is very weak and will not prosper since there is no question about the constitutional independence of the Comelec. I am afraid that the anti-Comelec petition of the Arroyo camp is going to die a natural death.


Miriam on 2012 budget: Gov’t underspent this year; 2012 deficit understated

16 Nov

The Senate budget debate kicked off with skepticism from Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, criticizing the government’s massive underspending for this year.

“It could have been deliberate, or caused by bureaucratic red tape.  Or, it could have resulted from incompetence on the part of spending agencies,” she said.

To support her charge of massive underspending, Santiago said that while the total programmed expenditures for the first quarter of this year was P1.042 trillion, the total actual expenditures was only P 848 billion.

“The extent of under-spending of the productive part of the budget was P194 billion,” Santiago said.

In view of the massive underspending this year, Santiago said that the budget seems to have become a drag on economic growth, instead of becoming a tool for national development.

Santiago warned that the emerging deficit in 2012 might be around P350 billion rather than P 286 billion, as forecast by the administration.

“I have serious doubts on whether the Bureau of Customs can collect P365.1 billion in 2012.  In the first three quarters of 2011, the BoC had a shortfall of P35 billion.  Hence, in 2011, the BoC is expected to have a revenue shortfall of around P 49 billion,” she said.

Santiago said that the administration should immediately address the emerging large budget deficit.

“The administration should cut spending, raise taxes, raise the deficit level, or combine the three,” she said.

Santiago said that because of the emerging large budget deficit, it is likely that the P1.854 trillion budget has to be cut.

“In the event of a budget adjustment plant because of a larger deficit, the plan should be first discussed with Congress, and congressional concurrence should first be obtained,” the senator said.

Santiago, who previously exposed abuses with the Road Users Tax, said that the proceeds of certain funds exempt from congressional revenue and approval should be deposited with the National Treasury, and the users should be subject to congressional revenue and authorization.

The senator referred to the PCSO Fund, the PAGCOR Fund, the Malampaya Fund, the Road Users Tax, and many more such funds.

“The right to travel is a fundamental right” (Interview transcript – 15 November 2011)

16 Nov

The Supreme Court decision to issue a temporary restraining order against the Department of Justice’s watch-list order against the Arroyos was an exhibition of judicial sagacity and sobriety.

The Constitution provides “Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health”. Therefore, the right to travel is a constitutionally protected right, or in other words, it is a fundamental right. The right to travel means that if there’s any doubt if a citizen can travel or not, the doubt must be resolved in favor of the citizen.  That is the meaning of the fact that the right is protected, not in an ordinary bill, but in the constitution itself.

The constitutional provision allows only three exceptions. They are national security, public safety, and public health. The administration has disallowed Rep. Arroyo from going abroad on the ground of national interest. Notice that in the language of the constitution, national interest is not an exception. It is a very serious and grave mistake. To think that national security, public safety, or public health can be interchanged with public interest, they are putting words in the mouth of the Constitution. That is why the Supreme Court ruling is correct. And it is also significant that the Constitutional provision provides that there could be three exceptions as may be provided by law, meaning a law passed by Congress. Congress has never passed a law defining for us what is the meaning of national security, public safety, or public health. Therefore, in my view, the Supreme Court has no choice but to allow Rep. Arroyo to travel. In fact, it should have struck down entirely the entire watch-list practice of the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice has no constitutional or legal basis—legal from the point of view of the Congress as legislature—for issuing watch-list hold orders or hold departure orders on its own. It must prove that there is a law that authorizes it. It only invokes its own Memorandum Circular No. 41. An agency cannot grant power to itself by issuing a memorandum circular. It is basic for an agency seeking power must be able to source that power from an enactment of the Congress of the Philippines, duly signed into law by the President. The memorandum circular is self-serving, and it’s not worth the paper it is written on.


Statement by Prof. Dr. Miriam Defensor Santiago Before the Sixth Committee Plenary Meeting On the report of the work of the 63rd session of the International Law Commission

10 Nov

27 October 2011, United Nations Headquarters, New York

Mr. Chairman:

As it is my first time to address this meeting, allow me the pleasure of extending my warmest felicitations to you on your election and that of the members of the Bureau.  Allow me to express once again my delegation’s firm commitment to support you in advancing the important work on this agenda item.

Mr. Chairman:

Respect for and adherence to the rule of law has allowed nations to thrive.  It lays out the firm foundations for a freer and more just world, guides us in our national efforts to achieve lasting peace, sustainable progress and fuller prosperity and moves us in the establishment and maintenance of our respective relations with other members in the larger international community in pursuit of common goals.

As a matter of consequence and duty, therefore, we must ensure that respect for and adherence to the rule of law – as expressed in various commitments under international law – are faithfully observed.

As a matter of consequence and duty too, we must ensure that international law remains responsive to the many changes and developments that impact on the legal framework that defines the rights and obligations of States.

In this regard, the important role and function of the International Law Commission cannot be overstated.

With the “promotion of the progressive development of international law and its codification,” as its object, the Commission and its work are of clear strategic value to the international community.

Since its establishment pursuant to Resolution 174 of 1947, the Commission has positively considered and acted on many topics in its long term programme of work;the Philippines commends the Commission for its laudable work and considerable output.

Given the Commission’s track record, the Philippines is confident that the Commission will continue to carry out its mandate.

Mr. Chairman:

The Philippines welcomes the publication of the report of the 63rd session of the International Law Commission.

The report is comprehensive and detailed, showing the significant workload of and the progress made by the Commission on a number of items.  The Philippines wishes to focus its comments on the Commission’s work on the “Effects of Armed Conflicts on Treaties” which was included in the Commission’s Programme of Work in its fifty-sixth session.

Since 2004, the Commission adopted, on second reading, a set of 18 draft articles together with commentaries on the effects of armed conflicts on treaties.  In accordance with article 23 of its Statute, the Commission also recommended to the General Assembly to take note of the draft articles in a resolution and to annex them to the resolution, and to consider, at a later stage, the elaboration of a convention on the basis of the draft articles.

For these advancements, we are thankful to Special Rapporteur Mr. Lucius Caflisch for his outstanding work and the contributions of his predecessor Sir Ian Brownlie.


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