Interview transcript – 28 November 2011

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.

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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.

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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.       

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Interview transcript – 23 November 2011

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.

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Interview transcript – 23 November 2011

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.

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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]

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Interview Transcript – 21 November 2011

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.

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