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ANSWERS TO ALLEGATIONS AGAINST COMMITTEE JURISDICTION IN THE PUNO PROBE

14 Sep

ANSWERS TO ALLEGATIONS AGAINST

COMMITTEE JURISDICTION IN THE PUNO PROBE

By

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago

Chair, Committee on Constitutional Amendments,

Revision of Codes and Laws

 Miriam Comment

 This paper should also be entitled “A Manual for the Nincompoop.”

FIRST ALLEGATION

The Senate Did Not Pass a Resolution, Therefore

the Committee Has No Jurisdiction.

 No. 1 Answer

 Under the Senate Rules:

 Sec. 17.  The transmittal of matters to the committees may be done with instructions through a motion by a majority of the senators present.

The use of the word “may” indicates permission, while the use of the word “shall” or “will” indicates compulsion.  Therefore, the use of the word “may” indicates that another method may be used, such as simple assumption of jurisdiction by the committee, instead of referral by the plenary session.

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IMPEACHMENT TRIAL MANIFESTATION – 7 May 2012

7 May

Point No. 1:  May this Court order the parties to end the trial on or before June 7, the scheduled end of the Congress session?

Under the Rules of Court, Rule 133, Sec. 6, the court has power to stop further evidence on a particular point, “when the evidence is already so full that some witnesses to the same point cannot be reasonably expected to be additionally persuasive.  But this power should be exercised with caution.”

Further, under Rule 119 Sec. 11 para. (c):  “The prosecution and the defense may, in that order, present rebuttal and sur-rebuttal evidence unless the court, in furtherance of justice, permits them to present additional evidence bearing upon the main issue.”  In People v. Tan, 315 SCRA 375 (1999), the Supreme Court ruled: “It is within the sound discretion of a trial judge to allow a party that has rested its case to introduce rebuttal evidence.”

Under the Rules of Court, Rule 135, Section 1: “Justice shall be impartially administered without unnecessary delay.”  Under Sec. 5, entitled Inherent Powers of Courts, “every court shall have power: (d) To control, in furtherance of justice, the conduct of its ministerial officers, and of all other persons in any manner connected with a case before it, in every manner appertaining thereto.”

In the Pres. Clinton impeachment case, the House of Representatives impeached him for perjury and obstruction of justice on 19 December 1998.  Senate trial began on 7 January 1999.  He was acquitted on 12 February 1999 – or a little over a month later.

Therefore, I humbly submit that this impeachment court, after nearly five months of trial, possesses authority to order the conclusion of trial on or before June 7, so as to allow judgment to be promulgated before Congress ends this session. 

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Interview with Sen. Santiago after her appearance in the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing (13 July 2011)

14 Jul

On changing the PCSO’s charter

Dapat lahat ng kinikita ng gobyerno dinideposito sa national treasury. Pagkatapos, ang paggastos sa pera na iyon ay ayon sa budget na una, sinusulat ng presidente tapos binibigay sa House of Representatives at sa Senate. Kaya dapat napupuna at napapaliwanag ang bawat gastos ng pera ng ating gobyerno.

There is no just one set of funds in the national treasury; there are several funds, for example, the charity funds of the sweepstakes. The board is free to authorize the appropriation or the spending without going through Congress and without going to media scrutiny. Meron tayo the Pagcor funds, otro din yun. Just like the road users’ fund noon, binatikos ko rin, dahil only a small group of bureaucrats determined how it should be spent.

My point is there should only be one control over all earnings of the government wherever they come from. It should go to just one fund and this one fund should be the basis of the budget of revenues and expenditures. Iyon lang ang gusto kong mangyari kaya papalitan natin ngayon ang batas ng Pagcor at Philippine Charity Sweepstakes. Hindi na sila puwede gumastos ng pera na sila sila lang. Kinikita nila dapat pumunta sa national treasury. Hindi sila ang magdedetermine, magdedesisyon kung paano gagastusin iyon. Basta ‘pag may kinita sila e deposito nila sa national treasury at isama na nila ang lahat ng pera na kinita ng ating gobyerno. Ang kongreso ngayon ang maghahatol kung saan gagastusin iyon.

On whether the bishops should be questioned further

Iyon na nga sinasabi ko, kasi kamukha ng road users’ fund iyan—tanong dito, tanong doon—sometimes, they’re not related to each other. Kaya mas maganda sana kung pinabigay nalang ng affidavit ang mga bishops because it’s going to take time. If you interpellate one you have to interpellate all of them just to be fair to them. That will take time. They will simply repeat what has already been said in an official letter signed by their CBCP president issued to the chairperson of the Blue Ribbon Committee, and today, read by him again in the public hearing. Basically, this will be a repetitive process.

I personally requested a member of the media plus a member of the staff of chairperson Senator Guingona to witness my blood pressure. My blood pressure reading was 160 over 100. The normal is 120 over 80. So I’m at risk of stroke. I was trying to hurry up with my paper, which was actually only 10 pages but I don’t see why I have to be admonished that I should stop now to give everybody else a chance. If I’m talking in my field of specialty, which is constitutional law, if I am talking in my official capacity as chair of the committee on the revision of laws, then I should be given some leeway, don’t you think? I should be given an extra 2 or 5 minutes, which is what I tried to do.

Is it true that you will file a criminal case against some members of the PCSO for depositing their funds in a private bank?

No. what I was saying was let’s initiate the criminal prosecution now. What I mean is, because the Senate does not have that power, to make a recommendation now without waiting for the rest of the controversial aspects of the so-called PCSO anomaly, to already send recommendations to the ombudsman, to start the preliminary investigation that the PCSO board members and other public officials are responsible for illegally depositing of P1.5 billion of PCSO funds in a private commbercial bank despite the fact that the law provides that whenever a government agency earns money, that money should be deposited in the Landbank or in the Development Bank.

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PUBLIC FUNDS AND INCIDENTAL RELIGIOUS BENEFIT: THE CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE

13 Jul

Statement at the public hearing on alleged PCSO anomalies

held by the blue ribbon committee on 13 July 2011

The Facts

It appears from the 2009 report by the Commission on Audit that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office charged to its Charity Fund the total amount of P6.94 million for five utility vehicles granted to certain dioceses of the Catholic church.

On the face of each check, in so many words, the following explanation was typed: “Purchase of one unit 4 x 4 service vehicle to be used by the diocese in its various community and health programs.”

Each of the bishops involved used the PCSO grants to purchase the following utility vehicles: a secondhand ten-year-old Nissan Pathfinder pickup; a Mitsubishi Strada pickup; a Toyota Grandia Hi-Ace; a Mitsubishi Montero; and an Isuzu Crosswind.

The COA report said that this action was a violation of the constitutional provision that no public money should be appropriated, directly or indirectly, for the use of any church.

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On the Necessity of Charter Change – Transcript of interview – 17 February 2011

18 Feb

IMG_0884

On the Senate committee on constitutional amendments hearing on the necessity of Charter change

Palagi na lang sinasabi na magkaroon tayo ng Cha-cha, pero wala namang katuturan iyon e kasi una, hindi nila naiintindihan kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng constitutional law, at, pangalawa, may political agenda, may mga motibo silang pampulitika tungkol sa charter change. Pero ngayon, ang dating chief justice ng supreme court, na wala naman sa pulitika, ay nagmumungkahi na palitan na ang konstitusyon, kaya yan ang dahilan kung bakit ang senate committee on constitutional amendments ay nag-umpisa ng mga hearing, at minabuti namin na makinig muna sa mga talagang marurunong na tao. Sila na siguro ang pinakamarunong na dalubhasa sa constitution at wala sila sa pulitika: itong dating Chief Justice puno, dating Chief Justice Florentino Feliciano–sa abroad, iginagalang iyang si Justice Feliciano, dito lang sa ating bayan hindi siya kilala. Tapos si Justice Mendoza , si dating UP President Dr. Jose Abueva,  si Dean Merlin Magallona ng UP College of Law, at si Prof. Rodolfo Azcuna na naging kasapi ng dalawang constitutional commissions. Ngayon makikita niyo itong mga dalubhasa mukhang gusto talaga nilang palitan ang ating Saligang Batas, at karamihan sila gusto ng parliamentary form of government.

Ngayon meron isang siguro siya na ang pinakamarunong at matalino sa lahat dahil siya na rin ang pinakamatanda sa kanilang lahat, sabi niya huwag tayong magmadali na buksan natin ang exploitation of natural resources o ang paggamit ng ating likas na yaman na ibigay natin sa dayuhan sa paniniwala natin na magkakaroon tayo ng kapital, huwag tayong magmadali diyan sabi niya. Kaya he is warning us about the desire to subordinate our national interest for the sake of getting the dollars from foreign investors.

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Discussing the Necessity of Charter Change: Introducing the Experts

15 Feb

Here are the profiles of the constitutional experts who will lecture at the inaugural hearing of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments on “The Necessity of Charter Change.”

The hearing will be held this Thursday, 17 February 2011, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at the Senate session hall and will be presided by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago.

Cjpuno

Photo from Wikipedia.org

1. CHIEF JUSTICE REYNATO S. PUNO

Law degree: University of the Philippines, 1962

Educational achievements: Doctor of Juridical Science (finished all academic requirements), University of Illinois, Champaign, Urbana, USA, 1969; Master of Laws, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA, 1968; Master of Comparative Laws (valedictorian), Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA, 1967

Awards:

  • UP’s Most Outstanding Law Alumnus, 1997
  • Outstanding Alumnus, UP Law, 1996
  • Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines in Law, 1977
  • Recipient, American Jurisprudence Prizes for excellence in Comparative Private International Law, U.S. Constitutional Structures, International Organization and Problems in Doing Business Abroad, given by the Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Co., New York and the Bancroft Whitney Publishing, Inc., 1966 to 1967

Former positions:

  • SC Chief Justice – 8 December 2006 to 17 May 2010
  • Special Lecturer on Constitutional Law, Philippine Judicial Academy

Present positions:

  • Resident Eminent Scholar, UP Law Center
  • Member, UP Board of Regents

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