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Miriam to Miriam: Sen. Santiago’s letter to Coronel-Ferrer on the Bangsamoro Agreement

7 Apr

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago wrote Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the chair of the government peace panel, regarding the latter’s statement that the peace panel will be seeking a meeting with the senator and other legislators to extensively discuss the different provisions in the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro) and to allow for a deeper understanding of the context and substance of the documents.

Sen. Santiago earlier stated that the CAB is unconstitutional because it allegedly violates the principle of constitutional supremacy.

Sen. Santiago's Letter to Miriam Coronel-Ferrer


3 Apr

Sen. Santiago was the guest speaker at the commencement exercises of the Gordon College in Olongapo City last 2 April 2012.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, said that the recently signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro which includes as an integral part some 12 agreements, including the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, is unconstitutional because it allegedly violates the principle of constitutional supremacy.

The senator said that the Agreement establishes not a mere autonomous region as provided for by the Constitution, but a substate which will exercise certain sovereign powers that should be reserved only for the central government.

Santiago, a former professor of constitutional law at the University of the Philippines, appeared to be particularly incensed by the Agreement which provides in Part 7, para. 4, subpara. (b), that one of the functions of the Transition Commission is the following:

“To work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of accommodating and entrenching in the Constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior past agreements.”

Santiago said that this provision is “beyond ridiculous.”



31 Mar

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, arguably the most fearless female member of the Philippine Senate ever, shakes hands with graduating students of West Visayas State University (WVSU) in Iloilo City over the weekend (28 March 2014). The Ilongga senator, a native of Iloilo and invited WVSU commencement speaker, challenged students to get involved in the battle against corruption in the country. (Photo by Tara Yap , Manila Bulletin - )


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said she is filing a resolution for the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to expand its current pork barrel probe into the culpability of the implementing agencies listed in the 2013 and prior budgets.

Santiago said that the heads of certain implementing agencies such as the Technology Research Center (TRC), National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR), and Muslim Youth Foundation are “equally guilty” with the lawmakers in committing the crime of plunder or malversation of pork barrel funds.”

“The implementing agencies should never have allowed the corrupt politicians to exert pressure in favor of certain NGOs, who are supposed to have their own funds from nongovernmental sources,” the senator said.

Santiago said that NGOs should source their funds, not from the pork barrel, but from international donors, international financing institutions, corporate donors, etc.

“At present, there appears to be no government agency that monitors the flow of public funds to hundreds of NGOs, legitimate or illegitimate. They could be political NGOs, quasi-NGOs (QUANGOs), NGOs run by socialites, or NGOs run by wives of public tycoons,” she said.



24 Mar

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations, and judge-elect of the International Criminal Court, said that the Philippine government should decide whether to recognize the new independent state of Crimea by taking into account non-legal factors, such as diplomatic abilities, the ability to raise international support, the ability to influence the media, and even military power.

“International law is neutral with respect to secession. International law neither prohibits nor promotes secession. The independence of Crimea will depend upon the acceptance of the international community,” the senator said.

Santiago made the statement at the International Youth Conference in Taguig City last 21 March 2014 sponsored by the AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-driven organization representing some 124 countries and some 2,400 universities.



17 Feb

Sen. Santiago interpellates Ruby Tuason during the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on the PDAF scam last 13 February 2014

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a multiawarded former RTC judge, said that the mere presence of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile during the times when his chief of staff Atty. Gigi Reyes met with Ruby Tuason is enough proof of a conspiracy, and proves Enrile’s guilt “to a moral certainty.”

“It is now obvious that Tuason was covering up for Enrile, so that the entire criminal liability for plunder could be shifted to Reyes alone. That is devious of Tuason, and heartless of Enrile. He is ready to sacrifice Reyes to save himself,” Santiago said.



29 Jan

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, in one of her rare appearances in the Senate last Monday, dared her colleagues to support a legal provision making it mandatory for government to publish in a website, not only the basic salary, but also the allowances and other sources of personal income of all public officials, both elected and appointed.

She issued the challenge while interpellating Sen. Grace Poe on the proposed Freedom of Information bill last January 27.

“The basic monthly salary of a senator is P90,000. But if you add all other legitimate sources of income such as allowances and honoraria, the total monthly income of a senator could be placed at some P1.4 million,” she said.

The senator said that this amount came from computations made by the Senate finance and administrative services department.

Santiago said that if the proper information is published in a government website, the voters would know during election period whether they want to pay that much for the services of a person who might not even be a high school graduate.

“There are some senators who did not finish high school or college. Do we really want to pay them this high a salary? That is a valid concern that voters might want to address, if they have access to information,” the feisty senator said.



22 Jan

If President Aquino merely confined himself to attempts to influence the outcome of the impeachment trial last year, he did not commit a crime. But if he bribed the senator-judges to convict the accused, then he is guilty of bribery as prohibited by law and as a ground for his own impeachment under the Constitution.

It is not a crime for the President to try to influence the outcome, because an impeachment trial is both legal and political in nature. It is illegal for the President to try and influence the courts, because of the principle of independence of the judiciary. But it is legal for the President to try and influence the senator-judges, because he is the nominal head of his political party, and within bounds, he has the right to assure his political survival.

In his privilege speech, Sen. Ramon Revilla, Jr. claimed that Pres. Aquino had him fetched from his house and brought to Malacañang, where the President allegedly tried to convince him to withstand pressures from civil society to acquit.

Hence, I shall deal with two issues: judicial review of impeachment trial; and the constitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), particularly when it is apparently used as a bribe.



12 Dec

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago appealed to budget secretary Florencio Abad to recommend a presidential veto of an item in the 2014 budget appropriating overP800 million for the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, created by a law authored by then Rep. Juan Ponce Enrile. The exact appropriation is P890,886,000.

The CEZA, reportedly run by Enrile’s family, is notorious for smuggling and illegal gambling.

Santiago described the appropriation as illegal and immoral. She said that even with a Special Provision, it will become a lump sum, subject to Enrile’s discretion. Allegedly, this outcome would violate the landmark Supreme Court ruling that all kinds of pork barrel are unconstitutional.

The senator also said that it is “extravagant” to spend such a lump sum for an alleged “deeper navigation channel” in Port Irene, when the government is cash-strapped, and when the budget describes the mandate as: “to develop CEZA into a self-sustaining area.”



22 Nov

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said that with evidence pointing to Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile as the mastermind in the P10 billion pork barrel scam, Janet Lim-Napoles is no longer the most guilty among the accused in the plunder case, and is now qualified to be a state witness.

Santiago was reacting to news that the Ombudsman field team has submitted a report fingering Enrile as the real mastermind of the fraudulent scam that ran for some ten years, including the period when he was Senate President.

Earlier Santiago, in a rare public appearance, attended the Senate hearing where she interpellated Napoles and, by sheer lawyer’s logic, led the TV public to the conclusion that she herself categorically declared: “Enrile is the mastermind, and Napoles can turn state witness.”

Santiago said that under the Rules of Court, the motion to discharge Napoles to be a state witness should be filed by the prosecution before the Sandiganbayan, aka the anti-graft court.

The senator, a multiawarded former trial judge, said there are six requirements for an accused to be discharged as state witness: absolute necessity for her testimony; no other direct evidence except her testimony; substantial corroboration in the material points of the testimony; the accused has not been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude; and the accused does not appear to be the most guilty.

Santiago said that “in all likelihood” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales will adopt the report of her field team. Morales has announced that the plunder cases against some 38 accused, including Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, and Sen. Bong Revilla Jr., will be resolved before the end of December this year.

She said that once the Ombudsman resolves to file the cases in the Sandiganbayan, automatically, the Sandigan under the anti-plunder law, will order the suspension from the Senate of the three senators.

The court will also order a bail hearing immediately to determine if evidence of guilty is storng. In plunder cases, there is no right to bail.

“If the Sandigan discharges Napoles as a state witness, this means that in effect she has been acquitted. But she has to comply with the condition that she must specify every single detail of the scam hatched by the mastermind and carried out by her fake NGOs,” Santiago said.

Santiago said that if the Sandigan as a trial court discharges Napoles, even if Enrile appeals the order to the Court of Appeals, the latter will not interfere unless Enrile can show grave abuse of discretion.

“The philosophy behind the state witness procedure is to give immunity to one of the conspirators in order that not all shall escape, particularly the mastermind,”she said.

She cited the principle that: “Where a crime is contrived in secret, the discharge of one of the conspirators is essential so that she can testify against the other conspirators.”

Santiago said that Napoles’ testimony is absolutely necessary because she alone has knowledge of the entire crime, and her testimony is not simply corroborative.

She added that under Supreme Court decisions, when Napoles applies in the Sandigan for discharge, she is required to file a sworn statement as a proposed state witness.

“Because she has to file a sworn statement in court, I would strongly urge that Napoles should file a petition in court to perpetuate her testimony. She must file such a petition, because her life is in danger as a potential state witness.” In her petition, Napoles must give the facts which she desires to establish by her proposed testimony, and the reasons for desiring to perpetuate it. Napoles will have to name the adverse parties, such as senators Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla so that their lawyers can be present during her deposition,” she said.

“The Sandigan will grant the petition for perpetuation of testimony to prevent a failure of justice. The lawyers of both the petitioners and the adverse parties, together with the clerk of court, will then go to Napoles and either ask verbal questions or present her with written questions which she must then answer at that place. A court stenographer will be present to take down her testimony,” the senator said.


20 Nov

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, considered the constitutional law expert of the Senate, said upon learning of the Supreme Court decision declaring pork barrel to be unconstitutional: “There’s a God, after all.”

Santiago, almost a year ago, got into a word war with then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, because Enrile distributed some P2 M in Christmas bonuses to all senators, except his enemies, namely, Sen. Santiago, Sen. Antonio Trillanes III, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, and Sen. Pia Cayetano.

Santiago attacked Enrile’s deliberate omission of his enemies from the Christmas bonuses, on the constitutional ground that it was a grave abuse of discretion.

In its decision yesterday, the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional the PDAF-related expenditures, including: “(d) all informal practices of similar import and effect, which the court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of discretion.”

Because of the verbal tussle over the Christmas bonus, Santiago was moved to request Commission on Audit chair Grace Pulido Tan to investigate and make public a report on the disbursement of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and similar discretionary funds, spurring the now notorious pork barrel scam starring the alleged mastermind Janet Napoles.

“Enrile’s arrogance has now been declared as bluff and bluster by the Supreme Court. At the very least, he should offer to commit hara-kiri because this dishonor belongs to him,” Santiago said.

After Enrile went on to defend the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Santiago again rushed to the battlefield, arguing that the DAP is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its ruling on the DAP very soon.

“Enrile and I engaged in hand-to-hand combat in December 2012. He tried to bully me with the help of his attack dog, Sen. Panfilo Lacson. Thereafter, I fell ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and have been suffering the ailment for nearly a year. Getting sick over the pork barrel scandal was well worth it, now that the Supreme Court has validated my position. This is a vindication not only for me but also for the entire Filipino electorate,” Santiago said.

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