Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago named Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who is accused of plunder, as the “brains and financier,” of an alleged psywar destabilization operation that she said began with yesterday’s story in an opposition paper alleging that ranking officials of the Aquino administration are the mastermind behind the pork barrel scandal.
The long story, carried prominently by an obscure opposition newspaper, suspiciously quoted unnamed sources, and failed to refer to any official document.
The suspicious story cited anonymous sources claiming that the most guilty in the pork scam are Pres. Aquino’s trusted allies in the Liberal Party, namely, DBM Sec. Florencio Butch Abad, Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala, Senate President Franklin Drilon, and the self-described independent senator Francis Escudero.
At various intervals, the story claimed that there is an alleged list of all other high public officials implicated in the pork scam, held by at least four people, none of whom revealed the contents of the list.
Those who claim to have this list which, at this writing, has not been shown to the media, are: Janet Napoles, also accused of plunder; justice secretary Leila de Lima; controversial personality identifying herself as an alleged whistleblower, Sandra Cam; and presidential assistant and staunch Enrile ally, Panfilo Lacson.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said that “there is a vast, costly, and sinister disinformation operation” to compel the Ombudsman to grant the motions for reconsideration of three senators whom she has found to be liable for plunder in the pork barrel scam.
“The principals in this massive psywar operation are: Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile; his former chief of staff Gigi Reyes; and Enrile’s ally and attack dog Panfilo Lacson,” Santiago said in a commencement speech yesterday at the Lyceum University-Laguna.
Santiago earlier made the same accusation at separate phone-patch radio interviews with Radyo Bombo Iloilo, and with Radyo Inquirer.
“Enrile, 90, is facing suspension from office as senator, and imprisonment in a detention cell while facing trial. He is desperate to prevent the Ombudsman from filing the case against him in court,” Santiago said.
She said that this “trinity of unholy conspirators” include Lacson and Reyes, because both were granted safe haven in Cagayan, his hometown, by Enrile.
Lacson was a fugitive from justice who was never punished by the court when he finally appeared.
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
Once the Ombudsman files the plunder case in the Sandiganbayan against public officials involved in the PDAF scandal, should the accused senators be immediately suspended from public office?
Yes, that is automatic under the law. Once the Ombudsman files a case before the Sandiganbayan, automatically, instantaneously, the public official is suspended from public office, since plunder is exclusive only to public officials. Furthermore, immediately, the accused should be held in jail unless the evidence is weak. So you see, there is a reversal of the usual attitude in law; we always presume that the evidence is weak because of the presumption of evidence. However, in plunder, notice that the presumption is reversed—we always presume that the evidence is strong, and it is the burden of the accused to show that the evidence is weak if you want to go out on bail.
Oras na masampa iyan—kasi sa ngayon hindi pa naisampa sa korte kundi nabigkas pa lamang ng Ombudsman dahil mayroon pang panahon para magsampa ng motion for reconsideration. Mayroong sariling rules of procedure iyang Ombudsman, gaya nang may sariling rules of procedure ang Sandiganbayan. Dito sa Ombudsman, kung sabihin niya na final na ang kanyang resolution, isasampa na iyan. Kailangang umakyat pa sa Court of Appeals or Supreme Court para kumuha ng TRO—mahirap yatang kumuha ng TRO laban sa fiscal. Unless there is a TRO or other injunctive relief, the moment the case is filed and stamped received by the Sandigan clerk of court, automatically the senator goes to jail and is suspended from public office. If he is found guilty, then of course he goes to jail for a lifetime because we no longer have capital punishment. Ordinarily, that kind of case would be considered punishable by death. He would have to go for the rest of his life, and then all his properties would be confiscated. That would be payback time.
I would like to express my admiration for this kickass resolution by the Ombudsman. It was difficult for her to make that decision because she is up against very powerful people, extremely powerful people. Then again, in a society that has already convicted a president who was ultimately granted pardon and is already trying to prosecute another former president, that is a natural progression, I think, in the attitude of the people. They now understand what is the meaning of the rule of law.
I thought yesterday was a very happy day. This is the first time in history that a Senate President has been indicted. That is an indictment not only of the Senate President involved, but also of the entire Senate. What kind of Senate will elect a Senate President, a man who ultimately turns out to be one of the biggest thieves in the country?
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.”