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.”
This was Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s speech at the West Visayas State University Commencement Exercises in Iloilo City, 28 March 2014
In my approaching old age, I am now supposed to share with you what life has taught me, and in the end to encapsulate for you what is the meaning of life. From where I am now, I find that these conundrums are easily answered. First, life teaches us that, whether we perceive it as predestined or as random, it is beyond any person’s control. Second, there is no template for the meaning of life. Instead, the meaning of life is what you choose to make it mean. In making your choice, when you reach my age, your journey becomes an affirmation of the warning that life is a consequence of our moral choices.
The Problem of Evil
As professionals in a small developing state, you will be living in an environment of poverty and corruption. I will deal separately with poverty and with corruption. For me, these two features constitute the problem of evil. For example, the P10 billion pork barrel scam is definitely a problem of moral evil, as contrasted with supertyphoon Yolanda, which was a natural evil. We can see that human evil can be defined as “the suffering which results from morally wrong human choices, specially when the moral wrong is of an extreme kind.” It is not difficult to identify the sources of evil in our society. There are many sources, but I will deal with only two.
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 – http://www.mb.com.ph/feisty-lady-in-her-natural-element )
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.