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Commentary
April 21, 2014

Present or Not Guilty

 

justice

What has been the impact on the institution of the inclusion of the most prominent names in Senate in the PDAF scam? Senate President Franklin Drilon had this to say:

SEN. DRILON: Ang sa akin po ay makikita ng taumbayan na dito po sa ating bansa, pantay pantay tayong lahat sa ilalim ng batas, mayaman ka man o mahirap, makapangyarihan o pangkaraniwang mamamayan. Kaya kahit senador ka man o pangkaraniwang mamamayan kung ikaw ay nagkasala, dito po pinakita na ang ating pamahalaan na mananagutan ka kapag ikaw po ay nagkasala.

(This just shows to the people that in our country we are all equal under the law, whether you are rich or poor, powerful or just an ordinary citizen. So whether you are a Senator or an ordinary citizen, if you commit a crime then you will be brought to justice.)

THE INTERVIEW

We interviewed Senate President Franklin Drilon on our back-to-back shows “Kasangga Mo Ang Langit” and “IZ Balita Nationwide” 6-8AM on DWIZ 882khz hooked up to RPN9 ally stations, broadcasting nationwide.

REY: Ano ang standard ruling po kapag ang isang senator ay nasangkot sa ganitong uri ng kaso lalo pa nga’t plunder? Paano po ang kanilang presence sa mga sessions?

(What is the standard ruling if a senator is involved in this kind of case especially if it’s plunder? How will this affect their presence in sessions?)

SEN. DRILON:’Pag nasampahan ng kaso sa Sandiganbayan ang sinumang senador, congressman o public official, ito ay masusunpendi sa Senado o sa Kongreso o sa kanyang tanggapan kaya walang diskresyon ang pangulo ng Senado.

Una, ito’y order ng husgado na dapat sundin at meron ding warrant of arrest na iisyu ‘pag nag-file na ng formal na kaso ang Ombudsman sa Sandiganbayan, at iseserve sa kung sino man ang magiging subject ng warrant of arrest.

(When a case is filed against them in the Sandiganbayan, any senator, congressman or public official will be suspended from his post. So the Senate President has no discretion on this matter.

First, this is an order by the judiciary that has to be followed and a warrant of arrest will also be issued once a formal case is filed by the Ombudsman at the Sandiganbayan that will be served no matter who the subject of the warrant is.)

THE WARRANT

REY: Ito ba ay lalabas right after na maibigay yung five days na appeal para po dito sa mga nadadawit sa kaso?

(Will this come out right after the five days for appeal is given to those involved in the case?)

SEN. DRILON: Hindi, Rey. ‘Yan po ay isang suspension order at warrant of arrest, lalabas pag naifile ng Ombudsman ang kaso sa Sandiganbayan.  Sa madaling salita, kailangang i-decide muna yung motion for reconsideration na ipa-file pagkatapos pagkalipas ng limang araw na matanggap nung mga akusado yung resolusyon ng Ombudsman.

(No, Rey. This suspension and warrant of arrest will be given after the Ombudsman files a case at the Sandiganbayan. In other words, the motion for reconsideration that will be filed after 5 days after the accessed receives the resolution of the Ombudsman must be decided on first.)

SUSPENSION

REY: So kahit na wala pa pong inilalabas na resolution o final judgement ang sa Sandigan automatic na po silang suspended dito sa Senado?

(So even if no resolution or final judgement has been given by the Sandiganbayan, the accused will be suspended automatically from the Senate?)

SEN. DRILON: Mayroon pong order yang Sandiganbayan and that is automatic.

(There will be an order from the Sandiganbayan and that is automatic.)

COMMITTEE REPORT

REY: Mr. Senate President, madako po tayo sa naging presscon ng Blue Ribbon Committee. Paano po nagreact ang Senate President sa sinasabing hindi daw po yun committee report kundi personal ni Chairman TG Guingona.

(Mr. Senate President, let’s discuss the press con of the Blue Ribbon Committee, How did the Senate President react to comments that this was not an official committee report but a personal one by Chairman TG Guingona?)

SEN. DRILON: ‘Yan po ay totoong rekomendasyon lamang ng Chairman ng Blue Ribbon Committee at hanggang hindi po nalalagdaan ng majority ang report ay hindi pa po committee report ‘yan at ito naman ay pangkaraniwang ginagawa sa Senado araw-araw. 

‘Pag natapos na ang isang committee hearing, ang chairman ng committee ginagawa niya ang committee report, pinapaikot sa mga members ng kanyang committee at pag nagkaroon na nang majority signature yan po ay pina-file sa office po ng secretary general at hindi po pumipirma ang Senate President sa isang committee report dahil tayo po ay hindi miyembro ng committee at sa akin po sinusumite yung committee report.

(The report is only a recommendation of the Chairman until it is signed by the majority and ’til that time will not be considered a formal committee report. But this is done in the Senate on a daily basis.

When a committee finishes a hearing, the chairman makes a committee report. This is then distributed to its members and when a majority of them sign the report then this is filed at the office of the Secretary-General. The Senate President doesn’t sign a committee report because we are not a member of any committee.)

NORMAL PRACTICE

REY: Normal po ba ang practice na ito?

(Is this normal practice?)

SEN. DRILON: Alam mo, Rey, sa Senado, kapag may committee report at umiikot, kahit hindi mo i-release, ang gagaling po ng mga kasamahan ninyong media at ‘yan po ay hahabulin nila.

(Rey, when a committee report makes it rounds, even if you don’t release it, the media with their skills often go after it and get to it anyway.)

NOTHING UNUSUAL 

REY: At madali namang nakakakuha sila ng kopya?

(They can easily get hold of a copy?)

SEN. DRILON: Oo, Rey,  takbo agad kahit di pa kumpleto ang signature, ‘pag nahawakan ang report ay pina-publish. So there’s nothing unusual on what TG Guingona did. Ang ginawa niya para hindi na po habulin ng mga peryodista kung saan man itong committee report at pinapaikot at pinapapirmahan, inannounce na niya na merong committee report.

(Yes, Rey. Even if the report isn’t official yet it is published. So there’s nothing unusual over what TG Guingona did. What he did was announce that he already had a report so that the reporters wouldn’t need to hunt for it anymore.)

RECOMMENDATION 

REY: Sabi ninyo may roon kayong rekomendasyon.

(You said that you had a recommendation.)

SEN. DRILON:  Opo, may rekomendasyon ako at ito po ay ibibigay ko sa aking mga kasamahan at meron po silang pagkakataong magconcur o mag amend or to reject so the majority rules. Sa makatuwid, sa kasalukuyan habang umiikot yung committee yung draft ng committee report for signature yan po ay rekomendasyon ng chairman ng committee at iyon po ay ginagawa in accordance with our tradition in the Senate.

(Yes, I do and I will give this to my colleagues. They will have the opportunity to concur, amend, or reject and then majority rules. In short, the report making rounds is a recommendation by the chairman and is done in accordance to the tradition in the Senate.)

LIKE MEDIA

REY: Parang may dugong media din po ata itong si Sen.TG, ayaw niya na ma preempt ng ombudsman kaya’t nagpauna nang ireport ito sa bayan.

(It seems like Sen. TG has media blood in him as he didn’t want the Ombudsman to pre-empt him so he published his report first.)

SEN. DRILON: ‘Yan po naman ay conclusions na nasa isipan ng mga tao, palagay ko naman ay hindi naman. Wala naman basehan na sasabihin niya.

(Those are conclusions in the minds of the people. However, I think that this is not the case as those speculations have no basis.)

NEXT BATCH

REY:  Mr. Senate President, purely speculative at this point ang hinggil sa second batch pero nag-salita mismo, no less than ang NBI Director na si Dir. Virgilio Mendez, na nagsabing may 2nd batch at mayron pang 3rd batch.

(Mr. Senate President, purely speculative at this point about the second batch but no less than NBI Director. Virigilio Mendez said that there was one coming.)

SEN. DRILON: Oo, they can have 4,5,6,7,8  ngunit hanggang makita po natin ito hindi pa po natin pwedeng sabihin kung sino po ang involved, nasa media may mga lumalabas na pangalan. Ngunit habang hindi pa nasusumite ang kaso sa Ombudsman, all would be speculative, hindi po natin alam kung ano ang hawak na ebidensya ng NBI at kung sa kanilang tingin ito ay sapat upang iakyat ang kaso sa ombudsman. So ‘yan po ang konstekto ng aking sinasabi, Rey, ito po ay ine-evaluate ng Ombudsman. May mga pangalan na lumalabas mula sa media ngunit ang importante ang ebidensya na hawak ng NBI, sa ngayon hindi natin alam kung ano ‘yon.

(Yes, they can have 4,5,6,7,8 but until we see it for real then we cannot say who is involved as is being done in the media. But while a  case has yet to be submitted to the Ombudsman all would be speculative. We don’t know what evidence the NBI and if they think that these are enough to build a case. So, everything is really evaluated by the Ombudsman. So regardless of the names that have been circulating in the media, what is important is the NBI evidence that we have no idea of.)

QUOTABLE QUOTES

“When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘Present’ or ‘Not Guilty’.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

“Times have changed. It has already worn out its value.” –  Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago

 

 

Photo credit: Getty Images

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