January 6, 2012
Transcript of interview with Sen. Alan Peter S. Cayetano Part 1
(FOI bill, Proactive Prepared Partnerships, Corona Impeachment)
Media Gathering @ Marriott Hotel
ON THE FOI BILL
Unang una, I welcome that the FOI bill was already certified urgent by the President. So I urge my colleagues both in the House and in the Senate to rush the passage of the FOI bill. I hope that we will be vigilant in making sure that the bill is not watered down.
I wouldn't mind that there will be some lead time for agencies to be given an opportunity to pass their FOI manuals. What's important is that we will have complete transparency in the government.
When we met with the Malacanang representatives, we agreed on a principle that if we can make available online on the government websites most of the commercial dealings of the agencies and departments then it will solve the problems they have raised such as the possibility of multiple requests and the format of release of information. (Katulad ng paano kung sabay sabay ang pagrequest, anong klasong dokumento, anong format, etc.)
So that's what I will be pushing also in Congress. But anything that has to do with contracts, waivers of rights, loans, commercial dealings with government, etc should be available online instead of requiring our citizens to request it prior to release in order to ease the implementation of the FOI act.
ON CALAMITIES AND DISASTER PREPAREDNESS
I'd just like to wish everyone a happy new year and I hope that now that the PPP projects are coming in and that the government said that they will be spending a lot in infrastructure to get the economy moving, I'd also wish to propose to the administration a different kind of PPP.
I call it a 'proactive prepared partnership'. Proactive in the sense that most accidents, extraordinary events like floodings that happened due to typhoons like Ondoy and Sendong should now be considered as ordinary. Because of climate change, because of lack of regulation, and because of our own carelessness. We can expect that much needs to be done from mapping and finding out the dangers zone, from becoming stricter in terms of regulations.
Hindi tayo prepared masyado. Wala pa dapat problema, alamin na natin kung ano ang pwedeng gawin. So let's be proactive.
Prepared because as we can see, although there was an outpour of support and help during the flooding, how come relief centers where our affected countrymen were relocated during emergencies are not ready in terms of supplies like water and rice?
I'm not pointing fingers at any specific group. I'm saying how come we can't implement a proactive system at a time when the rest of the world is already prepared for these expected calamities?
An average of 21 typhoons a year comes our way, Knowing this, we have to be proactive and prepared all the time.
And lastly, partnerships. I think there is a lack of effective partnerships among NGOs, government agencies, and local government units. I really believe that the government as a whole is doing something to fight corruption, and for that I give them a grade of 95-100% especially if the FOI bill is passed, but they also have to focus on other aspects of governance.
This also has to do with perception. I believe that if they can show that we can be more prepared and more proactive and they can engage effective partnerships (in other aspects of governance such as disaster preparedness), we'll have a much better year.
ON THE CORONA IMPEACHMENT TRIAL
I can predict that it is possible that we will spend the next 6 months or 3 months or 4 months being consumed with the impeachment trial. So it is very important that our countrymen feel that their government is fully-functional and that programs and projects are being pushed even if the Senate is busy with the impeachment.
If we in the Senate will do our part by having sessions in the morning and committee hearings even on Thursdays and Fridays, the Executive has to do its part by continuing to deliver the projects and being more prepared and proactive.
This is also a challenge to the Supreme Court that even if the chief magistrate is on trial, the reforms that we're expecting from the Judiciary should push through and should go in an even faster pace.
For example, I heard that they are seriously considering a people's court type of reform for simple cases for faster and continuous hearings. One of the symbols of impunity in the country is the case of the Maguindanao Massacre. (Na napakadaling i-prove na rebellion, na i-p-prove mo lang na may taking up of arms, i-p-prove mo lang yung elements of rebellion nadismiss pa yun. Napakalaking kaso na, napakatagal pa.)
I think the Judiciary, the Legislative and the Executive departments will be under scrutiny. Can we multi task and bring in the reforms and projects needed to be done by the government while we're doing your constitutional duty of check and balances through an impeachment trial?
SENATE AS AN IMPEACHMENT COURT
Given that we will be starting on the 16th, I actually haven't been following constantly all the media releases (on the impeachment) because I want to really clear my mind and I want to be very impartial. However, I have prepared all of the complaints, the summons, the reply, the rules, evidence and will be spending the next few days until the 16th reviewing my law readings.
Even if I have read some news items, number one, we have to listen to both sides first. Number two, we really can't discuss the merits of the case. So I'd rather focus on what we should be doing while we're having an impeachment trial.
Number three, I would like to stress the importance of impartiality of the Senate. I think the Senate will be much on trial as the Judiciary. Because if the Senate proves this time that we can have an impartial hearing then it will show that our democracy works, that our Constitution works and we can go beyond politics.
So there's a difference between a political trial which is expected and part of the process and partisan trial. Yung partisan, meron ka nang kakampi from the start or di ka na impartial.
You can be political but at the same time impartial. It's not only a judicial process, it's not a criminal or administrative case, it's also. political Yes, this can still maintain impartiality.
As much on trial as well are the prosecutors of the House, the Senate and to a certain degree the Malacanang. Because for example, last week the news said that the Palace is already searching for a replacement. So it's very difficult to say that we're going to have a trial when there are already predictions on what will be happening after.
'I think we have to focus on the fact that the process is as important as the result. '
People are not only going to look at the result. Sure, there are surveys now. But the survey has to do with the results. Kung ano perception nila sa handling of the case, sa TRO, sa certain individuals like the President and the Chief Justice.
But the surveys have nothing to do with the process, for strengthening of our democracy, for the strengthening of our institutions. And even if they did, we have to ignore that and keep to the principles of impartiality.