Press Release
February 8, 2012


Re: Opening of CJ's bank accounts & inter-branch courtesy to be discussed

(Ayee Macaraig: We have here with us Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano to give us his take on Day 13 of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.)

Good evening. And to those abroad, magandang araw din.

(AE: Earlier, you stood up and you were saying that if you were to be asked you would like a public debate or discussion on the issue of bank records of the chief justice. Why do you think that way? You're one of the few who have said that. The others want to keep it limited to the caucus and only among the senators.)

The economic divide is very wide in our country. Napakarami ng sobrang hirap, napakaliit ng middle class. Mostly ang middle class natin ay OFW families. Tapos napakakonti nung mga pinakamayayaman.

But of course, business is the driver of economic activity in any country. So makikita mo sa issue na ito may divide din. For people who are suffering, for people who witness that others keep on getting richer while they don't get the services that the poor needs, it looks like a very simple and progressive approach to just hunt down those who are corrupt. (Para sa kanila), Kung wala namang tinatago eh di buksan. Ngayon kung wala namang makita then we owe them an apology.

On the other hand, the business groups and those running our economy are saying that caution is needed first on certain accounts like the dollar account in order not to discourage foreign investors to put their dollars in our system.

What I'm saying is that if we come out with a decision like this, it's not a simple decision. It's not a decision of people who are just hungry for accountability or people who just take too hard one aspect of the impeachment court. We really debated the legal issues here. We looked at the economic consequences.

I believe that although not all will agree with the decision at least they understand the thinking behind it. For example, for them to know the consequences if we said no, we won't open it. There is a chance that corrupt officials would get their money out of peso accounts and put it in dollar accounts saying "Absolutely hindi pwede dito (na maimbestigahan)." Is that the kind of public policy we want?

On the other hand, we just want to send a clear message that this is only for the impeachment court. So it shouldn't affect the banking industry or those who want to invest in that kind of accounts precisely because hindi naman impeachable officers or hindi involved yung impeachment case in 99.9% of the accounts we're talking about.

So I think doing everything in front of the cameras, so to speak, making everything public has its benefits. People learn aside from simply understanding. Halimbawa, sa website ninyo o sa Twitter or sa Facebook this is all being discussed. If we tell them the arguments then they can either agree or if we're wrong they can also put up or send over their opinion to these different venues.

But if we do it in the caucus only, no matter how good the intention is on our part, the people will not be able to hear and discuss that the reason behind the decision of opening of bank accounts has been, is now and will always be a major issue when it comes to the accountability, transparency and the hunt for corrupt officials in the country.

(AE: You said that the long debate is not yet over because there's a motion for reconsideration from Sen. Santiago. How did that work considering that the majority already decided yesterday to grant the subpoena?)

I think in terms of its substantiality, meaning if we debate it again, everyone may agree. Sa technical lang whether we allow it or not, the opinions differ. But I think part of having an open mind really is listening to your colleagues and other people.

Many of the people came to the caucus still confused or still feeling out both sides of the coin. But then when we got there, we had to make a decision. Now that we did, if the good senator Miriam who, when it comes to legal and constitutional issues, we love and look up to, Senate President Enrile said why not at the very least listen.

If she manages to sway our opinion and change our minds then that's it. If not, we will just uphold our existing decision. It's just that it's such a major issue not only now but in future impeachment cases na hindi natin pwedeng hindi nalang pagusapan.

(AE: There was also a long discussion on who should file an MR and we saw that the senators had different views about that. Senator Enrile also pointed out that the rules seem to be vague. So what is your assessment of these rules? )

Well, at times it is clear but unfortunately that's where some lawyers come in and make it vague or this is where more arguments come in. But I think although there are a few differences in terms of interpretation, we all agree that if we have unlimited MRs hindi tayo matatapos.

So what was our topic two weeks ago? Two weeks have gone by but we're still on Article 2 and we're only scratching the surface. Now nagarticle 3 tayo pero bukas babalik tayo ulit sa Article 2. Although its Day 13, it's also the fourth week. Imagine if we're going to have a few more months or a few more weeks of this.

Putting some order, remember the MR is important in lower courts because one, you want to give the court a chance to correct itself before you appeal or go to a higher court. But as pointed out by Sen. Drilon, dito sa kaso ng impeachment court, walang appeal dito. Walang mas mataas na korte dito sa lupa. Meaning in our constitutional system, in this world, this is the court that will decide whether a person is fit or not to be retained in an impeachable office.

We were just pointing out that whatever ang maging decision namin tomorrow, hindi naman na-deny ang due process. What is important is we get the defense and the prosecution to present their case in a manner that will respect all their rights but at the same time, make it speedy and impartial.

Kasi kung papayagan lahat yan, kami nga 22 na nga kami and any one of us can make an appeal so we use it sometimes when we really can't agree. You saw yesterday, we could have had that debate on the floor but it would have been a long debate. We could have had a voting there and it would have been very divisive. So we decided to have a caucus and discuss all the issues first.

For example, on the floor, although you said the debate is more exhaustive but only in terms of time. Because on the floor, one person can speak at a time, pagka nakadalawang beses ka na medyo nahihiya ka rin sa mga kasama mo na ikaw ang nagmmonopolize.

But in the caucus, if there are 4 or 5 advocates you just allow them. Then the others, whether they also want to advocate or just have questions, the discussion is much more free flowing. We have never barred anyone and all senators regardless of the angle or where they're coming from. Whether it's a legal point of view or it's just a pragmatic point of view, we listen too without bias or prejudice and no fear or favor of being criticized.

(AE: Another topic that will be taken up in your caucus tomorrow is the request to subpoena Supreme Court justices and earlier Sen. Enrile was already hinting that's it's a sensitive issue and the Judiciary being a co-equal branch of government. How do you see this being resolved? What are your views on this?)

First of all, when you say that there's a rat in the house you don't use a shotgun or an M16 and shoot at the whole house or you don't burn the house. Whatever the decision will be, I think we have to be conscious that in addressing accountability issues you don't destroy institutions in the process.

Sen. Enrile was really pointing out that there are parliamentary traditions that are respected when it comes to the legislative, executive and judiciary. I think he was hinting that there was no other way to get the evidence without destroying some of these traditions.

But of course, the other side of the coin is that part of building sometimes is destroying also. There are some times when before you can build, there's a little bit of damage to some institutions.

When we investigated the Garcia case, some members of the AFP felt that the AFP was being severely damaged and even destroyed by the hearings. We proved later on that transparency, accountability, opening up and allowing reform actually strengthened the institution rather than destroy it.

We just want to be sensitive that the approach is not gung-ho or once you have the power, just like people with guns, they should know that they should be even more responsible.

So yun ang sinasabi na given this power, we shouldn't flaunt the power but we should really be very responsible and use it wisely. I think it was more of a fair warning. But definitely tomorrow, that's why Sen. Kiko asked that instead of meeting at 12 where we only have an hour and 45 minutes, if we can start at 11. We have a session tomorrow morning so I think that there will be an exhaustive debate on that.

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