Press Release
June 17, 2015

Excerpts of Kapihan sa Manila Bay with
Senate President Franklin M. Drilon


Marichu Villanueva: Nearly two years after the pork barrel scam controversy first emerged, do you think that the Senate has already recovered its standing and repute as a public institution?

SPFMD: I think so. I think the Senate has already recovered from that episode, and we saw an opportunity in that crisis for us to be able to abolish the pork barrel system. So that crisis became an opportunity for us to have these reforms, including removing the pork barrel system from our system of governance.

So ngayon, wala ako naririnig na, "Dahil sa pork barrel, iboboto ko ito, iboboto ko ang ganyan."

The recovery of the Senate is reflected in the surveys. The Senate President is tom the mind of the people, the symbol of the institution, and the fact that we have been faring well in recent trust surveys indicate the recovery of the institution insofar as perceptions of people is concerned.


Q: The Supreme Court yesterday ruled on the EO on midnight appointees after five years.

SPFMD: Yes, which brings me to the point of maybe the Supreme Court could seriously consider returning back the principle of restraint. They should not take on every case, even if cases which are considered as highly technical.

Q: On the "judicial legislation"

SPFMD: Judicial legislation is one issue, but the issue taking in every case or all cases brought to them is a cause for all of these days, because ang andami nang kasong naka-pending, and naka-pending ang mga kaso because lahat tinatanggap nila.

Eto halimbawa- I will show you a specific example. Do you remember this writ of kalikasan for the Manila Bay was filed, and also for the Pasig River? Ang tagal na nun. The Supreme Court said, "Ah, we should clean the Pasig River." What did they do? I think they required a quarterly report from the mayors of the towns and cities along the Pasig river. Now every quarter, reports ar submitted to them. Now what are they doing with all these reports? But may requirement.

Q: Executive function na iyan.

SPFMD: That is an example of what I am saying. I went through college, and founded in our heads is the principle of judicial restraint. It is on you, the members of the Supreme Court, to say na, "Huwag na natin pakialaman iyan. We are not experts on that. We will just confine ourselves with issues involving the law, issues involving conflicts between two parties." But when it comes to very technical issues are huwag na nating pakilalaman iyan, because we are not competent to do it

But on the premise that they are now empowered to review all sorts of abuse of discretion- ay aba lahat ng person at kaso ay nasa Korte Suprema na. Narinig ko in my conversation with one of them, I raised this issue, the response is, "Kapag hindi tinanggap ito ay baka magalit ang taumbayan."

Alam mo hindi naman kayo elected officials, or appointed officials. They are in the judiciary supposedly to apply the law, regardless of who gets hurt. Pero kung sasabihin mo kung baka magalit ang tao, with that frame of mind, aba eh.

Q: Are they into popularity contests?

SPFMD: I am not saying that. But I can attest to that response from one of the justices.

Q: What will be the solution for unrestrained judiciary? By Congressional Act?

SPFMD: We can not. Under the Constitution the judiciary is empowered to review all forms of abuse of discretion when they see in their perception an abuse of discretion. They are entitled to interfere.

That is why in the principle of judicial restraint, wherein you will restrain yourself from interfering in something that you do not have competence on.

Dito, with the writ of kalikasan, as we are talking now, they are receiving reports on the conditions of the Pasig River. Eh anung gagawin nila doon?

That is an issue, you know here, the Constitution was basically crafted after Martial Law. And this is one of the instances where the pendulum swung to the other side, whereas before, the Supreme Court, in the exercise of their judgment would not interfere in a question they feel that undemocratic and so on, because of the abuses during Martial Law.

Q: In the system of checks and balances, who checks the Supreme Court? Diba inembistigahan niyo ang Judicial Fund?

SPFMD: Wala, theoretically. But the budget is a check, the impeachment process is a check. And the appointment in the JBC.

But again at most this is probably an appeal to the Supreme Court to take a good look at the principle of judicial restraint, and exercise that kind of judicial restraint to yourselves. Hindi ko binabanatan ang judiciary. I am only saying that the judiciary may want to look at the principle of judicial restraint. I can only address them in that manner.

Whether or not I am a senator or an ordinary private citizen, that is a problem because the number of cases that are pending in the Supreme Court are such that it has become physically impossible for them to finish all these cases within a reasonable period of time. So what I am saying is that one possible solution is to exercise judicial restraint in accepting cases that are filed in the court.

Also, in the lower courts, freeing up the vacancies that are there. Hindi naman kami nagkukulang sa pagpasa ng laws which would authorize the creation of courts. Medyo mabagal lang ang pag-nominate o numbra ng mga judges to the lower court.

This is not the first time that we have discusses judicial delay and the resolution of cases. The Sandiganbayan is just as bad, five to seven years on the average before cases get finished. And this is very important, because the Sandiganbayan is enforcing the Anti-Graft Law. The principle is, the conviction should serve as a deterrent. But if the conviction takes five to seven years nawawala na ang bisa ng conviction. So the speed of the resolution of the cases is very important for us to push the respect for the law as a bedrock of our society.

Q: That is why you passed the law on the Sandiganbayan amendments, right?

SPFMD: That is why we increased the number of judges and divisions in the Sandiganbayan from five to seven as organized.

Q: Kelan maoorganize iyan?

SPFMD: I hope at the soonest. And I call on the Supreme Court to organize the 6th and 7th divisions of the Sandiganbayan, that's three justices each, so a total of six justices. The budget is there, the appropriate budget is ready. Therefore, I call on the Judicial and Bar Council to already organize the two division so that the number of years that we see today before a case could be resolved can be at least shortened.

Not only did we increase the number of justices, we also revised the jurisdiction, so that if the case involves not more than P1 million, then the trial can be done in the regional courts, rather than the Sandiganbayan.

Q: P1 million lang yung cap?

SPFMD: 60 percent of the cases in the Sandiganbayan involve cases on less than P1 million. So if you move these out of them, that should spur a faster resolution of their cases, and declog the dackets.

We also impose the new applicable rule on the Sandiganbayan that majority of two can decide cases rather than the unanimity of three. So all these measure we passed in the Senate in the hope that we can speed up these cases.


Q: On LP's plan of action to ensure it remain in power

SPFMD: One, we are already building our structure in every region of this country. Two, we want to make sure that every party platform will be the basis of selecting our candidates.

Q: What is the latest inventory of LP?

SPFMD: I do not have that number, it is with the Secretariat.

Q: On qualities being sought by the public in 2016 for the next President

SPFMD: Well, corruption is an issue, therefore the next leader must be able to show integrity in governance. Good governance will be the platform we will be standing on, and therefore, this is the kind of quality which personally I will be looking at. Competence and integrity in service.

Q: DO you think the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee has done enough damage to VP Binay's presidential plans?

SPFMD: That is a matter for the electorate to finally decide on. What the Senate did was to investigate in the exercise of its oversight functions, and the purpose was in aid of legislation. The effect to the electorate is a matter that we speculate on this point, but the final judge is of course the people.

Q: 21 hearings na ito on one topic.

SPFMD: Part of the reason why it is taking this long is those who are invited disappear. Limlingan hanggang ngayon, matagal nang hinahanap. Sinubpoena na, cinomtempt na. Hanggang ngayon, di pa rin sumisipot. That is why the length of these hearings has reached that point because of the non-cooperation of the resource persons.

Q: Vice President Binay was here last week, he said that the Senate has exceeded its authority already.

SPFMD: You know the Senate President was charged before the Blue Ribbon Committee. I was charged in the Blue Ribbon Committee, while I am President of the Senate, I appeared and explained, and I confronted the guy.

What I am saying is, kanya-kanyang pananaw iyan. Let us leave it at that.

Q: Are you ready to be announced by the President as a presidential candidate?

SPFMD: No. I am though a candidate to be president in our homeowner's association. (laughs).

Q: May convention pa for the nomination for the LP's presidential bet in 2016?

SPFMD: Right now there is only one member who is our presumptive candidate - Mar Roxas. No one is contesting the nomination, I don't think that a convention is called for.

There is no more convention unless from now up to October somebody or some party member will say, "I want to run for President," then we will have to go to through the process.

Q: Wala bang sinasabing convention si PNoy?

SPFMD: There is a convention mentioned in our by-laws, but given the reality that only Secretary Roxas has expressed an intention to run for the Presidency, I don't see any need for a convention.

Q: How about Poe and Chiz?

SPFMD: They are not seeking the support of the Party since they are not party members. What is happening is that the President is talking to coalitions.

Q: DO you think it is unfair for LP members like you for the President to be talking to other people like that?

SPFMD: The President as our leader is entitled to throw a wider net. The President is not only the chairman of the Liberal Party, he is also the President of the country, he had a platform when he came into power, and that is the platform of good governance, and it is natural for him to look for candidates who in his judgment can continue the platform and principles which he has governed the country for the last five years.

Q: Can we expect major changes to the Cabinet after SONA or by October?

SPFMD: Alright, I would assume Secretary De Lima will run for the Senate so that becomes vacant. Secretary Petilla has already mentioned his bid for I don't where, but that's a political post. Secretary Roxas will run for President.

MMDA Chair Tolentino has given hints that he wants to run. Villanueva of TESDA, that's five. Alcala may go back to Quezon. There will be many changes in the Cabinet. Some should be running for the Senate, others to their old political posts.

Q: Yung mga babalik na former senators?

SPFMD: Dick Gordon has indicated that he may want to go back. Kiko Pangilinan. I don't know the plans of Ping Lacson, or Zubiri. At this stage it is just possibilities.

Q: For the LP senatorial slate?

SPFMD: We will have to discuss it.

Q: Without a convention?

SPFMD: The Senate slate again, the party leadership will have to sit down and discuss who should be in the Senate.

Q: On reelectionist senators

SPFMD: Regardless of party lines, there are six re-electionists in the Senate, and a number of graduating senators. Possibly - I underscore possibly - four who are coming back.

Q: Will you lead the Senate line up of the LP?

SPFMD: We will have all answers in a month's time.

Q: Given that you will be running, paano po ang continuity ng Senate leadership?

SPFMD: Unless unseated, my term ends in June 30. I am still a senator until June 30, 2016. Being a Senate President is a gift by at least 13 senators, I can be replaced anytime.

This is not the first time. A number of senator have ran for reelection while they are the Senate President. Manny Villar ran for reelection while Senate President. The late Neptali Gonzales. So it is not unusual.

Q: There are reports that the LP is breaking up.

SPFMD: Sa dyaryo lang iyan. There is no truth to that.


Q: On issue of Gen. Espina retiring soon

SPFMD: Espina retires iun July, and I think the President will appoint a regular PNP chief when Espina retires. That's what I think what will happen, so we will have a regular PNP Chief after Espina retires.

Q: Can the President appoint a chief PNP who has been suspended by the Ombudsman?

SPFMD: Technically, there is no legal prohibition.

Q: Can President Aquino re-appoint Purisima?

SPFMD: Yes, the President can appoint the PNP Chief, sicne there is only one 4-star general. There is nothing that bans the President from appointing a regular PNP Chief.

I don't think that the President will reassign Purisima. He has resigned.


Q: What has happened with the Senate report on the Mamasapano incident? Sinubmit lang?

SPFMD: Sinubmit na, and if Senator Grace will calendar it for debates and want it adopted, then the sponsor will ask that it be calendared for debates and adoption.

Q: Pag-adopted isusubmit sa Ombudsman?

SPFMD: I can't remember what kinds of laws are to be enacted.

Q: What is the probative value of the report?

SPFMD: It can be a source for evidence - whatever we have gathered- if the Ombudsman files a case, then it could be used as evidence. In the past the Ombudsman has cited Senate reports as evidence.


Q: COMELEC Chair Bautista's confirmation was deferred.

SPFMD: We could not tackle their appointments because not a single document was submitted to the CA except the President's appointment. They should complete that before we reconvene on July.

Q: Do you think the 2016 elections can be held on time, given the many issues?

SPFMD: Oh yes, we will have elections.


Q: Napulsuhan niyo na po ba ang mga kasamahan niyo sa economic cha-cha?

SPFMD: I have not had a head count. There is a general favorable sentiment that would be favorable to the kind of amendments, and let me repeat, we are not amending immediately the so-called economic provisions. What we are amending is the manner with which we can change the policies insofar as the economic provisions are concerned, by adding the phrase, "unless otherwise provided by law."

That is why my confidence level is high that the senators will be generally supportive of this process.

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