Press Release
July 2, 2019

Transcript of Interview with Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon

SFMD: I expected China to reject a third party arbiter on the Recto (Reed) Bank incident, because that will be inconsistent with their claim in the nine-dash line. Remember that they are claiming this as part of their territory. If they agree to a third party arbiter, it would derogate on their claim that their jurisdiction extends to the nine-dash line. That is the same reason why I have rejected to Malacanang's proposal to have a third party, because we are claiming that area as part of our exclusive economic zone. So, I am not surprised at that statement. I expected that from China as it is consistent with their claim over the West Philippine Sea.

Q: That's a legal move on the part of China?

SFMD: It's a position that is consistent with their national interest and with their claim over the West Philippine Sea.

Q: How about the verbal deal between the President and Xi Jinping?

SFMD: You know, when I was reading it, the President's mind as a lawyer and as a prosecutor is working. Tell me, if it is a ground for impeachment, how do you prove a verbal agreement? In this case, the primary evidence would either be a document signed or a verbal testimony. There is no document. The verbal testimony is between the President and Hi Jinping, so, tell me, who would be witness to that?

Q: How about the transcript?

SFMD: Which transcript, because they said they were just the two of them? And, in the same manner that a media report is not evidence, because that's hearsay, that's not a primary evidence. You cannot present a transcript assuming that there is one.

Q: Even a confirmation from Spokesman Panelo?

SFMD: As I said, when you come to the impeachment, you observe the rules of evidence and the President, as a former prosecutor knows this. You need either a written document or the direct testimony.

Q: How about the President's speech that he had that verbal agreement?

SFMD: You think you can compel the President to testify? So that statement was reported in media, I keep on saying that you cannot present newspaper reports as evidence in impeachment proceedings, because the President's lawyer will object to that, because that's hearsay.

You have to have proof and in my view, in formal proceeding you will find difficulty proving that, because, certainly, the President will not testify against his own interest in an impeachment proceeding.

It's an impeachment proceeding, the rules of evidence will apply. It is a different issue in a public debate but when it comes to formal proceedings like the impeachment, you have to observe the rules of evidence and the rules of evidence require that the primary evidence would either be a document or a verbal testimony.

Q: Kung tatanggalin sa usapan yung impeachment, dapat bang ipaalam sa senado yung ganitong kasunduan?

SFMD: It's a verbal agreement.

Q: Should it write it down?

SFMD: The President said it's a verbal agreement and we cannot compel him to put it down in writing.

Q: If the President says they had a verbal agreement, is that binding for both countries?

SFMD: The President cannot be compelled to witness against himself?

Q: What is the weight of that verbal agreement?

SFMD: In public debates, it has weight. But when you talk about impeachment, that's different.

Q: Can China hold on to that, invoke that whenever their vessels are found fishing in the EEZ?

SFMD: No, they will claim that they exercise sovereignty over this territory.

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