Press Release
May 15, 2006


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said that if the Senate is abolished by July, government will save over P1 billion per year, or a total of over P5 billion until 2010, the end of the term of the 12 senators last elected in 2004.

Certain senators formally announced their rejection of the pork barrel, because at that time its announcement was trumpeted in the media. If a senator wants to save the country some P200 million per year, then logically that senator would want to save the country over P1 billion a year, Santiago said.

Santiago issued her statement, while senators met in private caucus to discuss the early passage of the delayed 2006 budget.

Only the Supreme Court has sole and exclusive power to decide whether we can have charter change and abolish the Senate. By itself, the Senate has no power to veto a House resolution calling for a constituent assembly, the senator said.

The House resolution is at present undergoing public hearings in the Senate, where it is expected to meet rough sailing.

Santiago said that she was personally crushed that the dialogue on charter change seems to be driven by the presidential ambitions for the 2010 elections on the part of certain senators.

If political dialogue on the Constitution cannot rise above personal greed for power, I would rather vote for a change to the parliamentary system, Santiago said.

Santiago said that the Senate is not simon-pure, noting that before the 2004 elections, surveys usually showed her to be running No. 2 in the Senate race, considering that she had been out of office for three years, but despite the surveys, after the elections she placed much lower.

Senatorial candidates in 2004 who were at the tailend of the surveys suddenly became the topnotchers. That can only be explained either by money or by magic. So how can certain senators adopt a moral stance with respect to President Arroyos election? If Senate elections do not truly reflect the peoples will

, let us abolish the Senate and move up in our political evolution, Santiago said.

Santiago, a former presidential candidate who placed a very close No. 2 in the 1992 elections, said she is prepared to be downgraded to an ordinary MP (Member of Parliament).

The senator said that in the proposed parliamentary system, President Arroyo will remain head of state and head of government until 2010, Speaker Jose de Venecia would likely keep his post, and President Arroyo will have power to appoint the Prime Minister (PM).

Logically, DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo should be appointed PM because by protocol he is already the head of cabinet in our present system, she said.

Santiago said that certain senators are licking their forefingers and holding it up to the wind, and are planning to support chacha, if such senators will get a chance to run for Prime Minister.

Santiago was absent when the Senate resumed session yesterday and the senators met in a budget caucus, with the senator saying she will continue to be on medical leave this week.

Santiagos doctors headed by DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral, one of the countrys leading cardiologists have repeatedly insisted that the senator should run again a series of laboratory tests at Heart Center on Monday, and at Cardinal Santos Center on Tuesday.

Santiago is suffering from arrythmia or irregular heartbeat, a potentially fatal heart condition that has already claimed the lives of her two younger brothers.

Although Santiago was able to join President Arroyos official delegation during her state visit to Saudi Arabia, the senator kept to her room in the last half- day of the state visit, because of heart palpitation and hypertension.

Since I lost my son, I have been suffering from a poverty of desire. I just want our government to get on, Santiago said.

Perhaps my medical leave might turn into a terminal leave, she joked.

But Santiago said that the abolition of the Senate should refer only to the senators, and that Senate employees as much as possible should be given hiring priority in other government offices.

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