Press Release
October 3, 2006

Transcript of Sen. Franklin M. Drilon's press conference

Q: On the Ombudsman ruling on the Mega Pacific deal

SFMD: Sa akin po, dapat dalhin sa Korte Suprema iyong desisyon ng Ombudsman na nagsasabing walang mali sa Mega Pacific deal. Sa aking tingin, hindi pa naman ito katapusan. The Ombudsman doesn't have the last say, it is the Supreme Court. So I suggest to those who are not satisfied with the decision of the Ombudsman, to take the legal process immediately. Once the recommendation is approved by the Ombudsman to bring the decision of the Ombudsman to the Supreme Court as it was Supreme Court who directed the Ombudsman to conduct the investigation. That is the proper remedy. We should do it as soon as possible.

Q: Parang binasura din ang rekomendasyon ng Blue Ribbon?

SFMD: That is correct. They did not agree with the recommendation of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee as adopted by the Senate. We can keep on debating and there are no remedies available except to bring it up to the Supreme Court, who directed that an investigation be conducted by the Ombudsman.

Q: What was your initial reaction?

SFMD: Nagulat ako. I am just relying on newspaper reports. From the way I gathered it, this is the recommendation of the investigating committee. In other words, still pending approval by Gutierrez.

Q: Bakit kayo nagulat?

SFMD: Because the previous decision was a recommendation of a filing of a prima facie case against Borra. This was a reversal of that previous decision. As I said, I want to read the recommendation because I'm just relying on news reports.

Q: Mate-testing na ba ang mga counting machines?

SFMD: No, because the Supreme Court has already decided on that. Mayroon nang desisyon ang Korte Supreme that the bidding was flawed and prohibiting the use of these machines. In fact, directing the Solicitor General to recover the public funds paid. The work of the Ombudsman was to find out whether anyone has incurred criminal liability. The use of the machines is a completely separate issue, which has already been decided with finality by the Supreme Court.

Q: Ano ang implication noon? The Supreme Court said there is a crime and the Ombudsman is now saying there is no criminal?

SFMD: Or that the Comelec commissioners are not liable. That is why I said the best thing to do here since the investigation was conducted upon the direction of the Supreme Court to bring up the matter again to the Supreme Court for final disposition.

Q: Can the Ombudsman be cited for contempt?

SFMD: The error in judgment does not give rise to a citation for contempt under our laws.

Q: Is it high time for the MTRCB to review its standards?

SFMD: Sa akin po, ang ginagamit na standard ng MTRCB ay taliwas sa ating Saligang Batas ngayon. The agency was created under a regime of Martial law. Therefore, if you follow strictly the powers granted to them, they will in effect be a censors board, which to me, is contrary to the freedom of speech enshrined in our Constitution. For example, they can ban the viewing of a film, which contains alleged libelous content. In media, you cannot censor on the basis of libel. You can be liable for libel pero hindi mo puwedeng sabihin "don't air that or don't view that because it's libelous."

Q: These guidelines constitute prior restraint?

SFMD: These guidelines, if strictly enforced, constitute prior restraint. For example, those which tend to undermine the faith and confidence of the people in their government and/or the duly-constituted authorities. Daily when you listen to radio, view television and read the newspaper, a lot of comments can be considered as tending to undermine the faith and confidence of people in government. If you apply this standard to the movies being reviewed, then you will be exercising prior censorship, which to me has no place in a democratic society such as what we have today. Of course, there are other standards there, which on ground of public policy and in the exercise of police power can be exercised, like excessive nudity or explicit sex. Those are different matters because you can really rely on the police power of the state in order to prevent the viewing of such films. But in other areas, libelous, or it undermines the faith of our people in our duly-constituted authorities, that to me, would be prior censorship.

Q: Can anyone be liable for possession of that X material?

SFMD: No. That is why they have problems in the classification of the documentary of former President Erap Estrada. Because really, I am confident that if it reaches the court, ultimately, this classification will be reversed as a being prior censorship. I am confident about that. Ultimately, the camp of President Estrada will bring this to the attention of the Supreme Court after the Palace has decided on it. I am certain that the decision will be reversed.

Q: Ordinary court or SC na?

SFMD: The decision of the President may be directly brought to the Supreme Court.

Q: Can they show it in public?

SFMD: They cannot show it for general public viewing because it is banned in the movie houses. But these are all over the place. I have a copy. The controversy has made it popular. Remember, hindi pa siguro kayo pinapanganak, iyong Iginuhit ng Tadhana. That was how Marcos won, because they banned the movie.

Q: Ano ang suggestion ninyo sa MTRCB?

SFMD: Not to apply those standards, which clearly constitute prior restraint and censorship. (end)

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