Press Release
Press statement of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago
December 7, 2006


Early Wednesday evening, Pres. Arroyo visited me at my house in La Vista, Quezon City. She read me the riot act, and I calmed down.

After the president filled me in, I agreed that Justice Reynato Puno (Rey) deserves to be appointed Chief Justice. It appears that Rey was not a party to the plot to keep me out of the Supreme Court. On the contrary, it appears that Rey himself has been a victim of infernal scheming within the Court.

Pres. Arroyo also told me that she would refrain from reappointing any regular member of the Judicial and Bar Council. One of them is Raoul Victorino, who is anyway disqualified because while he is supposed to represent the private sector, he is actually a retired Sandiganbayan justice. This duplicitous spectacle is like a wolf parading in sheeps clothing.

Listen, children, and I shall tell you a bloodcurdling bedtime story of political intrigue.

The plot against me was ostensibly led by former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban (Art). But he and Victorino were apparently merely carrying out the orders of the person jerking their puppet strings, their acknowledged lord and master, former Sen. Jovito Salonga (Jovy). Last year, Jovy prevailed on Pres. Arroyo to appoint Art as Chief Justice, thus jumping over Rey who, at that time, was already senior associate justice.

Jovy was apparently emboldened by his newfound power to muscle in on the presidency, which has always been his foremost hearts desire. He demanded that Pres. Arroyo should give him the head of Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos. For lack of constitutional power, Pres. Arroyo was unable to accommodate Jovys imperious demand. Hence, he turned against her, and any person he perceives is close to her.

After media reported that I had been nominated for Chief Justice, Jovy immediately issued the negative comment that I should not be in the Supreme Court, because allegedly I am not a team player. In his dotage, Jovy seems to have mistaken judicial work for the sport of basketball.

Debonaire Art reportedly hates reclusive Rey with a passion. Rey, like me, is a U.P. law graduate and a former Collegian editor a position of national renown. Art, by contrast, is not a U.P. law graduate, and earned renown as owner of a travel agency. He also earned notoriety for a lengthy dalliance with a former beauty queen. But in his effusive resume, he likes to project himself as a family man. Perhaps mental honesty is not a requirement for Chief Justice.

Before he retired last December 6, Art was reportedly tireless in urging Pres. Arroyo not to appoint Rey. Among Arts protges for the post were Justices Antonio Carpio and Leonardo Quisumbing (Leo). A former Collegian editor, Leo of late has been occupied with issuing press releases pressing for observance of the newly-minted insider rule. It would have benefited him, since he stood second in line to Rey, who at that time was destined by his enemies to be bumped off again.

Then there was even a banner headline story that the Court would collectively insist on an alleged insider rule, thus preparing the public mind for my repudiation. That deliberate leak to the press was part of a sinister plot to out me. To carry out the plot, Art even called up a Malacañang associate to pledge insincerely that he would support my nomination, thus deliberately misleading Malacañang . To quote Shakespeare: Zounds! What a merry web they weave! In Tagalog, walang hiya, ah!

I have it in good authority that after my fulmination against Art in the Senate, the majority of Supreme Court justices were not angry, but instead elated. They have never liked him, because last year he grabbed the Chief Justice post from Rey, without any qualification, except the good fortune to be protected by a powerful padrino. Some justices have sent word that if I wish, they will send me Court documents against Art.

So my blood is boiling against Art Panganiban and Jovy Salonga. I have long lost any respect for Jovy, because he is malicious. At the necrological service held at the Senate for his contemporary, former Sen. Arturo Tolentino, Jovy delivered a funeral oration, but created a scandal. He recounted the political past, praised himself as a principled statesman, and denounced Mr. Tolentino for having allegedly betrayed those principles. All these, while the erstwhile eloquent Mr. Tolentino was lying horizontally in a coffin, unable to defend himself. What kind of man finds it impossible to say the good about the dead?

Jovy and Art tried their best to fix a funeral for Rey and me, and in the process they also tried to dupe us into fighting each other.

I congratulate Chief Justice Rey Puno, and wish him good luck. Let justice prevail, and let the plotters fall!

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