Press Release
February 2, 2011

Transcript of Sen. Santiago's interview

Parang naging abugado daw ni Gen. Garcia ang Ombudsman sa hearing kahapon?

That is because there was no Rabusa yet when the Ombudsman passed on that. Even so, I would grant the presumption (of regularity of performance of duty) to the Ombudsman, because sometimes when you are in the heat of following up a, let us just say, significant lead, then you make a judgment call which is not always acceptable to everybody. But today the position is very clear: with the Rabusa testimony, unless they are able to impeach the testimony of Rabusa, now we have an eyewitness so the evidence becomes very strong.

She is a Constitutionally empowered official. Hindi siya ordinaryong bureau director or head of a government agency. She is the head of a Constitutionally mandated agency. Kaya dapat diyan polite. Magalang dapat. Hindi mo siya dapat itrato na parang ordinaryong empleyado ng gobyerno because she occupies an exalted position.

Can the case be refiled or can a new one be filed against Gen. Garcia?

Absolutely. There has been a change in the circumstances. Maski sa Korte nga e, maski tapos na ang desisyon at naging final and executory, kapag nakita mo na may bagong ebidensya you can move for a new trial because that is the ground provided by the Rules of Court. Kung ganyan pala ang attitude ng ating batas, mas lalo. Iyon nga pinag-uusapan sa Rules of Court, desisyon nga naging pinal na pero pwede mo pang buksan in the face of new evidence. Lalo na in the case of a mere preliminary investigation.

On former Sec. Reyes filing a case against Sen. Trillianes in the Ombudsman

Bukas, basta makapunta ako if my health allows me to attend, I'm going to raise that point. Pwede ba na takutin mo ang mga senador na ginagawa lang naman nila ang katungkulan nila ayon sa utos ng Saligang Batas, we have a duty to participate in an inquiry in aid of legislation. It is our duty. We don't even have any discretion. And then they do that. While the investigation is ongoing can we be then threatened, coerced or intimidated by filing cases against us? Halimbawa, sabi ng Ombudsman, sa dalawang kaso na idinulog laban sa akin dahil sa privilege speech ko, sabi niya una may parliamentary immunity ang senador. Pangalawa, nakalagay mismo sa Ombudsman Act na wala kaming jurisdiction. Kaya nilagay lang iyan for psychological effect.

On Gen. Benjamin Defensor's alleged involvement in the Gen. Garcia case as former AFP Chief of Staff

As a lawyer, let me say that allegation is not evidence. Lahat na ng alegasyon ginawa na sa akin, tungkol sa sex appeal ko, umpisa. Kailangan diyan, kapag narinig natin, isipin natin ano kayang ebidensya nito. Ngayon, kung may ebidensya, eh di iprisinta. I'm not going to defend him. He should be treated like all other chiefs of staff are being treated. And if it comes up in the Senate, I will inhibit myself only with respect to him para hindi naman isipin na I'm protecting him. I have absolutely no knowledge. But that is not a disclaimer. I'm not playing coy. As far as I know he has not received anything. Dahil nanghihiram pa nga sa akin iyan kasi I'm older [laughs]. He is only living in AFPOVAI Village. I haven't talked to him at all.

Do you plan to talk to him?

Well, if he asks for legal advice. My siblings and I are so busy that, although we all live in Metro Manila, from the time we graduated, we hardly communicated except by telephone. We don't even see each other. If I see him today I would have to take a second look to see if he is really my brother [laughs].

What is your advice for Gen. Defensor?

I'll tell him, "Just tell the truth." Wala na. "Kapag ginawa mo, aminin mo. Wala tayong magagawa. Masisira naman ako. Kung hindi mo ginawa, mamilit ka. Marunong ka naman dahil PMA graduate ka. Mag-isip ka kung paano mo mabigyan ng kalakasan ang pagsabi mo na wala kang natanggap because the presumption is always innocence. Kaya lang kung may ebidensya na ang kabila, ang weight of proof is now shifting. Iba ang weight of evidence sa weight of proof."

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