Press Release
March 15, 2011

Transcript of Interview of Senate Pres. Juan Ponce Enrile

On the Supreme Court Ruling on the C-5 Hearing

Q: 'Yung naging ruling ng Supreme Court na sinasabing tama lang 'yung referral sa Committee of the Whole sa imbestigasyon ng C-5 Road controversy. Anong use ng decision na 'yon ng Supreme Court?

SP: Wala na. Huli na 'yon. It's too late anyway. The case cannot be longer taken up because wala na 'yung mga ibang nag-imbestiga dito. May mga bago na dumating na mga members. That was done in the previous Congress. So, that's already moot and academic. Ia-archive na lang 'yun.

Q: But it's a vindication, sir, on your part na it was proven na tama 'yung decision?

SP: You know, I was just doing my job. Whether it is vindication or no vindication, it does not matter. We have done our duties, our jobs. Let it rest there.

Q: What lesson can be learned from this experience?

SP: Nothing. We continue investigating if there's anything to investigate?

Q: On the part of the minority bloc?

SP: Well, I will not foreclose their right to question any act or decision of the Senate leadership on any matter. That's the right of every member of the Senate and I would respect that. They may differ with you. You may differ with them. But after all, we are elected members of the Senate by the people and assumed to be responsible so we debate issues. We differ. We take different positions but in the end, there's a country to be served.

Q: Sir, kapag na-archive ba pwede pang i-revive?

SP: Wala na 'yun. Tapos na 'yun. Let the other departments of government take up the issue if they want to take it up. That was an issue of ethics so I doubt whether even the Courts can handle it. They have no jurisdiction.

Q: Sabi po ng Supreme Court, 'yung C-5 controversy with Manny Villar should be tackled sa Committee on Ethics?

SP: Ang sabi lang ng Korte Suprema, kailangan i-publika 'yung Rules of the Committee of the Whole, pero 'yung rules na inadopt namin ay published na. It was already published, so in effect, what the Court is saying, since we adopted the Ethics Rule which was already published, publish it again. Ako, with due respect, I differ with the Court on that because we have already published it. We did not follow the quorum rule of that rule because we realized that the Senate, as a body, has an established quorum in the Constitution. Majority of the members do not have to have a rule on that, about the quorum of the Senate. It is written in the Constitution. You do not have to issue a Rule that the quorum of the Senate has to be thirteen out of twenty-four because it is written in the Constitution.

Q: What will happen next?

SP: Doon sa kaso? Wala na. Tapos na 'yun. It is unfortunate that the decision came late. We have already finished the hearing a long time ago, since before the election. As we call it, functus officio.

On the Partial Blue Ribbon Committee Report

Q: Sir, is it proper for Sen. TG Guingona to go to Malacañang and present the initial committee report of the Blue Ribbon Committee?

SP: TG is a very energetic young man and he's new in the Senate. We have to understand that.

Q: Pero uncommon practice raw po ito sabi ni Senator Sotto.

SP: This is the first time that it has been done if he did it. It has never been done before and I'm sure the President, having been a member of the Senate, realizes that the Senate is an independent institution and I hope that every member of the Senate will always remember that while we have our own political linkages and affiliations, nonetheless, we have to maintain the independence of the Senate.

Q: Anong magiging weight ng document kung hindi pa siya nare-read sa floor, hindi pa sya submitted?

SP: It's just an opinion of the chairman at the moment unless it carries the mandate of the committee. That is his analysis of the issues and I respect that. He can form his own notion, conclusion, analyses of the facts but unless it is approved by a majority of his committee, it is only his opinion.

Q: As chairman, can he insist on having the partial committee report deliberated on the floor?

SP: No, if it is not approved by the committee. The chairman of the committee is only the presiding officer and in-charge of the committee. He is not the committee. He has no plenary power. He's controlled by the members, a majority of the members.

Q: 'Yung 14 signatures suffice as approval of the committee, sir?

SP: I don't know. For purposes of bringing it to the floor, maybe. That they approve the contents of the report is something else. I have not read the report.

On the Upcoming Impeachment Trial

Q: Sir, may we know kung ano 'yung pinag-usapan sa caucus kahapon?

SP: I called that caucus without notice because we are anticipating that an impeachment trial will take place in the Senate and in order to prepare for that I suggested that we should go over the impeachment rules that we have in the Senate and see whether that rule can apply in the case of the Ombudsman if it will come up to us eventually which I think will come. And so, we agreed that we will review the rules and draft a new set of rules or adopt the same rules subject to amendments and they will publish so that there will be no questions about the validity of the rules that we will use.

Q: How about 'yung schedule ng trial. Mayroon na, sir?

SP: We will set that when the case is elevated to us. We will adopt the rule first then we convene ourselves into an impeachment court and after that we will issue whatever processes that will be issued, summonses and subpoenas and then we set the date of trial. Now, as far as the schedule of trial that we will put in the rules, we agreed among ourselves that we will hold sessions in the morning and hold trials four days a week, Mondays to Thursdays except on Wednesday. It will be at 3 o'clock.

Q: Target ninyo daw po May 9, mag take-oath na kayo as Impeachment Judge?

SP: Kung nandito na 'yung articles of impeachment. That is our timetable.

Q: Bakit except Wednesday? Kasi may CA?

SP: Oo, dahil meron kaming Commission on Appointments.

Q: Sir, feasible ba 'yung suggestion ni Senator Arroyo na kung marami 'yung articles of impeachment, two at a time, para hindi ma-affect 'yung legislative process?

SP: Hindi ko alam kung ano ang gusto ninyong sabihin, dahil isang kaso lang 'yun.

Q: 'Yung pagdinig daw po ng charges? Anim daw 'yung articles of impeachment.

SP: Hindi anim, isa lang yung article of impeachment, with several counts. Parang one charge, with several counts.

Q: Pero parang piecemeal basis po 'yung pag-take-up ng issues?

SP: Hindi nga. Ganun 'yun, we cannot control that because that is in the hands of the prosecutors how they will present their case. The presentation of the case for the House will be under the control of the assigned members of the House who will handle the prosecution. We are judges. We will not dictate on the prosecution how they will proceed to present their evidence.

Q: On a regular course of business between Senate and the Executive, ano po ang pwedeng mapag-usapan ng Senate na walang nabi-breach?

SP: Anything under the sun can be discussed between the Executive and Congress.

Q: But not on a committee report?

SP: I suppose, if ever he did it, he is doing it as a matter of courtesy to the head of his party. I do not know. It has never been done before. This is the first experience of the Senate.

Q: Hindi na kailangan ang consent ninyo as Senate President?

SP: No. Sa kanya 'yun. It has not been filed in the Plenary.

Q: Pero sir 'yung inquiry is in aid of legislation, so ano ang magiging participation ng Malacañang?

SP: Hindi ko alam.

Q: Anong use 'nun sa Executive?

SP: Maybe, to be fair, siguro he wanted the President to be informed about the case. For what purpose, I am not sure. You better ask him.

Q: Is there any misconduct of sorts sa gainawa ni Sen. Guingona?

SP: Wala naman. Opinion lang 'yun. That is not a property of the Senate yet.

Q: Hindi rin po kayo na-bypass?

SP: Siguro, gusto niya na malaman ni Presidente ang ginagawa ng Blue Ribbon. Sa akin, okay lang 'yun.

Q: Pero sir, pwede po ba 'yun itake-up, partial muna bago 'yung mother report?

SP: Ewan ko. Ngayon lang nagkaroon ng partial report sa hearing. I am not sure whether nagkaroon ng partial report in the previous Blue Ribbon hearings. 'Yung panahon yata ni Alan, doon sa ZTE. Kung nagkaroon ng partial report, ewan ko. We did not discuss the partial report on the floor.

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