Press Release
May 16, 2011

Transcript of Sen. Santiago's interview

On former Sen. Mar Roxas as President Aquino's chief of staff

In his position as chief of staff, Sen. Roxas will be in effect the wind beneath the wings of President Aquino. However, what happened to Roxas for president? He's going to be part of a bureaucracy within the palace and the public will have no access to him. He would certainly be a shoo-in in the 2013 elections. Basically he would be chief of staff for about two years before he runs for the senate and maybe hopes to be Senate President.

But in the present situation, I am puzzled. In American bureaucratic parlance, the head of the entire Cabinet that reports to the president is called the chief-of-staff. But in Filipino bureaucratic parlance, that person is called the executive secretary. So now we have two persons fulfilling the same job. In the UK, I think he is called the secretary of the cabinet. Whatever the title is, the function remains the same. It is one of supervision over all the cabinet members, in effect all the departments of the government. So we'll have to grade that logical division of labor will be foreign policy as opposed to national domestic policy. If Mar Roxas takes foreign policy, that will be a surefire way to find defeat in the next presidential elections since he will be out of the country most of the time. In fact if you want to defeat him, all you have to do is lobby to President Aquino so he will be sent abroad most of the time. If he has nothing to do with domestic policy, then he will be just out of the loop. He has to go around the country helping to alleviate poverty or fight corruption. So I am very puzzled with this development. It is not exactly a surefire recipe for disaster, but it is very close to that. Unless the lines are carefully drawn, then I think Mar Roxas as of this time is about to give up the presidency six years from now. That will be the effect.

On the ongoing debates on the RH bill

As the author of the RH bill in the Senate, I am preparing my battle gear. After the SONA, we will be ready for a shootout. I am preparing my Navy Seals and my stealth bombers so that we can rescue the people who are suffering from fortress mentality. We are going to debate this from all fronts, not only the political front, but also economic, demographic, theological, medical--meaning to say scientific. On all fronts we will debate it. I can debate all of them in any of these topics. They can all sit in one row, I can sit all alone by myself and I can defend the bill because the merits of the bill will ensure victory.

It is basically a case of people with a certain religious bent of mind angry because science has proved that the world is round. They are insisting that the world is flat. If going by the example of Galileo and Copernicus, they are going to pull out my nails, then, I am ready to be immolated on the altar of scientific conspiracy. You cannot close your eyes to people who die every day simply because of ignorance, so when did ignorance become a national policy?

The Catholic church said they are no longer debating on the RH bill

If that is the case we will not have shut the door--they have shut the door. Remember this: when the Bible says God created human beings in God's own image, it does not mean we look like God. It means that we think like God. We think. We have brains. We have a conscience. That is why we are created in the image of God because we have freedom of conscience. So this is an issue of freedom of conscience. Are you free to act according to the dictates of your conscience.

On the chances of RH bill passing in the Senate

The chances are very high because politicians are creatures of the electoral constituency that elects them. So we always want to have the feel of the public pulse. The public pulse is definitely in favor of the RH bill. That is why the resistance is so strident against it because the critics or enemies of the RH bill know that according to the majority rule, which is a basic democratic tenet, they already have lost the debate. That is why the have to respond in that extremely inappropriate manner.

These are people who want to go to "heaven." In the first place we have to debate the concept of heaven, isn't that so? We have to know if they are going to debate about heaven because it is the basis why these people are against the RH bill. They are hoping that if they stand against the crowd and if they resist the tidal wave of public opinion they will be deemed as martyrs by somebody up high and reward them by giving them heaven. So, if they are willing to do so, I want to debate the existence of heaven because we are being sent to hell. Apparently, those who are critical are going to heaven and all of us are going to hell, so I want to know first where these places are.

We just have to appeal to reason. Besides, because the principle of church and state, while we respect the freedom of speech of people of every persuasion across religious boundaries, still we have to stand up for the principle in democratic governance that the church cannot dictate to the state. So the State must always argue in favor of free speech and free conscience, that is why I call this a freedom of conscience issue.

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