Press Release
May 25, 2011

Transcript of interview with Senator Santiago

On former Ombudsman Aniano Desierto's comments on Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales's nomination for Ombudsman

I would have to agree with the comments of the former Ombudsman who is speaking only as the voice of experience. Number one: I find it virtually an oxymoron to say that one person has retired from his job, presumably because he is old, and then accepted the appointment for a new job, which means to say that he has youth to tackle the challenges of that job.

Number two: it sounds very much as a demotion. If you are already a justice of the Supreme Court or at the apex of your legal career, the Ombudsman is really nothing more than a glorified fiscal or prosecutor. When you're in trial court you sit up there at the bench, and the prosecutors sit down there before you, looking up at you. So it is very difficult to reconcile in the mind a person who is already been up there on the bench. No one wants to go down in the ordinary counsel's table.

Number three: it might be a very dangerous precedent because if the president keeps on appointing retired Supreme Court Justices, it could be that the president can influence the outcome of certain cases with a promise that he could appoint after their retirement certain people

I only know certain justices who accepted jobs after they left the Supreme Court, but these were on the level of their intellectual supremacy as justices. For example, Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma became the president of the Constitutional Convention which does not require physical energy. Justice Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera, on e of the most brilliant justices to sit in the Supreme Court, who deserve to be the first female chief justice but was not appointed there, was chancellor of the Philippine Judicial Academy, so she is mentoring. The same can be said for Justice Flerida Ruth Romero. So I don't think that someone who retires at seventy should be assigned to a job where, according to one of its former occupants, inherited at least 30,000 cases from his predecessor.

When I was younger, President Corazon Aquino called me to consider the job of the Ombudsman, but, even at that time, I declined because I could hardly cope with my case load as an RTC judge, which was thirty cases a month. And I knew that the case load in the Ombudsman is much higher. So I declined even at that young age.

However, I wan to add that although the comments of Mr. Desierto were ageist, still I support him. And yet, I will decry his sexist comments that women should not be appointed to the Ombudsman because they are very emotional. I wish he had not said that. In my case for example, I am virtually emotionless when I was sitting on the bench. That is the most dangerous frame of mind when you are trying a case. I have sent many people to jail for life, and I have never had any emotional problems about it. So I just wish that he could eliminate that aspect in the discussion.

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