Press Release
July 25, 2011


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, who won her Magsaysay Award for fighting governmental corruption, said that President Aquino should set the yearend as the absolute deadline for resolving the entire backlog of cases pending with the Office of the Ombudsman.

"If the President fails to set a deadline, his flagship program against corruption will become unsustainable," she said.

The senator said that the Ombudsman has a term of seven years, and Pres. Aquino should appoint a "muscular, adrenaline-packed" nominee, because of the high caseload.

Santiago said that the President should order that in the resolution of cases, priority should be given to criminal cases unearthed recently, such as corruption among generals in the military, generals in the police, and officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Pagcor.

"The way to dispose of the backlog is for the President to authorize the justice secretary to appoint special prosecutors with the sole function of resolving pending cases in the Ombudsman," the senator said.

She said that unless Congress practices self-restraint and shortens public hearings on anomalies, Malacañang should not wait for the result of legislative probes.

"Congress takes forever to investigate anomalies. We lose a lot of time, because the senators and representatives are fishing for evidence. Some of them also try awkwardly to burnish their image in front of the TV cameras. The public gets exasperated," she said.

Santiago said that on a scale of 1 to10, she gives the following grades for President Aquino's first year: general administration - 6.5; anticorruption - 7; family behavior - 8.

She said that the SONA event should be supported by the entire political community, because it symbolizes national unity.

"All three branches are present in the SONA event, the only time that we are all together. This ceremony is a symbol of governmental unity. It is not the proper venue for political protests, because contrary to misimpression, this is not a homage to the President. All of us in government should be respectful and civilized during this event," she said.

Santiago said she will start this week her defense of the RH bill in the Senate, by delivering the first of three parts.

"My defense is over 60 pages long, so I have to break it up into three separate speeches. By that time, I would have bored everybody, including myself," she said with characteristic humor.

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