Press Release
December 14, 2011

Transcript of interview with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Vicente C. Sotto III

Q: Sir natanggap na ng Senate ang articles of impeachment?

Sotto: Oo, natanggap na naming ang articles of impeachment, the procedure is that the Senate secretariat will ask me how to proceed. I already inform them that it should include in the calendar for ordinary business today, so that it is less that we misjudge of delaying it. So, sinama na naming for calendar of the day, the Senate President has been advise to write a letter informing the House of Representatives that we have received the articles of impeachment. Next step would be for us to convene a caucus before I formally move to constitute the Senate into an impeachment court. That is the procedure, the caucus will be after the roll call and probably after the reading of ordinary business and then refer the article of impeachment and then we going to caucus and decide. Because the rules of the senate has an enough elbow room for us to say when we can constitute and dates, ang time maliwanag na na 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Most probably we will conduct legislative work in the morning, so, ganun ang mangyayari. So, after the caucus we have to constitute our selves as an impeachment court through motion that I will do, and we will set the date for the impeachment trials. We will declare what the exact date is because that will be the date where the summons will be issued.

Q: Sir, within the day ba 'yon?

Sotto: Magko-caucus kami mamaya, it depends on the caucus, if they will ask me to do the motion tonight I may or I may do it tomorrow.

Q: Trials?

Sotto: The next step, after the calendar for ordinary business it will be referred, I've been informed that the procedure will be, it will be referred to the committee on rules and the committee on justice. Usually, it will be the committee on justice but this is an impeachment already, the rules of the senate takes over, therefore, it will be referred to the committee on rules, but we have decided to make the committee on justice secondary just to make sure that there are no loop holes.

Q: 2pm, hapon po ang impeachment?

Sotto: Yes, but most probably that will on January, malabong mag umpisa ngayon 'yan. We might approve the constitution of the impeachment court tomorrow or maybe tonight but it will commence most probably on January 16 unless otherwise decided by the Senate. Kasi it is useless to go into impeachment court during the Christmas season kasi magpapadala ka rin ng mga summons, meron ten days to answer, then five days to reply, so, by the time you will know it, it's already New Year's Day.

Q: Is it possible to call for special session?

Sotto: That is not possible because the special session that can be called by the Senate President is for legislation. I do not know if there is a rule that exist that the Senate President may call special session of an impeachment court. If you will recall during the trial of former President Erap, we started first week of December as an impeachment court already, the trial itself. When the third week of December came we need to extend for about a week, it took a break pa rin afterward because we just adjust the one week additional, walang problema dun, the president need not call for that, he can not call for that, iba ang legislative session sa impeachment court, so, dito ano ang use nang tatawag ka ng special session, magse-send din kami ng summons ten days, tapos five days reply.

Q: January na ba ang pagpapadala ng summons?

Sotto: Mangyayari 'yon once we constitute as an impeachment court and we have taken our oath, once it commences.

Q: Kailan mangyayari ito?

Sotto: Depende sa caucus mamaya but in all probability it will be on January 16 when we resume.

Q: Before the break sir malabong mangyari?

Sotto: Malabong mangyarin 'yon, it useless

Q: But ang proper trials mga March na?

Sotto: Hindi naman, February most probably.

Q: Sir 'yung set of rules n'yo klaro po ba kung continuing ang hearing ng articles?

Sotto: The rules ng Senate na naaprub, we will hear all the articles and we vote for each article. Sa kasalukuyang rules, 'yan ang napagkasunduan. Because the last time around may mga nagsuggest na vote per article para kung tapos na, tapos na, second article kung guilty na hindi na kailangang ituloy, meron suggestion na ganun, pero ang problema meron malaking downside naisip na para kang nagsa-shopping, tapos ano ang gagawin mo pahina o palakas? Uunahin mo ba ang malakas o 'yung mahina? Pagpalakas at hindi n'yo nakuha o naconvict dun eh pahina ka na. When we weigh it, it think the prevailing sentiment is, it will be what we approved and that is hear all the articles and vote afterwards.

Q: Sir, 'yung trials, how will it takes?

Sotto: Depende sa prosecutors 'yan, depende sa kanilang presentasyon at depende rin sa isasagot ng depensa. It is very difficult to say at this point, what we can assure them, to our people is that we will be continuing with our legislative works, it will be hampered a bit because we can only meet in the morning.

Q: Sir dun sa rules maybabaguhin pa ba kayo o tama na 'yon?

Sotto: It depends on the caucus later. I know wala naman problema ang rules na ito, ito na ang inadopt ng 15th Congress na Senate.

Q: Sir, 2pm to until what time ang nakalagay sa rules?

Sotto: Ang nakalagay sa rules 2pm, we have elbow room on until when you want to do it. Ito rule number 10: at 2 o'clock in the afternoon or at such other hour as the Senate may order.

Q: Sir ang araw?

Sotto: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays (impeachment court). Wednesdays para sa Commission on Appointment, Fridays impeachment court din 'yan pero more on the pleadings submission and motions.

Q: Sir with present composition ng Senate 2/3 votes pa rin?

Sotto: I think so. There was already jurisprudence by the Supreme Court sometime ago about the 2/3 of the Senate. Senate kasi according to the constitution is composed of 24.

Q: eh 23 lang kayo sir.

Sotto: Kahit na eh baka maging 22 lang nga eh.

Q: Paano 'yan?

Sotto: 2/3 of the Senate ang sinabi hindi ng present members of the Senate. Pagsinabi 2/3 of the present members of the Senate pag 18 lang kayo eh 12 lang, eh walang sinabing ganun ang constitution, ang sabi 2/3 of the Senate and Senate is describe as composed of 24-man.

Q: Sir, do you see Chief Justice Corona resigning like Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez before it starts?

Sotto: Your guest is as good as mine.

Q: Sir, sa rules bawal pa rin na tawagan sa phone or mag-inteview habang nasa impeachment trial?

Sotto: Oo bawal pa rin.

Q: During the break pwede na?

Sotto: Oo but not during the trial proper, hindi katulad dati nagta-trial hinihila ng mga TV channel.

Q: Walang time limit ang pagtatanong?

Sotto: Meron, 2 minutes lang.

Q: Pwede bang bomoto ang presiding officer?

Sotto: Bomoboto, pahihirapan mo ang 16 pag ang presiding officer hindi mo pinaboto. Sa pagtatanong pwedeng verbal, pwedeng written. To offer a motion or order he must do it in writing.

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