May 31, 2012
ANC transcript of interview with Sen. Escudero
WEBB: Sen. Chiz good morning!
FGE: Pinky sa ating televiewers magandang umaga!
WEBB: Alright, a lot of things that we need to discuss. Let's start with your statement about Associate Justice and now acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio. Why not?
FGE: Well let me clarify that. Interview yun sa UKG, kinatigan ko lang naman yung posisyon ni dating Senador Rene Saguisag. Na sinabi nya na baka mula sa isang away ay mapunta nanaman tayo sa isang away. Imbes na natuldukan na sana yung issue e' hahaba pa yung kwento. That was the only reason and secondly in relation to sitting as presiding officer of the JBC, if he's going to be a nominee or an applicant, he would inhibit himself anyway from participating in the JBC deliberations given that he is a potential, if he applies or if he is nomited, if he accepts.
WEBB: So, again let's clear that, Did you say out of delicadeza?
FGE: Yes. But agreeing with Sen. Saguisag. Kasi di ba kung maalala mo, isa siya sa mga tinuturo, totoo man o hindi, ni Chief Justice Corona..
WEBB: Behind the smere campaign against him.
FGE: Sa pagtanggal sa kanya sa pwesto.
WEBB: Hindi man lantarang na sinabi yung pangalan niya but everyone is inducing it's Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
FGE: Ganun na rin yun.
WEBB: Yung isang nagmamadali di ba sabi niya na maging chief justice?
FGE: Yes. But, in so far that I am concerned, I'm not saying that I am prejudging him in so far that I am not voting for him or voting for him on the JBC. I'm merely talking of procedure and to my mind what's good for our country at this time.
WEBB: But, I guess that he's sweep under the rug. He's the acting chief justice.
FGE: Let's clarify that, Pinky, maraming nagsasabi na bakit daw siya ang inappoint ni Pangulong Aquino? President Aquino had nothing to do wiht the appointment or with the ascendancy of Justice Carpio as acting chief justice. That is by virtue of our rule, practice and tradition of the Supreme Court that the senior justice will serve as acting chief justice in case that the chief justice is removed, becomes incapacitated or is not in the country.
WEBB: Automatic. Okay. That is very clear now. Walang kinalaman si PNoy dito.
WEBB: Number two, JBC. There are many interpretations on how the JBC should look into nominees, okay, what is your take? Because...let's summarize it. Is it automatic, number one, that you can among just yourselves nominate chairman of the JBC?
FGE: No. But then again the law abhors a vacuum, Pinky. So always there would be always an acting officer in the person of either the acting chief justice or any justice of the Supreme Court designated by the court. The mere fact that the law does not state the procedure or manner by this will be settled does not mean we would be paralized. No. Again the law abhors a vacuum. We have to fill up that vacuum.
WEBB: It's mandatory that you fill up that eight spots? Kasi yung eight, for example, yun yung kay Renato Corona.
FGE: Especially siya yung presiding officer, Pinky.
FGE: That has come to pass already. After Justice Carpio assumed the role of acting chief justice, in fact he already called for a meeting. We have a meeting on Monday.
WEBB: I see. So that's it. Because I was talking to Congressman Neil Tupas yesterday. He's very specific. He goes, it did not say that acting chief justices will be the chairman of the JBC. It said chief justice. So he said, there naman is very clear. Do you have opposing view?
FGE: Again, it abhors, the law always abhors a vacuum. We cannot be paralized simply because, paano kung yung incumbent chief justice, namatay bigla? Inatake. Ano yun paralisado na tayo? Hindi na tayo pwedeng pumili ng chief justice? Hindi na tatakbo ang JBC? I don't think that is the intent of the framers of the Constitution.
WEBB: Okay. So since si Associate Justice Antonio Carpio already called a meeting, you had one on Monday?
FGE: We have one on Monday. The process will begin already on Monday. Hopefully, if he is going to be a nominee, as it has happened in the past, he will inhibit. And someone will sit as presiding officer.
WEBB: And with that going to be a vote amongst the seven remaining?
FGE: No. Someone will take his place.
WEBB: Like who?
FGE: One of the justices.
WEBB: Of the Supreme Court?
FGE: The next senior. The next senior justice perhaps.
WEBB: I see. Because there is, let's put it on the table, there is quite a chance that he would be nominated as a chief justice. So he sits there for now and once nominated, he inhibits and somebody, who's the next senior one?
FGE: The next senior is Justice Presbitero Velasco.
WEBB: I see. So then he's going to be the acting chairman.
WEBB: As chief justice, again, these schools of thought, do you have to choose from the present line up of the associate justice or can you actually have an outsider come in? Because there is a vacancy, can that outsider coming in as a nominee be designated as chief justice.
FGE: Some people are saying, we first have to fill up the vacancy of the chief justice from amongst the justices right now, and then after that is vacated we will now fill up outside the vacated position of the justice, no, it's not necessarily the case. We are not bound from choosing amongst the 14 justices to recommend to the president. Walang prohibition, walang nagbabawal, walang limitasyon ang JBC na yun lang ang pagpipilian. Kahit sino pwede naming pagpilian. Pagdating naman sa presidente, may limitasyon. Ang pwede lang niya i-appoint yung galing sa listahan ng JBC. Hindi siya pwedeng pumili ng tao sa labas ng binigay naming listahan.
WEBB: So, I'll give you a scenario. You have three nominees, A, B,C. The president chooses A. So pasok siya.
FGE: That's it.
WEBB: That's it. It makes it 15. No, but the president have to choose from among the three nominated as a chief justice or it can be anyone of the 15?
FGE: No. He can only choose from the list that we submitted. We will give him a list with at least three.
WEBB: Yeah. And that has to be the chief justice?
FGE: Yes. Specifically chief justice. Now, if one of the justices is appointed by the president, then the JBC will start the process all over again from the nomination of the vacancy created by the associate justice.
WEBB: Associate justice. Okay, step one, you choose three, next step the president..
FGE: At least three. We can give him 10, we can give him 15.
WEBB: Aren't you supposed to give him three?
FGE: A minimum of three.
WEBB: I see. Okay.
FGE: It can be five, eight, ten, fifteen or twenty names.
WEBB: I see. So among the minimum of three after that the president will choose among them, number one, it has to be the chief justice first. If that happens to be incumbent associate justice, you begin another process?
FGE: When the vacancy is created, we begin the process again.
WEBB: But those people, let's say you chose five and then that was an associate justice of the president chose as chief justice, why can't you just, you know, choose from the four?
FGE: We can't because the notice and application procedure applied in the position of the chief justice. Baka ang gusto lang niya maging chief justice, ayaw niyang maging associate siya.
WEBB: Associate justice.
FGE: O baka nag-o-oppose yung tao. Chief justice yan, importante yan, pag associate hindi na ko magrereklamo.
WEBB: Which is unlikely? But at the same?
FGE: At the same time it has to be specific. The process, Pinky, will begin on Monday. We will order that the notice of vacancy be published. And we will invite applicants and nominees. I think roughly ten days. We will give the public ten days to apply or either nominate someone. The JBC here is a passive body. I cannot nominate but someone else can and we have to rule upon that nomination. Pangalawa, walang plastikan dito at walang pasaysay dito. Hindi pwedeng inonominate kita, Pinky. "Sige bahala ka. Silent lang ako d'yan ha." Hindi pwede. Accept the nomination before we consider you on the JBC.
WEBB: And then they go through an interview. A one on one interview right?
FGE: But before that, after we get the list of applicants, we sort it out. We try to remove those who are clearly disqualified. Kunwari yung hindi natural born citizen, or kunwari yung na-convict na for a previous offense. And then we publish again the list of names that we have pre-qualified and ask the public for their comments, opposition, inputs, additional endorsements and after that they'll undergo an interview from the members of the JBC. Not only that, a psychological test, as well. That's the new innnovation of the JBC. Pangatlong hihilingin ko, papahingan ko silang lahat ng waiver ng secrecy of bank deposits at FCDU dahil baka mamaya 'yung SALN nila hindi rin tumutugma sa deposito nila sa bangko ay matanggal din sila katulad noong predecessor nila.
WEBB: So, interview, psychological test and a waiver? Those are the, but do you have to get...
FGE: The SALN?
WEBB: No, I'm sorry, do you have to get the approval of the rest of the members of the JBC for this?
FGE: Yes, or if ever I don't get it Pinky, whoever refuses to submit that waiver, then I will not vote for that person.
WEBB: Next question, for example, I'm interested for the post of associate justice. And I'm thinking that in the first round, there's a nominee, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and I'm thinking, "huwag nyo muna kong inominate dyan," kasi para sa'kin, if I were to think ahead, I wanna be in the second round. Kasi sabi mo sa first round kung may pinili na, magbabago pa kayo. Doon na lang ako sa second round. Pwede ba 'yun?
FGE: Pwede rin naman sa, pwede rin namang masama sya sa first round. Pwede rin naman syang masama sa second round. For example, Justice Villarama of the Supreme Court has been on the list for about 4 or 5 vacancies before he was finally appointed by President Arroyo. So, sometimes, perseverance, you know, works.
WEBB: Huwag kang susuko. Alright, pero senator, do you think that 'yung pananaw nyo po might have a problem? Is it possible that that might conflict with some members of the JBC?
FGE: Which one Pinky?
WEBB: What you just told me, that Antinio Car...
FGE: The waiver?
WEBB: Hindi hindi, 'yung Antonio Carpio comes in as a presiding officer, acting presiding chairman rather.
FGE: He is and he can and he is the presiding officer Pinky.
WEBB: Kasi, you know, I just asked it again because as I told you, I interviewed Cong. Niel Tupas and he had a different view. So, I'm thinking, baka magkaroon ng conflicting opinions dito on Monday?
FGE: Well, paano nya oobjectan na, "Hoy, wala ka dyan dapat. Umalis ka dyan."
WEBB: E nandoon na?
FGE: E sya nga 'yung pupukpok e. So, dapat pagpukpok pa lang...
WEBB: "I protest."
FGE: "Teka muna bago tayo magprayer a? Hindi ka dapat naglilead ng prayer."
WEBB: Alright, bago ko makalimutan, meron pang isa. You have the power, you have a veto power, so, if I'm the one being nominated and you're 7. 7 na lang kayo ngayon 'di ba? Ay, hindi, sorry 8, because Associate Justice Carpio is coming in. If I'm coming in and hindi mo ko gusto, veto power, tanggal na ako?
FGE: No. This is not like on Commission on Appointments. Hindi rin ito...
WEBB: But that's what Cong. Niel Tupas told me yesterday.
FGE: Hindi rin ito old boys club, perhaps, he's referring to nominees for RTC and MTC positions, because, usually, that is not put to a vote anymore. Usually nominees are merely named, unless he or she has a problem, someone will say, "Excuse me, that guy has a case. Here is the case blah blah blah." In a way, that sounds like a veto but not really. But with respect...
WEBB: But it has to have justification.
FGE: Yes, but with respect to positions of appellate courts, meaning CA, Sandigan Bayan, CTA, Supreme Court, we put it to a vote, unless he is clearly...
WEBB: What's CTA, Court of Tax Appeal?
FGE: Unless he is clearly disqualified by law, meaning, he has a pending case for example.
WEBB: Alright, but on mere opinion, you don't have a veto power?
WEBB: Not one of you?
FGE: We will just vote, and whoever gets a vote of 5, will be in the list.
WEBB: Alright, question from Twitter, Momblogger says, "Corona got unanimous vote in 2002. What assurance do we have that the Judicial Bar Council will do its job properly this time?"
FGE: Last time around, there were only 3 nominees. Nobody submitted because everybody thought it was a midnight appointment. So, only 3 persons were finally qualified. Actually, four, but one backed out, Justice De Castro at that time backed out. So, we were left with three nominees, Justices Carpio, Brion and Corona. So, everyone, so it was decided by the JBC to send the list to vote for everyone in the list otherwise, we could not have filled up the minimum of three nominees for that position.
WEBB: Yeah, because you still need a minimum of three.
WEBB: Alright, just looking back, I remember Senator Chiz that Justice Carpio, I think, and Carpio-Morales if I'm not mistaken, at that time, refused to be nominated, remember? As a chief justice? They were saying, pending maybe the next administration. Hindi ba parang they withdrew personally?
FGE: Yes, they withdrew.
WEBB: Yeah, I remember that.
FGE: They withdrew pero may naiwan parin e.
WEBB: Yeah, okay, so, that settles JBC by Monday though senator, what do you think you'll be able to achieve by Monday alone?
FGE: Order the publication of the notice of vacancy. That's it.
WEBB: Umpisa na 'yun.
FGE: It will take us about one and a half months Pinky. So, that means, the president will have that list, one and a half months before the lapse of the period within which he had to fill up the position.
FGE: Which is 90 days.
WEBB: Okay, so, if you start let's say on June 1, more or less July 15 tapos na 'yun. You'll be able to submit to the president and...
FGE: The president, that's roughly one and a half months or 45 days, to decide from the list.
WEBB: Okay, that settles the JBC that I can remember the questions I wanted to ask you. Number 2, Senate bill. You have Senate bill 107?
FGE: Yes ma'am.
WEBB: During your speech, or at least your justification of a guilty verdict.
WEBB: Okay, sorry, explanation of your guilty verdict. Your defense, for a guilty verdict, you said that, you know, "hinahamon ko" you're challenging your colleagues in the Senate and in the House of Representatives to sign a waiver. Let's keep this conversation very simple first. You submit your SALN...
WEBB: To the secretary of the Senate?
WEBB: Who's that?
FGE: Emma Lirio-Reyes.
WEBB: When you submit that, can I just go to Sec. Emma and say, "I want a copy of Sen. Chiz Escudero's SALN."
FGE: Technically yes. That should be allowed, but somehow, they are overzealous when it comes to these things. So, for example I don't know if I can say it, when a media, when Rappler for example asked for it from us, directly, we gave it. And it's now somewhere in the web.
FGE: It's now somewhere in the web.
WEBB: But supposed to be, it's something that we can, even if you're not a media person, you can just asked it from the...
FGE: In theory, yes Pinky. But usually, it goes through a procedure. Doon ako napaplastikan sa procedure.
WEBB: Sige talk about that.
FGE: Usually, it goes through a procedure. They would ask you, "Why?" meaning with what purpose? And usually, they blurr, parang sinisilhouette nila 'yung address. Kasi hindi naman pwedeng malaman ng kahit sino lang kung saan ka nakatira.
WEBB: Of course.
FGE: So, isisilhouette lang nila 'yung address, but all the rest it can be given for free.
WEBB: So, I'll see your statement of assets, I'll see your assets, liabilities and your net worth?
WEBB: Okay, so you challenged your colleagues in the House, in the Senate and House of Representatives to sign a waiver. But when this trial was ongoing, it was already mentioned somehow. Please explain it to us, that when you submit your SALN, you actually submit a waiver. So, what's the difference of that?
FGE: The waiver in the SALN right now is a waiver in favor of the Ombudsman, Pinky, to look into any and all records you have in all government agencies. So, BIR, AMLC, everything.
WEBB: So, may waiver ka na sa...
FGE: In so far as government...
WEBB: "Ombudsman, you have the right to look into my accounts."
FGE: Yes. In so far as government agencies are concerned, no, only government agencies. It is not a waiver in so far as banks are concerned. Kaya kailangan idag, may....
WEBB: Nandoon naman 'yung AMLC, 'di ba?
FGE: But it only concerns transactions above 500,000. And remember, AMLC is now being looked into by the senators, well, for releasing that document. That waiver Pinky pertains to these previous years accounts only. So, when Ombudsman Morales used the waiver as an excuse, to get the records from AMLC, AMLC should have just released records in 2010. But they gave the ombudsman and the Senate records including 2011, even 2012. Again that is...
WEBB: So, ano dapat ulit senator? Just the last year?
FGE: 'Yung waiver should be the last year. 'Di ba tinanong ko si Ombudsman Morales, "Hawak nyo ba 'yung waiver ni Justice, ni Chief Justice Carpio ng 2012, for 2011...
WEBB: Chief Justice Corona, you mean?
FGE: Corona, I mean. "for 2011 assets and liabilities?" sabi nya hindi daw. So, I presume ang hawak nya in 2011 waiver for 2010 assets?
FGE: So, AMLC should've just released accounts pertaining to 2010 and before, not 11 and 12. We're clarifying that here. And besides Pinky, if you listen to the explanations of vote, not justifications of vote, explanation of vote. Lahat, karamihan ng mga senador binase 'yun sa hindi nagtugma 'yung nakadeposito sa bangko, doon sa kanyang SALN. Pwes, kung 'yun ang sukat, ang sukatan na ginamit naming lahat, edi dapat mabuhay din kami sa sukatang 'yun.
FGE: At kung sino man 'yung ipapalit din namin kay Chief Justice Corona, dapat pumantay din doon sa napakataas na antas at sukat na 'yun. Kaya nga hihilingin ko at sana maintindihan ako ng aking mga kasama sa JBC, "Hilingin natin, natural lang 'yun . Yung unang tinanggal natin, yun ang rason ba't natanggal eh. Siguro naman dapat din ipalit natin should comply with this high standard."
WEBB: Because that would be very unfair among you guys. The chief justice was disqualified for never holding any government position...
FGE: Because of that reason.
WEBB: Because of that. So everybody should follow. You should have the same... You should be competent...
FGE: That's precisely what I said in my explanation and even yesterday when we were confronted with a very similar situation.
WEBB: (Laughs) Kay Ambassador Sonia Brady?
FGE: No, with Ambassador Padalhin. I have nothing against him. He's a very nice person based on the few minutes that I had a chance to be with him inside the hearing. It just leaves a bad taste in the mouth and I don't have the stomach to do a 180 degree turn after what we did the day before. And that it was like dejavu. Honest mistake. I thought it was like this, really.
WEBB: But it seems like your colleagues didn't mind so much.
FGE: The only difference is he's not on trial. In the case of Chief Justice Corona, he was on trial before the Senate. But I'm not talking about...
WEBB: Do you have to be on trial for a reasoning like that to work?
FGE: That's precisely my point. I said, although you're not on trial and we are not accusing you of anything, I just cannot, in good conscience stomach allowing this to pass.
FGE: Again, I apologize to him as well but I did not want to do this. I just want to be consistent.
WEBB: At least... Exactly. That's the word I was gonna use - consistency. There, so do you think your Senate Bill 107 has a chance of passing?
FGE: It was sponsored yesterday. Let's see which among, who among the senators will ah...
WEBB: Maybe we should televise it again. (Laughs)
FGE: ...object or vote against it.
WEBB: But what is your gut feel?
FGE: It's been sitting on the floor for the past year and a half, Pinky.
WEBB: Okay, that's not so bad. I mean, some of those have been sitting there...
FGE: No, this is Committee Report No. 2. This is the second committee report that has reached plenary in so far as the Congress is concerned.
WEBB: So you're saying that even before the impeachment of the chief justice, you had this already?
FGE: Yes, we filed it early on. Sabi ko nga sa kanila, kung pinasa lang natin 'to, wala nang mga TRO-TRO pa. Wala nang mga waiver-waiver pa.
WEBB: So this means that, senator, if this is passed, even dollar deposits can be opened?
FGE: Yes, Pinky, because the prohibition is against banks, as I explained. It's not against the depositor. That's a twisted interpretation of the law that the bank covers or includes even the depositor.
WEBB: That made it clear for some people, to be quite honest with it. The confidentiality rule is focused on the banks?
FGE: Not the depositor. Now, if you want to make it confidential, then don't enter government. Nobody's forcing you to run for public office anyway or accept a public position.
WEBB: Ah okay. So how much are you worth? What's your net worth?
FGE: My net worth, una wala akong dollar account. (Laughs)
WEBB: (Laughs) Hindi ka pa nakaipon ah, ng dollar account.
FGE: Hindi. Wala nang silbi ang dollar kasi may credit card. Kasi mag-aabroad ka, may credit card naman. Pagdating mo dito, babayaran mo nang pesos. Aside from the fact na bihira naman ako...
WEBB: Unless ibang company, ganun?
FGE: Aside from the fact na bihira naman ako mag-biyahe sa iba't ibang bansa. Hindi ko kinakailangan ng euro, dollar o kung ano. Kung pupunta ako sa halimbawa... Card na lang ngayon eh. Hindi naman kailangan.
WEBB: Pero kasi yung ibang tao, they feel that of course having a dollar account, you know, itatago mo yan. I mean, you know, as savings and it will have a little interest.
FGE: Again, that's not true that nobody declares dollar accounts. Yesterday, in the confirmation hearings of ambassadors... Kasi sila yung nasa abroad. Alam mo, lahat sila nag-declare sa kanilang previous SALNs. Even Ambassador Padalhin.
WEBB: In their previous SALNs ah?
FGE: In their previous SALNs. Even Ambassador Padalhin, nakalagay dun kung magkano yung cash-on-hand n'ya na dollar at peso. Magkahiwalay ah. So it's not true that nobody declares. People do declare if they have, especially those who are living abroad.
WEBB: Okay. So how much is your net worth?
FGE: Actually hindi ko maalala, Pinky. (Laughs)
WEBB: (Laughs) Kaya napunta tayo sa iba't iba.
FGE: No, it's the accountant that... It's our accountant that does it so that it's all based on documents, on ITR records and a reminder also of those who are filing SALN, your SALN should be a mirror image of your ITR. And people forget this always, their residence certificate, yung sedula nila, yung community tax certificate. Diba pag kumukuha ka ng sedula Pinky, yung iba nagbabayad, sampung piso lang yun. It should actually be based on the income you earned from the previous year. So kung magkano man ang binayaran mong ITR...
WEBB: Says who?
FGE: It's in the law. Kung magkano man ang binayaran mong ITR, yun din dapat yung babayaran mong community tax certificate.
WEBB: Ganun ba yun?
FGE: It should be a mirror image.
WEBB: Ayan na oh, ninenerbyos na si Ron.
FGE: Because that would be a contrary declaration. Kung sampung piso lang ang binayad mo, ibig sabihin you're not earning an income.
WEBB: Ako, I'll pretend I didn't understand that ah. (Laughs)
FGE: (Laughs) WEBB: Well, anyway, very quickly, Sen. Chiz, on a last note, they say the problems of the chief justice isn't over because of the possible investigation. Yung pagtuloy ng investigation ng Ombudsman. What can you say about this?
FGE: That is a natural consequence but I hope the Ombudsman will be fair and I hope, alam naman natin na nag-away sila, nagtawagan sila na sinungaling. But I am of the firm belief that the Ombudsman will overcome that and will treat this case fairly and just like any other case, the last thing we want, Pinky is for the impeachment decision of the Senate not to be the end of this all. The last thing we want is for it to continue at lalo pang lumaki yung problema.
WEBB: There is a clamor here. (Laughs)
FGE: (Laughs) Hindi. Hindi.
WEBB: There is a clamor here... Hindi ko pa nga natatanong, hindi na.
FGE: Clamor ba ang tawag dyan, iisa lang?
WEBB: Clamor. Kamusta daw ang lovelife mo?
FGE: Anong sabi ni Presidente Aquino? Coke Zero daw s'ya? Ako regular coke. (Laughs)
WEBB: (Laughs) Hindi nga? Can you say something more than that?
FGE: Regular coke nga ako.
WEBB: Sige ka, I'll say something more. (Laughs) How is it so far? I mean, people know that, diba?
FGE: Katatapos pa lang ng impeachment, Pinky. Naubos lahat ng oras namin dun. (Laughs)
WEBB: Bakit, sa gabi, impeachment pa din iniisip mo?
FGE: Syempre, kailangan mong timbangin yung mga... (Laughs)
WEBB: (Laughs) Well, alright, Sen. Chiz Escudero thank you so much for coming this morning. You know, it's done. After almost 5 months, 44 days, it's over. And to tell you the truth, people, or even people I speak with are wondering where you're gonna be voting. I mean, it's flip-flopping in terms of, saan ba 'to pupunta? Saan ba to papanig, etc.
FGE: Well because Pinky, it's unfair. What's unfair actually is for someone, for a senator-judge to have a decision even before the case was finished. Medyo mali naman yata yun. It's more proper not to have a decision until it's finally over.
WEBB: Right. Absolutely. Reserve your judgments after.
FGE: After you've heard everything.
WEBB: Alright, Sen. Chiz Escudero, thank you so much for visiting us here on Mornings.
FGE: Thank you.
WEBB: Good luck ah. (Laughs)
FGE: Magandang umaga po.
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