Press briefing by Deputy Presidential Spokesperson on the House of Representative’s favoring the Impeachment of the Ombudsman, Ombudsman’s trial in the Senate, ARMM elections

Malacañang Palace, the residence of the Philip...Image via WikipediaPress Briefing by Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte:
On the House of Representative’s votes favoring the impeachment of the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman’s trial in the Senate, the postponement of the ARMM elections, and other topics
Press Working Room, 1/F New Executive Building, Malacañang, Manila
March 23, 2011; 13:50 hrs. EST
Q: [On the reaction of Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez on the decision of the House of Representatives as a result of “dark politics”]
VALTE: Hindi ko po alam ‘yung frame of mind ni Ombudsman Gutierrez noong sinabi po niya ‘yun, but if you say “dark,” she supposes that something done covertly, but I think as anybody can attest, the proceedings in the House, the hearings were televized publicly—’yung pagboto po at pag-present po ng kaso po ng Committee on Justice was also done in the broad view of the public. So hindi po natin alam kung saan nanggaling ‘yung “dark politics.“
Q: [On Palace’s reaction on the Press Conference of Ombudsman Gutierrez]
VALTE: Well, I think that is to be expect of someone who is being accused of something—na to come out to the public and say, “Hindi ko po ginawa ‘yung ganito, hindi ko po ginawa ‘yung ganyan,” but again at the end of the day, what matters would be the trial in the Senate.
Q: Ma’am, pabor ba kayo na magkaroon ng live coverage doon sa trial ng Senate?
VALTE: Well given the amount of public interest, siguro mabuti rin pong magkaroon ng katulad po ng nangyari sa House. Siguro po mas mabuti—given amount of public interest and the following of the issues—mas mabuti po sigurong magkaroon din ng broadcast as in the House.
Q: Isa sa concern ni Ombudsman Gutierrez baka daw magkaroon ng trial by publicity. She will be judge by perception only.
VALTE: Well, ultimately the Ombudsman will be judged by the Senator judges.
Q: Ma’am, mayroong recommendation sa mga senador na ‘wag mag-tweet…[unclear]
VALTE: Siguro that is something that is best left to the judgement of the Senators themselves dahil hindi naman po natin gustong pakialaman pa ‘yung magiging conduct of the trial.
Q: May shortlist na ba ang Pangulo sa mga pumalit kay Ombudsman Gutierrez?
VALTE: None of that we are aware of. At this point really the concentration and the focus would be on watching the proceedings as they unfold at the Senate.
Q: Pero walang mga recommendation?
VALTE: None of that we are aware of, at the moment.
Q: So, hindi niya pa po ba pinag-iisipan kahit ‘yung status kahit pasado na po sa House?
VALTE: Wala pa po akong naririnig na may discussions na po on that matter.
Q: [On money laundering, drug trafficking measures].
VALTE: ‘Yung una po diyan, if you notice all the three things that you mentioned—’yung sa trafficking, sa consumption, and production—those are essentially enforcement issues. Alam naman po ‘yan, again, when it’s an enforcement issue, all the LGUs [Local Government Units] are always involved as well as the PNP. So, ‘yung efforts po natin dyan is really to concentrate on the enforcement, and again, as what we discussed in the trafficking issue, when we talked about it a couple of days ago, hindi lang po kasi ‘yung enforcement ‘yung nagiging problema, but it’s also certainty of punishment. And again, when it goes to certainty of punishment, you bring in another branch of government that is involve from—kasi po sa Executive tayo naman po ang enforcement and prosecution at kung sakaling magkaroon na nga po noong pag-uusig, ‘yung paghuhusga naman po ‘yung naman po ‘yung next stage. Again, this has to be a concerted effort between branches of government and this can also concern Congress in the senses kung mahina po ‘yung mga batas as they stand now, siguro po kailangan po i-address ng Congress kung ano pa po ‘yung measures na pwedeng ipasa to make sure that the entire process is airtight. But again, coming from the Executive, we are aware of the problem already, which is why kailangan pong tutukan ‘yung enforcement on those three issues.
Q: [JELAC Money laundering, drug trafficking measure]
VALTE: Hindi pa po natin alam kung mag-i-end up po doon sa agenda ng JELAC [Judicial Executive Legislative Advisory and Consultative Council] but to address the money laundering situation, as you very well know the President has proposed as one of the priority measures doon po sa nakaraang LEDAC [Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council] ‘yung amendment to the AMLA [Anti-money Laundering Act].
Q: [ On the Filipinos on death row in China]
VALTE: You know as we’ve always said, Willard, ‘yung naging stay of execution po noong nakaraan, we have been given the information that it has to be within the bounds of the Chinese law. And we’ve repeatedly said na kung ano po iyong magiging desisyon po ng Chinese court on this matter, we will have to respect and we will have to abide by it.
Q: [On the decision of the House of Representatives on the ARMM postponement of elections]
VALTE: If you’ll allow me to read the statement on ARMM… This is the statement from Secretary [Edwin] Lacierda:
The House of Representatives has approved the synchronization of the ARMM elections with the 2013 national polls. This is a bold and visionary step toward working with the people of ARMM to achieve what all Filipinos deserve: clean honest elections free of manipulation by fraud and command votes. We look forward to fulfilling our pledge to the legislators and people, including civil society on this.
Q: [On the Senate’s take on the synchronization of the ARMM elections with the 2013 national polls]
VALTE: Wala pa naman po. We are aware that some senators have reservations on this particular matter, but as it was brought up in JELAC [Judicial Executive Legislative Advisory and Consultative Council], we would imagine that the senators will discuss the priority measure included in the list of the President.
Q: [On the passing of the bill before the recess]
VALTE: Well, Norman, given the reality, pagbalik po siguro nila, there will still be time for it. I understand May po yata ang—part supposedly ng campaign period for ARMM. So we will have to see na lang po kung ano ang magiging developments sa senate when it comes to this particular measure.
Q: Hindi po magpapatawag ng special session?
VALTE: I’m not quite sure of that. Parang wala pa po akong naririnig na discussions as to a special session.
Q: Ma’am, maipapasa po ba ito before August, considering na preoccupied po sa impeachment?
VALTE: Well, hopeful naman po tayo. I think the senate… wait, let me recall… The senate has already said that kung sakali—but this was a few weeks back. Sabi po ng mga senador natin na ‘pag umakyat po sa kanila iyong impeachment, they will devote certain days for it and will leave the rest for the normal business of the senate. So, umaasa na lang po tayong ma-take up po ito.
Q: [On the allegation of the impeachment of Ombudsman Gutierrez as a step to pin the former president]
VALTE: Siguro po at this moment, let us set our sights on the trial first. And then, we will see what happens after.
Q: [On the President’s health]
VALTE: Iyong pag-ubo po kasi ni Pangulo po kahapon, I understand his throat is really itchy. We don’t know kung ano po iyong ginawa ni Pangulo kahapon to address that particular problem.
Q: Ano pong sabi ng kanyang medical doctor?
VALTE: I will have to ask him. Hindi pa po natin natanong kung nagpatingin po si Pangulo kahapon for an itchy throat.
Q: [On the statement of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s statement on the overwhelming votes of the Representatives supporting the impeachment of the Ombudsman to have an effect to the decision of the senate]
… Do you share the same view as of Speaker Belmonte?
VALTE: As we’ve mentioned yesterday, it certainly will have an effect in the sense that iyong public opinion po will weigh heavily also depending on the senators themselves lalo po nakita naman po natin ang outcome ng botohan sa Plenaryo.
Q: Ma’am, iyong pag-judge ng Senado makakaapekto iyung public opinion? Hindi batay doon sa merit po ng kaso?
VALTE: Siguro po mas mabuting ‘yung mga senador po iyong tanungin po natin dahil sila po iyong maghuhusga doon sa gagawing pagdinig ng kaso ni Ombudsman Gutierrez.