Transcript of Interview with Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago13 December 2006
On Smith’s custody
The VFA provides that custody of accused American servicemen, until after the decision has become final and executory, presumably elevated to the Supreme Court, shall belong to the US Embassy, or at the very least, in a place that has been reached by mutual agreement of the two parties, the Philippines and the United States. These two parties have already reached the agreement on the US Embassy premises as the venue of the detention of the accused. So logically, the accused should remain in detention in the US Embassy premises pursuant to the mutual agreement between the two governments.
The trial judge is insisting on detention in another location, the Makati City Jail. That would be in effect a violation of our agreement with a foreign government. This will have to be an internal process within the Philippine government, for we have an executive branch that has already agreed to a certain place, and we have a judicial branch insisting on its jurisdiction over another place. There is therefore a conflict between two branches of government. If the executive branch wishes to bring this to its logical conclusion in law, the matter would have to be elevated to the Supreme Court.
It does not seem to be reasonable for a trial judge to assert jurisdiction in such a manner that might compromise our relationship with a foreign government, particularly since there is no indication that the state of detention previously agreed upon by the two governments might prejudice Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction over this case. There is no indication, for example, if the accused, when turned over to his place of detention in the US Embassy, the embassy will spirit him away or keep him incommunicado, or even take him away from Philippine territory. If there are no such indications, I think that the US government is entitled to a presumption of good faith from our government.
The decision of the trial judge may have become final, but it is not executory in the sense that it is still open to appeal either to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court. In that sense, the conditions specified in the treaty has not yet taken place. Therefore, the accused should remain detained within US Embassy premises, as previously agreed upon.
The provision of the VFA is very clear. Whether I like the provision or not, since it is already part of the agreement that has been properly and duly entered into by the two governments, then we are bound by it under international law.
On the Con-Con
May problema rin kung ang Pangulo ang mag-a-appoint ng mga delegado sa Con-Con. Sino ang magbibigay ng payo sa Pangulo kung sino ang magaling, at alin ang mga sector na dapat may representante sa Constitutional Convention? If we give the sole power to appoint to the President, it will also inevitably become a political process because she will be under severe pressure by her colleagues in the administration party to appoint those who are friendly to certain politicians.
Basta dapat i-disqualify na lang yung mga kamag-anak ng mga senador at congressmen para iba naman.
Charter change is not a dead issue. It is in its last gasps. It still has chances of staying alive but a miracle worker has to come and apply mouth-to-mouth resuscitation because people are fed up with it.