Miriam slam ‘freeTrillanes’ proposal

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SENATOR Miriam Defensor Santiago yesterday slammed the proposed Senate resolution asking the court to allow detained Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to attend sessions.

On Monday at least 16 senators signed the resolution, although Senators Joker Arroyo, Edgardo Angara and Juan Ponce Enrile have expressed reservation about the proposal.

Arroyo said he could not sign the resolution on constitutional grounds—that it may be interpreted that the Senate is exerting undue influence on the judiciary. Santiago, for her part, also said that such a resolution is inappropriate.

“All we should do is wait for the Supreme Court to issue a decision because the case is on the RTC [Regional Trial Court] level. Certainly if the decision goes against the petitioner he would go to the Supreme Court anyway. So why insist on interfering at this time?”

Santiago noted that when the Senate adopts a resolution expressing its sense, that means the Chamber as a whole.

She noted that the practice of issuing a resolution expressing the sense of the legislature has evolved mainly from the relationship of the two political branches of the government, namely the Executive and the Legislative branches.

“For example in the shared power of foreign policy the President signs a treaty, the Senate ratifies the treaty. So in that sense the Senate can pass a sense of the Senate resolution to educate or guide, or advice the President on what to do. That is because they are co-equal branches of the same political sector of our government,” Santiago said.

“But there is an independence of the judiciary clause of the Constitution not found with respect to the Executive or Legislative branches. There is no provision for the independence of the Executive or the Legislative,” she added.

Santiago said that because of the constitutional provision, neither the Executive nor the Legislative should aggressively intrude on the independence of the Judiciary.

“Would we like it from the political branches for example in Congress or in Malacañang, if the Supreme Court started issuing resolution on the sense of the Supreme Court concerning national policy issues?”

“That would be out of bounds and that would definitely be ludicrous. So in that sense I humbly submit to my new colleagues to observe at least auto-limitation, to observe self-restraint and not to act so soon, so precipitately, in a manner that would not increase the respect of the public for the Senate. We all have to wait for the SC to make a decision,” Santiago said.

She noted that in the case of former Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos, the SC has ruled to let the elected person stay in jail if during his election he is already in jail.”

“That is, unless the petitioner can show a substantive distinction between the case of Jalosjos and that of Trillanes. That is the traditional legal practice in the courtroom so I’m not in favor of violating that practice by passing this proposed resolution,” Santiago said.