Estrada Impeachment December 7, 2000 Transcript
December 7, 2000
OPENING OF IMPEACHMENT TRIAL
At 1:57 p.m., the Honorable Chief Justice, Hilario G. Davide Jr., Presiding Officer, called the impeachment trial to order.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Chief Justice Davide). The impeachment trial of His Excellency, the President of the Republic of the Philippines, is now called to order.
May we request Senator/Judge Francisco S. Tatad to lead us in prayer.
SENATOR TATAD. May I invite all to bow their heads in prayer.
Almighty and eternal God, supreme Judge, Lawgiver and Ruler of the universe;
Who has the final word on everything we do upon this earth;
Look kindly upon this Senate as it performs its task of doing impartial justice in this trial of the President;
Fill the men and women of this Chamber with Your Wisdom;
So that they will forget all partisan and personal interests and act solely as one in upholding the truth and in celebrating justice;
Bless the Chief Justice with the fullness of dignity, good health and good humor so that he will not tire so quickly as the work piles up in the days ahead;
Bless counsel on both sides with utmost sobriety and rectitude so that they may use their knowledge of the law to discover the truth and make it shine in all its brightness rather than to hide it;
Bless the witnesses who will come forward so that their lips will speak only the truth which no falsehood can quell in their heart of hearts
Bless the respondent with humility so that he may accept the judgment of this court without gloating, if favorable, and without recrimination, if adverse;
And bless all our people within and outside this Hall with a special measure of generosity and goodness;
So that they may look at this case and all those who have been called to take part in it without any prejudices or prejudgment;
Remembering that God alone knows the entire truth about His creatures and their deeds;
And that not even the holiest among us may judge that which is known only to God;
At the end of this painful process, heal our wounds and our brokenness with Your spirit so that we may be one again, loving one another as You have always loved us;
But this time infinitely stronger in our faith and our hopes for having been touched to the depths of our soul, by the love and mercy of God;
All these we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, Your only Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever,
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Please be seated.
The Secretary will now call the roll of the distinguished Senators-Judges.
THE SECRETARY. (Reading)
Senator Teresa Aquino-Oreta Present
Senator Robert Z. Barbers Absent
Senator Rodolfo G. Biazon Present
Senator Renato L. Compañero Cayetano Present
Senator Anna Dominique M.L. Coseteng Present
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago Present
Senator Franklin M. Drilon Present
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile Present
Senator Juan M. Flavier Present
Senator Teofisto T. Guingona Jr. Present
Senator Gregorio B. Honasan Present
Senator Robert S. Jaworski Present
Senator Loren B. Legarda-Leviste Present
Senator Ramon B. Magsaysay Jr. Present
Senator Blas F. Ople Present
Senator John Henry R. Osmeña Present
Senator Sergio R. Osmeña.III Present
Senator Ramon B. Revilla Present*
Senator Raul S. Roco Present
Senator Vicente C. Sotto III Present
Senator Francisco S. Tatad Present
The Senate President Present
*Arrived after the roll call
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. With 20 Senators-Judges present, the Presiding Officer declares the presence of a quorum.
THE MAJORITY LEADER (SEN. TATAD). Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Majority Leader.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, I ask the Sergeant at Arms to make the proclamation.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Sergeant at Arms will now make a proclamation.
THE SERGEANT AT ARMS. All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment, while the Senate is sitting for the trial on the Articles of Impeachment against Joseph Ejercito Estrada, President of the Philippines.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Majority Leader.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, I move that we dispense with the reading of the Journals of the Impeachment Court dated November 28 and December 4, 2000 and consider the same as approved.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the motion is approved and granted. It is so ordered.
The Secretary will now call the case before this Impeachment Court.
THE SECRETARY. In the matter of Impeachment against His Excellency, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, President of the Philippines, Case No. 001-2000 for bribery, graft and corrupt practices, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Majority Leader.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, may I request that the parties to this Impeachment Trial be now directed to enter their appearances.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The parties are so directed to enter their appearance.
REP. BELMONTE. Your Honor, same appearances for the Prosecution.
MR. DAZA. For the Defense, Your Honor, Andres Narvasa, Estelito Mendoza, Raul Daza, Jose Flaminiano and Cleofe Bersola.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The appearances are noted.
The Prosecution filed yesterday a reply to the plea answer of the President filed by his lawyers. The Reply is hereby noted.
Yesterday, on a previous agreement, a preliminary conference was had between and among the lawyers of both parties together with some Members of the Senate.
The Presiding Officer will now make a declaration of the results of the preliminary conference.
Present at the preliminary conference were the Chief Justice as Presiding Officer; the Senate President; the Majority Leader, Sen. Francisco S. Tatad; the Minority Leader, Sen. Teofisto T. Guingona Jr.; the Honorable Senators Anna Dominique M. L. Coseteng, Franklin M. Drilon; Juan Ponce Enrile, Juan M. Flavier, Gregorio B. Honasan, Robert S. Jaworski, Loren B. Legarda-Leviste, Ramon B. Revilla, and Raul S. Roco; and House of Representatives prosecutors Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Joker Arroyo, Sergio Apostol, Oscar Moreno, Clavel Asas-Martinez, Wigberto Tañada, and Oscar Rodriguez; and counsel for the defense, namely, former Chief Justice Narvasa, Atty. Estelito Mendoza, and
Atty. Raul Daza.
At the start of the preliminary conference, the Presiding Officer distributed to the senators, the prosecutors, and the defense counsels for the respondent the working draft for the matters to be taken up at the preliminary conference. He then brought to their attention as guide to their discussion thereon the fact that if the trial of the case on its merits would start on 07 December 2000, there would only be 16 days for the month of December 2000 with Saturdays, Sundays and Christmas Day excluded. And for the month of January 2001, excluding the first day, Saturdays and Sundays, there would only be 22 trial days.
After a very spirited discussion on the matters presented, the parties agreed on the following issues:
Article 1. The bribery alleged in the Article refers to bribery as a felony. This agreement does not include the issue concerning the quantum of evidence required therefor.
Article 2. Whether on the basis of the facts alleged therein, the President could be guilty of graft and corruption.
Article 3. Whether the acts alleged therein, if proven, would constitute betrayal of public trust.
Article 4. Whether the acts alleged therein, if proven, would constitute culpable violation of the Constitution.
As to the number of witnesses to be presented in open court and probable duration of their testimony on direct examination only, the parties agreed:
Under Article 1, for the prosecution, 10 witnesses, with one to testify for three days and the rest for 30 minutes each. Probable number of trial days, one week;
Under Article 2, 25 witnesses. Probable number of trial days, 12;
Under Article 3, 7 witnesses. Probable number of trial days, 5 to 7; and
Under Article 4, 6 to 20 witnesses.
This number of witnesses may be reduced when depositions and oral examination are taken or when the prosecutors, upon further evaluation, would dispense with the presentation of witnesses whose testimonies would be corroborative in nature. And for reasons explained during the conference, the prosecutors may not disclose the names of their witnesses.
However, to give time for the defense to prepare for the cross- examination, the cross-examination of a witness may be deferred for, at most, two days after the completion of the direct testimony of that witness. Nonetheless, should the prosecutors disclose to the defense the names of the witnesses to be presented at least three days before their scheduled testimony, the defense shall immediately cross-examine the witness after the completion of the direct testimony.
The number of witnesses to be presented would depend on the evaluation of evidence adduced by the prosecutors and the duration of the testimonies of the defenseâ€™ witnesses may be about one-half of that estimated by the prosecutors for their witnesses.
Witnesses whose testimonies may be by deposition:
For the prosecution, under Article 1, Three (3).
Article 2. Ten (10).
Article 3. At most, Five (5).
Article 4. Fifteen (15).
These witnesses could be among those mentioned to testify in open court.
The Senate President assured the parties that the Senate, at its subsequent sessions immediately following the preliminary conference, would approve the recommendation of the Presiding Officer that the latter be authorized to issue applications for issuance of subpoena testificandum and subpoena duces tecum, subject to the observation of the honorable Senator Roco, that if the application would be for a subpoena for the President of the Philippines, the matter should be taken up by the members of the Impeachment Court.
For the defense, none to be taken by deposition.
1. The parties also agreed that to further shorten the duration of the trial, they could submit stipulation or admission of facts or documents.
2. The Senate President informed the parties that for the purposes
of the opening statement at the hearing this afternoon, the Senate is prepared to allow the prosecutors and the defense five presentors at
most on each side.
Time limit for each side is a maximum of two hours.
Senator Roco reiterated his view, however, that while in this specific instance he would have no objection on this matter, the Rules on Impeachment Proceedings approved by the Senate should be strictly followed.
3. Immediately after the conclusion of the opening statement, the prosecutors will start the presentation of the first witness; and
4. The parties also considered the need to complete the trial on the merits in the middle of January 2001. For this purpose, a trial calendar would eventually be prepared after the parties shall have determined a more accurate number of witnesses.
Those were what transpired yesterday at the preliminary conference reducing effectively the time which may be consumed for the trial on the merits of this case.
We will now proceed to the trial proper.
The Majority Leader.
SEN. TATAD. Mr. Chief Justice, pursuant to the initial under-standing reached in yesterdayâ€™s preliminary conference, the Senate sub-sequently gave unanimous consent to allow multi-presentors for a total of two hours each for the prosecution as well as for the defense. The pro-secutors will now deliver their opening statements in the following order:
First, Congressman Belmonte, to be followed by Congressman Apostol, to be followed by Cong. Joker Arroyo; to be followed by Cong. Raul Gonzales and to be followed by Cong. Wigberto Tañada.
I ask that they be recognized in that order.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. They are so recognized in that order, and now Prosecutor Belmonte is given the Floor.
REP. BELMONTE. Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors, I am Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of the 4th District of Quezon City.
This afternoon, we, the House Prosecutors, are tasked to fulfill a duty. It is a duty that none of us relish. It is painful. Painful because we will prove to the judges in this proceedings that the faith and the trust that we have bestowed on our President had been abused. It is a grave duty. Grave because we are asking the judges that Joseph Ejercito Estrada, whom we elected as President, be removed from the presidency at once for the sake of the country, for the sake of the people. It is a burden that the Constitution has placed on the shoulders of the prosecutors and it is a duty that we will faithfully fulfill.
When I make reference to the judges in this impeachment proceedings, Your Honors, I am not addressing the senators here assembled alone because it is not only Joseph Ejercito Estrada who has been put on trial here. We, the prosecutors and the House of Congress that we represent, this Chamber, sitting in judgment, the judiciary here personified by the Chief Justice, the moral values that we hold dear, indeed, the entire structure of government and our society all are as much on trial in these proceedings. The judges are the people, who even now watch our every move and listen intently to our every word. It is they, Your Honors, whom we, the prosecutors, also address because it is to them that we all are accountable for what we will do here.
Hindi po lamang si Pangulong Estrada ang nililitis dito. Tayo rin po ay papasyahan. Kami na kumakatawan sa Malaking Kapulungan, kayong mga maginoong Senador, ang ating mga hukuman na kinakatauhan ng ating Punong Mahistrado, at maging ang mga prinsipyo ng moralidad na ating dinadambana ay nililitis ngayon dito. At ang magpapasya ay ang taong-bayan na walang puknat na nagmamasid sa
bawat kilos na nagaganap at nakikinig sa bawat salita na binibigkas natin ngayon dito.
They say that all trials have innocent beginnings. At ang panimula ng paglilitis na ito ay noong ika-30 ng Hunyo, 1998 nang itaas ni Joseph Ejercito Estrada ang kaniyang kanang kamay at sumumpa sa Bibliya ng ganito:
Ako, si Joseph Ejercito Estrada, ay sumusumpa na tapat kong gagampanan ang aking mga tungkulin bilang Pangulo ng Pilipinas; na aking pangangalagaan at ipagtatanggol ang Saligang-Batas; na ipatutupad ang mga batas; magdudulot ng katarungan sa bawat mamamayan, at iaalay ang aking sarili sa paglilingkod sa bayan.
Central to the oath taken by Joseph Ejercito Estrada before
then Chief Justice Andres Narvasa, who is now here with us, are
the phrases â€œto execute its lawsâ€ and â€œconcentrate myself to the
service of the nation.â€
Sa kaniyang pagsumpa na ipatutupad niya ang mga batas at ipasasailalim niya ang kaniyang kapakanan sa kapakanan ng bayan, nangako si Joseph Ejercito Estrada sa harap ng Diyos na pananaigin
niya ang batas at walang sinuman ang mangingibabaw sa batas
maging siya man.
At ang mga sakdal na hinaharap ngayon ni Joseph Ejercito Estrada ay nakaugat sa kaniyang matunog na pangako noon. Na sa kaniyang pamamahala, walang kama-kamag-anak, walang kumpa-kumpare, at walang kai-kaibigan. The prosecution will show that not only Joseph Ejercito Estrada not execute the laws, he was the first to violate them.
Prosecutors will show that during his brief incumbency of barely over two years, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has violated his oath of office. Had violated the law not once, not twice, but regularly like clockwork. Patutunayan ng mga prosecutors na sa kaniyang maikli pang panunungkulan, karamihan na ng kaniyang kamag-anak, karamihan na ng kaniyang mga kumpare, karamihan na ng kaniyang matatalik na kaibigan ang nakinabang.
Ang isinampang sakdal laban kay Pangulong Estrada ay apat. Unang Artikulo–ang pagtanggap ng suhol na patutunayan ng team na binubuo nina Congressmen Apostol, Baterina, at Libarios.
Pangalawang Artikulo–pagnanakaw sa gobyerno at katiwalian, or graft and corruption, na patutunayan ng team na binubuo nina Congressmen Arroyo, Moreno at Belmonte.
Pangatlong Artikulo–pagtataksil sa tiwala ng bayan o betrayal of the public trust, na patutunayan ng team na binubuo nina Congressmen Gonzales at Rodriguez.
At ang Pang-apat na Artikulo–sadyang paglabag sa Saligang-Batas o culpable violation of the Constitution, na patutunayan ng team na binubuo nina Congressmen Tañada, Nachura, at Martinez.
Behind all these legalese, what do these charges mean? Simply that Joseph Ejercito Estrada has failed the Filipino people, specially the poor, betrayed their hopes and broke their dreams.
Sa kabuuan, ang apat na sakdal sa Pangulong Estrada ay nagpapatunay ng isang malawakang pagkakanulo sa sambayanang Pilipino. And there is nothing mysterious or arcane about this process. It is not about lawyers, it is not about technicalities. Common sense in the light of a personâ€™s common experience is enough to appreciate the evidence and to reach a knowledgeable, fair and patriotic conclusion.
I thank you, Your Honors.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Prosecutor Apostol is recognized for Article I.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor, Chief Justice of the Philippines, Your Honor, Senate President of the Philippines, Your Honors, Members of the Senate, esteemed colleagues of the defense, friends, ladies and gentlemen.
Members of the Senate, our team of Prosecutors will show that during his brief incumbency, at barely over two years, Joseph Ejercito
Estrada had violated the oath previously mentioned by Congressman Belmonte, had violated the law not once, not twice, but regularly like clockwork. The Prosecutors will again expose the existence of a
criminal syndicate directed from the highest office of the land. This is
the â€œgangland mobâ€ that threatens to rule us. This, not the parliaments
of the street, is the mob rule–the mob rule that will salvage our Constitution and the very fabric of our society. Unless we destroy it now before it destroys us.
I stated that we will expose the existence of the criminal syndicate again. I used the word â€œagainâ€ because, fortunately for our panel, much of the shocking and sordid details of this story have been unfolded before this very Chamber, before Your Honors. And our task will be to simply present, in proper form, the evidence and testimony which the Filipino people already know and have already evaluated for themselves, and to link up some loose ends.
In our presentation, we will therefore focus only on the salient points. Gov. Chavit Singson will reaffirm before Your Honors the following facts and events.
Sometime in August 1998, the newly elected President, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, summoned Bong Pineda, Charlie â€œAtongâ€ Ang, and Gov. Chavit Singson to his Polk Street residence to discuss jueteng operations in the country. On that occasion, President Estrada prohibited Pineda from continuing to deliver jueteng collections to him as the latter was already identified as a jueteng lord. Instead, he appointed both Ang and Governor Singson as his national jueteng collectors and delivery men. Of course, we all remember who Atong Ang is, and his association with Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
Barely two months later, however, after a heated disagreement over the Presidentâ€™s refusal to give in to Atong Angâ€™s demand for a share in certain sugar allocations, Atong Ang was stripped by President Estrada of his jueteng collection authority. This left Governor Singson as the presidential appointee in charge of these illegal collections. The testimony of Governor Singson will reaffirm that from November 1998 to August 2000, an average of P5 million, usually in crisp P1000-bill, was hand delivered by him to President Estrada every 15 days either in his residence at Polk Street, Greenhills, or in Malacañang or in the house of one of his mistresses, Guia Gomez. And for accounting purposes, President Estrada assigned an auditor in the person of Mrs. Yolanda Ricaforte, wife of Tourism Undersecretary Orestes Ricaforte, to monitor and deliver the receipt of the tong collections as well as the disbursement therefrom in a ledger.
For a period until June 1998, the excess of the jueteng collections, after the P5 million for the President has been set aside every 15 days, would be earmarked by Governor Singson, also on the orders of
President Estrada, for the construction of the Fontainebleu Casino in the former Clark Air Base. Although the true owner of the Fontainebleu
was the President, on his instruction, the stockholdings were placed in
the name of Jaime Dechavez, one of his cronies; Jesus Pineda, schoolmate of his; and Edmundo Silverio, a nominee of Butch Tenorio, the president of Pagcor.
The President eventually opted to discontinue the Fontainebleu operation in favor of Fontana Casino where his stakes have been greater and financial rewards higher. When it was decided to abort the Fontainebleu Casino operation, Mrs. Ricaforte also took over the duty of preparing the ledger and monitoring the collection and expenses of the jueteng operations, including the sensitive task of depositing the presidential share in various account. Thus, Governor Singson was instructed by the President sometime in August 1999 to transfer to Mrs. Ricaforte all the accumulated collections from jueteng including future collections. So, Mrs. Ricaforte opened several separate accounts in different branches of Equitable Bank where she deposited the collections. Governor Singson will reaffirm that this year, P200 million was withdrawn by Mrs. Ricaforte from the said deposits in Equitable Bank placed in various interim accounts to cleanse the dirty money before it was placed at the disposal of the lord of all gambling lords.
The withdrawal of the amount also coincided with the shift of illegal gambling operation from jueteng to a bigger form known as the Bingo-2 Ball where the stakes are much higher, this time using Pagcor as front of the grand design to further centralize the rewards of gambling operations. Just like in the shift from Fontainebleu Casino to Fontana Casino, the shift from jueteng to Bingo-2 Ball was motivated by the desire of greed for greater financial reward.
The testimony of Governor Singson will be corroborated by several witnesses, including the jueteng collection ledger which Mrs. Ricaforte admits having maintained. We will present the checks that Governor Singson surrendered to Mrs. Ricaforte on instructions of President Estrada. We will present the branch records of the separate bank accounts that Mrs. Ricaforte opened on orders of President Estrada and where she deposited said checks and the succeeding jueteng collections.
We will present to Your Honors the checks totaling P200 million which Mrs. Ricaforte handed over, in turn to a lawyer by the name of Atty. Edward Serapio.
We will present the testimony of Atty. Serapio at the hearing
of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee where he admitted that he,
indeed, was the presidential assistant in Malacañang at the time; that
he was the personal legal adviser of President Estrada and of his family; that the P200 million was transferred by him to the funds of a corporation that President Estrada ordered him to organize; that the officers of
this corporation, aside from himself, was Raul de Guzman, the brother-
in-law of the President; George Go, the majority stockholder of Equitable Bank and the Presidentsâ€™ banker; and two employees of
Raul de Guzman in UP.
We will also show the open forum at the meeting of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines or FOCAP, where President Estrada made admissions corroborative of the accusations of Gov. Chavit Singson against him. It is certain that the lawyers of the President will tell you that Governor Singson should not be believed because he has admitted being a co-conspirator in the commission of the crime. But the statement of a co-conspirator should still be accepted even if uncorroborated when it is shown to be sincere in itself because given unhesitantly and in the straightforward manner and is full of details which, by their nature, could not have been the result of a deliberate afterthought.
Who is saying this? This is the pronouncement of our Supreme Court in the decision where they handed down that decision only recently, last August. After you have heard him, determine on the basis whether Governor Singson deserves to be believed, especially after we shall have presented you the corroborating documentary evidences in support of his testimony, Governor Singson will swear under oath that he personally handed P5 million to the President every fifteen (15) days commencing the end of 1998 until the beginning of this year. Once made, this is an accusation that nobody except the President can deny it. It is a denial that nobody but nobody can make for him under oath.
For the past month, President Estrada has gallantly promised time and again on television, on radio, and the newspapers that when the impeachment trial begins, he will face the people and his accusers and answer all charges point by point. Will the President still do so?
Your Honors, as we have narrated, our evidence will be the testimony of the very person who handed money to the President, P15 million, P5 million every fifteen days like clockwork. It is a first-hand testimony. The rest of his story were bit corroborated in other essentials, not by other witnesses but by the very statement of the President himself. And after we are through with our evidence, we have no doubt that you, Your Honors, will render a judgment of conviction with a clear conscience.
Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (The Chief Justice). The Honorable Prosecutor Arroyo for the second article.
REP. ARROYO. Mr. Chief Justice, if Your Honors please, I have never given much importance to an oath but all of us have taken our oath. Our Chair, Congressman Belmonte, has read the oath, but I will read the oath again of the President because it is only now that I realized what this oath is all about.
When Joseph Ejercito Estrada took his oath, high noon of June 30, 1998, he said, â€œI do solemnly swear that I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties as President of the Republic of the Philippines, preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man and consecrate myself to the service of the Nation. So help me God.â€
Except for his name, he violated every word of his oath. That is why the House has impeached him, that is why the Senate must convict him. And I will proceed to show why.
Your Honors please, there is a law, Republic Act No. 7171 which says in simple language, â€œ…that out of excise tax on tobacco, 15% must go to the tobacco-producing provinces.â€
So when Vice President Estrada was campaigning in 1998, he promised the province of Ilocos Sur that he would release the monies that were withheld by President Ramos. Then on July 27, 1998 when all of us listened to his State of the Nation Address, he said that the nation is bankrupt. But then here comes Gov. Singson and tells the President,
â€œMr. President, could you make good the promise you gave the people of Ilocos Sur?â€ The President said, â€œYes.â€ But he gave a condition. What was that? He said that 15% of all those monies that he would send to Ilocos Sur should go to him.
This was barely a month, one-and-a-half month after he took his oath and after he declared that the government was bankrupt. But he provided money for Ilocos Sur.
So sometime in August, he released through the budget P200 million for Ilocos Sur. Well and good. But then comes Atong Ang, Presidential Adviser and tells Gov. Singson, â€œThe President wants P130 million of the P200 million.â€ Singson asks, â€œWhy? You gave only P200 million why should I give P130 million?â€ But Atong Ang says, â€œThat is the partial P130 million, you will get some more.â€
So it is on that basis that the prosecution will detail how the highest and supposedly the most exalted official of our nation systematically diverted the peoplesâ€™ money to himself and his family. And we will show how it was; what transpired and what we would show clearly indicates that the diversion of taxes to the Presidentâ€™s pocket was a planned and swiftly executed maneuver. In fact, the transaction was completed in less than three days. Three individuals: Delia Rajas, Eleuterio Tan and Alma Alfaro acted as fronts and dummies. They conspired with Atong Ang who was acting on the Presidentâ€™s behalf to divert to Mr. Estrada P130 million originally intended to alleviate the plight of tobacco farmers of Ilocos Sur. The manner in which these individuals accomplished was truly ingenious.
Let us start the first day:
Thursday, August 27, 1998 – Check No. 096750 for the amount of P170 million for the cash advance approved by Provincial Board was released to Gov. Singson. Gov. Singson authorized members of his staff, Maricar Paz and Marina Atendido, to represent him in transactions with the Vigan branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines.
From the P170 million, P40 million went to the curing barn supplier. While the 130–legitimate P40 million–while the P130 million that Atong asked, went to the President and his family. You may ask why? How was this done? Governor Singson instructed the Land Bank Vigan to remit to Land Bank Shaw Boulevard P50 million for the account of Delia Rajas, P40 million for the account of Eleuterio Tan, P40 million for the account of Alma Alfaro.
You ask the question; “How in the world can these private individuals become, open accounts of public funds? They are private individuals. No connection with the government, no connection with the tobacco industry. But accounts were opened on their behalf. Now, with undue haste, Alma Alfaro tried to withdraw the P40 million in cash on the same day or on August 27, 1998. But since the bank did not have the cash, she was advised to go back the following day, 28 August. Alfaro returned on that day and withdrew the P40 million in cash at around 10:00 a.m. Remember the P40 million, that is already cash.
August 28, a Friday, with extreme haste, Eleuterio Tan withdrew the P40 million. With indecent haste, Delia Rajas also withdrew the P50 million. Then with the P90 milllion–P40 plus P50–three cashiers checks were purchased from Landbank Shaw Boulevard payable to Eleuterio Tan. Strange as it may seem, on the same date, August 28, 1999, another person using the same name, Eleuterio Tan, opened a savings account, this time with another bank, Westmont Bank Mandaluyong branch, under Savings Account No. 201100772-7.
What must be emphasized, if Your Honors please, is that these two Eleuterio Tans had two different faces, two different dates of birth, two different addresses, and two different specimen signatures. Yet Eleuterio Tan No. 2 had in his possession the same three cashier’s checks purchased by Eleuterio Tan No. 1 and Delia Rajas. So here is the money trail of what was originally public funds already messed up into private funds.
The next day, Saturday and Sunday, so no transactions. The third working day, August 31, Monday, Eleuterio Tan No. 2 deposited in his Westmont Bank Mandaluyong branch savings account the three cashier’s checks totalling P90 million which came from Eleuterio Tan No. 1. The deposit was made at 9:52 a.m.
For those who are around, they could see the money trail, it is all there.
On the same day in an unprecedented banking transaction, the
three cashier’s checks were encashed and the money was withdrawn
from the Westmont Bank, Mandaluyong Branch. These withdrawals were as follows: P20 million at 12:32 p.m.; P40 million at 1:55 p.m.; and P30 million at 2:48 p.m.–all in cold cash, all in two hours. As to each withdrawal, the money, in thick bundles of crisp bills, was brought to the nearby house of Atong Ang’s mother in Mandaluyong City where Governor Singson was waiting. Atong Ang had even to involve his mother in this kind of transaction.
The brazen manner in which the President finally took custody of these public funds shows the depths of shame and disgrace to which that Office has fallen. The prosecution will prove that from the house of Atong Ang’s mother, Governor Singson, together with the President’s intermediary, Atong Ang, brought the crispy bills, totaling P130 million, the P90 million withdrawn from Westmont Bank, the P40 million earlier withdrawn by Alma Alfaro from Landbank Shaw Boulevard, directly to the President’s home in 1 Polk St., North Greenhills.
At this juncture, Your Honors please, this P130 million is different from what Congressman Apostol said. That is jueteng money. This one is tobacco money and these are public funds. That is why the seriousness of how public funds got into the pocket of the President is something we would request you to ponder very carefully. After all, both Governor Singson and Mr. Ang were close friends of the President and could be trusted to be complicit partners in this transaction.
Governor Singson will reveal in detail what happened at the President’s house. He will narrate how Mr. Estrada scolded Atong Ang for giving part of the money to the First Lady and presidential son Jinggoy Estrada. Governor Singson will narrate how the President also berated Atong Ang for pocketing a portion of the funds for himself without the President’s knowledge and permission. Governor Singson will also tell us that the First Lady even expressed her profound thanks to him for the millions of pesos she received. Governor Singson will give us a first account of how public funds intended to alleviate the living conditions of our needy tobacco farmers in Ilocos Sur instead found their way into the pocket of a greedy President.
These creative and bald-faced manner of diverting cash shows how the people’s money could be easily stolen. It couldn’t be done, no way, unless it had been under the instruction and under the auspices of the Office of the President. The amount is just so big and the transaction so fast. In three days, public funds were converted into private funds; in three days, from Vigan, in three days, they were in the pocket of the President of the Philippines. By authorizing the release of public funds, with a clear and deliberate intention of ultimately appropriating these amounts for himself, the President must account to the people he has sworn to serve and protect. He is clearly unfit to lead. He must go.
Article II consists of two parts. I will now proceed to the second part.
Article XI, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution provides that
“a public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration
under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth.” All of us here
did that. All of them did it.
Republic Act 3091 and 6713 also require public officers to submit a sworn, true and detailed statement of assets and liabilities, including a statement of the amounts and sources of his income and financial and business interests.
On April 29, 1999 and April 28, 2000, Pres. Joseph E. Estrada filed his 1998 and 1999 statement of assets and liabilities respectively, disclosing under oath only his wife’s interests and financial connections in three corporations and making it appear that he himself has no interest and financial connection in any company.
In the course of impeachment proceeding, we will prove him wrong. We will provide indisputable evidence that President Estrada lied under oath because he deviously concealed his interests and financial connections in the following corporations, among others, but not limited to: St Peter’s Holdings Company; Becks Resources Company; KB Space Holdings Company; Verdant Resources Company; FVC, now VFC Realty and Development Company; Valhalla Resources Company; JELP Real Estate & Development Company; JE Films and Video 1 Corporation; Erap Youth Muslim Foundation.
We will prove that in July 1999, President Estrada, through Presidential Counsel, Edward Serapio,–remember, if Your Honors please, remember this name because it will keep on recurring. It was mentioned by Congressman Apostol in the jueteng thing–now he is also involved here. He is the President’s personal lawyer. Serapio caused the incorporation of St. Peter’s Holdings and Becks Resources for the purpose of acquiring real property. Now, remember this, under the Articles of Incorporation, each of these corporations have identical stockholders, identical directors, identical incorporators. All were partners and associates of President Estradaâ€™s personal lawyer, Edward Serapio. All the companies also have the same office address, the law office of Edward Serapio. In addition, they have the same authorized capital of P1 million and a mere paid-up capital of P62,500. Remember this, paid-in capital of P62,500.
We shall prove that on October 1, 1999, Jose Luis â€œSelâ€ Yulo– again remember this name–a close friend of the President, acquired all but four qualifying shares in St. Peterâ€™s Holdings and caused the increase in the paid-up capital of the corporation to P250,000. Then, as evident in a Deed of Sale, dated October 1, 1999, which we will show in the impeachment proceeding, St. Peterâ€™s Holdings purchased from Vicente and Gerardo Madrigal a 7,149-square meter property in New Manila, otherwise known as â€œBoracayâ€, for P86 million.
Now, pray tell me, how can a corporation with a capital of P62,500 acquired a property worth P86 million. By no stretch of imagination can Serapio ever say or even Sel Yulo say that his corporation has a paid-in capital of P62,500 and he can buy a property from the Madrigalâ€™s for
Now, we shall also prove that St. Peterâ€™s Holdings paid the P86 million with a BPI cashierâ€™s check and more, which St. Peterâ€™s Holdings purchased, using funds from his newly opened account in BPI. We shall show that St. Peterâ€™s account was funded from Sel Yuloâ€™s personal account in BPI. And that Sel Yuloâ€™s account, personal account in BPI, was in turn funded with Check No. 0110714951 issued by a person whose signature appears on the screen.
We want you to see this signature. Study very closely. You will notice, look at the lower portion which says an arrow. Look at the signature. Examine it carefully. It purports, then look at the signature of the President in a P500 peso bill which is on top. You need not be an expert to see the similarity. The name may be different but there are unmistakable signs that the signature in that check is the signature, the handwriting of the President of the Philippines.
Imagine, the President of the Philippines maintaining a fictitious account! How far can he go or should he go? Look at it closely. We do not want to leave that matter. Because that is how low the President has gone down in bastardizing and prostituting even our banking system.
Look at the loops, look at the strokes, they are the same. So who owned? Who paid? We are talking here of P142 million. Who is Jose Valhalla who could have P142 million? We do not even know him. But the President has P142 million. Who is this mysterious person? It follows that President Estrada provided the funds. Look at the pattern. In the case of Eleuterio Tan, you see two different persons. They always come in pairs. That is the pattern of the President.
In the case of Eleuterio Tan, two different persons; one name. Then in the case of two corporations of Serapio, St. Peter’s and Becks. Different corporations, identical incorporators, identical stockholders and identical paid-in capital. Here. Two persons purportedly, but one signature.
It follows that President Estrada provided the funds as the real and beneficial owner of St. Peter’s Holdings to buy Boracay. It follows that President Estrada has interests and financial connections in St. Peter’s Holdings that he deliberately concealed in his 1999 Statement of Assets and Liabilities. Such concealment is a clear violation of the law.
Moreoever, we will show that President Estrada cannot explain how he was able to purchase the New Manila property which is worth at least P86 million when his net worth, according to his 1999 Statement of Assets and Liabilities, was only P35 million. No mortgage appears on the title covering the property. Therefore, no loans were obtained to buy it. Where did his money come from? To date, there is no legitimate explanation.
In fact, we will prove that after St. Peter’s Holdings purchased the property in New Manila, massive and expansive renovations were undertaken of the house and property. A unique swimming pool with white sand–please look at it–and artificial waves was even constructed. Fit for a President. While Harvard Construction appears to be the contractor, the actual contractor that financed the renovations was San Jose Builders. The same contractor that was awarded the juicy government housing project in Erap City, the improvement of the government-owned Lung Center, and other government projects.
We shall also prove that President Estrada has interests in and financial connections with Becks Resources that he did not disclose in
his 1999 Statement of Assets and Liabilities. This company–as I have said earlier, has a paid-up capital of only P62,500.00–was initially intended to buy a 3,000-square meter property at exclusive Forbes Park for P120 million as a gift for presidential daughter Jackie. At the last minute, however, plans were changed. Instead months later, Becks Resources purchased a 2,327-square meter lot in Wack Wack for P69 million.
We shall prove that the President has interests in and financial connections with KB Space Holdings, which is the ostensible owner of another mansion in Wack Wack. While President Estrada has been quoted as saying that his friends find it an honor to host a short stay in their houses, this P150 million mansion was constructed especially for a President with huge reception areas, several dining rooms, an industrial kitchen fit for a hotel, a card room, massage room, beauty parlor, mini theater, bar, room for memorabilia, a master’s bedroom whose more than 200-square meter area could very well be the dwelling house of 10 to 20 poor families. The master’s bedroom is 200 square meters.
More significantly, the plans for the rooms on the second floor indicate the names of his children by Laarni Enriquez, namely: Jacob–you will see there–Jake, Jerica. Yet, he disclaims. He says that is not his. But while the house was being constructed, Jacob, Jake and Jerica have their footprints. They have their names there. During the trial, we will show the architectural plans where their names are all there. So while he says it is not his, why are his children’s names there? President Estrada did not disclose his interest in Space Holdings in his 1999 Statement of Assets and Liabilities contrary to law.
Now, there are other mansions that the President has, but for time constraints, we will not proceed. But just take a look at those mansions one after the other. While you are looking at it, let me say that 20 years of the Marcos years, he never had this kind of a mansion. Two years of Estrada, you have all these mansions in just two years. I wonder who is the bigger crook. All of that could be the envy of any president.
There are other corporations in which President Estrada has interest and financial connections which he concealed and which, for lack of time this afternoon, we shall reveal later in the proceedings.
Finally, Republic Act 6713, otherwise known as the â€œCode of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officers,â€ requires public officers including the President to divest in order to avoid conflict of interest. Thus, where a public official is a substantial stockholder of a private corporation, has a substantial interest in a business and the interest of such corporation or business may be opposed to or affected by the faithful performance of his official duty, he must divest by transferring the title or disposing of interest in favor of a person other than his spouse. Such divestment must be made within 60 days from assumption of office. That is the law.
Now, here is the catch. The SEC records would show that President Estrada is the majority stockholder of JELP Real Estate Development Company, a family corporation engaged in real estate development. In the pursuance of its business, JELP develops land and constructs apartments or houses for sale to the public. By express provision of
law, it must secure permits and may be regulated by the Housing
and Land Use Regulatory Board and the Department of Environment
and Natural Resources, among others. All these offices are directly
under the President.
The law required President Estrada to divest himself of his interest and holdings in JELP within 60 days from assumption of office on June 30, 1998. Now, what did President Estrada do? He did not comply with Republic Act 6713. He did not divest himself of his stockholdings in JELP worth P8 million within 60 days from assumption of office. Worst, when he tried to comply with the law, when he belatedly transferred his shares in November 1998 well beyond the 60-day limit, he assigned his stockholdings not to anyone in JELP worth P6 million but to his wife, spouse Luisa P. Ejercito. This is prohibited by Republic Act 6713 and the Civil Code.
Since the transfer to his wife is not allowed and deemed void, President Estrada up to now continues to be a substantial stockholder of JELP in violation of the law he is borne to enforce. In fact, in constructing 36 townhouses in Antipolo without the necessary clearances which he gets away with and permits from the HLURB without the necessary environmental clearance from the DENR, without any authorization from the water supply office and without the appropriate mayorâ€™s permit, without permit from any agency, JELP, with President Estrada as substantial and dominant stockholder, has flaunted the law the President is sworn to observe.
Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors, because Joseph Ejercito Estrada is guilty of graft and corruption, culpable violation of the constitutional laws and betrayal of public trust and he is committing a continuing crime, we submit that President Joseph Estrada should be removed from office the moment we conclude these proceedings because we cannot have a country run by a thief like him.
Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The honorable prosecutor, Raul Gonzales, for Article III.
REP. GONZALES. Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors:
Twenty nine (29) months ago, Pres. Joseph Ejercito Estrada right hand raised, left hand on the Bible, took an oath, the sacred vow before God and country: â€œI do solemnly swear that I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties as President of the Philippines, preserve and defend its Constitution, and consecrate myself to the service of the nation. So help me God.â€
Your Honors, Joseph Ejercito Estrada wilfully, consciously and maliciously violated that sacred oath by his acts of committing bribery, graft and corruption in all its forms, betrayed public trust and culpably violated the Constitution.
I have been assigned, together with Cong. Oscar Rodriguez, to prove that respondent Pres. Joseph Ejercito Estrada betrayed public trust.
Today, Mr. Chief Justice, distinguished Judges of this Impeach-ment Tribunal, we write history.
Last November 28 when this august Body made a resounding denial of the Defenseâ€™s Motion to Quash, its significant page in history was written. Expectations and hopes for our people were raised to the skies, but it is in this trial where we will write whether or not in a thousand years the Senate will have its finest hour.
During these historic and eventful days, the Senate will have the singular privilege never tested in our nationâ€™s history which, hopefully, future generations of Filipinos will read with pride that during the Eleventh Congress, the Senate, in fulfillment of constitutional duty, rose to the occasion, and guided only by duty and conscience and the truth, left partisan loyalties behind and decided against the President.
Your Honors, permit me to say that none of us in this hallowed Hall relish the task before us. But we did not choose to be involved in such reckless and unbridled misconduct as Pres. Joseph Ejercito Estrada is accused. It is thus a duty, though a painful one, that I speak to Your Honors to find judgment against the President.
Indeed, the impact to the Constitution must be felt that if the President commits any or all of these cited charges against him, the Constitution and our people must be served.
Hence, we have, today, to do our respective duties. We, to present the case against the President and you, to rule under your best lights.
Your Honors, by voting on this Articles of Impeachment, the House of Representatives is not attempting to raise the standard of ethical conduct to perfection for our political leadership, nay for all of us. Such person does not walk the earth today even after Jesus Christ redeemed mankind from original sin. Everyone can sin, but when the Constitution provided for impeachment as a mode of removal of the President, it is our bounden duty to prove the President guilty and, Your Honors, to uphold that guilt as evidence will show.
Indeed, the impeachment, since the days of the English kings and ministers, has been called the most powerful weapon in the political armory short of civil war. It played the continuing role in the struggles between king and parliament that resulted in the formation of the unwritten English Constitution.
In this respect, impeachment was one of the tools used by the English Parliament to create more responsive and responsible government and to redress imbalances when this occur.
In our jurisdiction, we borrowed from the U.S. Constitution with some minor modifications our impeachment grounds. In the U.S., the framers sought to create a responsible though strong executive. They hope, in the words of Eldridge Gehrig(?) of Massachusetts that the maxim would never be adopted here, that the Chief Executive could never do wrong. No man is above the law and no man is below it. Nor do we ask any manâ€™s permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded, thus the maxim ignorantia legis non fecit excusat.
In the case at bar, the President took a solemn oath before God and country to uphold the law and preserve and defend the Constitution. Section 1, Article XI of the Constitution states that: â€œPublic office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.â€
In many decisions of the Supreme Court, it has been ruled that any government office is a trust for it is created for the sole purpose of effecting the end for which government has been instituted which is for the common good and not for the profit, honor or private interest of any man, family or class of men. Jurisprudence adds that a public official or an employee therefore occupies a very delicate position which exacts from him certain standards which are not demanded from or required of ordinary citizens. He is truly the servant of the people and as such, he is enjoined to serve his office with the highest degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, and at all times be accountable to the people.
Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors, we will prove to you by competent, credible and relevant evidence that President Joseph Ejercito Estrada is guilty of betrayal of public trust. A noted author has opined that betrayal of public trust covers any violation of oath of office involving loss of popular support even if the violation may not amount to a punishable offense. Its inclusion is more a reaction to past experience than an exercise in logic. It was the consensus in the Constitutional Commission that culpable violation of the Constitution, the main ground for impeachment, would hardly prosper in Congress even against an unpopular President. This new ground, betrayal of public trust, serves to stress the desirableness of having a President who truly regards public office as a public trust. How has President Joseph Ejercito Estrada spent the fund of public trust? Who benefited and who was deprived?
Your Honors, we ask you to decide this case on the basis of law and evidence. We ask you not to be swayed by the pomp and the power of the office or the political interests involved but to look at the evidence that will be presented and the magnitude of the betrayal of the public trust. The violation is very clear, the evidence overwhelming, in fact, consistent, corroborated and more than substantial.
The defense constantly harps on the fact that the defendant is an elected public official on vox populi vox Dei. But, Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors, so did all the dictators of the world.
The voice of the people is the voice of God. Yes. But that voice is also spoken through the Constitution. The Constitution is the expression of the peopleâ€™s sovereign will. That Constitution lays down the framework of government, the powers of the President, the different branches of government and the limitations thereto, and, as important, the principles of accountability–mandate and accountability, power and public trust. What the people make and elect, they can unmake and remove through impeachment and conviction through their elected legislators and the mechanisms set forth in the Constitution. The Constitution is supreme and the peopleâ€™s voice sovereign.
Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors, the prosecution shall show that President Joseph Ejercito Estrada has not cherished the public trust and has squandered it for his benefit and for the benefit of his cronies and kin. President Joseph Ejercito Estrada has placed private interests above the interests of the public in violation of that oath of office.
We will present overwhelming, detailed and corroborated evidence that on September 6, 1999, Pres. Joseph Ejercito Estrada has ordered a quasi-judicial agency, insulated by law from political pressure and influence, not to perform its function in accordance with the law of
He issued a directive to the Securities and Exchange Commission not to allow an independent department of that body to conduct investigations without the prior clearance of the Commission en banc. For what ulterior purpose and for whose benefit this directive was issued, was made apparent by subsequent events.
Pres. Joseph Ejercito Estradaâ€™s crony, businessman Dante Tan, became owner of controlling stocks of a corporation called BW Resources Corporation at the time when the shares of stock in the said company was undergoing a price surge never before seen in the history
of the Philippine stock market.
On January 1999, the price of BW shares was about P2.00 per share. By October 10, 1999, the price surged to a high P107 per share. When Dante Tan first bought BW shares in 1998, its price was only P0.80 per share. BW shares rose from the 16th most heavily traded
stock in the Philippine Stock Exchange in January 1999 to the No. 1 among the top 20 companies by June with a total value turnover of P7,139,972,175. Later, the Philippine Stock Exchange would report
that Dante Tan earned a profit of some P820 million during the period from January to May 1999 alone. The total value turnover of BW shares in October was P21, 619, 175,725 record that will never likely be surpassed decades into the future.
After October 10, 1999, the prices of BW shares underwent an abrupt and ignominious fall. Last one week from October 10, BW shares have plunged to as low as P22 per share and now very much lower.
These dramatic events pertaining to trading of BW shares in the Philippine Stock Exchange alarmed responsible officials of that body as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission which oversees the former. Both bodies undertook their investigations which necessarily inquired upon whether the meteoric rise and sudden fall and the prices of the shares was a natural occurrence dictated by market forces or was the result of illegal schemes or manipulations.
While these investigations were being carried out by these agencies and in relation to the very subject of such investigation, Pres. Joseph Ejercito Estrada made several questionable phone calls to the heads of both agencies and made representations in favor of his crony Dante Tan. Through less than subtle suggestions, the President applied pressure on the chiefs of the PSE and the SEC to shield Mr. Dante Tan from any unfavorable findings that the said agencies may come up with. The President would constantly remind these officers that Mr. Dante Tan was my friend–is my friend. The President clearly interfered with the discharge of the duties of these officials by suggesting, nay ordering that Mr. Dante Tan be exonerated in the investigations even as the investigations have yet to be finished.
We have evidence to show, Your Honors, that the President ordered the President of the Stock Exchange that before the report of each investigation can be submitted to the Board of Governors, the same should first be submitted to him. And we have proof to show that indeed the President of the Stock Exchange and the head of the investigating agency were called to Malacanang to present the advanced report of that investigation. When the investigations were concluded, the reports had one clear conclusion-all evidence that the PSE and the SEC gathered have pointed to the culpability of Mr. Dante Tan for price manipulation and insider trading.
Pres. Joseph Ejercito Estrada said that Dante Tan was a victim. The evidence said Dante Tan was the culprit. The investigators found that illegal transactions involving Dante Tan were committed not once, not twice, not thrice, but hundreds and thousands of times in myriad forms and ways. It is the interest of the public to bring Dante Tan to court and make him face the rigors of trial.
The President showed interest in Dante Tanâ€™s immediate exoneration and obstructed the course of justice. Why? As evidence seemed to suggest, more than friendship with Mr. Dante Tan but has pecuniary interest in BW shares which went beyond mere cronyism. The prosecution will show that the Presidentâ€™s interference did impair the course of justice despite the fact that the evidence against Dante Tan surfaced in the report.
It will be noted that both the PSE and the SEC reports were partial and incomplete in the sense that the reports did not cover all individuals and persons who may have been involved in the illegal transactions or benefited therefrom.
The Presidentâ€™s obstruction of justice prospered because he succeeded in cutting short the investigations. Inciting fear in SEC and PSE officials, he succeeded in confining the reports to incomplete results. He succeeded in having possible damning evidence against the Presidentâ€™s mistress Guia Gomez, his favorite son, J.V. Ejercito, and his friends and relatives obstructed.
The denials of officials reeling under the awesome demonstration of coercive power, made at a time when the President appeared omnipotent, hardly qualifies as evidence of lack of pressure.
Mr. Chief Justice and honorable judges, it must be remembered that many traders in the stock market are small businessmen and
In a country where majority of the people live in abject poverty, while small middle class struggle to survive allowing the few to amass billions of pesos in profits through manipulative schemes, further widens the disparities the few rich and the many poor and middle class have.
The facts we will prove before Your Honors pertaining to President Joseph Estradaâ€™s interference in the affairs of the stock market do not even come to close the gravity and extent of the issues being raised by the workers and peasants among the protesters outside these halls.
Price manipulations and insider trading fraud seems sophisticated and technical compared with joblessness, hunger and displacement from farmlands. All concrete symptoms of a deep crisis that the President exacerbates by staying in office and imposing himself upon a people who has withdrawn confidence in his administration and policies.
What is worst, Your Honors, there now appears substantive proof that respondent Pres. Joseph Ejercito Estrada did not only pressure the SEC and the PSE to clear his crony, Dante Tan, but violated his own memorandum to government financial institutions not to approve or release loan applications in excess of P15 million, without his prior imprimatur.
But in what appears like a manifest behest loan of P600 million, PNB, then government-controlled, granted BW Resource this huge P600 million loan on collaterals of almost, now practically, valueless BW shares in a Tagaytay property said to be valued at not for a few millions of pesos. I wonder if the Presidentâ€™s counsel, then Chair of the PNB Board, Chief Justice Narvasa, was part of the approval of the P600 million PNB loan to BW Resource.
Moreover, we have evidence of how the President exhorted pressure on his Secretary not to proceed against a cronyâ€™s tax case with this warning: â€œYou will not be Secretary if I am not President, and I am not President without the support of this crony.â€ Another strong illustration of tyrannical abuse of power which betrayed public trust.
Your Honors, I pray to God that our labors as mandated by the Constitution will truly bear fruit which the nation will accept. Let it not be, God forbid, bring us a reminder of Phaedrus and his fables, and I quote: â€œA mountain was in labor sending forth dreadful groans and there was the region of highest expectations, after all it brought forth a mouse.â€
Permit me then to close my piece, Your Honors, by quoting a noted authority in constitutional law, Willoughby, with these lines:
It is now, we believe, considered that impeachment is not confined alone to acts which are forbidden by the Constitution or federal statutes. The better-sustained and modern view is that the provision for impeachment in the Constitution applies not only to high crimes and misdemeanors as those words were understood at common law, but also acts which are not defined as criminal and subject to indictment, but also to those which affect the public welfare.
Thus an official may be impeached for offenses of a political character and for gross betrayal of public interest, also for betrayal of trust, for inexcusable negligence of duty, for tyrannical abuse of power or as one writer puts it, â€œfor a breach of public duty by malfeasance or misfeasance, including conduct such as drunkenness, when habitual, or in the performance of official duties, gross indecency, profanity, obscenity or other language used in the discharge of an official function which tend to bring the office into disrepute of an abuse or reckless exercise of discretionary power as well as the breach on an official duty.
Mr. Chief Justice, Honorable Members of this Impeachment Tribunal, thank you and God bless the Philippines.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. May we hear from Prosecutor Tanada. The Prosecution has only 48 minutes more of the two hours.
REP. TANADA. Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat. Halos nasabi na ang lahat na dapat sabihin ng aking mga kasamahang Prosecutors. Subalit mayroon pa pong naiiwan. Marami-rami pa po. Hindi po marahil kasing sensational o dramatic, pero masasabi kong kasimbigat din pong mga kasalanan.
Mr. Chief Justice, Honorable Judges, the assignment of our panel of Prosecutors consisting of Congressman Nachura and Congressman Martinez is, perhaps, the simplest. Ang aming tungkulin ay patunayan na sadya at tandisang nilabag ni Pangulong Estrada ang Saligang-Batas at ang kaniyang panunumpa nang gawin niya ang mga sumusunod:
Una, noong utusan niya ang Commissioner of Customs na isuko ang 52 mamahalin at maluluhong sasakyan na kinumpiska nito upang ipagamit sa mga miyembro ng kaniyang Gabinete at iba pang mga opisyal ng Malakanyang. Ito ay labag sa Saligang-Batas, sa Tariff and Customs Codes, at sa Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Pangalawa, noong hirangin ni Presidente Estrada ang ilang miyembro ng kaniyang Gabinete o ang mga deputy o tauhan nito sa iba pang katungkulan. Ito ay labag sa Section 13, Article 7 ng ating Saligang-Batas at taliwas sa desisyon na rin ng ating Korte Suprema sa kasong Civil Liberties Union laban sa Executive Secretary noon.
Pangatlo, noong hirangin ni Presidente Estrada and kaniyang
mga kamag-anak sa mga puwesto sa gobyerno tulad ni Raul de Guzman, ang kaniyang brother-in-law; si Roberto de Guzman, ang kanyang pamangkin; si Capt. Rufino Pimentel, isa pang brother-in-law; at si Cecilia Ejercito de Castro, isang kamag-anak. Ito ay labag sa ating Saligang-Batas, sa ating Civil Service Laws at sa ating New Revised Administrative Code.
Pang-apat, noong aprubahan ni Presidente Estrada ang P100 milyong donasyon ng Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office sa isang private foundation na pinamumunuan ng Unang Ginang na ang tanggapan ng foundation na iyan ay nasa kanilang tahanan. Ito ay tandisang paglabag sa ating Saligang-Batas at mismo sa charter ng PCSO.
Ang mga ginawang ito ni Pangulong Estrada, at iyong iba pang nabanggit na ng aking mga kasamahang prosekyutor, ay nabulgar na noon sa mga peryodiko at tiyak na dokumentado. Kung ang may mga hawak ng mga dokumentong ito ay magpapatotoo lamang, marahil ay hindi na kailangang magharap pa ng maraming testigo at humaba pa
ang paglilitis nito.
Mr. Presiding Officer, honorable judges, tatalakayin ko po ngayon ang dalawang bagay na kailangang liwanagin upang lubos na maintindihan ng ating mga mamamayan kung ano ba talaga ang buod ng paglilitis na ito. Una, ano ba talaga ang paglilitis na naganap ngayon na kung tawagin sa wikang Ingles ay â€œimpeachmentâ€? Ano bang klaseng usapin ito? Ito ba ay isang paglilitis na kriminal tulad ng iginigiit ng mga abogado ni Presidente Estrada? Hindi na kailangang pagtalunan pa ito, sa tingin ko, sapagkat ang kasagutan ay makikita natin at mababasa natin sa record ng Constitutional Commission ng ating Saligang Batas. Nilalaman ng nasabing rekord ang talakayan ng mga miyembro ng nasabing Komisyon tungkol sa bagay na ito, kaya dito na tayo tumungo upang malinawan.
Pakinggan po natin ang pagpapaliwanagan ng mga miyembro ng Constitutional Commission noong July 26, 1986. Tanong ni Komisyonado Maambong, and I am quoting him now:
Ang aking tanong ay tutungo sa puntong ito upang hindi tayo mahirapan sa mga susunod na panahon.
Ang aking tinutukoy ay ang tunay na katangian ng pamamaraang impeachment na nagpahirap sa amin na mga miyembro ng Committee on Justice and Good Government na sumakop sa sakdal na iniharap laban kay dating Presidente Marcos.
Ano talaga ang opinyon ninyo ngayon tungkol sa pamamaraang impeachment? Ito ba ay isang paglilitis kriminal o hindi? At kung gayon, gagamitin ba natin ang mga tuntunin na batas kriminal?
Pakinggan po naman natin ang sagot ni Komisyonado Romulo. Sagot ni G. Romulo, and I am quoting him now:
Sa ganang amin, ang proseso ay may halintulad sa isang paglilitis na kriminal ngunit ang buod ng katangian nito ay hindi isang pag-uusig na kriminal. Ang layunin ng impeachment ay ang pagtanggal lamang ng nanunungkulan dahil sa mga kasalanang kaniyang ginawa. At saka siya ay pananagutin sa hiwalay na pag-uusig, maging kriminal o sibil, tungkol sa kaniyang mga ginawa.
Pakinggan rin natin ang pangalawang tanong ni Komisyonado Maambong at ang naging sagot ni Komisyonado Romulo. Tanong ni G. Maambong, and I am quoting him now:
Sa bagay na pagharap ng ebidensiya, halimbawa, kung ito ay pagtataksil o pagsusuhol, gagamitin ba ang mga patakaran sa paglilitis kriminal ngayon na ito ay mga pagkakasala na pinarurusahan ng ating batas kriminal?
Sagot ni G. Romulo, and I am quoting him now:
Ang aking opinyon ay maliwanag na sa hukumang kriminal gagamitin ang lahat na pinakamaliit na detalye na ebidensiya at mga patakaran at ang karapat-dapat na palakaran. Ngunit maaari tayong maging liberal sa paglilitis sa impeachment, halimbawa, sa Senado, sapagkat ang habol lamang natin ay tanggalin ang nakaupo. Ang mga hukuman ng katarungan na ang magiging bahala sa aspetong kriminal at sibil nito.
Ang pangalawang bagay na dapat liwanagin ay kung anong antas at bigat ng ebidensiya ang sapat sa ilalim ng Saligang Batas upang mapaalis sa puwesto ang isang Presidente. Tandaan po natin na ang ating itinatanong ay ebidensiya tungo sa pagtanggal ng nakaupo, hindi ebidensiya upang siya ay ipakulong, sapagkat idiniin sa talakayan sa Constitutional Commission na kababasa lamang natin na malaki ang kaibahan ng paglilitis na impeachment sa paglilitis kriminal.
Pakinggan po naman natin ang paliwanagan nina Komisyonado Davide at Komisyonado Romulo noong July 26, 1986. Tanong ni G. Davide, and I am quoting him now: â€œAt pangwakas, upang hatulan ang isang tao sa impeachment, kailangan ba ang sinasabing ebidensiyang walang kaduda-duda?â€
Ang sagot ni G. Romulo, and I am quoting him now: â€œMuli, sapagkat ito ay hindi isang pag-uusig na kriminal, sa ganang akin ay
At sino si Komisyonado Davide na tinutukoy sa rekord ng Constitutional Commission? Siya po ay walang iba kundi ang ating Kgg. na Punong Mahistrado ng Korte Suprema, G. Hilario Davide Jr. na namamatnugot ngayon sa paglilitis na ito sa Senado.
If Your Honors please, malaki ang kabuluhan ng mga bagay na ating liniwanag sapagkat ang paglilitis natin ay hindi isang pag-uusig na kriminal, kayaâ€™t maaari nating tanggapin ang ebidensiya na pumapalibot sa mga sakdal na kailangang sagutin ngayon ni Presidente Estrada. Hindi ang aking tinutukoy ay ang pagsusuhol kay Presidente Estrada ng limang milyung piso tuwing ikalabinlima at katapusan ng buwan, para bagang regular na sahod ng karaniwang empleyado sa gobyerno.
Iyan ay direktong ebidensiya, direct evidence, hindi palibot na pangyayari lamang sapagkat sinumpaan na iyan at susumpaan pa ulit ni Gov. Singson na ito ay personal na dala-dala niya at personal niyang ibinigay at personal ding tinanggap naman ni Pangulong Estrada. Hinggil dito, si Presidente Estrada ay tanging maaaring tumanggi sa ilalim ng panunumpa kung hindi ito tutoo. Wala nang iba. Anuman ang sabihin pa ng kanyang mga abogado, anuman ang kanilang ibibigay na dahilan, sa bagay na ito, hindi siya maaaring magtago sa likod nang pananahimik sapagkat sa batas may laya siyang magsalita tungkol dito sa Senado.
Ang ating tinutukoy ay ang ebidensiya halimbawa nang pagtanggap niya ng P200,000,000 na pinadaan sa Foundation na ngayoâ€™y sinasabi niya na kanyang pinabuo sa kanyang Legal Adviser na si Atty. Edward Serapio para sa mga Muslim scholars. Maari nating itanong kung bakit.
Batay sa ebidensiyang ihaharap namin kailangan pang ilihim ang pagbigay ni Gov. Singson ng nasabing P200,000,000 sa nasabing Foundation kung malinis naman at tutoo ang hangarin sa pagbuo nito. Bakit kailangan pang padaanin muna kay Gng. Yolanda Ricarforte, ang asawa ng isang undersecretary ng pamahalaan? Bakit kailangan ikalat muna ni Gng. Ricaforte sa limang hiwahiwalay na bank account sa ibaâ€™t ibang branch ng Equitable Bank?
At noong ilabas na ang salapi, bakit hindi na lamang inilagay ang tseke sa ngalan ng nasabing Foundation? Bakit walang ano mang pangalan ang mga tsekeng ito sa laki ng halagang sangkot sa mga tsekeng iyan? Bakit pinadaan pa ito kay Atty. Edward Serapio, ang Legal Adviser ni Pangulong Estrada at hindi na dineretso sa Foundation? Bakit diniposito muna ang mga tseke sa isang bank account na hindi sa pangalan ng Foundation? Bakit pinaliguy-ligoy pa, pinaikot-ikot pa? Sa haba ng prosisyon naman ay sa simbahan rin pala magtatapos.
Tungkol po naman sa pagmamay-ari ng lupa at mga mansion na tinitirahan ng mga kinakasama ni Pangulong Estrada, bakit kaya nasa pangalan ng mga korporasyon na walang kakayahang bumili nito? Bakit ang lahat ng mga nasabing korporasyon ay tangan ng abogado at ng mga tsokaran ni Presidente Estrada? Kanino bang bank account nanggaling ang puhunan na nilipat sa nasabing mga korporasyon upang mabili nito ang mga lupa at mga mansion na itinayo diyan? Napakaraming katanungan. Napakalabo ang mga transaksiyon. Napakahaba ang paikot-ikot at paliguy-ligoy. Tiyak na susubukan ng mga abogado ni Presidente Estrada na paghiwa-hiwalayin ang mga pumapalibot na mga pangyayari na ang tinutukoy ay si Presidente Estrada upang maputol ang pagturo nito sa kanya. Huwag po tayo sanang malito sa paikut-ikot at paliguy-ligoy na dinaanan ng mga transaksiyon na yan. Ang mga sakdal na ihaharap sa inyo ay isang larawan na kinakailangan matanaw sa kabuuan upang maaninawan at matunghayan ang buong katotohanan.
Mga ginagalang kong mga hukom, Mr. Presiding Officer, tanungin ninyo ang sinumang estudiyante sa pagkaabugado at kaagad-agad sasabihin sa inyo na sa ilalim ng Saligang-Batas ng Pilipinas, mas malawak ang kapangyarihan ng Pangulo ng Pilipinas kaysa kapangyarihan na idinudulot ng Saligang-Batas ng Amerika sa presidente nito. Kaya totoo lamang na hindi maiiwasan na ang personalidad ng ating Pangulo ay magkakabakas sa buong pamahalaan at gayon din sa habi ng sambayanan. Ang karakter ng isang pangulo, ang mga asal
at paninindigan na kanyang pinahahalagahan, ang kanyang ugali at pananaw sa buhay at sa Diyos, ang kanyang pagkamatapat o ang
kanyang pagkukunwari–ang lahat na ito ay nagbabakas sa isip, puso’t diwa ng bayan.
Hangang ngayon nararamdaman pa natin ang malalim na sugat sa ating isip, puso’t diwa na iniwan ng rehimeng Marcos. Hanggang ngayon, ito ay hindi pa naghihilom. Kung ating mamaliitin ang mga kasalanan sa bayan ni Pangulong Estrada, ano ang magiging mensahe natin sa ating mga kabataan at sa buong sambayanan? Na wala nang kabuluhan ang panunumpa? Na ang makapangyarihan ay maaring mangibabaw sa ating Saligang-Batas? Na ang pagnanakaw, ang graft and corruption, ay hindi masama kung hindi ka pahuhuli, o may mga kakampi ka na handang tatabing sa iyo ano mang mangyari sa bayan? Na walang masama sa pagsusugal sa gitna ng matinding kahirapan bumabagabag ngayon sa ating bansa? Ito ba ang magiging pamana natin sa ating kabataan at sa susunod na salinglahi?
May nagsasabi na ang pagpapawalang bisa sa nakasalang na mga sakdal sa kapulungang ito ay pagbibigay tiwala kay Atong Ang. Huwag naman po sana. Marami na ang kasalanan ni Presidente Estrada sa bayan. Malaki na ang perhuwisyo na idinulot niya sa sambayanan kayat mabuti pa mag-resign na si Presidente Estrada para sa kabutihan ng bansa.
Marami pong salamat.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Thank you.
The Majority Leader.
SUSPENSION OF SESSION
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, with the consent of the court, I ask for a ten-minute break.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Any objection? [Silence] The request is granted. A break for ten minutes.
It was 3:51 p.m.
RESUMPTION OF SESSION
At 4:15 p.m., the session was resumed.
THE ACTING SERGEANT AT ARMS (Col. Saber). Please All rise. The Honorable Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The session is now resumed.
The Majority Leader is recognized.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, the defense counsel will now deliver their opening statement in the following order: Former Chief Justice Andres Narvasa and Atty. Estelito Mendoza.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. In the order as announced, the Chair recognizes defense counsel Narvasa. The defense, as earlier announced, also have two hours. Since it is now 4:16, you will have until a maximum…. A maximum of two hours would be 6:16. You may now proceed.
MR. NARVASA. May it please the Honorable Chief Justice and the Honorable Members of the Impeachment Tribunal.
I will take only five minutes or so simply to draw attention to certain legal propositions which I take to be relevant to the controversy at bar and certain political dimensions attending the same. And I will do this by way of laying the predicate for the presentation in chief of former Solicitor General Mendoza, my esteemed colleague.
Many of us here present will doubtless recall the story of a man of ancient Rome named Julius Caesar whom the masses admired and wanted to be the leader of their nation. He was assassinated by a group of plotters who considered him unfit to rule. These plotters, by spreading rumor and gossip, had poisoned the minds of the people against him. They said Julius Caesar was ambitious, avaricious, corrupt, and they enlisted the aid of well-meaning citizens like the noble-minded Brutus who was deluded into believing the sly insinuations of the plotters and had thus come to think that Caesar was indeed unfit to rule. And so Julius Caesar was slain.
Caesarâ€™s friend, Mark Anthony, having learned of the conspiracy and how easily the people had been made to believe the lies and innuendoes of the conspirators, was moved to cry out as he mourned Caesarâ€™s death, â€œOh judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts and men have lost their reason.â€
Today, 2,000 years after that tragic event, we take part in this impeachment proceedings to pass judgment on another leader, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, a man also admired by his countrymen who had elected him by an overwhelming majority to the highest office of the land. We are here to determine whether he should continue to lead the nation as its president. But unlike in Julius Caesarâ€™s case, we are assured that in this forum, judgment will not flee to brutish beasts and reason will not be lost but will attend every aspect and incident of this proceedings. For in the many centuries that had passed, from Julius Caesarâ€™s time to ours, principles and tenets have developed and come to be embraced in every enlightened society, foremost among which is that the guilt or innocence of a person accused of some wrong shall be determined not by passion or prejudice, nor hearsay or rumor but by such evidence as the universal experience of mankind accepts as satisfactory proof of facts presented in accordance with procedures that best conduce to full and free ventilation of a controversy and ultimately to a fair and honest judgment. It is our good fortune that in the course of time and in the full fruition of human wisdom, definite rules and standards for conducting trials and hearings, as well as for determining all questions of evidence, including questions of its materiality, relevancy, competency have been formulated and met with general acceptance in democratic States and that these specific norms have been adopted in our country. It is our good fortune that this country of ours is governed by a Constitution and a set of laws that guarantee to every person the fundamental right to due process and other inviolable human rights and otherwise command full commitment to the rule of law.
It is in light of these familiar norms and precepts which we are certain this honorable Impeachment Tribunal will uphold and apply that the respondent, the President of the Philippines, now confidently faces
his accusers. By your leave and with many thanks for your kind attention, I now ask my colleague, Atty. Estelito P. Mendoza, to outline the case for the respondent.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The leave is granted.
Atty. Mendoza is now recognized.
MR. MENDOZA. Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Senate who now sit as judges in this historic trial on impeachment charges against
the President of the Philippines.
Before I proceed to deal with the specific charges, I would like to express appreciation to the prosecutors for outlining their case with clarity and also with eloquence.
But what I should also like to emphasize is that what the prosecutors have said and have represented are not the truth–are not the facts. What they have represented is what they propose to prove by evidence which they seek to present before this august assembly.
Noon pong bago manapos si Congressman Tañada, dalawang bagay ang ipinahayag niya. Ang tinatanong niya, â€œAno ba ang sapat na ebidensiya para magkaroon ng conviction?â€ And sinabi niya itong kasong ito ay hindi kriminal kaya hindi kailangan ang proof beyond reasonable doubt. Ako po ay medyo nagulat nang kaunti sapagkat hindi ko alam na pag-uusapan iyan ngayon. Ang akin lamang pong pansin diyan ay ito. Nakinig po tayo sa mga prosecutors. Sinabi nila ang malalaking kasalanan ni Presidente Estrada. Iyan ay halos publiko na iyan, eh. At sinabi nila, matitibay ang kanilang ebidensiya. Bakit ba hindi pa tayo nag-uumpisa sa pagprepresenta ng ebidensiya, para
bagang sinasabi na nila ang ebidensiya nila ay kulang. Hindi nila kayang probahan ito beyond reasonable doubt. Kaya sinasabi nila, ipag-paumanhin ninyo ang ebidensiyang kailangan dito ay kulang sa proof beyond reasonable doubt.
Kung talagang malawak ang kasalanan ni Presidente Erap, kung talagang malakas ang ebidensiya, siguro kung ako ang prosecutor sasabihin ko, â€œWe will prove our case not only beyond reasonable doubt but with absolute certainty.â€ Siguro nga po kailangan iyan, eh.
Sapagkat ano po ba ang kahulugan ng â€œimpeachmentâ€? President Estrada, or President Erap to many, was elected by the largest number of votes ever received by a President of the Philippines, more than 10 million votes.
Iyon pong higit na sampung milyon na iyon, ang sinulat nila sa balota ay â€œErap.â€ Pero ang kahulugan noon, ang sinabi nila, manungkulan ka ng anim na taon. Iyon po ang mandate ng mahigit na 10 milyong Pilipino. Hindi lamang malaking boto ang tinanggap niya. Higit na anim na milyon sa pangalawa, si Speaker De Venecia. At higit na pitong milyon sa pangatlo, si Senador Roco. Ganoon po ang mandate na ipinahayag ng ating sambayanang Pilipino kay Presidente Estrada.
Ano ba ang kahulugan nitong â€œimpeachmentâ€? The impeachment process has the objective of removing from office President Erap, of terminating that mandate to be President for six years, earlier by more than three years.
Sampung milyon, ang sabi, â€œPresidente Erap, mayroon kaming tiwala sa iyo. Umupo ka, mag-presidente ng anim na taon.â€ Ito po ngayon, pinaglilitis natin, sasabihin natin sa kaniya, â€œUmalis ka na riyan.â€ Gayong mayroon pang mahigit na tatlong taon. That is what impeachment means.
Kaya po kung gagawin natin iyan, hindi po ba kailangan na iyong ebidensiya ay maliwanag at matibay? Should not a judgment to terminate that mandate be as incontestable and as clear as the mandate which elected President Erap as President? I think that is the intent of the Constitution. I think that is what every reasonable thinking Filipino would say.
Kaya iyang amount of proof, siguro hindi na muna dapat nating pag-usapan iyan.
Pangalawa, ang napansin ko ngayon hapon, napakarami pong sinabing puprubahan ng prosecution. Napakarami nilang sinabing kasalanan ni Presidente, na wala naman sa demanda.
Iyong Articles of Impeachment na nanggaling sa House of Representatives ay inirereklamo na nga namin kung papaanong nakarating ito doon sa Senado. Wala namang ebidensiyang inihayag sa House of Representatives. Wala po. In other words, there was no determination of probable cause.
In lieu of determination of probable cause, kaya po nakarating ito rito sapagkat pumirma iyong mahigit na 100 miyembro ng House of Representatives.
Ayon sa Saligang-Batas, kung pipirma iyong one-third, puwede na ngang ipadala iyong Articles of Impeachment sa Senado. Pero mayroon pong mahalagang kinakailangang lumabas bago ipadala rito. Iyon pong mahigit na 100 na iyon o iyong one-third na sinasabi ng ating Saligang-Batas, kinakailangang sumpaan nila na iyong nilalaman ng Articles of Impeachment na ipapadala sa Senado ay totoo. Sapagkat alam nilang totoo. Hindi po ganoon ang sinumpaan nila. That is not what the verification says. Ang sabi lang ng verification na iyan, â€œAyon sa aming pagbabasa, ayon sa aming pagkakaintindi, sa nakita namin na nakasulat diyan, iyan ay mayroong base sa katotohanan.â€
Kaya po ito ay dumating dito. Tinutulan po namin, kaya lang medyo nabigo kami. In other words, what I seek to emphasize is that these articles are now before the Senate without any finding of probable cause. Nonetheless, we will try the case.
After the Senate gave due course to this Articles of Impeachment, it issued summons to the respondent, to the accused, whatever he may be, but to the President of the Philippines. And we were asked to respond to these charges, to know these charges. Medyo hindi nga po madaling basahin at intindihin, eh. Sapagkat hindi po pangkaraniwan na complaint, eh. Marami pong annexes. Nanggaling sa Inquirer. Kaya po pinag-aralan naman naming mabuti. Maliliit nga po iyong mga nandoon sa news items, pero pinagtiyagaan na naming basahin para maintindihan kung ano ang mga paratang kay Presidente Erap. Wala naman po kaming nakita rito tungkol doon sa mga mansiyon na sinasabi. Iyon nga po ang pinagkatingnan-tingnan namin, kasi palagi nang nasa peryodiko iyong mga bahay na sinasabi ngayon. Basahin po natin ito maski na sampung beses, wala po tayong makikita dito na iyan ay kasama sa mga paratang at akusasyon kay Presidente Erap. Kung wala po dito, hindi maaaring bistahan iyan. Kaya po kami nagtataka. Siguro, wika ko, marahil kulang na nga ang pruweba, kaya sinasabi na hindi na kailangan ang proof beyond reasonable doubt. Hindi lamang pala kulang ang pruweba, iyon palang sinasabi at iniisip nilang may pruweba, wala pala rito.
Ipagpaumanhin po ninyo, kung minsan siguro ang aking Tagalog ay hindi kasinggaling nuong kay Congressman Tañada. Sapagkat si Congressman Tañada po ay taga-Quezon, lalawigan po ni Presidente Quezon. Ako naman po ay tagalalawigan ng Pampanga, kaya paminsan-minsan ay kinakailangang tulungan ng Ingles. Sapagkat hindi ko maaaring tulungan ng kapampangan, hindi makukuha ng stenographer.
Ngayon po, sa totoo po, anuman iyang mga pinag-uusapan nating charges, at bottom the question really is: What is the truth about the facts alleged in this Articles of Impeachment? The truth, ang katotohanan–iyon po ang mahalaga dito, eh.
Sa narinig po natin, ang central figure dito, ang central witness ay si Governor Singson. Sa totoo po, itong mga ibang paratang dito, iyong nasa Inquirer hindi naman….Matagal na iyan, eh. Hindi naman iyan masyadong inabala na ng mga mamamayan, eh. Naabala lang ang mga mamamayan noong magkaroon tayo ng impeachment dahil doon sa mga reklamo at ipinahayag ni Governor Singson, hindi po ba?
Kaya po dito, tinatanggap ko. Ganoon na nga ang sinabi ni Congressman Apostol at ni Congressman Arroyo–na ang mga kasong ito ay talagang nakabatay sa sinabi at deklarasyon ni Gov. Chavit Singson. Kaya po, pareho na ito–charge 1, charge 2. Governor Singson po iyon, eh. Totoo ba iyong sinabi ni Governor Singson? Iyan po ang magiging isyu. Sino naman po ang kailangang magpatunay na totoo? Itong prosecution, eh. Iyan po ang burden of proof sa kanila.
Maliit pa po ako noon. Ang sabi ng aking nanay: â€œAnak, magsasabi ka ng totoo. Sapagkat kung ikaw ay mahuli kong nagsisinungaling, hindi na kita papaniwalaan kailanman.â€ Kaya po isang beses, ang sabi ko sa nanay ko: â€œPuwede bang makahingi ng diyes?â€ Matagal na po iyon. Mahalaga pa iyong pera noon, eh. â€œEh, bakit?â€ ang wika. â€œEh, ibibili ko po ng sorbetes,â€ ang sabi ko. Mabait naman ang nanay ko noong oras na iyon, kung minsan ay mahigpit sa pera â€˜yan, binigyan ako ng diyes. Hindi po niya nalaman kaagad, pero nayaya ako ng aking mga kaibigan, nag-cara y cruz kami. Natalo. Hindi ako nakabili ng sorbetes. Nalaman po ng nanay ko, ang sabi niya: â€œ â€˜O, nahuli kita. Sa susunod hindi na kita bibigyan ng pera. Ikaw ay nagsinungaling.â€
Kaya po tingnan natin si Governor Singson kung makakahingi pa nga ng diyes. Ang hinihingi niya dito mas malawak pa roon. Hinihingi niya sa pamamagitan ng kaniyang pangungusap, â€˜Tanggalin si Presidente Erap bilang Presidente ng Pilipinas.â€™
Marami po sa sinasabi ng prosekusyon, hindi naman si Presidente Erap, eh. Gawa lahat â€˜yan ni Governor Singson. Kaya po noong nagpapahayag si Congressman Apostol at si Congressman Arroyo, ang parang pumasok sa akin: Sino ba ang akusado dito? Si Presidente Erap ba o si Governor Singson? Sapagkat karamihan po sa sinabi nila ay hindi naman si Presidente Erap ang gumawa. Ang gumawa ay si Governor Singson.
Dahil hindi po mahaba ang ating panahon, tingnan natin iyong….Ito po kasi ay mas maraming papel, maraming dokumento. Mahirap po iyong walang dokumento dahil sasabihin, sinabi niya ang ganito, ang sabi naman noong isa ay hindi naman ganoon. Iyon pong RA No. 7171, unang-una, ang sabi ay nag-release ng P200 million under that law sa probinsiya ng Ilocos Sur. Maaari nating sabihin, dahil Budget ang nagrelease noon, mayroon sigurong kaalaman si Presidente. Ganoon pa man, hindi naman nila sinasabing si Presidente ang nag-release ng P200 million, ano po? Ngayon po, pag-release ng P200 million para sa tobacco subsidy, ano ang nangyari doon sa P200 million? Nag-cash advance po si Governor Singson. Maliwanag po . Hindi po si Presidente Estrada ang nag-cash advance. Ang nag-cash advance ay si Governor Singson. Ang sabi niya, â€œTo cash advance the amount of P170 million for partial payment of the equipment for the flue-curing barn and redrying plant.â€
Samakatuwid, â€œcash advance,â€ sinabi ni Governor Singson, para bumili ng flue-curing barn and redrying plant. Pirmado po ni Governor Singson. Kung hindi niya ibinili ng flue-curing barn, hindi po ba nagsinungaling na siya? Kumuha siya ng P170 milyon, sino ang niloko niya? Di niloko niya ang gobyerno. Hindi po ba? â€œFalsificationâ€ sa pangungusap ng criminal law.
Ngayon, una po iyon, tandaan ninyo. Hindi si Presidente Erap ang gumawa niyan.
Pangalawa, pumirma po siya ng request for allotment of that money, P170 million. Pirmado rin po ni Governor Singson. Di pangalawang kasalanan na, falsification din. Kaniyang pirma ito, hindi kay Presidente.
Pangatlo, nagpagawa po siya ng tseke payable–ako nga po ay nagtataka, hindi naman ito Governor Singson-payable to Luis Chavit Singson, tseke, P170 million. Sino ang nakapirma? Si Luis Chavit Singson. Kung sabagay, kasama rin po iyong tesurero. Ito po ay mahalagang bagay. Hindi si Presidente Erap ang pumirma sa tseke, si Governor Singson, para flue-curing barn. Kung hindi pala, sino ang nagpalsipika? Sino ang nagsinungaling? Si Governor Singson. Pangatlo na po iyon.
Pagkatapos niyan, alam ninyo, marami pong sinabing mga babae, nagkaganoon-ganoon; iyong tseke kung saan-saan pumunta. Papaano po ba nangyari iyon?
Sumulat po ng isang authorization si Governor Singson. â€œThis is to authorize Maricar Paz and Marina Atendido, both employees of this office, to officially transact business with the Land Bank.â€ Pirmado po ni Governor Singson iyan. Iyan ang pinagmulan ng maraming palit-palit, pagka-cash cash at saan-saan nanggaling at napunta iyong tseke. Pirmado naman ni Governor Singson iyan. Kung hindi niya pinirmahan ito, hindi niya pinabayaang mapunta ang tseke kung kani-kanino, di hindi nangyari iyon. Pang-apat po iyon.
Panglima. Pumirma po si Governor Singson ng purchase request for flue-curing barn uli. Kung hindi pala siya bibili noon, bakit siya pumirma ng purchase request? Panglima nang kasalanan, panglima nang pagsisinungaling.
Pagkatapos noon, eto po ay makikita ninyo. Purchase order pa. Para bagang mayroon talagang bibilhan, ano po, sapagkat may supplier po. â€œGOMEâ€, nakalagay dito. Bakit pipirma ng purchase order kung pala iyong pera ay ibibigay kung kanino. Pero pirmado ni Gobernador Singson. Pang-anim na po iyan.
Pagkatapos noon, purchase order, alam nating hindi na binili pero pagkatapos ay mayroong lumabas na papel, â€œAcceptance of delivery.â€ Ano po ba ang ibig sabihin niyan? Ang ibig sabihin ay tinanggap ng probinsiya iyong binili. Pirmado rin ni Gobernador Singson. Ngayon pampito na iyon.
Pagkatapos ay may certificate of inspection siya, ininspek iyong binili. Natanggap pala in good order. Pagkatapos may Memorandum Receipt pa, binili, tinanggap, Memorandum Receipt to him na sa kanya pumunta, pirmado rin ni Gobernador Singson. Pampito na po iyon–pangwalo na; nagkakamali–naghihirap na ako sa pagbibilang, marami na po masyado ang pina-falsificate.
Pero this tops it all. Pagkatapos po niyan mayroong ginawa si Gobernador Singson–ito po iyong dokumento, Settlement of Cash Advance for the amount of P170 million, pirmado rin ni Gobernador Singson. Ano po ba ang ibig sabihin nito? Ang ibig sabihin nito nag-cash advance siya ng P170 million mayroon daw siyang biniling ganito at pagkatapos dahil tinanggap na iyon, tinanggap na niya, di wala na siyang cash advance, sini-settle na niya ang P170 million. Mayroon pa pong official receipt na parang binayaran iyong P170 million.
Iyan po ba ang testigo ng prosecution? Sabihin nating totoo lahat itong sinabi ni Gobernador Singson dito sa mga dokumentong nandito. Di hindi pala kinuha iyong pera. E, anong binigay kay Presidente Erap? Ibinili ng flue-curing barn, e.
Ngayon, kung sabihin naman natin na pinalsifika niya ang pirma, mahigit na sampung beses, ibinulsa niya iyong pera, iyon, maliwanag– siyang kumuha, siyang tumanggap, sa bulsa niya pumunta. E, sabi, sasabihin ng prosecution â€œBinigay naman kay Presidente Erap.â€ Ano ang ebidensiya noon? Ang ebidensiya na iyon–dahil sabi ni Gobernador Singson.
But as far as the irreputable documents and papers show, he was the one who got P170 million from the province of Ilocos Sur, but as far as whether this went to President Erap, it was only–it is the word of Gobernador Singson. After he has falsified 13 documents, does he have any credibility left? Are you to impeach the President, terminate the mandate of more than 10 million people on the word of someone who has himself and cannot possibly deny that 13 times he falsified documents?
Siguro po hindi na dapat pagusapan iyan, e. E, ako, diyes lamang ang hiningi ko sa Nanay ko, hindi ko lang binili ng sorbetes, hindi na ako makahingi, uli. E, eto pa. Kaya po, ano po bang leksiyon na nakikita natin dito? Magnakaw ka, lakihan mo kung gusto mo pa, pagkatapos, para wala ka nang pagkakasala, wala ka nang pananagutan, sabihin mo ibinigay mo kay Erap. Hindi po ba ganoon ang nangyari? Hindi lang wala ka nang pagkakasala, e, marami namang sasama sa iyo, e, maniniwala kaagad sa iyo, e. Lalung-lalo na iyong mga mamamayan na mula sa mula ayaw nilang manalong presidente si Erap. Hindi po ba ngayon sa nakikita natin sa rally, lahat naman iyan na tinatanggap nilang katotohanan ang sinasabi ni Gobernador Singson, e, iyong mula sa mula ayaw nila na mahalal na presidente si Presidente Erap.
It is a settled axiom in evidence, that the testimony of a person who is himself a party to the offense has no probative weight, it has no credibility, because he is motivated by desire to exculpate himself. Sa katotohanan po malaki po ang problema ni Gobernador Singson, sapagkat mayroon po akong nakita ring papel o dokumento na lumalabas pala sa government of Ilocos Sur as of December 31, 1999. Governor Singson and persons working immediately under him have unliquidated cash advances of P162, 145, 860. 55. The last unliquidated cash advance of Governor Singson drawn in December 1999 was P100 million. Kaya po sa nangyari, siguro pinaninindigan na nga ni Governor Singson. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang sasabihin niya pagka nandidiyan na siya at nakasumpa na siya. Naging bayani na siya. Speaker na siya sa mga rally. Mga Rotary Club ay imbitado na siya. Siguro ang kanyang iniisip, libre na ito sapagkat si Erap naman ang babagsak, eh.
Ngayon po, â€˜yung tobacco subsidy, medyo itabi na natin po. Pupunta naman ako sa jueteng.
Sabi po ay si Presidente Erap daw ay protector ng jueteng, ano po. Si Presidente Erap po, siguro may ilan sa mga senador, maski ang mga iba pa, maalaala nila na bago siya naging bise presidente ay naging senador po siya.
Noong pong 1987, senador po siya at nagtalumpati po siya rito, privilege speech on November 25, 1987. Tungkol po sa jueteng, eh. Kaya po mayroong kaugnayan ito sa pinag-uusapan natin. Ako po ay kukuha lamang ng four points he read. Babasahin ko po I hope I do justice to his language. Sa Tagalog po, eh.
Una, sabi niya: “Ginoong Pangulo, ang kahirapan ay laganap sa ating bansa. Kahit saang sulok ng Pilipinas ay matatagpuan natin ang maraming naghihikahos.” That is his first premise. Maraming pong kahirapan dito sa ating bansa. Hanggang ngayon naman.
Pangalawa: “Kung P170 milyon buwan-buwan ang kinikita ng Pagcor mula sa mga casino na kanilang hinahawakan at pinamamahalaan, paano po ang libu-libong ilegal na mga pasugalan na nakakalat sa buong kapuluan na ang pinakamalaganap dito ay ang jueteng.” Second premise.
Pangatlo po: “Kung ating pagsasamasamahin ang kinikita sa araw-araw ng mga ilegal na pasugalan sa buong Pilipinas, makatitipon tayo ng napakalaking halaga na sapat upang makatulong sa pagpapagaan sa kahirapan ng ating maraming malilit na kababayan.” Yan di po ang hangarin niya. Pero ipinagpatuloy po ito. Ano ang sinabi niya? “Isa pa,” sabi niya. “Kung ating magagawang legal ang mga ilegal na pasugalang ito, mababawasan o masusugpo ang pagsasamantala at pang-aabuso sa tungkulin ng mga OIC.” Noon po ay walang mayor, OIC, po.
“Sa pamahalaang-lokal, bukod pa rito ay matutulungan nating mahango sa kahirapan ang marami nating kababayan.” Finally, ang sabi po niya, “Kaya Ginoong Pangulo, bilang pagtatapos, nais kong imungkahi na bilisan ang pagsisiyasat na ginagawa ngayon ng ating Committee on Games and Amusement at isama nila sa kanilang pag-aaral kung papaano magagawang legal ang mga ilegal na pasugalang ito nang sa ganoon ay mauuwi sa ating pamahalaan ang malalaking halaga na ngayon ay pinakikinabangan lamang ng mga corrupt na OIC at ilan pang mga pulis.
Iyan pong pinaninindigan ni Presidente Erap, senador pa siya. Iyon po kasing jueteng, mayroon po akong kaunting kaalaman–hindi po ako marunong, pero sapagkat po ako ay taga-lalawigan ng Pampanga–dati-dati po bago nalahar ang aming bahay doon, tuwing Sabado ako ay nauwi. Pag-uwi ko, unang-una na pong bisita ay ang kubrador sa jueteng. Ako po ay nataya ng kaunti-kaunti. Pero sa nakita ko po sa mga mamamayan, sila pa po ang nagagalit, eh, kung hindi pupunta ang kubrador sapagkat po sa kahirapan ng buhay, lahat po ng ating kababayan ay humahanap ng pag-asa. Hope springs eternal. Kaya po maski papaano naging paraan ang jueteng para sila ay maaaring managinip at may pag-asang iyong panaginip na iyon ay maging totoo. Kaya po napakahirap pigilin iyang jueteng.
Ang aking buong paningin, si Presidente Erap, ganoon na nga po ang nakita niya, eh. Kanya lang, ang masama sa jueteng, eh, masyadong marami ang kumikita na hindi naman dapat kumita dahil po illegal, eh. Kung illegal, kailangan maglagay ka diyan, maglagay ka doon, maglagay ka diyan. Kung hindi, huhulihin.
Kaya po ng sinasabi ni Presidente noon ay gawin na nating legal para iyang lahat ng kitang iyan hindi pumunta sa bulsa ng kanino man kundi sa bulsa sa kaban ng gobiyerno. Iyan po ang paniwala ni Presidente na noon at hanggang ngayon iyan pa rin po ang kanyang pinaninindigan. Kaya nakakagulat po itong sinasabing nilalagyan siya para proteksiyunan ang jueteng.
Ngayon po, nandidiyan po sa rekord ng House of Representatives. Napakarami na pong bills. Mayroon na nga po akong listahan na ipinayl to legalize jueteng and some other forms of gambling. Pero hindi po natutuloy iyan, eh. Not any of those bills has been enacted. Bakit po? Mayroon pong reklamo sa sektor ng ating kapuluan na sugal, eh. Hindi dapat gawing legal. Pero ang akin pong suspetsa kanya hindi umiiral iyan sapagkat nga tinututulan ng mga nagpapa-jueteng. Kakayahin nilang mag-lobby sapagkat marami naman silang nanunungkulan na tinulungan pagdating ng eleksiyon. Kanya po siguro alam ni Presidente Erap iyan, eh, na walang pag-asa na magkaroon ng batas. Kanya po ang ginawa niya, hanapan ng kalaban ang jueteng na legal. In other words, introduce a game which will compete with jueteng and which will put it out of business but which is legal and whatever earnings would go to government.
Sa panahon po ng kanyang panunungkulan, marami pong sinubukan, eh. Mayroon pong “Quick Pick 2 Bingo.” Mayroon pa pong pinag-aralan na small-town lottery kagaya ng small-town lottery noong panahon ni Presidente Aquino, yata. Hanggang dumating tayo doon sa “Bingo 2 Ball.” Iyan pong “Bingo 2 Ball” parang jueteng na rin, eh, sa katotohanan. Kanya naman siguro idenisayn ng ganoon para nga mawala ang jueteng. At sa naririnig po natin, galing na rin kay Gobernador Singson, ay mukhang magtatagumpay iyan, eh. It will put out of business the jueteng operators. Kaya po noong narinig ni Governor Singson iyan, siya na rin ang nagsasabi eh, ipinakiusap niya o ipinakikiusap niya kay Presidente Erap na huwag sanang isama diyan sa Bingo 2-ball ang Ilocos Sur. At noong hindi pumayag si Presidente, nagalit pa sa kanya. E, bakit naman niya tututulan ang Bingo 2-ball kung hindi siya nakikinabang nga sa jueteng? At kung naman si Presidente nakikinabang nga sa jueteng at siya nga ang binibigyan ni Gobernador Singson, bakit naman ipapatigil ni Presidente ang jueteng at palitan ng Bingo 2-ball? Iyan po ang hindi madaling maintindihan, e.
Ngayon, marami naman po silang sinasabi. Personal nagbigay daw si Gobernador Singson kay Presidente, pero kagaya rin po noong 7171, sabi po ni Governor Singson, iyon bang sabi niya basta paniniwalaan na lang? Ngayon sabi nila, e talagang meron niyan sapagkat nadeposito iyan sa account e, sabi ni Governor Singson sa affidavit niya, sa account pa niya. Pagkatapos, wika niya, inilipat kay Yolanda Ricaforte. Pagkatapos kinuha doon nagbigay ng P200 million doon sa Erap trust fund. Samakatuwid merong pera, ano po? Pero iyon bang perang iyon dahil may pera ang ibig sabihin noon pera ni Presidente Erap iyan? Sabi ni Governor Singson, e.
Ngayon, ito naman po ang tanong natin: kanina po ang sabi ko, kung si Presidente Erap ay protektor ng jueteng, bakit naman niya papatayin ang jueteng? Kumikita, e. Mukhang katakataka iyan. Ngayon, kung naman siya tumatanggap ng pera at para sa kaniya na nga iyan, e bakit naman niya ipagkakatiwala pa kay Gobernador Singson? Bakit niya pa ipadedeposito sa pangalan ng account sa pangalan ni Gobernador Singson? O bakit naman, sa palagay mo na, si Yolanda Ricaforte, bakit pa ilalagay doon? Kung sa kaniya na nga iyan. At kahuli-hulihan, kung sa kaniya na nga iyan, e, ari na niya iyang pera e, bakit gagawa pa ng tsekeng P200 milyon ibibigay sa foundation, hindi po ba? Sa iyo na, eh. Kung sabagay sabi po noong iba, mabuti â€˜ika iyan napunta na nga sa foundation kung galing man iyan sa jueteng. Kung hindi kanino-kanino lang napunta iyan, eh. Iyon po ang hindi natin maaaring tanggapin nang madalian lang eh.
Samakatuwid, sa ganitong sitwasyon, one must weigh the evidence carefully. One cannot just take the word especially of someone who has admittedly falsified no less than 10 documents as the truth.
Sa kabila naman noon na si Presidente Erap eh gusto niya ngang mawala ang illegal na jueteng, iyan naman, that decision of the President is incontrovertible. Nandiyan po sa records ng PNP kung ilang raids na ang ginawa. Ang utos ni Presidente i-raid iyan. Ipasara iyang jueteng. Marami pong magtetestigo diyan. Kaniya nga lang, kagaya na nga ng nakita ng mahabang panahon, maski gaano pa ka-determinado ang mga pulis, mukhang hindi nila talagang kayang ipasara lahat ang jueteng. Kung hindi man iyon organized, sinasabi nila, meron pang guerilla jueteng diyan, eh. Napakahirap talaga.
Iyan po iyang sa charge 1, charge 2 na sinasabi.
Ngayon po, pupunta po ako sa charge 3. Iyan po iyong Betrayal of Public Trust. Ito po ay mayroon po kaming kaunting problema, sapagkat sa pagpapahayag po ni Congressman Gonzales, parang mayroong mga sinasabing papatunayan nila na wala naman sa demanda. Sapagkat
dito po ….
I beg your indulgence. I have to go back to Charge 2. Iyon po ay tungkol sa Statement of Assets and Liabilities.
Doon po sa Charge 2, marami pong sinabi rin si Congressman Arroyo na mga interes daw ni Presidente sa mga korporasyon na wala sa kanyang Statement of Assets and Liabilities. Marami po siyang korporasyon na sinabi: St. Peter’s Holdings, Becks Resources, KB Space, et cetera.
Pero dito po sa demanda, ganito po ang nakasulat. Sabi niya: “He filed his Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the year 1999, stating therein that he and and his wife and children have business interests in only three (3) corporations. The President by that sworn statement also committed perjury and the offense of unexplained wealth because records show that he and his wife and mistresses and their children have other interests in other companies outside of the three firms listed in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities.” Pagkatapos po naka-bracket, (Annex “C” hereof).
Ngayon po, iyong Annex “C”, sapagkat po kami ang pagkakaintindi namin noong sinabi nilang “he has other interests in other companies” at pagkatapos naka-bracket (Annex “C”), ang ibig nilang sabihin, at iyon ang aming naintindihan, nang hindi niya idineklara sa Statement of Assets and Liabilities iyong mga interes niya sa mga korporasyong nakalista dito sa Annex “C”. Iyon po ang aming pagkakaintindi, at maliwanag naman iyan, eh. Bakit ba ngayon sinasabi nila si President daw ay committed perjury sapagkat iyong interes niya sa St. Peter’s Holdings, Becks, KB Space, Verdant, at kung anu-ano pa, mayroon pang ipinahayag doon na tseke, ay wala daw sa kanyang Statement of Assets and Liabilities. Ang sagot ko naman, wala sa kanyang Statement of Assets and Liabilities, wala rin sa inyong demanda. Bakit ba ninyong gustong prubahan iyong wala sa demanda? Dahil ba iyong nasa demanda hindi ninyo kayang prubahan?
Kaya po, iwanan ko naman po iyong Article II. Babalik na po ako sa pangatlo.
Ito naman pong pangatlo. Marami po ito, eh. Iyong sa PAGCOR, hindi naman sinabi. Sabi dito, “The President referred only.” Wala namang masama sa pagre-refer, eh. Siguro ang mga senador nasa pulitika eh, sanay na sanay kang mag-refer. Hindi naman sasabihin ni-refer mo, ibig sabihin aprubahan mo iyan. Hindi po ba? Kaya iyong nasa sa first paragraph ay maari na po nating itabi iyan.
Ngayon, ito naman po sa Securities and Exchange Commission, tungkol po kay Chairman Yasay. Nakalagay din po rito by reference iyong affidavit ni Chairman Yasay, Annex â€œEâ€, sabi sa complaint. Samakatwid po, sa ang aming pagkakaintindi, sapagkat itong complaint na ito ay hindi po pangkaraniwan ang pagkakagawa, ang reklamo nila, si Presidente pinakialaman iyong problema ng BW sa SEC dahil dito sa sinasabi ni Chairman Yasay sa kaniyang affidavit na Annex â€œEâ€ ng complaint.
Ngayon po, ano po ba ang sinasabi dito ni Chairman Yasay sa kaniyang affidavit? â€œThat I further testifiedâ€–dito po sa Senado yata ito–â€œthat soon after I ordered said investigation, President Joseph E. Estrada called me several times, at first complaining about the investigation and later ordering me to immediately terminate the same with specific instructions to clear Mr. Dante Tan, the head of Best World Resources Corporation, of involvement in any anomaly.â€
Let me underscore, perhaps, the critical clause in this sentence, â€œordering me to immediately terminate the same with specific instructions to clear Mr. Dante Tan.â€ Marami po silang iba pang sinabing ipu-prove daw nila–si Dante Tan, iyong presyo ng stock market–pero hindi naman po si Dante Tan and akusado dito, e. Hindi naman kasali si Dante Tan dito. Ang totoo, mayroon pong preliminary investigation na ngayon sa Department of Justice tungkol dito, tungkol nga diyan sa mga BW shares. At iyan nangyari, napadala iyan sa Department of Justice for preliminary investigation not during the time of Chairman Yasay but during the time of Chairman Lilia Bautista.
Ngayon, ito pong bagay na ito, iyon ang aming pagkakaintindi. Kaya lamang po siguro, sa aking palagay, parang iniiwasan na ng prosecution iyan. Ganoon pa man, iyan ang nasa complaint. Sapagkat si Chairman Yasay, tatlong beses pong in-interview sa ibaâ€™t ibang radio station at program at sinabi niya, tinanggihan niya ang katotohanan noong kaniyang affidavit.
Sabi niya doon sa program ni Tina Monson-Palma:
Palma: In that telephone conversation, he did not tell you to clear Dante Tan?
Yasay: Yes, he did not specifically tell me clear Dante Tan or clear BW or he did not specifically tell me to stop my investigation. No, emphatically, no.
Palma: And that does not mean or interpreted when it becomes a formal legal case as a formal interference by the President?
Yasay: Well, some people might argue. They say it was interference but what I point is only that he did not specifically tell me to clear Dante Tan or clear BW.
Hindi ko na po babasahin. Mayroon pa rito. Pare-pareho po iyan. Samakatwid…. Ewan ko kung kailangan pa naming prubahan sapagkat mukhang hindi naman nila puprubahan na sinabi ni Presidente kay Chairman Yasay. Pero iyon po ang nasa demanda sapagkat itinanggi na nga ni Chairman Yasay na sinabi niya iyan, e.
Ngayon, mayroon pa po rito sa charge 3, na ito sa akin ay maliit
na kahulugan lang ito. Iyon daw kay Jinggoy Estrada. Nakialam daw
si Presidente sa kaunting alitan sa Cardinal Santos. Sa palagay ko
naman po, ito ay hindi na kailangang pagkaabalahan sapagkat itong
mga kuwentong ito ay hindi rin natin nalalaman kung ano talaga ang nangyari roon.
Naririto rin po iyong charge. Sabi nila, si Jude Estrada nag-iwan ng hindi bayad na bills sa hotel sa Cagayan de Oro. Ewan ko po kung impeachable offense iyon. Pero ang sabi naman ni Jude Estrada, binayaran naman daw niya iyon. Pero ano kaya ang pananagutan naman ni Presidente roon? Pero nandidiyan po sa reklamo.
Eto pong appointment naman ni Cecilia de Castro. Ang akin pong natatandaan, sinabi na po ni Presidente na siya ay nagkamali, hindi niya nalalaman na kamag-anak iyon. Sa kinarami nang pinirmahan ay hindi niya napansin. Palagay ko, hindi naman po impeachable offense iyan.
Ito pong marami pa doon sa Inquirer, hindi ko na po iisa-isahin. Meron naman po ito, e. Nandito po sa charge na ito pero sinakop po ni Congressman Tañada, iyong kay First Lady. Ang pagkakaalam ko, inimbistigahan na po dito iyon. At sinabi po, wala namang pagkakasalang masama si First Lady doon. Kaya hindi ko na rin po iisa-isahin iyan. Iyan po iyong Charge 3. Pupunta na po ako sa Charge 4.
Ito pong Charge 4 sa aking palagay ay hindi masyadong mahirap. Sometimes water is a little more variable than a reading material.
Iyon pong mga kotse. Iyan po ay totoo. Matagal na pong ginagawa iyan. Sa katotohahan po, ako rin po noong Solicitor General ay mayroon din po akong Mercedes Benz. Ang sabi po ni Presidente Marcos sa akin, â€œMadalas ka ika na nabiyahe sa Pampanga, pagka naman kailangan ng konting kotse iyong matatag-tatagâ€… Pinahiram po ako ng Customs ng Mercedes Benz, S pa. Kaya lang laspag-laspag at pinagawa ko naman. Sa akin pong palagay, wala namang masama roon. Sapagkat po noong ako ay na-EDSA, ang ibig kong sabihin, natanggal na nga dahil sa EDSA, iyong aking awto ay napunta naman sa isang Associate Justice ng Supreme Court. Siya naman ang gumamit. Hindi naman siguro masama iyon sapagkat minana pa nga ng Justice ng Supreme Court. Siguro natuwa pa at nasa kondisyon. Pero po iyang kotseng iyan, nagkaroon na po ng kaso iyan. These precise cars which were supposedly used by Cabinet members under President Erapâ€™s time brought about a case entitled, Ramon A. Gonzales vs. Hon. Ronaldo Zamora as Executive Secretary, et. al., G.R. No. 139852, before the Supreme Court.
Ito pong si Atty. Ramon A. Gonzales na petitioner dito, siya po ang abogado ng complainants, nang pumirma ng complaint dito sa impeachment na ito. Ano po ang nangyari doon sa kaso ni Ramon Gonzales na sinasabi nga niya for a writ of prohibition, for certiorari, lahat ng relief, hinihingi niya roon.
Ano po ang sabi ng Supreme Court? â€œThe petition is dismissed for being insufficient in form and in substance.â€ Ni hindi naka-first base. Sa amin pong mga abogado, kung nadi-dismiss iyong petition mo ng ganyan, e medyo malungkot kang talaga, sapagkat hindi man lamang pina-comment, na-dismiss na. Papaano naman magiging impeachable offense, ang sabi ng Supreme Court, iyong petisyon na kini-question iyong transaksiyon ay nai-dismiss. Kaya po siguro iyan ay madali na ring itabi.
Ngayon, iyong pangalawang pong fourth charge, ang sabi po sa complaint, iyong pong multiple appointments of Cabinet members– multiple positions. Ayon daw sa desisyon ng Supreme Court, sa Civil Liberties Union vs. Executive Secretary, 194 SCRA 317, these multiple appointments are unconstitutional. Pero marahil po, kinulang ng kaunti ang research sapagkat po ang Supreme Court, in a subsequent resolution in the same case, the decision was rendered on February 22, 1991 upholding the question raised as to those multiple positions. The Supreme Court issued a resolution on August 1, 1991 in the same case, not really reversing its earlier decision, but qualifying it in the following manner. It says and I quote:
Another point of clarification raised by the Solicitor General refers to the persons affected by the constitutional prohibition. The persons cited in the constitutional prohibition are the members of the Cabinet, their deputies or assistants, whose terms must be given their common and general acceptation as referring to the heads of the executive department, their undersecretaries and assistant secretaries.
Samakatwid po, ang interpretasyon ng Supreme Court doon sa probisyon ng Konstitusyon na sinasabi, the proscription applies only to the Cabinet members who head executive departments. Sapagkat sa ating gobyerno, mayroong Cabinet rank na parang member ng Cabinet pero wala naman siyang departamento. Ang sabi po ng Supreme Court doon sa resolution which was subsequently promulgated is that it refers to those only who head executive departments. Kaya po, siguro naman, kung si Presidente ang ginawa niya ay sabi na nga ng Supreme Court hindi masama, lalo naman sigurong hindi culpable violation ng Constitution.
Ngayon, sa katotohanan po, ito pong…. Palagay natin, gaya po ito… Isa pa po sa binabanggit nila itong kay Magdangal Elma. Inaasunto pa rin iyan. Nasa Supreme Court. Public Interest Center, Inc. vs. Magdangal Elma, G.R. No. 138965. Ito ay pending pa sa Supreme Court. Samakatwid, hindi pa decided iyan. Samakatwid, at the very least, there is a problem of interpretation of the Constitution. When there is a problem of interpretation, a wrong interpretation even can hardly be considered a culpable violation of the Constitution.
Marami pa po ang oras ko, pero siguro wala namang Charge 6. Hanggang Charge 4 lang.
Perhaps, I may conclude with a few general observations. I would like to be candid and say that when we undertook to take this case, one of the problems which we had to face was whether, first, to make representations to the Blue Ribbon Committee to stop its hearings. And, subsequently, whether to seek to inhibit some of the members of the Senate sapagkat po nalalaman naman nating lahat na ang pinagumpisahan ng Blue Ribbon investigation ay isang senador ang nagtalumpati entitled, â€œI Accuse!â€ Si Senador Guingona tumitingin po sa akin. Iyong mga charges doon sa â€œI Accuse!â€, iyon din po ang charges na bases of impeachment. Sinabi ni Senator Guingona na he was accusing the President.
Pagkatapos po, mayroon pong dalawang miyembro ng Senado, mayroon silang formal resolution na ang sabi, mag-resign na si Presidente. Pagkatapos po, mayroon namang mga ilan na senador na sumasama sa rally, sumasama sa sigaw na â€œResign.â€ Mayroon naman pong isang senador habang nagdedeklara iyong isang testigo sa Blue Ribbon Committee at ang sabi â€œnagsisinungaling ka, hindi ka maaaring paniwalaan.â€ At iyon yata ay magiging testigo rin dito. Kaya po aming inisip, kung ang mga senador ay huwes, judges, under settled jurisprudence, they also have the cold neutrality of a judge, complete objectivity. Kaya baka naman sabi namin pagdating eh, meron na silang prejudgments. Pero matagal po naming pinag-isipan iyan. At ang aming naging desisyon sa nakita ninyo, hindi po kami nag-file ng anumang motion at hindi naman namin sinasabi ngayon na ang mga senador na iyon ay mag-inhibit.
The members of the Senate have taken an oath to do impartial justice in this case. I am actually struck by this oath because it does not only say â€œjusticeâ€; it says â€œimpartial justice.â€ I had always believed that to be just requires one to be impartial. But the oath that the members of the Senate have taken–has taken–bind them to do impartial justice. So as we continue with this proceedings on the part of the defense, all these notwithstanding, we are confident that the senators will do impartial justice and as we are equally confident that when the time comes to render judgment, and as they do impartial justice, a judgment of acquittal will be rendered.
Sabi po ng mga prosecutors ay nalulungkot daw sila sa trabahong ito, mahirap daw. Kami rin po ay hindi naman nalulungkot, pero we consider this as a challenge because to us this impeachment case does not only involve defending the honor, the integrity, and the dignity, of President Estrada. It also involves preserving the mandate of more than 10 million Filipinos who voted for him. President Estrada is our client but in a real sense, we seek also to preserve and uphold the mandate of the 10 million Filipinos who voted him as President to hold office until the year 2004.
Sometimes all these rallies around even now they say the â€œwalls of Jericho,â€ sabagay po hindi yata ako masyadong magaling sa Bibliya, hindi ko po naiintindihan iyan. But we are also strengthened, and I would like to close by narrating to you a personal experience.
Isang umaga po, umagang-umaga po, ako ay nasa isang McDonald nag-aalmusal, hotcake lang naman sapagkat ang sabi po ng aking maybahay ay bawal iyong mga hamburger, mayroon pong lumapit na isang babae sa akin, very modestly dressed. Ang sabi niya sa akin, â€œKanina ko pa kayo tinitingnan, ehâ€ ang sabi niya, â€œkinikilala ko kung kayo si Atty. Estelito Mendoza o kamukha lamang, eh.â€ Eh, ang sabi ko ay, â€œHindi,â€ kako, â€œkamukha lamang, eh. Iyong totoong Atty. Mendoza mas magandang lalaki sa kin.â€ Pero sabi ko, â€œako nga po, eh, bakit po ba?â€ sabi ko. â€œAttorneyâ€ sabi niya, â€œgusto kong malaman ninyo na ako po ay nagdadasal para sa inyo, sapagkat alam ko po idedepensa ninyo po si Presidente Erap. Ibinoto ko po siya. Marami pong hirap ang hinaharap ninyo sapagkat po katakut-takot po iyang mga rally, katakut-takot ang sigaw na â€œResign.â€
So I close to share with you a feeling of confidence that does
not only arise from the justness of the cause of President Estrada but
also comes from the prayers of many Filipinos, who, I am certain, will also be heard.
Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. That ends the opening statement for the defense. As agreed upon yesterday and as related earlier regarding the report of the Presiding Justice on the preliminary conference, we shall now proceed to the presentation of the first witness for the prosecution.
The Majority Leader.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, before we proceed to the calling of the first witness, may we place it on record that Your Honor, as presiding officer of this Impeachment Trial, by unanimous consent of the Senate, was given authority in yesterdayâ€™s session to issue subpoenas duces tecum and subpoenas ad testificandum, subject to the small reservation previously noted by the Chair in his preliminary conference order.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Let it be so recorded.
The Majority Leader.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, the prosecution will now call their first witness to the stand. May we ask the Secretary to administer the oath to the first witness.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The prosecution please, call your first witness.
SUSPENSION OF SESSION
REP. APOSTOL. We are ready, but may we ask for ten minutes recess?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Recess is granted for ten minutes.
It was 5:32 p.m.
RESUMPTION OF SESSION
At 5:50 p.m., the session was resumed.
THE ACTING SERGEANT AT ARMS (Col. Saber). Please all rise. The Honorable Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Session is now resumed.
REP. APOSTOL. Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, Prosecutor Apostol.
REP. APOSTOL. May we request that the private prosecutors be allowed to sit down with us, anyway, some public prosecutors are not taking their seats here.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Would you kindly enumerate the names of the private prosecutors. Have they officially entered their appearance by way of a written notice of appearance as private prosecutors?
REP. APOSTOL. Yes, Mr. Chief Justice. We have Atty. Marcelo, Atty. Sanidad…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Full names for the record.
REP. APOSTOL. Atty. Simeon Marcelo, Atty. Pablito Sanidad, Atty. Edcel Lagman, Atty. Prospero Nograles, and Atty. Augusto San Pedro, and the lawyer of Gen. Lastimoso, Atty. Romeo Igot, only for the appearance of Gen. Lastimoso.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. But the latter will not be representing as private prosecutor?
REP. APOSTOL. Yes.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Only as counsel for a witness.
REP. APOSTOL. Only as counsel for a witness.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The request to allow the private prosecutors to sit at the back of the public prosecutors is granted.
REP. APOSTOL. Mr. Chief Justice, there is an intimation from the defense counsel that they would like to go home. Looking at their faces, I think their age demands that they should be allowed to go home.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. What is that?
REP. APOSTOL. It would seem they are intimating now that if we can have a continuance today, and we will, of course, we are ready, we will just request that the witnesses who were subpoenaed be called and if they are around, then after that, we are ready to ask also for continuance.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Why donâ€™t we finish first with the first witness before you can ask for a continuance? The witness
REP. APOSTOL. Well….
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. And that was the agreement yesterday, that the first witness would be presented today after the opening statement. You may now present the witness.
REP. APOSTOL. No, no, I have, I have, Mr. Chief Justice, a great respect for the defense counsel, but they were the ones intimating
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. No, they did not express….
REP. APOSTOL. Atty. Mendoza is my godfather; Atty. Narvasa is my mentor and….
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Well, anyway, it is only an intimation but we have to follow the agreement we had yesterday.
REP. APOSTOL. All right. If the defense counsel is willing to hear our witness, we are ready.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The defense would have no choice because this is an agreement that the first witness would be presented today.
REP. APOSTOL. Mr. Chief Justice, may I request if the other two witnesses which we subpoenaed–may I know if they are here?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Where are they?
REP. APOSTOL. Anton Prieto and Yolanda Ricaforte.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Where is Anton Prieto?
THE SENATE PRESIDENT. Mr. Prieto, are you here?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The other one is Yolanda Ricaforte–and the return of the subpoena indicated that the three
REP. APOSTOL. There is a lawyer allegedly representing
Mr. Prieto, I donâ€™t know, if Your Honor will allow him to say something.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. But where is Prieto? Because if he is not inside the courtroom, we may not allow the lawyer of Prieto
to stay in the courtroom. He may be allowed only at the time that Prieto will be on the witness stand.
THE SENATE PRESIDENT. Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, Mr. Senate President.
THE SENATE PRESIDENT. May I just inform the impeachment court that both Mr. Prieto and Ms. Yolanda Ricaforte are here. They are at the holding room in the Office of the Deputy Secretary of the Senate.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. So in the meantime that they are there, there lawyers should also be there.
REP. APOSTOL. Yes, Your Honor. In that case then, since they are here, I will no longer ask any inquiries on them, except that if they will not be able to testify today, the documents which we requested for Mrs. Yolanda Ricaforte to bring that these documents be deposited with the Secretary General.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The request is reasonable. That may be granted.
REP. APOSTOL. Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. And so the Secretary will have to get these records which were the subject of the subpoena duces tecum and to keep these in his custody.
REP. APOSTOL. Yes, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. To be kept very, very securely and safely.
REP. APOSTOL. So our first witness will be Gen. Roberto Lastimoso. The one who will conduct the direct examination is Congressman Roan Libarios .
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Please administer the oath on the witness. The Secretary of the Senate is thus directed.
MR. NARVASA. Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, defense counsel.
MR. NARVASA. May I be allowed to enter on record the appearance of another counsel for the defense panel in the person of
Mr. Siegfred Fortun.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Make it of record without prejudice to the filing of the formal notice of appearance. Yes, administer the oath now, Mr. Secretary.
MR. NARVASA. Just one more minute, Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
MR. NARVASA. I am told that the written entry of appearance has been made.
MR. FORTUN. If Your Honor please, Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, I have just received it here.
MR. FORTUN. Mr. Chief Justice, may I be recognized, Sir.?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes. What is the pleasure of the gentleman?
MR. FORTUN. I should like to know from the Prosecution panel whether they have witnesses inside the courtroom whom they wish to present in the next hearing. If there are witnesses intended to be presented by the prosecution…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Would prosecutor Apostol answer the query? Do you have other witnesses?
REP. APOSTOL. We have two witnesses, Your Honor. But according to the Senate President, they are in the holding room. So they are not here.
REP. FORTUN. So aside from Mrs. Ricaforte, and Mr. Anton Prieto, and Gen. Lastimoso, you have no other witnesses inside the courtroom?
REP. APOSTOL. Yes, Your Honor. Because the other one which we subpoenaed left for abroad. So, I am sure he is not here.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. When you say yes, who are they?
REP. APOSTOL. We requested subpoena for four. One for Gen. Lastimoso, one for Anton Prieto, the other one for Yolanda Ricaforte, and the fourth one is a certain Mayor Jinggoy Estrada. But he left for abroad.
MR. FORTUN. May I kindly also inquire whether you have other witnesses to testify on the three other charges–Articles II, III,
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor, may I just make it very clear that we are presenting this witness in support of our allegations on Article I. If he will be mentioning and testifying on other Articles, we will make it known to the Body, Your Honor.
MR. FORTUN. We move for the exclusion of other potential witnesses for the prosecution whether it will be Articles I, II, III, and IV, your honor. That is what we…
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor, we have no potential witnesses.
MR. FORTUN. Thank you, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Either witnesses to be done by subpoena or voluntarily appearing?
REP. APOSTOL. The only potential witnesses that we have, we have not decided whether to ask them to testify or not, is Sen. John Osmena and Sen. Tessie Oreta. But we have not yet decided whether we will ask them to testify. But they are potential witnesses.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Okay then. You may now proceed to administer the oath.
THE SECRETARY. Please raise your right hand?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Louder please.
THE SECRETARY. Do you swear that the evidence you shall give in this case, now pending between the Philippines and Joseph Ejercito Estrada, President of the Philippines, shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
GEN. LASTIMOSO. Yes, sir, I do.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Prosecutor Apostol, you may now qualify your witness.
REP. LIBARIOS. I am formally entering my appearance, your honor, as the prosecutor on Article I, Congressman Roan Libarios.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You will be the one to conduct the direct examination?
REP. LIBARIOS. Yes, Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You may may now proceed to qualify the witness.
REP. LIBARIOS. The prosecution, Mr. Chief Justice and members of the Senate, is offering in evidence the…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Prosecutor Libarios, qualify first the witness before you make an offer.
REP. LIBARIOS. Can we ask the officer of the Impeachment Court to make the appropriate qualifications?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Presiding Officer will just do that. Would you please state your name and other personal circumstances.
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes, Your Honor. I am retired police Deputy Director General Roberto T. Lastimoso, 56 years old and presently residing in Roxas City, Capiz. I am married, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Prosecutor Libarios, you may now proceed.
REP. LIBARIOS. With the kind permission of this Honorable Impeachment Court.
Mr. Chief Justice and members of the Senate, the prosecution is offering in evidence the testimony of the witness, the former retired police general Roberto Lastimoso to establish two vital factum probandum or proposition of facts.
1. That sometime in the latter part of 1998, a few months after he was designated as the chief or acting chief of the PNP, he was called to Malacañang and was given instruction by the President to coordinate with Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson in relation to or with regards to the jueteng operations in Luzon.
2. We are offering the testimony to establish that the President is involved and is a beneficiary of illegal gambling operations, particularly jueteng in Luzon.
Mr. Witness….Can I now proceed?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
REP. LIBARIOS. Can you please brief us again about your educational background?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes, sir. I am a graduate of the Philippine Miltary Academy, Class ’67.
REP. LIBARIOS. How about your professional background? Can you please inform the members of the Body about your educational and professional background?
MR. LASTIMOSO. After I graduated from the PMA, I was commissioned to the defunct Philippine Constabulary and I was immediately assigned to Mindanao, starting as a Second Lieutenant in Sulu and in various places of Mindanao. I served in various capacities from Junior Officer, Company Commander, Staff Officer, Provincial Director, Battalion Commander, and Regional Director. And recently, before I retired, I was the OIC of the Philippine National Police from July up to sometime December of 1998. Later on, designated as Acting Chief of the Philippine National Police, and in April of 1999, as the permanent Chief of the Philippine National Police. I went on leave effective May of 1999 until I retired last January of 2000.
REP. LIBARIOS. Mr. Witness, do you know a person by the name of Luis “Chavit” Singson?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes, I do.
REP. LIBARIOS. What do you know about Luis “Chavit” Singson?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I know that Chavit Singson is the Provincial Governor of Ilocos Sur. At one time he was a congressman. And I also know that he is quite close to the President.
REP. LIBARIOS. Why do you say that Chavit Singson is close to the President.
MR. LASTIMOSO. I always see Governor Singson, even when I was still being considered as the Chief of the Philippine National Police, in the residence of President at Polk Street in Greenhills and I always see them together near the President or sitting beside the President and freely getting inside the receiving room or the sala of that house.
REP. LIBARIOS. When was this, if you can recall?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Well, I was going to the house of the President in Greenhills when I was still being considered sometime between May to June of 1998.
REP. LIBARIOS. How about a certain person by the name of Jaime Dechavez. Do you know this person?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Like Governor Singson, I also see Mr. Dechavez in Polk Street. I cannot exactly recall how many times but he introduced himself to me and we became quite close because he offered to….he said since I am being considered, that he can help me. He said he is close to the President.
REP. LIBARIOS. How many times did you see Dechavez in the residence of the President?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I cannot exactly recall, sir, how many times I have seen him there because I cannot also recall how many times I have been there but, I think, it is about two or three times.
REP. LIBARIOS. All right. Aside from meeting Governor Singson in the residence of the President in Polk Street, Greenhills, did you have any other occasion to meet the governor?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes. sir.
REP. LIBARIOS. When and where was that?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I recall that when I was summoned one time by the President to Malacañang, I saw Governor Singson there.
REP. LIBARIOS. You said you were summoned by the President to Malacañang, how were you summoned? Can you please clarify?
MR. LASTIMOSO. My office received a call from one of the secretaries–I cannot recall anymore–of the President that I should immediately proceed to Malacañang and see the President.
REP. LIBARIOS. And did you proceed to Malacañang as instructed or requested?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes, I did.
REP. LIBARIOS. And which part of Malacañang did you proceed?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I was directed to proceed to the Guest House of Malacañang.
REP. LIBARIOS. Upon arriving or reaching the Guest House in Malacañang, what else transpired, if any?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I remember I was ushered immediately to the room of the President, the Guest House, and I went inside and greeted the President and saluted him.
REP. LIBARIOS. When you said you went inside, where, in what particular place in the Guest House?
MR. LASTIMOSO. There is a room there where the President is holding office. I think that is an extension of his office in the Palace.
REP. LIBARIOS. When you say that you greeted the President, was he alone or was there anybody inside the room?
MR. LASTIMOSO. At that time, he was with Governor Singson.
REP. LIBARIOS. And when you saw the President and after greeting the President, what happened next?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Well, I was introduced to…ang sabi po ni Presidente sa akin e, â€œO, kilala mo naman si Governor Singson?â€ I said: â€œYes, sir. I know him already.â€ â€œO, tulungan mo siya, ha. Siya ang mamamahala ngayon sa jueteng dito sa Luzon. Tulungan mo siya at mag-coordinate kayong dalawa.â€
REP. LIBARIOS. And after that statement made by the President, what did you do and what else happened?
MR. LASTIMOSO. After this instruction, very brief instruction, we were told to talk to each other, go out and talk, for me and Governor Singson to talk the matter.
REP. LIBARIOS. And did you get out and talk with Governor Singson?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes. I remember I did. I went out of the room and Governor Singson was with me.
REP. LIBARIOS. And what transpired after that, after you talked with Governor Singson?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Well, I told Governor Singson, of course, he confirmed, sabi niya: â€œNarinig mo naman iyong sabi ng Presidente. Tulungan mo ako dito.â€ I said: â€œWhat you can do, Governor, since jueteng is really a local activity, hindi dapat iyan pakialaman ng chief PNP, why donâ€™t you coordinate with the local officials, the local police commanders or even the regional director. And if there is any problem, you just call me and maybe we can solve the problem.â€
REP. LIBARIOS. General Lastimoso, aside from that instruction which you received from the President, did you take up any other matter with the President in Malacañang at that time?
MR. LASTIMOSO. That particular instance, I cannot remember of any other matters that were taken up.
REP. LIBARIOS. So, after this matter was taken up inside the room, what was the next action taken by the President?
MR. FLAMINIANO. Your Honor please, we have to object. The question has no basis. It assumes that there was something done.
REP. LIBARIOS. Your Honor please, the witness already mentioned that the President gave him an instruction. So after the instruction, what else happened? I think it follows, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Witness may answer.
MR. LASTIMOSO. May I be clarified again on the question?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Rephrase the question.
REP. LIBARIOS. After the President gave you that instruction, what else did the President do, if any?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Are you referring, sir, to the same instruction?
REP. LIBARIOS. Yes, instruction, inside the room.
MR. LASTIMOSO. As I have said, I was told to talk with General Singson outside of the room, and after we talked, then I cannot remember whether we proceeded…. I don’t think we proceeded back to the room, we just separated ways.
REP. LIBARIOS. General Lastimoso, in connection with your testimony this afternoon, can you remember if you also testified concerning the same matters that you testified today in any other tribunal or body?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes, sir. I was also made to testify in the Blue Ribbon Committee of the Senate in connection with the charges of Senator Guingona.
REP. LIBARIOS. Did you execute an affidavit in connection with your testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I did.
REP. LIBARIOS. If that affidavit is shown to you, would you be able to recognize that affidavit?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I can recognize the affidavit.
REP. LIBARIOS. I am showing to you, General Lastimoso, this affidavit…. I am presenting to you, Mr. Lastimoso, an affidavit consisting of three pages. Kindly go over the affidavit and inform the Honorable Chief Justice if that is the affidavit which you mentioned?
MR. LASTIMOSO. The three pages, I can recognize my signature here. But the second page, because this is only xerox copy, the signature appearing here is not full. So I do not know whether this is mine. But the last page is my signature also.
REP. LIBARIOS. For the record, Your Honor, that is a certified true copy, certified by the officer of the Senate.
Anyway, there is a signature appearing at the last page of that affidavit, can you please examine this signature and inform this Honorable Impeachment Court if you can recognize or identify that signature?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes, sir. This is my signature.
REP. LIBARIOS. Your Honor please, may I request that the affidavit or the original copy which is now being under the custody of the Senate be marked as Exhibit “A” for the….
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Which would you want to be marked as Exhibit “A”, the original or that one just identified by the witness?
REP. LIBARIOS. We have a certified true copy, Your Honor. But according to the witness, page 2 of that certified true copy is not very legible. So to avoid, Your Honor, any doubt on the legitimacy of page 2, we are requesting that the original copy be produced, which is now under the possession of the Senate, and be duly marked in evidence, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Would the Senate be ready to produce the original for purposes of marking? Would the defense be willing to have this conditionally marked as Exhibit “A” to be replaced later by the originals so we will not waste time?
MR. FLAMINIANO. May we take a look at the affidavit, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, do that please. Because that can be conditionally marked as Exhibit “A” to be replaced later by the original.
MR. FLAMINIANO. We agree to the conditional marking of the exhibit, Your Honor.
REP. LIBARIOS. With the manifestation of the defense panel, Your Honor, we are requesting that the affidavit consisting of three pages be marked in evidence for the prosecution. The first page as….
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Qualify it first.
REP. LIBARIOS. The first page as Exhibit â€œAâ€; the second page as â€œA-1â€; the third page as â€œA-2â€; and the signature of the witness as â€œA-4â€.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Let it be so marked conditionally. Exhibit â€œAâ€, page 1; Exhibit â€œA-1â€, page 2; Exhibit â€œA-2â€, page 3…. Is there a page 4?
REP. LIBARIOS. The signature.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The signature on page 4 as Exhibit â€œA-4â€.
REP. LIBARIOS. Your Honor please, since the marking is only conditional, may I request that the Senate shall produce the original copy tomorrow to avoid any delay in the proceedings.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Follow up the request afterwards. Since this is an impeachment court, the request should be directed to the Senate sitting as a Senate.
REP. LIBARIOS. Now, Mr. Lastimoso, aside from that affidavit which you already identified, did you execute any other affidavit?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes, I did.
REP. LIBARIOS. If that affidavit is shown to you, would you be able to recognize that affidavit?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I will recognize the affidavit if that is my signature.
REP. LIBARIOS. I am presenting to you, Mr. Lastimoso or General Lastimoso, a supplemental affidavit consisting of two pages. Kindly examine this affidavit and inform us if this is the same affidavit which we are referring to?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Again, this is a certified true copy, but I can recognize my signature on the first page and on the second page.
REP. LIBARIOS. In the meantime, Your Honor, we are requesting that the supplemental affidavit duly identified to by the….
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Certified true copy.
REP. LIBARIOS. Certified true copy. First, may I request if the defense panel would allow the prosecution to dispense with the production of the original copy so that we can mark it without any conditions.
MR. FLAMINIANO. We have no objection.
REP. LIBARIOS. So considering that the defense is not making any objection, Your Honor, then we are proceeding with the marking in exhibit of the said documents.
May we request, Your Honor, that the first page of the supplemental affidavit be marked as Exhibit â€œBâ€ for the prosecution; the second page as Exhibit â€œB-1â€; and the signature as Exhibit â€œB-3â€.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Request granted. Let them be so marked, respectively, as Exhibit â€œBâ€, â€œB-1â€, â€œB-2â€.
REP. LIBARIOS. The signature as â€œB-3â€.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Only â€œB-2â€, the signature.
You may now proceed.
REP. LIBARIOS. Now, Director Lastimoso, you said you executed that affidavit dated October 12 of year 2000. Can you explain to us why did you execute that affidavit?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Well, Your Honor, it was upon the advice of my lawyer.
REP. LIBARIOS. How about the second supplemental affidavit? Why did you execute that second or that supplemental affidavit?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I also executed that on the advice of my lawyer to clarify some statements I made during a press conference in Club Filipino.
REP. LIBARIOS. What particular statements did you wish to be clarified in this supplemental affidavit?
MR. LASTIMOSO. In that press conference last… I am not exactly sure of the date now. Sometime October, I was late in the press conference. I did not know what transpired there. But when I was ushered inside the room, I saw Governor Chavit Singson denouncing the President and there was a charged atmosphere there. Everybody was emotional.
When I was asked how I can corraborate the statement of Governor Singson, I mentioned that the President told me to go easy on jueteng. Then upon reflection, since that was a press conference and I was asked to testify in the Blue Ribbon Committee where I was under oath, I asked the lawyer that I should correct that statement because that statement did not exactly come from the President. It was only my interpretation that I should go easy because they told me to coordinate with Governor Singson. That was the only statement I corrected in that second affidavit.
REP. LIBARIOS. Can I have the second affidavit?
SEN. ROCO. Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, Senator-Judge Roco.
SEN. ROCO. Your Honor, just on an inquiry because I am not quite sure– Inquiry under 17–what the counsel is trying to do. Is he trying to prove that there is an affidavit? Or, is he trying to prove the contents of the affidavit? Why not just ask the witness whatever it is that you want to find out? And then, we will all know what we are talking about. Otherwise, you are just talking about two pieces of paper and it is totally….
REP. LIBARIOS. Maybe, the last question, Your Honor. Actually, the affidavit will be considered as part of the testimony of the witness. We are presenting this affidavit later on to form part of the testimony of the witness.
SEN. ROCO. Well, we leave to the counsel, Mr. President, but we are totally in the dark. We have not been furnished copies of the affidavit. We do not know what they are talking about and he wants it to be part of the narration. And I suggest that, for clarity purposes…
REP. LIBARIOS. We will be asking the witness actually, Your Honor, to affirm the contents of the affidavit.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Well, probably, that is the strategy of the counsel.
REP. LIBARIOS. And then later on, we will be considering this to form part of the testimony of the witness, Your Honor, just to avoid any insinuations of other testimonies or affidavits being executed by the witness. Only to clarify, Your Honor, the series of events that transpired prior to the testimony of the witness in todayâ€™s investigation.
Anyway, we will only have two last questions, Your Honor, to affirm and then to explain. That is all, Your Honor.
SEN. ROCO. Mr. Chief Justice, we leave to the counsel whatever he wants to do, but it certainly is not adding to the clarity for the senators. For me, certainly, it is not becoming clearer.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Okay. You may now proceed with your last two questions.
REP. LIBARIOS. General Lastimoso, under paragraph 4 of this affidavit, there is a handwritten entry which states, which I also presume as coordinating pertaining to jueteng. Can you remember who made this entry and upon whose instruction?
MR. LASTIMOSO. The lawyer who notarized that, Your Honor, upon my instructions.
REP. LIBARIOS. And can you clarify why did you make this entry in the supplemental affidavit?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Because that was not included in the paragraph and I feel that it should be corrected also.
REP. LIBARIOS. Why do you feel it should be corrected?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Because we have to tell the truth, Your Honor, and this is the truth. I am just trying to correct and tell what exactly what happened.
REP. LIBARIOS. What exactly what happened or the truth when you …
MR. LASTIMOSO. I corrected. As I have said, I was trying to correct the statement I made in the press conference because I might be misconstrued. So I corrected, I clarified that in that affidavit.
REP. LIBARIOS. Do you affirm and confirm, General Lastimoso, on the correctness and the veracity of the affidavit as well as the supplemental affidavit which you earlier identified before this honorable Body?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes, sir, I do.
REP. LIBARIOS. That is all for the witness, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Cross-examination. Who will conduct the cross-examination?
MR. FORTUN. Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. For the record, would you identify yourself?
MR. FORTUN. My name is Siegfried Fortun, Your Honor. I am one of the counsels for the defense.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. So the cross-examination will be conducted by Atty. Fortun.
MR. FORTUN. Yes, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You may now proceed.
MR. FORTUN. Thank you, Your Honor.
Director General Lastimoso, if I may borrow the affidavit which you have just identified this evening, I would like to show you your Exhibits A and B, Sir, particularly your Exhibit B, and I ask you, Sir, if you could again confirm before this Tribunal whether you have read this affidavit and understood the contents and the implications of the statements made therein.
MR. LASTIMOSO. I do.
MR. FORTUN. You had confirmed also this evening, Sir, that the handwritten notation appearing in paragraph 4, and for the record, if I may be allowed by the Chief Justice to read this particular portion of General Lastimosoâ€™s affidavit, I quote paragraph 4. This is of Exhibit B:
â€œThat after retrospection, I would like to make this clarification of my above statements that the President did not categorically and specifically instructed me to go easy on jueteng but that was only my presumption when the President told me to coordinate with Governor Singson.â€ And here comes the handwritten intercalation.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. With the permission of Atty. Fortun, may we know the pleasure of Senator and Judge Drilon?
SEN. DRILON. Mr. Chief Justice, I am sure my 21 other jurors would share this concern that we do not know what the witness and the counsel are talking about because we do not have a copy of the affidavit.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Would you need time for the reproduction of the affidavit?
SEN. DRILON. We would. At least, for me, and I am sure that my other colleagues would share the same view. If we can call for a one-minute recess, reproduce these affidavits and give us copies so that we can follow the testimony.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. That was exactly the point of the Honorable Senator-Judge Roco.
MR. FORTUN. I am returning, Your Honor, copies of the exhibits so that it can be reproduced.
SUSPENSION OF SESSION
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The observation of the Honorable Senator-Judge Drilon is well-taken. We suspend the trial for five minutes for the production of Exhibits A and the submarking, and Exhibit B with the submarkings.
The session is suspended for five minutes.
It was 6:28 p.m.
RESUMPTION OF SESSION
At 6:42 p.m., the session was resumed.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The session is resumed.
Before Atty. Fortun proceeds with the cross-examination, the Chair would like to request, for and in behalf of the Impeachment Court, that henceforth, whenever a party here, whether the prosecution or the defense, would be presenting documentary evidence to be identified by a witness, sufficient number of copies thereof be given immediately the honorable Senator-Judges, as well as the Chair.
You may now proceed, Atty. Fortun.
MR. FORTUN. Thank you, Your Honor. General Lastimoso, I again show you Exhibit B and I present the copy to you. I would like to read paragraph 4. It says: â€œThat after retrospection, I would like to make this clarification of my above statements that the President did not categorically and specifically instructed me to go easy on jueteng, but that was only my presumption when the President told me to coordinate with Governor Singson.â€ And here, Your Honors, is the handwritten intercalation, and I quote: â€œwhich I also presumed as coordinating, pertaining to jueteng.â€ When you made this particular paragraph, Sir, and upon the assistance given you by your counsel and at the time that you put in the handwritten statement which appears in paragraph 4, you, Sir, understood exactly the import of this particular paragraph, didnâ€™t you?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. For the record, counsel is referring to Exhibit B.
MR. FORTUN. Yes, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You may now answer.
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes, I do.
MR. FORTUN. Accordingly, the instruction of the President to you, in respect to coordinating with Governor Singson and the matter of coordination in respect to jueteng, was not exactly a matter directly given you by the President but you simply presumed that what he said was for you to coordinate on the matter of jueteng. Is that what you are saying, Sir?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes, Sir.
MR. FORTUN. Will you tell us, General Lastimoso, when it was that you first met with the President on this matter of coordinating with Governor Singson at the Malacañang Guest House?
MR. LASTIMOSO. May I be clarified again?
MR. FORTUN. When was it that you met with the President at the Malacañang Guest House where Governor Singson was also present?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I cannot remember the exact date. And even the time I cannot remember. But it is some time a few months after I took over.
MR. FORTUN. And you took over, Sir, as Acting Chief-PNP in April of 1998. Is that right, Sir?.
MR. LASTIMOSO. No. July of 1998 as OIC.
MR. FORTUN. And if you are saying that the meeting took place after about the time or immediately after you assumed your post as Acting Chief-PNP, it could have been in July also or August of 1998?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I am not sure now. It could be later than that.
MR. FORTUN. It could be later than that. But will you tell us, Sir, whether you recall the President having given you direct instruction to coordinate with Governor Singson on the matter of jueteng? A direct instruction from the President for you to coordinate with Governor Singson on jueteng?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes. The word he said, was: â€œTulungan mo at mag-coordinate kayong dalawa.â€
MR. FORTUN. But there was nothing in respect of coordinating because of jueteng or for jueteng?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I presumed it was for jueteng.
MR. FORTUN. You presumed. There was nothing therefore explicit from the President asking you to coordinate with Governor Singson on the matter of jueteng. Is that what you are saying, Sir?
MR. LASTIMOSO. The word, he said, was: â€œTulungan at mag-coordinate kayong dalawa.â€
MR. FORTUN. I see. And that was all that he had said?
MR. LASTIMOSO. Yes.
MR. FORTUN. And you presumed therefore that it was a matter relating to jueteng?
MR. LASTIMOSO. It was….We were talking about jueteng.
MR. FORTUN. I see. We request Your Honor that the Exhibit B of the Prosecution be marked as our Exhibit 1 and paragraph 4 including the handwritten intercalation admittedly made by counsel for General Lastimoso be marked as our Exhibit 1-A.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. So you are adopting Exhibit B as your Exhibit 1?
MR. FORTUN. Yes, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. And paragraph 4 thereof with the additional statements in handwriting–the handwritten additional statements as Exhibit 1-A. The request is granted. Let Exhibit B be marked as Exhibit 1 for the defense and Paragraph 4 thereof as Exhibit 1-A.
MR. FORTUN. Let me get this clear for the record, General Lastimoso. Your recollection of meeting with the President at the Malacanang Guest House was after you assumed your post as Acting Chief-PNP which could have been either in July or August of 1998?
REP. LIBARIOS. Objection, Your Honor. I think the question is now becoming repetitive. It was already answered by the witness clearly, Your Honor.
MR. FORTUN. May we know the answer of the witness?
REP. LIBARIOS. He said that it could be later than that.
ATTY. FORTUN. It could be later than that. Okay.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Are you withdrawing the question?
MR. FORTUN. No, Your Honor. I will follow from where I left off.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is overruled. The witness may answer for clarification.
MR. LASTIMOSO. It could be later than the months mentioned.
MR. FORTUN. I see. Do you recall, Sir, having issued an order to all Regional Directors of the PNP in respect of illegal gambling, including jueteng after about July of 1998?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I cannot recall but I must have issued an order.
MR. FORTUN. I show you, sir, a memorandum dated July 31, 1998, signed by a certain Roberto T. Lastimoso, police director, on the subject of continuing conduct of illegal gambling all over the country addressed to all regional directors, provincial regional officers for Regions I to XIII, CAR, ARMM, and NCRPO a copy of which we are currently distributing to the honorable jurors; judges, I am sorry.
I show a copy to you, sir. It begins with paragraph 1 and it reads: â€œReferencesâ€. Item B says: â€œVerbal Instruction of His Excellency, President Joseph E. Estrada, on July 20, 1998.â€
Paragraph 2. It reads: â€œThis pertains to the directive of President Joseph E. Estrada in pursing relentlessly the fight against jueteng and all forms of illegal gambling throughout the country.â€
Paragraph 3. â€œICOW, the above-Ref: You are reminded to enforce strictly the instruction of President Joseph E. Estrada in addressing these illegal activities.â€
Paragraph 4. â€œExplore all possible means to identify and effect the arrest of those behind the illegal activities and pursue their cases in courts. Likewise, implement drastic measures, actions, including the relief of COPs, PDs found negligent in the performance of their mandated duties to stop illegal gambling in their area of responsibility.â€
Paragraph 5. â€œYour performance in this campaign will be closely watched and evaluated, hence, you must come up with tangible resultsâ€.
Paragraph 6. â€œThis memo serves as an ultimatum for you and your subordinate commanders to stop/eradicate illegal gambling, especially jueteng, in your respective AOR immediately.â€
Paragraph 7. â€œBe guided accordingly.â€
Will you say, sir, that this directive came from you and that the signature appearing thereon is yours?
MR. LASTIMOSO. I can recognize my signature and I could have issued this directive.
MR. FORTUN. You could have.
MR. LASTIMOSO. I could have issued this.
MR. FORTUN. I see, sir.
We request, Your Honor, that this memorandum which the witness identified as probably emanating from him be provisionally marked as our Exhibit 2. And the clear reference to a verbal instruction of His Excellency, President Joseph E. Estrada, to relentlessly fight jueteng and all forms of illegal gambling throughout the country be bracketed and marked as our Exhibit 2-A.
MR. LIBARIOS. If Your Honorâ€™s please…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Let it be so marked as Exhibit 2. What is the particular portion which you are requesting to be marked as Exhibit 2-A, what paragraph?
MR. FORTUN. It is the portion, Your Honor, in paragraphs 1 and 2, particularly the heading references which thereafter continues to paragraph 2 in respect of the directive of the President to eradicate jueteng.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Let it also be marked as such.
MR. LIBARIOS. If Your Honorâ€™s please, may I request the counsel for the defense to furnish us the original copy so that we can go over the original copy.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The request is only for conditional marking. Did the Chair get it correctly?
MR. FORTUN. That is correct, Mr. Chief Justice.
MR. LIBARIOS. But in order for us, Your Honor, to make an intelligent evaluation of the contents, we should be furnished the
MR. FORTUN. We will do that, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. With that assurance, perhaps the attorney…
MR. FORTUN. We also request that paragraph 6 which gives an ultimatum for all commanders and subordinate commanders to eradicate illegal gambling, especially jueteng, be bracketed and marked as our Exhibit 2-B.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Let it be so marked as Exhibit
MR. FORTUN. And the signature of the witness appearing on the lower right hand corner of the document be further bracketed and sub-marked as Exhibit 2-C.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Let it be so marked.
REP. LIBARIOS. If Your Honor please, can we ask the counsel for the defense as to why he cannot produce the original copy of this document?
MR. FORTUN. What we can do, Your Honor, is to produce a certified copy perhaps of this document. But in light of the admission made by General Lastimoso this evening that he identified….
REP. LIBARIOS. Your Honor please, there was no admission. Itâ€™s misleading, Your Honor. The witness only mentioned that it could have….
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Probably.
REP. LIBARIOS. Probably, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Probably for the production of the original of the memorandum, it can be done during the redirect.
REP. LIBARIOS. That is why it would be to the best interest of the witness that he should be presented with the original copy because he is only presented with a xerox copy, and we know the technology now, Your Honor. Just to inform the witness.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Prosecutor Libarios, the defense counsel was only seeking the marking.
REP. LIBARIOS. That is correct, Your Honor, provisional marking but the witness was presented with a copy. I am raising an issue, Your Honor. What if this copy happens to be–because itâ€™s only a xerox copy, a machine copy, the signature of the witness and the witness was presented with a copy that is not certified, and asked if he is familiar with the signature. And the witness mentioned, â€œI think that is my signature.â€ This could be a misleading presentation of evidence, Your Honor, although we are not yet in the offer of evidence. But the way it is presented to the witness, where the evidence, the original is not available, it could create an impression on the part of witness, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Let us wait for the next question when it comes to the substance of the memorandum. In the meantime, I think he is only asking for the marking.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor please. We are objecting to any question on that alleged exhibit because that is just a xerox copy.
MR. FORTUN. I have no further questions on this exhibit, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Well, the cross-examination is terminated. Would you request for a deferment of the redirect until the production of the original document?
REP. LIBARIOS. Yes, Your Honor. And in the meantime, we would like to request the Secretariat to also furnish us the same equipment they furnished to the defense. They are given movable microphone.
MR. FORTUN. Your Honor, this is not supplied by the Senate.
REP. LIBARIOS. This is unfair, Your Honor, we are forced to stand here for hours while they can relax.
THE SENATE PRESIDENT. Mr. Chief Justice, may I just inform Congressman Libarios that that is not property of the Senate.
MR. FORTUN. This is our own microphone.
THE SENATE PRESIDENT. The defense provided that for themselves. So provide yourselves with the same microphone.
MR. FORTUN. Your Honor, we would like to put on record that we are returning Exhibits A and B to the gentleman from the prosecution.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Let it be recorded, and can we have the acknowledgment by counsel.
REP. LIBARIOS. I acknowledge the receipt, Your Honor. And considering, Your Honor, that the counsel for the defense has terminated the cross-examination, and considering our earlier manifestation that we want a copy, the original copy of this alleged memorandum, then we are moving for the deferment of the redirect subject to the submission of the original copy of the said memorandum.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. So in effect, you are moving for a continuance until tomorrow. Itâ€™s already 6:58 anyway in the evening.
Yes, Atty. Mendoza.
MR. MENDOZA. Just to facilitate proceedings such as the problem we now have encountered, I think it should be really appreciated that the original would be difficult to produce except by subpoena, Your Honor, because it is a PNP document. What we would endeavor to do is get a certified copy. But if we get into a situation such as this and each time we ask for the originals even if on its face it is fairly authentic and then ask for deferment until cross-examination or redirect, this would delay the proceedings. Well, earlier, there was an affidavit also, Your Honor. It was only a xerox copy; the original also was not produced and we continued the proceedings notwithstanding that.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. It was a certified true copy. Probably you could also secure a certified true copy of what is conditionally marked as Exhibit 2.
MR. MENDOZA. But we will not be able to secure that by tomorrow. So we will redirect the…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Well, anyway, we can defer further the redirect examination and tomorrow anyway, we will have two witnesses who had been subpoenaed even to appear today..
REP. LIBARIOS. Your Honor please, the document we feel is
vital and with all due respect, Your Honor, we will not be satisfied, at least on this document, Your Honor, with a mere certified true copy. The defense is representing…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Well, under the rules, a certified true copy of a public document would be enough.
REP. LIBARIOS. It is regularly done, Your Honor, but this is not a document that is regularly done, Your Honor. So we can only rely on certified true copies.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Well, anyway, your redirect has been deferred. So let us see…
REP. LIBARIOS. That is why we are requesting if the defense could present to us the original copy. At least a duplicate original copy.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The defense should try its very best to do so. And if it cannot be produced tomorrow, we will proceed with the other two witnesses.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor, before we adjourn, we have requested for a subpoena duces tecum to two witnesses for them to produce certain documents. And earlier, we requested that those documents be returned and deposited with the Secretary General. May I request now that at least Yolanda Ricaforte be summoned to this Body to produce the documents so that we will know what kind of documents she has produced.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. May we request a page of the Senate to notify Yolanda Ricaforte and to bring them here….
REP. APOSTOL. Including the other witness, Anton Prieto.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. –and the other witness, Prieto, to bring them here and to turn over the documents covered by the subpoena duces tecum for each one of them for safekeeping by the
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor, are we made also to…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
SEN. ROCO. Mr. Chief Justice, on a procedural matter, I am trying to facilitate.
Yesterday, Mr. Chief Justice, during the preliminary conference, we had objected as a judge to all this use of affidavit that cannot be seen. And it was agreed upon by the parties that affidavit in fact should be avoided. And that they should therefore be narrated by the witnesses because affidavits can be prepared by lawyers or it can be prepared by whomsoever and affidavits do not speak. The narrations in the affidavits should be asked from the witness, and that was agreed upon in the preliminary conference, Mr. Chief Justice. And we suggest that counsels should take note of the preliminary conference agreement otherwise we will really be delayed.
So if we may, we are asking as a judge, that we adhere to the agreements of the preliminary conference. They should have been made to narrate whatever it was that you want to be narrated. Now, Mr. President, I think, just by way of manifestation, to adhere to what we agreed on yesterday.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, the counsel, both for the proseuction and the defense are so advised accordingly to adhere strictly to the agreement yesterday to avoid any further delay.
REP. APOSTOL. We will do that, Your Honor, but I also remembered that the draft of what have been agreed yesterday should be furnished both parties with the copies of the same. We have not seen the draft of the copies of what have been agreed yesterday.
THE SENATE PRESIDENT. Mr. Chief Justice, for the information of counsel, the copies were distributed yesterday. And if by any chance, he did not get a copy, don’t blame me but you can get your copy as soon as we are through. We have copies for all of us.
REP. APOSTOL. I appreciate the Senate President.
THE SENATE PRESIDENT. And maybe, Mr. Chief Justice, we can excuse Mr. Lastimoso from the witness chair because I saw
Ms. Yolanda Ricaforte come in, as well as Mr. Anton Prieto, Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, the request is granted.
SEN. OSMEÑA (S). Mr. Presiding Officer.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Senator-Judge Osmeña.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor, may we request that…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. For awhile, the Chair had recognized Senator Judge Osmeña.
SEN. OSMEÑA (S). Yes, Mr. Chief Justice, the affidavit of Gen. Lastimoso refers to a ledger. May we know if we will be furnished with that ledger? Because we are now given an affidavit which refers to a ledger and certain amounts in the ledger and we still have not received the ledger. May we know if the prosecution will be furnishing us with the ledger soon?
REP. APOSTOL. We are requesting for a copy of that ledger from Yolanda Ricaforte so we can reproduce them and we will distributeâ€¦ Whatever we will get today from Yolanda Ricaforte, we will reproduce them for an average of about 25 copies and we will distribute them to the Judges.
SEN. OSMEÑA (S). Thank you.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. So, witness Lastimoso is excused in the meantime and the Chair calls for the subpoenaed
witness, Yolanda Ricaforte.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor, of course we are ready to present our next witness but it is already seven o’clock. So, we will just check on the documents as per our request.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes. We will make formal the turnover of the documents. Let her first take the stand.
REP. APOSTOL. Yes, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senate Secretary should administer the oath.
THE SENATE SECRETARY. You, Yolanda Ricaforte, do swear that the evidence you shall give in this case now pending
between the Philippines and Joseph Ejercito Estrada, President of the Philippines, shall be the truth , the whole truth and nothing but the
truth, so help you God.
MS. RICAFORTE. Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Qualify your witness, Prosecutor Apostol.
REP. APOSTOL. May I know your name please?
MS. RICAFORTE. I am Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Filipino, married, I am residing at Quezon City, and I am married to Undersecretary Rex Ricaforte of the Department of Tourism.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The specific address please in Quezon City.
MS. RICAFORTE. No. 25 Freedom Avenue, Veterans Village, Barangay Pasong Tamo, Quezon City.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You may now proceed.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor, we requested this witness to sit down on the witness stand merely to produce the ledger. We will conduct our direct examination tomorrow.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes. Would you just lay the predicate for the production of the documents now for the formal turnover to the Secretary?
REP. APOSTOL. If Your Honor please.
Mrs. Ricaforte, we requested for a subpoena duces tecum for you
to produce the original of the ledger which was brought before the
Senate before in the hearing on October 30, 2000. Did you, in fact,
bring this ledger?
MS. RICAFORTE. I have here the listahan from August ….
REP. APOSTOL. May we request that there be an interpreter upon the request of the witness because she would like to testify in Tagalog.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The testimony, is that in Filipino or Tagalog?
MS. RICAFORTE. Tagalog po.
REP. APOSTOL. Tagalog. It is not official.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Because if it is in Filipino,
I understand that the Stenographers can take down the notes in
Filipino, being a national language. So, do you need an interpreter?
I understand you can speak in English. Why don’t you directly testify in English or in Filipino?
MS. RICAFORTE. Tagalog na lang po. I prefer Tagalog, Sir. Yes Sir.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Then testify in Filipino or English.
REP. APOSTOL. She said, Your Honor, that she would like to testify in Tagalog and she needs an interpreter.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. No, no, if you can really speak in English, why don’t you speak in English to avoid any delay. It is only the production of a document and the marking, after which the turnover thereof in the meantime to the Secretary of the Senate.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor, may I now ask the question.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
REP. APOSTOL. Did you bring with you the ledger which we requested per subpoena duces tecum?
MS. RICAFORTE. Opo, nandito po ang original copy noong listahan.
REP. APOSTOL. May we request that this ledger be marked as Exhibit C and the succeeding pages be marked as Exhibits C-1, C-2,
and so on.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. How many pages?
REP. APOSTOL. We will count, Your Honor.
SEN. ENRILE. Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, the Honorable….
SEN. ENRILE. I would like to clarify the question. The question of the distinguished prosecutor is, he was asking about a ledger but the answer of the witness is listahan. Is there any identity between the listahan and the ledger?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, there is query now.
MRS. RICAFORTE. Oho. Ito ho ay….
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Is it directed to the prosecutor or to the witness?
SEN. ENRILE. I want an explanation whether the….Because the question asked for a ledger, and then the answer of the witness is she brought a listahan.
REP. APOSTOL. May I know, Your Honor….
SEN. ENRILE. Because a ledger in accounting is a very special kind of a material, of a document.
REP. APOSTOL. May I know, Your Honor, if the question of His Honor, the Senator, is directed to this representation or to the witness?
SEN. ENRILE. I want a clarification regarding the question of the prosecutor and the answer of the witness. Because, as a judge, I would like to know whether the ledger that has been subpoenaed is the same as this listahan or that listahan is the ledger.
REP. APOSTOL. Then, I will ask the question, Your Honor.
I ask you the question to produce the ledger and you produced the so-called listahan. What do you understand by ledger? Is it the same as listahan?
MRS. RICAFORTE. Sa akin po, ordinaring listahan lang po itong aking hawak. I donâ€™t consider this as ledger.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Who has been designated as interpreter?
REP. APOSTOL. Nobody. But I would like to volunteer if she is talking in Waray.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Now, we should get the permission from the honorable Senators-Judges if youâ€™d be allowed also to act as interpreter. Anybody from the Senate who can act as interpreter?
THE SENATE PRESIDENT. Mr. Chief Justiceâ€¦ I am sorry.
SEN. DRILON. Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
SEN. DRILON. If the witness will testify in Tagalog or in Filipino, we do not need an interpreter because all of us here understand Tagalog or Filipino.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The problem is, can this be taken down in stenographic notes?
SEN. DRILON. I think, it can be taken down.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. We have the assurance that whether the testimony be in English, Tagalog or Filipino, it can be taken in stenographic notes, then probably we can allow.
SEN. DRILON. Yes, our stenographers, Mr. Chief Justice, in the Senate can take the stenographic notes in Tagalog, in Filipino, in English.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Okay, then, you may proceed.
REP. APOSTOL. So, if Your Honor will allow, we will have the so-called listahan be the one marked as Exhibit â€œAâ€, I mean, â€œCâ€, then â€œC-1â€, â€œC-2â€, â€œC-3â€ and so forth.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. We will complete the marking of the pages because that will be left with the Secretary.
REP. APOSTOL. Just a minute, Your Honor, the problem is, well, there is another question.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, there is another question from Honorable Enrile.
SEN. ENRILE. I would like to beg the indulgence of the Chair. Mr. Chief Justice, the subpoena duces tecum that was requested and served referred to a ledger. Now, what we are being presented with is listahan. Is the prosecution, Mr. Chief Justice, satisfied that their request for a subpoena duces tecum is properly served with the presentation of this listahan?
REP. APOSTOL. Yes. We will be satisfied, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You will be satisfied. So you will have it marked now.
REP. APOSTOL. May we request now, Your Honor, that this so-called listahan be marked as Exhibit â€œCâ€ and we will count the pages….
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The request is granted. Let the entire document be marked as Exhibit â€œCâ€, then the succeeding pages as Exhibit â€œC-1â€ up to the end, whatever will be the number. Please initial after the marking.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honors, may we be allowed to compare, in the meantime, the so-called listing or journal that we have in our possession which is actually a certified true copy coming from the Senate and the so-called listahan or ledger which was brought by the witness?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. May we be clarified on that manifestation?
REP. APOSTOL. We are requesting, Your Honor, that we be allowed to compare with the so-called listahan or ledger that we are…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. To compare?
REP. APOSTOL. Yes, Your Honor, because …
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. That may be done later. Because the only purpose now for the production of the witness before us is for her to produce what is the subject matter of the subpoena duces tecum in order that the same be, in the meantime, deposited.
REP. APOSTOL. Yes. In the meantime, since we have not compared with our copy which we got from the Senate, we will defer our request for marking of this exhibit which the witness has brought.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. No, because she brought it pursuant to a subpoena duces tecum and you want it to be kept in the custody of the Secretary, and we have it to be marked in order that the Secretary may not be blamed later on of whatever may happen to the exhibits. You can take the proper move later on.
REP. APOSTOL. Yes, Your Honor. The Secretary can put his own signature or marking.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, that’s it. We will proceed with the marking.
REP. APOSTOL. Yes. But we request that we defer this exhibit to be marked as our own exhibit.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Proceed with the marking.
REP. APOSTOL. The Secretary, Your Honor, is marking.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Secretary will please announce later up to what number is the submarking.
SEN. ENRILE. Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Senator Enrile.
SEN. ENRILE. Mr. Chief Justice, in order to prevent any wrangling later on, may I ask the prosecutors if they would put into
the record that indeed, what they requested via the subpoena duces tecum that was issued was for the presentation of a ledger, and that what
the witness has brought is not a really a ledger but a listahan consisting
of several pages.
REP. APOSTOL. Yes, Your Honor. We will put it on record that what we requested per subpoena duces tecum is a ledger.
SENATOR ENRILE. But what was presented now is a document which the witness calls a listahan.
REP. APOSTOL. Yes, Your Honor. We are willing to have that on record.
SEN. ENRILE. Thank you.
REP. APOSTOL. Our request for subpoena is a ledger. I think she understands what is a ledger because, I understand, she is a Commerce graduate and she brought it and says this is a listahan.
SEN. ENRILE. In addition, I would like to find out if the distinguished prosecutor would want to correct his statement that he also calls the document a â€œjournalâ€ and I do not think that is a journal.
REP. APOSTOL. Well, I remember I have not said any â€œjournalâ€ but if….
SEN. ENRILE. No, the record will bear me out.
REP. APOSTOL. If I did utter that word, I am withdrawing
SEN. ENRILE. Thank you.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Withdrawn.
SEN. GUINGONA. Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Senator Guingona.
SEN. GUINGONA. I hope I will not add to the confusion. But what we understood, Mr. Chief Justice, was that the prosecutor asked for time to compare whether the document that they asked for subpoena is indeed the same as the listahan and I think the honorable Presiding Officer granted that request already.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The idea really of the marking now would only be for-
SEN. GUINGONA. Yes, preliminary, but….
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. –identification of the documents once deposited.
SEN. GUINGONA. Yes, under that condition, Mr. Chief Justice, because that was what they requested as far as I recall.
REP. LIBARIOS. Mr. Chief Justice.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes.
REP. LIBARIOS. Since we have already caused the marking of the…. We will wait until the final marking.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, the Chair has been waiting for it. It is about to be finished.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor, the marking is from…. Actually, it is 13 pages.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Thirteen pages. So that means â€œCâ€, â€œC-1â€ to â€œC-12â€.
REP. APOSTOL. So may I reiterate our request that this document which the witness calls a â€œlistahan,â€ which we call a â€œledgerâ€ be, in the meantime, kept here for safekeeping with the Secretary General.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. As earlier stated by the Chair, the motion will be granted and is now granted. The witness is directed to turn over the marked exhibits to the Secretary of the Senate for the latter to keep. However, the witness is advised to come back tomorrow for the continuation of her testimony.
REP. APOSTOL. So may we request now, Your Honor, that if it is possible for the Senate to have these xerox-copied, if not, we will do it, of course, if the defense is willing too.
May I know if the Senate will copy these?
THE SENATE PRESIDENT. Mr. Chief Justice, we volunteer to do that but probably, we will be ready with the copies tomorrow. Is that all right with the members of the court?
REP. APOSTOL. We would like to have a copy, Your Honor, today so we can actually study it.
THE SENATE PRESIDENT. Mr. Chief Justice, immediately after adjournment, we will provide the prosecution copies.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Thank you very much for that assurance.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor, we are ready with two witnesses but I understand that….
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. You mean tomorrow?
REP. APOSTOL. Even today but I do not want to….
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. It is already 7:24 in the evening.
REP. APOSTOL. In that case, then we will move for the continuance.
REP. LIBARIOS. One last item, Your Honor. Since the exhibits are already marked by the prosecution, may we request, Your Honor, that the exhibits be now turned over to prosecution — the original exhibits, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. What exhibits are you referring to, the exhibit produced by the witness?
REP. LIBARIOS. The listahan, Your Honor, the listahan.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The request of the other Counsel- Prosecutor Apostol is only to have this deposited in the meantime. So it should be deposited.
REP. LIBARIOS. Under the Rules, Your Honor, once the exhibits are already marked by either party, then that party requesting the exhibits be marked should now be in the proper custody of the said documents, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Are you trying to overturn the request of Prosecutor Apostol? [Laughter]
REP. LIBARIOS. No, because we would like to review, extensively the original, Your Honor.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Then you can come tomorrow early morning.
REP. LIBARIOS. It belongs to the witness.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair will stick to the earlier request which was already granted by the court.
THE SENATE PRESIDENT. Yes.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honors, aside from this witness, may we request that Anton Prieto be also directed to be present tomorrow.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Where is Mr. Prieto?
THE SENATE PRESIDENT. Mr. Prieto is there.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Mr. Prieto is directed to come back tomorrow at two oâ€™clock in the afternoon and to be ready to testify.
Okay then, the Majority Leader.
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Mr. Chief Justice, before I move to suspend, may I manifest that in connection with the resolution of this court denying the Motion to Quash, the following Senators have filed concurring opinions: Senators Cayetano, Legarda-Leviste and Ople on the December 1, 2000; Senators Enrile and Sotto on December 4, 2000; Senators Aquino-Oreta, Tatad and Honasan on December 5, 2000.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The concurring opinions announced are noted.
SUSPENSION OF IMPEACHMENT TRIAL
THE MAJORITY LEADER. Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice. Unless the Chair has something more to say, I move that the Impeachment Trial stand in recess until tomorrow, Friday, December 8, 2000, at two oâ€™clock in the afternoon.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. The order of the Chair will be suspended until tomorrow afternoon.
REP. APOSTOL. Your Honor, the witness is still sitting on the witness stand. [Laughter] May we…
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. Oh, I am sorry. The witness is excused, but to come back tomorrow at two oâ€™clock. [Laughter]
It was 7:27 p.m.