Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Senate has survived and will survive with just 23 senators

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago made the statement as she advised her political enemies, those aspiring to become senators and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to stop pressuring her to give up her Senate seat.

Recent discussions emerged about the possibility that the Comelec would allow 13 senatorial slots in next year’s elections instead of 12 under the law.

This scenario was brought about by the election of Santiago to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which would require her to report to The Hague in the Netherlands when called to sit as a judge.

Santiago said she was not blaming the Comelec for exploring the option of proclaiming a 13th senator in the 2013 mid-term elections as part of its preparations for the polls.

Santiago, however, said it is the over-eager politicians who desperately want to get into the Senate, as well as her critics, who have been pressuring the Comelec to declare a 13th senator as if she was no longer around.

“The only reason that we have a problem now is because some of the candidates (for the Senate) are pressuring the Comelec to come out with 13 senators (in the ballots),” Santiago said.

“The Senate has always functioned very well even with just 23 senators so I don’t understand why there is such an urgent need to replace me since I am very alive, kicking and normally healthy,” she added.

Santiago pointed out the Comelec would face a legal problem if it decides to proclaim the 13th senator.

She expects many of the losing candidates would raise the question as to why the 13th slot was not specifically included in the ballot so the electorate could have considered this when they cast their votes.

“It will become a question of law. You don’t have to rush to come up with my replacement. You can wait until the next election and vote for 13 senators,” Santiago said.

Santiago was the keynote speaker at the opening ceremonies of the two-day annual national convention of the Operating Room Nurses Association of the Philippines (ORNAP) held yesterday at the Manila Hotel.

Santiago, in her speech before 3,000 nurses from various hospitals, likened her critics and the senatorial aspirants to the perioperative nurses, whom she said are present during and after surgery.

“She (the nurse) is always around the operating room. These ‘perisenators’ or those who want to become senators, are always swimming around me just like sharks who cannot wait for their next meal,” Santiago said.

“I was elected in 2010 for a six-year term. I am duty-bound to serve as long as I can. The ICC itself advised me not to resign until I am called to The Hague,” she declared.

Over 3,000 nurses in the convention gave Santiago a standing ovation when she declared that she would not resign from the Senate until she is called to duty in the ICC.

“I hope that they would give me some room because I don’t know when the ICC will ask me to report (to The Hague). They told me not to resign yet,” she added.

Santiago has written Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes explaining the process regarding her assumption as judge to ICC.

Santiago said she and her fellow newly-elected judges were told by the ICC to stay put and continue their work until such time the judges they will be replacing have finished their terms.