MANILA, Philippines – From hypertension to “terminal boredom.”
This was how Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago described her return to the Senate from a weeklong absence due to hypertension and declared in her Twitter account that she was “ready to rumble”.
“Thanks to all of you who sent me well-wishes and prayed for my health. I’m ready to rumble,” she said.
“I’m suffering from terminal boredom…” said Santiago of the ongoing impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, much of which last week was spent marking exhibits to be presented as evidence against Corona.
Santiago, who would later on leave the Senate to serve as a judge on the International Criminal Court, made it clear early on that she would be a passive observer during the proceedings, which she described as “pretty unstructured” thus far.
Citing the idea that “the presence of the observer changes the observed,” she said the complexion of the proceedings was affected by live television coverage.
“You know, if you shut down all the TV cameras, the proceedings will be finished in one week,” she said at a press conference before the trial. “But people want more than 15 (minutes) of fame.”
Santiago missed the first week of the trial because of hypertension. But she said she followed the proceedings on TV, and pointed out that “the public is not thrilled to watch the marking of evidence.”
“It will really raise my blood pressure, but in any event, I have to come because this is my duty as a senator and I have no choice,” she said. “Believe me, I would really rather go scuba diving in the Bermuda Triangle and possibly get lost there.”
Seriously though, the senator said, she would work to expedite the proceedings, noting that “the longer [the trial] takes, the more prejudice it works for the defendant.” To achieve this, she said technicalities should be minimized and the prosecution should improve the flow of its presentation.
Santiago threw her support behind calls to conduct the trial in Filipino. She suggested that the presiding officer conduct a weekly briefing explaining to the public, in simple and understandable terms, developments in the proceedings.
“The exchanges should be in Tagalog that would be understood, not only by the witness – normally these are very highly educated and well-versed in English – but by those that watch television,” she said.
Santiago has a theory on why the Corona trial has not been as gripping as that of former President Joseph Estrada 11 years ago.
“There is no immediate intimacy with the chief justice because we never elected him unlike a president,” she said. “In the Estrada impeachment trial, there was much interest because people had voted him into office.”
Santiago also minced no words when she fired at people, whom she described as “epal” [thick face].”
These “epal,” she said, were now visible during the Corona trial.