Santiago: Treason, no; poor judgment, yes
MANILA, Philippines–At best, President Aquino and the peace negotiators can be faulted for having poor judgment in pushing for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the solution is to “boot them out of office,” not charge them with treason, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Thursday.
“They made the wrong judgment, that cannot be treason,” Santiago told reporters when asked what she thought about the treason case filed against President Aquino and several others earlier this week.
Santiago said the draft BBL was riddled with an “abundance of unconstitutional features” and may likely end up questioned in the Supreme Court once passed by Congress.
She also asked Malacañang to form a review body to look into the unconstitutional features of the draft BBL, including the establishment of a “substate” that she said was never mentioned even once in the 1987 Constitution.
Santiago said treason was an “overt act” and for the President to be charged with such a crime, there should be a “specified act that can be proved in court that shows he has no loyalty left for the Philippines.”
So, she was asked, there is no basis to pursue a treason case against President Aquino for pushing for the BBL?
“Of course,” she replied. “At most they can be charged with poor judgment in office and in that way the remedy is political, not legal. You cannot sue them in court. Just boot them out [of] office.”
The treason case against the President was filed by lawyer Homobono Adaza and columnist Herman Tiu Laurel in the Office of the Ombudsman.
Also named respondents were Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles and government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer.
Likewise named respondents were officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Murad Ebrahim, Mohagher Iqbal and Ghazali Jaafar.
In their complaint, Adaza and Laurel said the “BBL, as submitted by respondent (Aquino) to Congress, with support and endorsement by his fellow . . . treasonous coconspirators, is [a] blatant violation of several provisions of the Constitution.”
They said the BBL would “redefine the provision of Article 1 of the Constitution on national territory and national sovereignty since it grants part of the national territory to the Bangsamoro and also powers of sovereignty, which are indivisible.”