Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada
Re the appointment of Hilario Davide Jr.
To the Truth Commission
August 17, 2010
A Truth Commission Requires A Truthful Chair
Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues of this August Chamber:
I rise today on a matter of personal and collective privilege to reveal the dangers accompanying the appointment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. to the recently created Truth Commission.
Lest I be misinterpreted, I would like to establish the following at the onset:
First, I express my full cooperation and unqualified support to President Benigno C. Aquino III in his quest for truth and justice for our country, for our people, and for our common futures. As President, I trust that he will honor the people by providing the sincerity in public serVice that was utterly lacking in the Arroyo administration. Therefore on our part, as the people, we must honor our common heritage of democracy, whatever our creed, religion, or political affiliation, by coming together to support President BenignoAquino's truth-finding mission.
Secondly, this privilege speech will not question the creation of the Truth Commission.
To the extent that Executive Order No. 1 represents a genuine effort “to determine the truth regarding certain reports of large scale graft and corruption in government and put a closure to them by filing appropriate cases against those involved¡k deter others from committing the crime, and restore the people’s faith and confidence in the government and in their public servants,” to that extent we trust that President Aquino will make his word as good as his bond.
Any opposition on the creation of the Truth Commission, I will leave to the greater legal luminaries of this august chamber, if they so choose to speak on the matter, considering they have already given a preview of their legal interpretation of this matter to the media.
What I will discuss is not the creation of the Commission but its proposed leadership.
I have no doubt that President Aquino had nothing but the noblest motive in mind when he first thought of naming Mr. Davide to that position. Obviously the President was acting in the honest belief that he was choosing an eminently qualified man for that all-important post. Otherwise, he would not have announced Mr. Davide's name for the position even before the Commission was actually created.
Unfortunately the President's highly favorable impression of Mr. Davide is not borne by the truth concerning his professional conduct and personal character.
Therefore, considering that the kind of justice that the Filipino people have yearned for is very much dependent on the success of the Truth Commission, and due to the stubborn audacity of Mr. Davide in accepting the position when delicadeza required him to decline it, I am compelled to discuss here the matter of the character of Hilario Davide Jr.
This man's very presence in the Truth Commission is a mistake that this present administration and our nation cannot afford. For considering the most esteemed titles he has held, the records prove that HilarioDavide is a man whose character is not only questionable but dubious.
He is a former Chief Justice who has ignored the law not by neglect but by design. He is an opportunistic politician who has circumvented the law to further his personal interests, who has violated the law for personal convenience and greed, and who has gone as far as threatening members of the House of Representatives so that the truth can be suppressed.
I challenge this man's appointment as head of the Truth Commission because we must sooner realize that Davide's intention to investigate the anomalies of the Arroyo administration are more apparent than real. The fact is that Davide's appointment poses more dangers than dignity and warrants more caution than confidence in the Truth Commission.
The supporters of Mr. Davide, of course, will be quick to disagree. They will say that Davide proved his competence at the impeachment trial of my father, former President Joseph Estrada; that he is qualified because he is a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; that he is qualified because he was ambassador to no less than the United Nations; and that he was even a Ramon Magsaysay awardee.
The Davide supporters might even try to belittle this speech by going as far as saying that this is not a moral but a personal crusade by the Estradas against Davide.
To you who will be listening to my speech with prejudice, I say this: if you cannot listen with open hearts, at least listen with open minds. For sometimes it is the most esteemed men who act as if they were above the law, as Davide has. As a Vice President, my father observed that there are hoodlums in robes; I will prove to you that Davide is precisely one.
Remember, too, that while titles and awards bestow honor upon the recipient, the records prove a man's integrity. So kindly allow me to indulge you, because the records that I will present before this august chamber will prove to you that when it comes to integrity, Davide has practically none. His character is no different from the very subject of the Truth Commission, his best friend, Gloria
Author of the Biggest lies In Contemporary History
(Establishing Davide's Close Ties to GMA)
In fact, the first question that comes to the minds of the public upon learning of Davide's appointment as Chairman of the Truth Commission is this: how can the very person who sealed the conspiracy to place Arroyo in power be the head of the body that will investigate her?
The irony of Davide as head of the Truth Commission is not only obvious, it is glaring. With Davide as head of the Truth Commission against Arroyo, we might as well ask benjamin abalos to investigate the NBN-ZTE deal or have Jocjoc Bolante investigate the fertilizer fund scam or even ask Virgilio Garcillano to investigate the Hello Garci scandal.
There is no difference between Davide and these other accomplices to Arroyo's crimes.
Remember that the very foundation of the Arroyo administration was one big lie. One big lie told and then covered up by no less than the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at the time, Hilario Davide Jr.
Recall that Davide betrayed his oath as Presiding Justice of the Impeachment Tribunal when he allowed the senator-judges to walk out of the hearings even if he should have called the court to order. At the moment when he was supposed to play the role of magistrate, he played the role of politician.
Recall that Davide betrayed his oath as Chief Justice when, instead of declaring a mistrial for failure to prosecute, he allowed reports to surface that he was going to administer Arroyo's oath as President, without even consulting the Supreme Court. As documented in Marites Vitug's book, Shadow of Doubt, Justice Vitug had to practically beg Davide, [and I quote] "don't do anything before you have consulted the court. Please convene the court." At the height of a Constitutional crisis, when he was needed most to act as Chief Justice, he played the leading role in the ouster of the duly-elected and legitimate President.
Worst of all, Davide participated in the conspiracy of Edsa Dos when he accepted then Vice President Gloria Arroyo's letter to administer her oath of office as President of thePhilippines even if he knew that the letter was based on the misrepresentation - the lie - that President Estrada was "permanently incapacitated" even if he was not. Arroyo requested Davide to conduct an unConstitutional act: to swear her in as "President" when he clearly could not because there was no vacancy in the office of the President.
And then, even if he knew that it was unconstitutional, Davide swore in Arroyo not as acting President but as President of the Republic of thePhilippines.
Kahit alam ni ginoong Davide na ang kanyang pagpapasumpa ay labag sa ating saligang batas, itinuloy pa rin niya ito. Sa madaling salita, kasama siya sa sabwatan ng paglabag sa ating Konstitusyon. Ito ba ang taong pagtititwalaan natin na mamuno sa Truth Commission? Sa Edsa Dos, kasabwat si Davide sa isang malaking kasinungalingan.
This is the lie that became the foundation for the unConstitutional and illegal administration of his best friend, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
How can you correct a mistake so big that it would cause a constitutional crisis? You cannot. And so the Davide court did the only thing that it could do: it participated in one of the biggest cover-ups in the history of the Republic of the Philippines - the invention of the concept of "constructive resignation".
To legitimize the Arroyo administration and the illegal act of no less than the Chief Justice who administered the unconstitutional oath, the Davide court justified its actions by creating a vacancy in the Office of the President when the truth is that there was none. It covered up a lie with an even bigger lie.
Worse, it appears that the unconstitutional oathtaking was the brainchild of Davide himself, as exposed by no less than the beneficiary herself, Davide's best friend, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. And I quote from her speech, ""I especially appreciate Chief Justice Davide for deciding that he must administer my oath of office on that day."
Meanwhile the same speech confirms that the ruling of constructive resignation was a joint project of Davide and his best friend, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. And I quote from the same speech, "Chief Justice Davide and I thank the other justices for that ruling."
Ladies and gentlemen, the biggest lie and the biggest cover up in our country's contemporary history was orchestrated by Hilario Davide Jr. How can he possibly head the Truth Commission that will investigate the unConstitutional administration that he himself helped create?
Mr. Davide poses the gravest moral contradiction to the mission and mandate of the Truth Commission. For if the duty of the Truth Commission is to investigate outstanding cases of wrongdoing, then someone who was part of that wrongdoing cannot be the one investigating.
Ginoong Pangulo, magiging patas at pantay ba si ginoong Davide sa pagtupad ng kanyang tungkulin sa Truth Commission sa pagbunyag ng mga katiwalian ng isang pangulong kanyang iniluklok sa posisyon kahit ito ay alam niyang tahasang labag sa saligang-batas?
A Man of Questionable Integrity
(malversation of JDF)
Lest the skeptics think this is once again just about the ouster of my father, let me provide you with hard facts that will make you think twice about Davide's integrity.
The records reveal that Davide, in spite of his seemingly meek and upright demeanor, is a man who has made a habit of disregarding the law and concealing the truth.
This is the reason why more than the needed 76 or one third of the House members impeached him in October 2003. He stands today as the only Chief Justice in the history of the Supreme Court of the Philippines to have been impeached.
Si Ginoong Davide lamang ang punong hukom sa kasaysayan ng ating Korte Suprema na na-impeach nguni't siya ay nakalusot dahil minani-obra niya ang impeachment complaint laban sa kanya.
Davide might argue that this case has already been closed. But the truth is, it has not because Davide used all his powers as head of the Supreme Court to stop the transmittal of the impeachment complaint to the Senate. The Davide impeachment case was dismissed on a mere technicality. It was never heard on the merits.
Ginoong pangulo, hindi pa sarado ang kasong ito dahil hinihintay pa natin ngayon ang katotohanan ng misteryo ng judiciary development fund sa ilalim ng pamumuno ni ginoong Davide.
Kasama ba ito ngayon sa iimbestigahan ng Truth Commission?
I believe now would be an appropriate time to reconsider the merits of this case, possibly to consider a review of the law that created the Judiciary Development Fund, which is the basis of the impeachment complaint. But more urgently, we must examine the character of the man who has been tasked to head the Truth Commission.
The Judiciary Development Fund or the JDF, was established under Presidential Decree 1949. It is a multi-billion peso fund derived from collections of legal fees paid to the courts. It is administered by the Supreme Court Chief Justice, who has the sole authority to disburse the funds, but with limits set by law.
The law is clear that the fund was intended to primarily benefit the members and personnel of the judiciary, as seen in the policy on how the fund should be allocated:
"At least 80 percent of the fund shall be used for cost of living allowances, and not more than 20% of the said fund shall be used for office equipment and facilities of the courts located where the legal fees are collected..."
But in a clear breach of the law, Davide underpaid court employees and instead used the JDF for questionable purchases, like the purchases of luxury cars and hundred-thousand-peso chairs.
From the year 2000 to the year 2002, the total collections for the JDF reached 5.4 billion pesos. By law, 4.3 billion or 80% should have been disbursed for the benefit of court employees. But as a matter of fact, only 3.49 billion was disbursed. Meaning, there was an underpayment of over 800 million pesos or
825,841,494.67 pesos to be exact.
Walong daang milyong piso ang pondo ng JDF na hindi natin malaman ngayon kung saan napunta. Kawawa naman ang ating mga huwes at mga empleyado ng hudikatura.
Where did these funds go? We do not know. We wanted to find out the truth. But Davide suppressed it and I will tell you later how.
The law further provides that only 20% of the JDF can be used for office equipment and facilities of the courts, and this is further limited by the clause stating that this 20% must be spent where the legal fees were collected.
Davide violated this clause. While the total collection from the court of appeals reached only 12.8 million, Davide approved the purchase of a printing press for the court of appeals using the JDF amounting to 5 million pesos, or almost 40% of the total amount collected, well beyond the 20% limit set by the law.
Davide also made the following questionable disbursements using the JDF:
- renovation of the Supreme Court session hall with purchases for curtains and chairs worth over P100,000 amounting to over 64 million pesos
- construction and renovations for the Supreme Court cottages in baguio city amounting to over 34 million pesos
- renovation of the multi purpose hall of the Supreme Court amounting to almost 100 million pesos
- Purchases of motor vehicles amounting to over 30 million pesos
These are glaring violations of the law and a technical malversation of public funds. All authorized by the man who was supposed to be the ultimate authority on the law at the time, Hilario Davide Jr.
Incidentally, it must be noted that it was Davide's son, Joseph Bryan Hilary Davide who was vice chairman of the Bids and Awards committee who requested for the funding source for all of these.
Not only that, the same son Joseph Bryan Hilary was also co-working chairman of the Committee on Halls of Justice which sought funds for the construction, refurbishing and upgrading of areas in the Supreme Court main building.
The accomplishment report of one of the suppliers, Siemens, reveals the overspending under the chairmanship of Mr. Davide.
- For the division session hall alone, loose furniture cost over P3 million pesos or 3,665,475 pesos to be exact. Draperies and curtains for this hall alone cost 1.4 million pesos.
- For the Supreme Court session hall alone, loose furniture reached over 8 million pesos. Draperies and curtains reached over 5.5 million pesos.
- For the dining hallway, loose furniture cost almost 3 million pesos. Draperies and curtains, almost half a million.
- Same with the division conference room, where furniture cost over 2 million pesos and curtains cost almost half a million pesos.
All in all, furniture for these halls cost our taxpayers over 16 million pesos while curtains cost almost 8 million pesos. All of these were approved by then Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. After all, the request for liquidation was made by his son. If that does not qualify as imprudence, I don't know what will.
I should also mention that another daughter, Ms. Norene Davide-Salas was chairman of the Uniform Committee of the Supreme Court. I think it is a fair question to ask: was she awarded the contract to supply the uniforms for the members and personnel of the entire judiciary as reports indicate?
Let us recall the Civil Service Commission provisions in Article IX-B of the 1987 Constitution, Section 2 which states:
“(1) the Civil Service embraces all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the government, including the government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters.
(2) appointments in the Civil Service shall only be made according to merit and fitness to be determined, as far as practicable, and, except to positions which are policy- determining, primarily confidential, or highly technical, by competitive examination.¨
Were the positions held by son, Joseph Bryan HillaryDavide and daughter, Noreen Davide Salas, policy-determining, primarily confidential, or highly technical in order for them to fall within the exceptions?
Mr. President, my dear colleagues, this is a clear case of nepotism which is prohibited by no less than three identical provisions of Civil Service laws, namely:
(a) Section 59, title I (a) Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987, (b) Section 49 of P.D. 807; and (c) section 30 if R.A. 2260.
Garapal na garapal ito ginoong pangulo. Ikaw na Punong Mahistrado mismo ang naghirang sa mga anak mo para makinabang sa pondo at puwesto ng hudikatura. Ganito ba ang taong dapat mamuno sa Truth Commission?
Davide probably thought that he was so high and mighty that he was above the law. He was so pompous and arrogant that when congress sought to inquire as to the truth regarding these anomalies of the JDF, Davide once again went beyond the authority of his robe and, like a crooked politician, did what he could to suppress the truth.
In a memo dated 23 September, 2003, Clerk of Court Luzviminda Puno admits, [and I quote] "regarding the letter ... Of the committee on justice of the House of Representatives ... The court resolved to direct Mrs. Ordonez (a) not to submit anymore the records which have already been transmitted to the Commission on Audit, and (b) obtain prior clearance from the court for the other records."
In another unprecedented (not to mention unethical) move, violating the Constitutional right of the public to information, Court Administrator Presbitero Velasco, under the leadership of Davide, issued this memo to all clerks of court and court personnel. And I quote, "concerning the letter ... To provide ... A
Remittance report of the judiciary development fund for fiscal year 2000 - 2003....you
Are hereby advised not to comply with such request ..."
As if this wasn't enough, in an effort to stop his impeachment instead of allowing justice to prevail, the politician in Davide compelled him to write a letter to then House speaker Jose De Venecia defending his dubious actions while threatening the House of Representatives against investigating him.
Defending himself, he said, [and I quote] "the Constitution expressly provides that 'the ... The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, ... May, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations. ... The use of the unexpended portion of the 20% of the JDF for equipment and facilities for the assailed construction or projects can, undoubtedly, be justified by this augmentation authority of the Chief Justice."
Mr. President, in this letter to Speaker De Venecia, Davide practically admitted that he dipped his fingers into the Judiciary Development Fund, contrary to the 80-20 provision provided for in PD 1949.
And contrary to his defense that he has augmentation authority, the Constitutional provision cited cannot apply because trust funds such as the judiciary development fund do not fall under "general appropriations".
Without any law granting him authority, what Mr. Davide did was nothing short of technical malversation of funds, punishable under article 220 of the revised penal code.
Unfortunately, instead of acting like a prudent magistrate, Davide acted like a spoiled mistress on a shopping spree, arguing in his letter to speaker de venecia [and I quote] "[the JDF] may be spent without outside control". His actions bother me because it was clear that congress did not seek to encroach on the Chief Justice's fiscal autonomy; but only sought to ensure that Davide was acting within the limits of the law. Why was he suppressing the investigation?
Worst, in another cover up, just like the creation of the concept of constructive resignation, Davide said that PD 1949 is subject to statutory construction even if it is very clear in its provisions and therefore no longer subject to statutory construction.
Just as with Edsa Dos, Davide once again violated the law and then covered up the truth with another lie.
These are the facts that show how Hilario Davide Jr twisted the law to cover up the truth about anomalies that he was involved in. But the truth is, there is more evidence to prove that Davide not only bent the law but ignored it completely to further his own interests.
Mr. President, today we established how Hilario Davide Jr is one big liar. Should the need arise, this representation is wiling to expose more about his criminal designs and show further proof of how he knowingly transgressed the law for his personal enrichment and opportunistic tendencies.