Do you support President Rodrigo Duterte?
The people have spoken when President Rodrigo Duterte won overwhelmingly in the May 2016 elections. I respect this mandate given to him. I admire his foreign policy. I will always support and wish him success as our chief executive.
I campaigned with former Vice-President Jejomar Binay and I have the highest regard for him. My mother was his teacher in Pasay City. The charges against him have not been proven in court. They were raised against him as soon as he declared his intention to run for President in 2016.
What is your position on the issue of extrajudicial killings?
I am against any and all forms of unjustified violence, especially those committed by state forces. I believe that the government has a duty to investigate the rising number of drug-related killings. Moreover, I believe the justice system needs to be reformed in order to prevent these killings from going unchecked.
What is your position on the death penalty?
I am against the reimposition of the death penalty. As a matter of policy, I do not believe it will contribute to lowering crime rates. As a mater of morality, I do not believe that taking the life of a person is a valid form of retribution. As to execution, I believe that studies have consistently shown the possibility of errors in judgment, which would be irreversible. Finally, as a matter of law, it is incompatible with the international obligations of the Philippines, particularly the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
What is your position on our foreign policy?
I support the call towards an independent foreign policy. As an advocate, I have consistently argued against the EDCA, MDT, and the VFA, as they are international treaties that surrender Philippine sovereignty with little to no benefit to our State. At the same time, I have also consistently argued against the bullying committed by China with respect to our fishermen in the West Philippine Sea. I believe it is in the interest of the Philippines to build good relations with all States, without becoming beholden to any single one.
What is your position on the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility?
I am against the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility. I believe that the youth should not be presumed to fully understand the consequences of their actions. More importantly, any failure in their decision-making should be primarily viewed as the failure of society. From a legal perspective, I believe that it is incompatible with our international obligations, particularly under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and customary international law.
What is your position on federalism?
Until the specific plan for federalism has been presented, I am wary of the shift towards federalism. It is not clear to me what the benefits are.
However, as to the method of shifting to federalism, I firmly believe that a Constitutional Convention would be better than a Constitutional Assembly.
Some people disagree over your decision to represent transgender Jennifer Laude who was killed by the American soldier PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton on October 11, 2014.
Regardless of Jennifer’s gender, she is a human being whose right to life was violated. We need to ensure that she is accorded an adequate domestic remedy through the criminal prosecution of Pemberton, given that the killing happened under the existing Philippines–United States Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
You represent some of the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre. What is causing the delay in justice?
I am one of the private prosecutors in the case. I represent the family of 15 victims, majority of whom are journalists and media workers. The state has charged 197 suspects for 58 counts of murder and this is unprecedented worldwide. I have recommended to the government that we minimize the number of accused to the members of the Ampatuan family who took part in planning the event, and those who actually participated in the shooting. We have also recommended the ‘First-In, First-Out’ strategy which has been approved by the Supreme Court. We are hopeful that that we could have a promulgation against some of the primary accused without having to wait for the rest of the 197 accused to present their evidence.