MANILA (UPDATE) - Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago threw papers and walked out of a Commission on Appointments foreign affairs committee hearing after a fellow CA member questioned her authority to continue with the hearing without a quorum.
Congressman Rodolfo Farinas first asked if the hearing was a public hearing or if it was a meeting of the committee proper recommending the appointment of the official to the plenary.
He said that under the CA committee rules, a public hearing could be conducted by the committee chairman and two members. However, a majority of the committee members is needed for a quorum for the committee to do business.
Santiago said the hearing is a public hearing. Farinas said Santiago cannot recommend the confirmation of the appointees because they lacked a quorum.
"Does this mean after this we will still stay and have a meeting? E may motion na e," she said.
"Kailangan natin ng quorum e," Farinas said.
Santiago then pointed to somebody and said: "Eh dumarating na sila e. Maya-maya may quorum na."
"Wala pa po ngayon. Without quorum, Ma'am, we cannot proceed," Farinas said.
The two lawmakers continued to bicker over the CA rules, with Santiago pointing out that she has the power to act on motions during public hearings.
In the end, Santiago walked out of the hearing because Farinas questioned her authority.
"You are questioning my authority. I walk out of this meeting," she said, before throwing down a copy of the CA committee rules.
"Dapat nuon pa yan sa umpisa. Ngayon sisirain mo yung procedure na noon pa."
She then banged her gavel to adjourn the hearing.
MR. NEVER WRONG
In a press conference, Santiago criticized Farinas for his "intractability" in sticking to the rules.
"There is someone who is always Mr. Right. There is always someone who is Mr. Wrong. And there is always someone who is always Mr. Never Wrong. Yan ang problema natin diyan," she said.
She said her normal procedure is that she would move to confirm the appointment of an ambassador or foreign service official if there were no questions. Since these nominees had no derogatory record, she said the confirmation process should be smooth sailing.
Santiago, who has been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, said she originally called for a hearing at 10 a.m. and then had it moved to 11 a.m.
She said she came on time while the other lawmakers had yet to arrive.
The senator said Farinas' proposal would only delay the hearing as they waited for a majority of the 18 committee members to arrive.
"Patatagalin niya e. That is so bureaucratic and I hate it. I hate bureaucracy for the sake of delay," she said.
"I am always punctual not as a personal eccentricity but because I hate to make the public wait."
"Ano pang hihintayin mo dahil their majesties did not come on time? That is the problem with these people, especially people from the House. They are so legalistic. Law is made for man, not otherwise."
She said Farinas' act made her feel embarassed in front of the committee and those waiting confirmation.
"I resent being embarassed in front of my own committee and in front of nominees who have come here in barong tagalog," she said.
She also warned that she will question before the Supreme Court any move by the CA foreign affairs committee to confirm the nominees without her.
The senator said she was originally scheduled to return to work on October 20 but had to come back because of the number of nominees needing confirmation.
MIRIAM THROWS OUT CAMERAMAN
Before the adjournment, Santiago also ordered a cameraman to leave the Commission on Appointments foreign affairs committee hearing for making noises while she was talking.
Santiago, who returned to the Senate two months after announcing she had cancer, was about to interview Nathaniel Imperial, ambassador to Israel chief of mission class 2, when a cameraman started talking loudly.
"Who are you? Kausapin niyo nga yung taong yun. Huwag kang nagga-ganyan, nagmi-meeting kami. Lumabas ka. Now! Will you make him go out and teach him manners and let him come in," Santiago said.
Footage showed the cameraman wearing a green shirt stepping out of the room.
Santiago then added: "This is a solemn activity of the third branch of the Republic. Be careful with your behavior not because of our personalities here but because we represent the institution that holds up as one of the three pillars of the government."
The senator then confirmed the appointment of Imperial.
The feisty senator earlier announced that she had licked Stage 4 lung cancer.