MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago did not take well a challenge that she undergo a psychological test, directing her anger to the media.
The senator stormed the Senate media office on Tuesday, May 5, accusing some journalists of accepting bribes and allowing themselves to be used by her critics to spread black propaganda against her.
The incident began when ABS-CBN reporter Niko Baua asked Santiago in the Senate session hall to react to a challenge issued by lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre, a former private prosecutor in the impeachment trial.
In an interview with ABS-CBN, Aguirre urged Santiago to take a psychological test before assuming her new post as judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure that she will not “go ballistic” in The Hague as she did during the impeachment trial.
Aguirre first drew Santiago’s ire when he covered his ears while the senator was berating the prosecution during the impeachment trial. He is now supporting an online petition to cancel her selection as an ICC judge.
In the report aired by ABS-CBN, Baua was seen asking Santiago for her reaction, saying he hoped she would not be offended.
Santiago responded, “I’m not going to comment on that. That’s insulting to us, things like those. You know very well that that is meant to discredit me as a senator who voted for acquittal.”
Santiago was among only 3 senators who voted to acquit Corona out of 23 senator-judges.
Miriam rants to media
Later on, however, Santiago suddenly called for a media conference in the Senate press office, where she vented her ire on Baua and other journalists. (Watch the video above.)
The senator said she was offended by efforts to malign her over her vote in the impeachment trial, and the personal attacks against her.
“I admit that I need to control my temper but there are many people who are temperamental. Nobody ever makes those comments about them,” Santiago said.
She said she knows when journalists have been bribed by her character assassins, who she said make opportunities for “news enterprise” instead of speaking directly on television.
She told Baua, “Kung nakargahan kayo ‘wag na ninyo ako isama. ‘Ano ang comment mo?’ Kaya nahihiya ka lumapit sa akin kanina, you’re saying I hope you will not be offended, alam mo naman na I will be offended.” (If you have been bribed, please do not involve me. ‘What’s your comment?’ That’s why you were hesitant to approach me earlier, saying I hope you will not be offended because you know I will be offended.)
Santiago added, “At ikaw naman, Mr Niko Baua, pinapahiram mo sarili mo na gagamitin ka ng tao na ‘yun (And you, Mr Niko Baua, you allow yourself to be used by that person). What conclusion do you think I will reach as an intelligent person?”
The senator lamented that Aguirre continues to disrespect her even after the impeachment trial, and even after she accepted his apology.
Addressing the journalists in the room, Santiago said, “I appeal to you, will you please be fair to me? You know there is a black propaganda campaign against me. Please don’t ask me anymore, ‘What do you say about this black propaganda against you?’”
“Please do not ask me that anymore. I feel very insulted just in case you still do not know. It is very offensive. It’s very rude and discourteous to me.”
‘Never been paid’
In his Twitter account, Baua called the incident unfortunate, saying Santiago is usually friendly to the media.
He said he felt nervous when the senator called him and could have avoided her “but I wanted to show her that I wasn’t afraid.”
Baua tweeted, “I have never been paid and I am very proud of that fact …. Reporters aren’t even supposed to apologize when asking difficult questions. Politics is fair game.” – Rappler.com
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