By Norman Bordadora - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (photo) has said he wants all Filipinos to be happy but concedes he can’t please all his colleagues in the chamber.

Enrile on Wednesday said that he had received information about a plot to oust him as Senate President as early as about a month ago.

A number of senators are unhappy with the way he’s running the affairs of the Senate, particularly budget allocation and positions in the chamber, he said.

“There are always people who are unhappy with the leadership of anybody,” Enrile told reporters when asked about the ouster moves.

“I got the information from a reliable source but I will not discuss that,” he said.

In an interview with radio station dwIZ earlier Wednesday, Enrile said he heard that a certain senator told the story about a coup being planned either during a lunch or dinner event for Senate functionaries.

Not LP, not NP

“To be fair to the Liberal Party (LP), there’s no move. The same goes for the Nacionalista Party. It’s personal,” Enrile said.

Rumors of a coup started after President Benigno Aquino announced the coming together of the country’s major parties—the ruling LP, Nacionalista Party (NP) and Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC)—for the 2013 midterm elections.

The members of the Senate of all three parties are said to be enough to vote out Enrile, a member of Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

The rumor died down but was revived recently amid the heated debate on the reproductive health (RH) bill.

Enrile and close ally Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III are staunch opponents of the administration-backed measure. Enrile, however, dismissed insinuations that plans to oust him had something to do with pending measures that he’s not supporting.

Not about RH

“It’s not about the RH. To be fair to the sponsors of the RH … [they’re] mature individuals,” Enrile said, referring to Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Pia Cayetano.

Both Santiago and Cayetano have expressed disagreement with the continuation of the RH debate, calling instead for a vote on whether to pass or reject the measure.

“There are those who perhaps don’t want my decision because I can’t accommodate them. An increase in their budget. I cannot please everybody even if I said, ‘Gusto ko happy ka,’” Enrile said in apparent reference to his reelection campaign slogan in 2010.

Enrile said he wouldn’t stand in the way of his ouster. “Why would I keep the position to whoever is preferred by the Senate? If they get the majority here, I would vote for the one they’ve chosen to elect.”

Conscious of mortality

On some session days, Enrile lets some of his colleagues preside over the proceedings in the Senate.

“I’m conscious of my mortality, I could go anytime. You have to prepare the institution for somebody who can take over at any time. Many of the senators have what it takes to become Senate President,” Enrile said in his radio interview.

Senator Ralph Recto (photo), an LP member and one of those rumored to be plotting against Enrile, said Wednesday he was not interested in taking over. He said that the coalition of the LP, NP and NPC was for next year’s elections, not for a Senate coup.

“There is no truth to that. No one has ever spoken to me about that. I’m not interested. I think the Senate President is doing well,” Recto told reporters.

Asked if the LP, NP and NPC members in the Senate would be enough to vote Enrile out, Recto said, “That’s not being discussed.”

Senator Franklin Drilon, another LP member and a former Senate President, also denied any knowledge of a coup in the offing. “I am not aware of any change in leadership in the Senate. If there is one I’m not a part of it,” Drilon said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, an ally of both President Aquino and Enrile, said there could be enough votes to unseat Enrile among the LPs, NPs and an additional one or two senators.

Element of surprise gone

“A Senate coup is like a military coup. When news of it spreads and the element of surprise is lost, almost always, it will fail. Now that it’s out in the open, you already know it … you ask any senator, all of them will deny it,” Lacson said.

“Everybody is now coy.”

Lacson (photo) said it was unlikely that Mr. Aquino’s partymates in the LP would plot against Enrile. He said Enrile had supported administration programs.

Lacson mentioned such administration initiatives as the synchronization of elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the impeachment of erstwhile Chief Justice Renato Corona.

“I think they will be humane enough so as not to conspire in a plan to remove the Senate President,” he said.

Lacson said he would not support any plot against Enrile. “I helped install Senate President Enrile in the last Congress. Why would I participate in a plot to oust him? That’s out of character.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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