MIRIAM: NEW SENATE MAJORITY WAITING FOR SIGNAL TO OUST ENRILE


[PHOTO -Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile]

MANILA, OCTOBER 22, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Cathy Yamsuan - While calling herself a “complete pariah” when it came to power plays in the Senate, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago nevertheless hinted that a new majority in the upper chamber could just be waiting for a signal before it ousts Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

“Sa tingin ko, may inaantay lang sila (The way I see it, they are just waiting for something).

“Wait for it,” she added in a radio interview.

Santiago said it was likely that Enrile would be replaced for his noncooperative stand on two administration measures—the reproductive health (RH) bill and the measure raising sin taxes on tobacco and alcohol products.

Enrile is staunchly against the RH bill. He also expressed concern over possible adverse effects of raising taxes on tobacco on farmers from northern Luzon where it is a principal crop.

“We cannot say exactly what goes on inside the mind of President Aquino but if the Senate President does not give his support to (administration) measures, the President might consider looking for someone who would be more supportive,” Santiago said in Filipino.

Santiago said politicians tended to accommodate a sitting President.

“That is the tendency, to always agree with the President even if they do not necessarily join his party,” she said.

Santiago, however, clarified that she was not being asked to join a new majority, in case one was being formed clandestinely at this point.

[PHOTO - THE VICIOUS SKIRMISH BETWEEN ENRILE AND TRILLANES CONTINEOUS]

“I am not getting any calls. I’m a complete pariah when it comes to (Senate) reorganizations. My colleagues know I don’t care about intrigues,” she said.

But asked if noncooperation with regard to the two urgent bills could cost Enrile his coveted seat, Santiago said: “Oh, definitely. His time horizon will definitely grow shorter if the two bills are not passed.”

Santiago added that Enrile could not rely on his popularity rating as a deterrent against any effort to replace him since President Aquino, who might support efforts to remove him, is more popular based on the same surveys.

Santiago also dismissed repeated pronouncements made by Malacañang that the executive branch is not involved in any effort to replace Enrile.

“Well, they cannot announce ‘we are replacing him’ so they have to keep saying those clichés. Remember that Malacañang keeps score of how cooperative senators are. All administrations are like that,” she said.

“Assuming for the sake of argument that the Senate President is really as popular as the press releases say, in any event, there is no question President Aquino is much more popular. If (Enrile) contradicts the President, his popularity could go even lower than at present,” Santiago said.

She reminded Enrile that “all Senate Presidents hold their positions…at the discretion of their fellow senators and of the President who is in power at the time. They do not have permanent security of tenure.”

Rumors of a move to oust Enrile have been floating around since December 2011. At the time, Sen. Franklin Drilon of the Liberal Party was being touted as his replacement.

Drilon has consistently denied these reports.

Only Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV of the Nacionalista Party has admitted working for Enrile’s ouster.

EARLIER REPORT

Enrile, Trillanes resume word war By Cathy Yamsuan Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:05 am | Monday, October 8th, 2012

Just when everyone thought the smoke had cleared, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV have gone at it again.

This time, Enrile said he would bare the truth about Trillanes during next year’s campaign—a move the Senate President believes would cost his young colleague his reelection bid.

Trillanes, in turn, dared the chamber’s oldest member to attend a seminar on public policy he was willing to conduct after Enrile accused him of copying an old bill on the country’s baselines territory that Enrile had authored.

The word war that began three weeks ago was apparently rekindled by rumors that Trillanes was behind a white paper that was circulated last week listing Senate reporters allegedly on the take from Enrile.

Hard copies of the list were left in the Senate press office.

Trillanes denied any hand in the anonymously penned charge sheet in a phone conversation with the Philippine Daily Inquirer Thursday.

“I did not do that,” he said, after learning that he was the prime suspect behind the paper.

Trillanes also called other Senate reporters to deny that he was behind the white paper.

His name came up after reporters noticed that the white paper included the names of Malacañang reporters whose questions to Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda last month about the senator’s involvement in back channel talks with China were believed to have displeased Trillanes.

Enrile initially refused to discuss Trillanes in a radio interview Sunday when he was asked to comment about the younger senator’s role as a back-channel negotiator at the height of tensions over the presence of Chinese vessels at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in April.

“I don’t want to discuss that guy. He does not amount to anything to me,” Enrile said.

But then he suddenly added: “I will discuss him during the campaign. I will test his capacity before the people. That is the better forum.”

Enrile said he would leave it to the varied Senate committees to examine Trillanes’ back-channeling efforts that he had questioned in an impromptu Senate speech in mid-September.

The ‘Brady notes’

Enrile then produced a sheaf of papers now referred to as the “Brady notes,” said to be written by Philippine ambassador to China Sonia Brady about Trillanes’ activities and statements as an unofficial negotiator.

This after Trillanes delivered a speech decrying Enrile’s involvement in the supposed railroading of the bill creating a new province from Camarines Sur.

The Senate President in turn questioned Trillanes’ contacts and wondered whether the senator served the Philippines’ interests during his 15 discussions with his Chinese counterparts.

In the radio interview, Enrile said he would rather deal with Trillanes “outside the Senate so he could not say anything” about the Senate President taking advantage of his position in the chamber.

And then Enrile said: “He will lose votes. Take a look at his votes come election time from the sectors that he is confident will support him.”

Enrile let out a chuckle when asked whether he believed Trillanes was behind the white paper listing alleged beneficiaries of his payola.

“My God! Who would do something like that? Imagine saying (the names of two radio anchors) or even the others taking money from me? Maybe he’s the one who pays off journalists,” the Senate President said.

When pressed, Enrile stated: “Wait for the campaign. I will bare [the truth about] him before the people.”

The on-air discussion about Trillanes started innocently enough with a question on whether the young senator would be removed from the Senate Electoral Tribunal following his decision to leave the majority bloc as a result of his fight with Enrile.

Won’t retaliate

The Senate President told dzBB anchor Nimfa Ravelo said he was not the type to retaliate, but added that Trillanes would not have been able to pass a bill without help in the chamber.

On Trillanes’ supposed claim that he authored the Philippine Archipelagic Baselines Law or Republic Act No. 9522, Enrile said the younger senator merely patterned his bill on an earlier draft that former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza put together for Enrile sometime back.

“I made the Baseline Law,” Enrile said.

Told that Trillanes’ staff sent an e-mail to reporters saying that the senator had authored RA 9522, Enrile said: “Who is this guy? Why don’t you look at the records? The one who drafted the baselines law that I sponsored was Titong Mendoza, not Trillanes. Maybe his version was junked. This guy is presumptuous.”

Trillanes later sent out a text message responding to Enrile’s charge on the baselines law.

“Just to educate Senator Enrile, in public policy making, there is no such thing as copying since best practices are supposed to be emulated,” he said.

“You don’t always reinvent the wheel. For example, if Singapore managed to curb corruption in a certain way, it would be wise for us to imitate them,” Trillanes said.

It would then be “commonplace,” he said, to see legislators in both the Senate and the House of Representatives refiling the same bills “that reflect their advocacies and could solve socioeconomic-political problems.”

“If Senator Enrile does not know this yet, I’m willing to conduct a seminar for him. Otherwise, he could file an ethics case against me and expose his ignorance to the whole world,” Trillanes said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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