[PHOTO -Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile during the Senate's Christmas party at the World Trade Center in Pasay City on December 18, 2012.]

MANILA, JANUARY 14, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Christina Mendez - More senators remain positive that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will likely retain his post once Congress resumes from Christmas break on January 21.

“Not to my knowledge,” said Senate majority leader Vicente Sotto III when asked if he has information whether there will a senator who will challenge Enrile’s integrity to continue as Senate president.

Senator Joker Arroyo, meanwhile, was mum on the issue, saying that he would be the last to know if ever there will be changes in the leadership.

The senators joined Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s statement that there was no plot to oust Enrile even after Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Antonio Trillanes IV and minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano questioned the Senate president’s preferential treatment over other senators in the granting of additional operational budget last December.

“There is no plot. Only [Senator] Miriam [Defensor-Santiago] and [Senator Antonio] Trillanes are saying [there is a plot against Enrile]. If they have the numbers, they should have ousted him a long time ago,” Lacson said.

Enrile can only be replaced if 13 senators would sign a resolution seeking his resignation from the Senate presidency, Lacson explained.

He said that there are no signs that a majority of senators want to replace Enrile.

On the question whether Santiago can retain her committee chairmanships in the next Congress since she would still be part of the majority, Lacson said she can get the committees unless there is a move to reorganize the Senate and somebody eases out the chairmanships from her.

“There are people who are really lucky, they enjoy the best of both worlds because you have committee chairmanships although you attack the leadership. I hope all throughout she was consistent…those who speak unconscionable and unconstitutional, should be consistent,” Lacson said.

Lacson noted that Senate coups fizzle out the moment they are published or broadcasted by the media.

Amid his bitter fight with Santiago, Enrile asked the female senator not to drag the institution into the issue. “She is scratching all her claws to save her own self. She knows that she made a mistake and now, she is destroying the image of the Senate,” Enrile said on Sunday.

“Now if she has proof that I stole government money she should file a case herself before the Ombudsman or the Sandiganbayan or wherever she wants to since she is a great lawyer,” the Senate president said.

Enrile had said that he is ready to step down from the post once the majority expresses the intent to have a new leader.

Santiago emphasized that she is a member of the coalition of the Nacionalista Party-led by Sen. Manny Villar whose partymates help tilt change the political landscape at the Senate.

Santiago finds it anomalous that Enrile is one of the heads of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), which is sure to field Vice President Jejomar Binay in the 2016 presidential elections.

“The anomaly here is that LP has a coalition, and Enrile is UNA, an opposition. He became a SP with the help of LP because they do not want anybody from the party to be strong in 2016. What LP senators taught is that he will help, but he is supporting the opposition,” she said.

Santiago surmised that Enrile helping the administration would be a “political anomaly” that is “borderline to political suicide.”

Sources, however, said that Villar cannot move to agitate either sides of the administration or the opposition because his wife, Rep. Cynthia Villar, is running for senator.

“He also has a business conglomerate to take care of,” the source said. .

Cayetano siblings biggest 'pork' spenders By Christina Mendez (philstar.com) | Updated January 14, 2013 - 5:15pm

[Senators Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano.]

MANILA, Philippines - Amid the brouhaha over the supposed cash gifts given by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to majority senators, senators have also used up most, if not all of the P200-million Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) allocated to each of them for 2012.

Siblings Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano used up their pork barrel and even went beyond the P200-million ceiling after they spent P 256,700,000 and P277,006,092, respectively.

Alan Cayetano, who is also minority floor leader, spent P 190,200,000 out of his 2012 PDAF allocation while the rest of P 66,500,000 came from “continuing” appropriations.

His elder sister, Pia, got P150,004,190 out of her PDAF allocation and some P 127,061,902 from “continuing” appropriations.

Following the Cayetanos in the “high spenders” circle are Senators Antonio Trillanes IV who has used up P253,591,680; Sen. Francis Pangilinan at P227,200,000; Sen. Teofisto Guingona III at P 229,400,000; and Sen. Loren Legarda at P 206,000,000.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who raised a howl over the senators’ additional P1.6-million in operational funds, used up her P200-million PDAF or pork barrel last year.

Joining Santiago in the P200-million club are Senators Gringo Honasan, Lito Lapid, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Senate majority leader Vicente Sotto III.

Enrile used up P 195-million of his PDAF for last year.

Only Senators Joker Arroyo and Panfilo Lacson have not touched their pork barrel, as they have publicly manifested through the years.

The spending of the other senators are as follows: Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (198-million); Sen. Francis Escudero (197-million); Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada (195-million); Sen. Edgardo Angara (P 194.4-million); Sen. Manny Villar (190-million); Sen. Franklin Drilon (179-million); Sen. Ralph Recto (P176,999,958); Sen. Sergio Osmena (P102.3-million); and Sen. Koko Pimentel (P59-million).

The report culled by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) revealed that the Senate was allocated a total of P4,142,407,730 for the fiscal year 2012 while the House of Representatives got P20,082,291,244 last year.

The PDAF is a lump-sum appropriation in the annual General Appropriations Act to fund the priority development programs and projects of the government. .

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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