ENRILE BID TO QUIT REJECTED BY MAJORITY 11-3, 2 ABSTAIN, SANTIAGO ABSENT



[PHOTO - VOTE OF CONFIDENCE Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile slams critics by name for allegedly putting the upper chamber “under a dark cloud of suspicion as a house of thieves” over the purported “Christmas bonus” issue. His motion to declare his post vacant is turned down by a majority (11-3) of senators. He remains the nation’s third most powerful official. JOSEPH VIDAL/CONTRIBUTOR]

MANILA, JANUARY 21, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Cathy C. Yamsuan - Move described ‘masterstroke’. It was described as a brilliant stroke by a wily politician to redeem himself in the face of what he called a campaign by his enemies and critics to portray him as a “liar” and “traitor” and cast the Senate “under a dark cloud of suspicion as a house of thieves.”

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday offered to step aside for his staunch critics—Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter and his sister Pia Cayetano—to take over his post and secured a rousing vote of confidence in the process to retain his post.

Eleven senators—Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Assistant Majority Leader Gregorio Honasan, Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Teofisto Guingona III, Panfilo Lacson, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Loren Legarda, Ralph Recto and Ramon Revilla Jr.—rejected Enrile’s motion to declare his post vacant.

The number was enough to overturn the yes votes of Senators Aquilino Pimentel III, Trillanes and Enrile, himself as movant.

Senators Joker Arroyo and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. abstained.

Political analyst Clarita Carlos called Enrile’s move a “masterstroke” and another commentator described it as an attempt to lift the sagging Senate candidacy of his son, Rep. Jack Enrile.

Santiago and the Cayetano siblings were not in the session hall when Enrile delivered his privilege speech lashing at his critics on his distribution of the “maintenance and other operating expenditures,” or MOOE, just before Christmas, which a senator described in an exclusive Philippine Daily Inquirer report as “unconscionable.”

Santiago, who has called on Enrile to account for his role as martial law administrator in the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, was on sick leave; Alan Peter Cayetano was in Cebu while his sister Pia was abroad, according to her staff.

Trillanes hours earlier confidently told Senate reporters that the move to oust Enrile would take place within the nine remaining session days.

Asked why it was necessary to remove Enrile, Trillanes said, “because we can,” adding that the group that would take over was only waiting for the chamber’s four Liberal Party senators to join them.

The three LP senators present on Monday were Drilon, Guingona and Recto. Drilon and Recto told reporters before the session started they were not part of any plot to oust Enrile.

In his speech, Enrile said he offered to step down “to pave the way for… Santiago, Trillanes or any of the Cayetano siblings” to succeed him as Senate President.

He added that the post was also open to “anyone who shared the sentiment against me… and is secretly interested in this job.”

Enrile scored the Inquirer, which he did not name but described as a newspaper known for its tagline “Balanced News, Fearless Views” for joining the crusade to allegedly malign him in public. The charge apparently stemmed from the Inquirer’s exclusive story on Enrile’s selective distribution of MOOE to the senators in December.

Distorted, misleading

The four senators Enrile singled out and tagged as his “adversaries” were also those whom he deprived of the second and third tranches of additional MOOE totaling P1.6 million for each of the other 18 senators.

He said that efforts to tag additional MOOE as “cash gifts,” “Christmas bonuses” and “bribes” were “distorted information and deliberately misleading phrases.”

“I cannot blame the public for their sentiments and outrage over what they have been made to believe,” he said, blaming the Inquirer for purveying “what they want the public to know and to believe and what facts to ignore.”

“They enjoyed the freedom to carry on their own crusade, that is to make sure that Enrile, this humble person, shall forever be known as… a liar, a traitor, a thief and a villain,” he said.

‘Cantankerous critic’

“In their passionate desire to destroy me, my enemies and critics have not only dragged the reputation of my other colleagues, wildly accusing them of taking bribes and pocketing the people’s money. They have succeeded as well in placing this very institution… under a dark cloud of doubt and suspicion as a house of thieves.”

Enrile described Santiago his “most cantankerous critic.” She went public on the day the Inquirer broke the story about the additional MOOE and deplored Enrile’s leadership style of playing favorites. Santiago said she returned the P250,000 “cash gift” that Enrile gave her because he returned the cookies she gave him last Christmas.

Enrile chided Santiago for announcing she was sick and unavailable for interviews after Lacson called her a “crusading crook.”

Mind-boggling

“Her audacity in calling her colleagues my ‘cohorts’ and painting them as crooks is indeed mind-boggling. When it was her turn to be challenged regarding her own integrity and to be called ‘crusading crook’ and ‘hypocrite par excellence,’ it seems that alone was enough to pose a danger to her own health and whatever remains of her equanimity and sanity,” Enrile said.

He said that Pia Cayetano’s office “kept following up with my office and the Senate budget office about the release of her additional MOOE last December.”

Enrile said that when the four senators apparently confirmed among themselves that they were not among those who got the second and third tranches, “Senator Santiago started whining. She even cited the equal protection clause of the Constitution, a very silly argument indeed.”

“Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and [Trillanes] swiftly followed with their own attacks and accusations and Senator Pia Cayetano, who was following up her additional MOOE, was conspicuously silent,” he noted.

Pork commissions

“What could have they done if the funds were given to them? Would they have whined and complained? Or as… Santiago herself suggested… would they have pocketed it instead of using it appropriately for operational expenses of their own offices?” Enrile asked.

Enrile recalled a portion of an interview that Santiago gave to Radyo Inquirer, where the senator accused some colleagues of taking a percentage (10 percent on the average) of their Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel.

“I wonder… is she speaking from her own experience or field of expertise? I never bribed anyone to gain support for myself… I did not enter into any unholy deal or plot to assume this position of leadership twice or to cling to it like a leech,” he stressed.

Enrile said he had endured “countless acts of betrayal and ingratitude and the most vicious and virulent attacks on my character in my 46 years in politics and public service. This wave of systematic demolition is really nothing new to me.”

He then took another dig at Trillanes. “On my own, I have fought many battles alone. I do not run away like those who make a show of it in plush hotels and run away like a dog with his tail… behind [his] hind.”

Enrile said the offer of resignation was his way of sparing the chamber from “the rapacity and the sly cunning and ruinous machinations of some people among us here who only have their political ambitions and self-interest in mind.”

Advertising plots

Referring again to Trillanes, Enrile said one senator “is so desperate that he has repeatedly and shamelessly invoked and sought Malacañang’s involvement and intervention just to get enough support to oust me.”

Enrile said he has had enough of coup rumors in the Senate.

“I am way too old to be threatened by anyone, least of all by cowards and hypocrites,” he huffed.

“Replacing me does not have to take so much effort, planning or plotting. I am tired of plots. And I don’t advertise plots… That’s only the work of braggarts,” Enrile added.

GMA NEWS TV

Enrile moves to vacate Senate President post but senators vote to retain him By KIMBERLY JANE TAN, GMA NewsJanuary 21, 2013 4:01pm


[PHOTO -Senators Loren Legarda, Panfilo Lacson and Francis Escudero vote to retain Juan Ponce Enrile (shown in file photo inset) as Senate president after the seat was declared vacant yesterday. Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Antonio Trillanes IV voted to replace Enrile. (From Philstar.com]

(Updated 5:11 p.m.) Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday decided to leave his post, only to be rejected by the members of the chamber.

In a privilege speech, Enrile said that he has had "enough" of threats and coup rumors.

"I am way too old to be threatened by anyone, least of all by cowards and hypocrites. I therefore move that the position of Senate President be declared vacant," he said.

"I ask that my motion be immediately put to a vote to pave the way for Madam Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Senator Antonio Trillanes, any of the Cayetano siblings, or anyone else here who may share the same sentiments against my leadership and who may be secretly interested in this job the chance to be nominated and to seek the majority’s support to be elected as the new leader of the Senate," he added.

Immediately after this, however, his allies Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson objected to the motion.

Through an 11-3 vote, the Senate likewise rejected the motion. The three who voted for Enrile to vacate the post are him and Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Koko Pimentel.

Those who voted against him resigning were Lacson, Sotto, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Francis Escudero, Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, Gregorio Honasan, Loren Legarda, Bong Revilla Jr., and Lito Lapid.

Senators Joker Arroyo and Bongbong Marcos, meanwhile, abstained from voting.

Not present during the voting were Edgardo Angara, Manuel Villar, Pia Cayetano, Alan Peter Cayetano, Sergio Osmena, Francis Pangilinan and Santiago.

Enrile, however, said he will move for another vote when senators are in complete attendance.

"Whether or not I continue to have the trust and support of my colleagues in leading this Chamber is a matter that lies purely in their hands to decide. I serve at the pleasure of the majority of my colleagues. I claim no vested right to this high position. No one has," he said.

"Let us settle this matter once and for all, and let us not tarry so that in the very few remaining days we still have left, we can get on with the business of urgent legislation. Time is of the essence and we owe it to the people to perform our duty," he added.

Earlie in the day, Trillanes claimed he and his group have the numbers to oust Enrile as Senate President if only Liberal Party (LP) senators would vote with them.

But in a separate interview on Monday, LP senator Drilon said their part has not talked about any matter related to this. Fellow LP senator Recto likewise said the current Senate leadership was doing well.

'Cash gifts' issue

Also in his privilege speech, Enrile said the personal conflict between him and four other senators has "triggered a venomous, malevolent and sustained campaign" against him.

He said this was "spurred" by his decision to hold the release of additional funds for operating expenses amounting to P1.6 million to Trillanes, Santiago, Alan Peter Cayetano and Pia Cayetano last December.

He said the allocation was justified but that his critics have "successfuly poisoned the minds of the public" that this was illegal and immoral.

"The criticisms are based on outright lies, distorted information and deliberately misleading phrases such as “cash gifts,” “Christmas bonuses,” and worst of all, “bribes”- all at the expense of taxpayers’ money," he said.

But Enrile said he took offense as to how his foes dragged the Senate into the issue.

"In their passionate desire to destroy me, my enemies and critics have not only dragged the reputation of my other colleagues, wildly accusing them of taking bribes and pocketing the people’s money. They have succeeded as well in placing this very institution, the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines, under a dark cloud of doubt and suspicion as a house of thieves," he said.

Enrile vs Trillanes, Santiago

He then singled out Santiago and Trillanes, who have been among those criticizing him for the grant of additional funds.

He echoed Lacson's previous statement questioning Santiago's moral right and integrity.

"I never bribed anyone to gain support for myself, much less with the money of the people. The very thought that this position is for sale repulses me. But apparently, Senator Santiago thinks everything and everyone here has a price tag," he said.

Earlier in the day, Lacson revealed that he has proof that Santiago had been using Senate funds for personal use.

"Her audacity in calling her colleagues my “cohorts”and painting them as crooks is indeed mind-boggling. When it was her turn to be challenged regarding her own integrity and to be called “a hypocrite par excellence,” and it seems that alone was enough to pose a danger to her own health and whatever remains of her equanimity and sanity," said Enrile.

Santiago on Monday filed an indefinite leave due to hypertension and chronic bone marrow disorder.

Enrile also revealed during his speech that Pia Cayetano's office kept on following up the release of the funds with his office and the Senate budget office.

"When she and the three others found out that I had not authorized the release of any further additional MOOE to them, Senator Santiago started whining," he said.

He said this was when they branded as "immoral, illegal, unconstitutional, unconscionable, and a “bribe” what she reportedly earlier claimed she and the three others were entitled to.

"Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Antonio Trillanes who are both in the minority, swiftly followed with their own attacks and accusations. Sen. Pia Cayetano who was following up her additional MOOE was conspicuously silent," he said.

"What would they have done if the funds were given to them? Would they have whined and complained? Or, as Senator Santiago herself suggested could be done - Would they have pocketed it instead of using it appropriately for the operation expenses of their own offices? She goes on to say that senators take a percentage of their PDAF. I wonder…is she speaking from her own experience or field of expertise?" he added.

Enrile also alluded to Trillanes, whom he said is "so desperate" that he has "repeatedly and shamelessly" sought Malacañang’s involvement just to oust him.

"He continues to make a mockery of the Senate as an independent institution," he said.

He said he is used to such attacks but that he cannot allow the Senate to suffer any longer.

"In all my almost 89 years, I have gone through and endured many challenges and some of the worst adversities in life, countless acts of betrayal and ingratitude, and the most vicious and virulent attacks on my character in my 46 years in politics and public service. This wave of systematic demolition is really nothing new," he said.

"But the Senate need not and should not suffer the venom which is aimed solely at me," he added.

He likewise took a swipe at the media, some of whom reportedly helped his critics carry out their purpose.

"The press is free indeed, and a free press is a powerful tool for public accountability. Unfortunately, those who are merely masquerading as “responsible journalists” are also free to choose what they want the public to know and to believe and what facts to ignore," he said.

"In fact, my enemies and critics in the press, one of them known for their tag line “balanced news, fearless views”, have enjoyed the freedom to carry on their own crusade- that is, to make sure that Enrile shall forever be known and remembered as a liar, a traitor, a thief, and a villain," he added. — KG/RSJ, GMA News


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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