DRILON SEEKS MIRIAM-JPE TRUCE

Senate President Franklin Drilon offered to broker a truce yesterday between Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago following their bitter exchange of accusations. Drilon said that with Santiago and Enrile having vented their disdain for each other in privilege speeches, it was time for the two senior senators to bury the hatchet and end hostilities as Christmas approaches. “Senator Johnny and Senator Miriam have already aired their grievances. Christmas is coming and there is a cooling period,” Drilon said in an interview over dzRH. “Maybe when we return after New Year’s Day, heads will be cooler and we will try to get our two colleagues to reconcile,” he added.

ALSO: Santiago-Enrile tiff roils Senate

The bitter exchange of accusations at the Senate plenary between Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Miriam Defensor-Santiago has raised serious concerns with their colleagues about the effect of such unparliamentary behavior on the chamber’s supposed image, particularly when future students of politics read the Senate’s journals. Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said he would move next week to have both privilege speeches expunged from the Senate records because of the unparliamentary language that the two lawmakers used in questioning the other’s integrity. “We don’t tolerate unparliamentary language. It has nothing to do with the issue that is being debated. You want to keep a dignified Senate,” Osmeña said.

ALSO: Miriam, JPE censured

THREE senators are studying the possibility of purging from the records of the Senate the privilege speeches of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who engaged in “shameful bickering” that was unparliamentary.


DRILON SEEKS MIRIAM-JPE TRUCE

MANILA, DECEMBER 9, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Marvin Sy - Senate President Franklin Drilon (photo) offered to broker a truce yesterday between Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago following their bitter exchange of accusations.

Drilon said that with Santiago and Enrile having vented their disdain for each other in privilege speeches, it was time for the two senior senators to bury the hatchet and end hostilities as Christmas approaches.

“Senator Johnny and Senator Miriam have already aired their grievances. Christmas is coming and there is a cooling period,” Drilon said in an interview over dzRH.

“Maybe when we return after New Year’s Day, heads will be cooler and we will try to get our two colleagues to reconcile,” he added.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada earlier offered to reconcile the two fighting senators in a bid to save the Senate’s reputation from further damage.

Estrada said that he and his father, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada would work together to bring their two friends and allies to the same side again.

But despite Drilon’s and Estrada’s peace initiatives, Santiago proceeded to ask the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct an investigation into the alleged “crimes” of Enrile in the past.

In a letter, Santiago asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday to direct the National Bureau of Investigation to look into Enrile’s activities that may be considered criminal under the Revised Penal Code.

“This is to respectfully appeal for you to order the NBI to investigate Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile for crimes under the Penal Code,” Santiago said in her letter to De Lima.

“In due course, the NBI report could indicate if further action should be taken against Enrile by other concerned agencies, such as the Commission on Human Rights, Ombudsman, Pagcor, BIR, etc,” she added.

In her privilege speech last Wednesday, Santiago called for criminal prosecution of Enrile for what she called his crimes under the Penal Code including command responsibility for the deaths and disappearance during martial law of some 4,000 activists as well masterminding the biggest plunder case so far in Philippine history. She was referring to Enrile’s allegedly having pocketed P1.189 billion pork barrel funds from 2005 to 2013 in connivance with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles whose dummy corporations cornered P641.65 million.

Santiago also alleged in her speech that Enrile was running a smuggling and gambling empire in the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, whose creation he had spearheaded in 1995 as a congressman of the province.

She said even the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. has no jurisdiction over “interactive gaming” activities in Cagayan’s Port Irene.

She also accused the Senate minority leader of running an illegal logging empire established during martial law when then President Ferdinand Marcos granted him the largest logging concession covering 95,770 hectares secured by the so-called “Lost Command” allegedly responsible for the massacre of 45 people.

In her speech last Wednesday, Santiago also called Enrile a “sex addict” notorious for taking liberties with women including his househelps. She said Enrile should be held liable for adultery and concubinage as well as tax evasion.

‘Unparliamentary’

While Santiago’s spiels against Enrile may have provided good sound bites to the media, they were “unparliamentary” and should be stricken off the records of the Senate, according to some of her colleagues.

“Almost all of her speeches are offensive because she tends to make things personal and you’re not supposed to attack anyone personally. If you want, do it outside the Senate,” Sen. Sergio Osmeña III told reporters yesterday.

“I wouldn’t want anybody to read that. I wouldn’t want anybody in America or Europe to read those type of things,” he added when asked why he wanted parts of Santiago’s speech deleted from Senate records.

Osmeña said he also found Santiago’s gestures while delivering her speech very offensive, especially when she pointed a finger at Enrile to stress a point.

“She went to personality, she called him a serial this, a serial that, it had nothing to do with legislation. Number two – there was no proof,” he said. “She did not present any proof, she made it seem that we have to accept what she said with or without proof and that’s just not right,” Osmeña said.

“She likes to boast that she was a judge and I don’t think a judge is supposed to accept as truth allegations that are not substantiated, not supported by evidence, whether factual evidence or witnesses with personal knowledge. So that’s another issue that we have against the speech itself,” he added.

He said that Senate President Drilon should have intervened and declared her out of order. Osmeña said that while he understood Drilon’s situation, the Senate president should have made it clear at least that such behavior would not be tolerated in the chamber.

“You have to do that so that the next one who will attempt to do that will be very careful,” Osmeña said.

Osmeña said that he would personally move to strike off the offensive portions of the speeches of Santiago and even that of Enrile delivered a week before.

Enrile said his privilege speech last week was in response to Santiago’s attacks launched in various occasions within and outside the Senate.

In his privilege speech, Enrile – without mentioning Santiago’s name – claimed she almost flunked the Bar exams. He also accused her of using a sports car seized by the Bureau of Customs. The Senate minority leader also derided her mental state and mockingly asked her to seek help from psychologists.

Santiago struck back last Wednesday, calling Enrile many names including “the very heart of darkness.”

Reviewing JPE’s speech

Osmeña said he would review the speech of Enrile to see if there are portions that need to be removed.

“Maybe we’ll just simplify it and move to delete both from the records of the Senate,” he said.

“We don’t tolerate unparliamentary language. You want to stick to the facts and you want to keep a dignified Senate,” he added.

Sen. Francis Escudero, for his part, said that some of the words used by Santiago in her speech cannot be tolerated in any parliament in the world.

“I think the record should be reviewed to find out what words are unparliamentary and should be stricken off the records. It would not look good if 10 years, 20 years down the road people would go back to the records of the Senate and would find words like ‘G-A-G-O’ and other similar words there,” Escudero said.

Both Escudero and Osmeña said that any member of the Senate may file a complaint against Santiago for unparliamentary behavior before the ethics committee.

Escudero said that the penalties could range from a mere reprimand to suspension or even expulsion, in which case a vote of two-thirds of the members of the Senate is needed.

However, Osmeña noted that an ethics committee has not yet been organized because no senator wants to head such body.

“If you want to go that far you may refer it to the ethics committee, if you want to file charges for unparliamentary behavior. The committee may suspend or expel a member by a two-thirds vote,” Osmeña said.

Meanwhile, retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said the verbal tirade between Santiago and Enrile may have tarnished the prestige of the Senate.

“Enough is enough. The two senators have spoken out their mind and they are both governed by a privilege of speech and therefore they have already said enough,” he said.

“Please remember that the senators are called ‘honorable and honorable’ – they should be honorable, they should talk honorably, they should speak honorably,” Cruz said.

“The Senate is definitely losing a lot of prestige and honor which it should have being one of the main branches of government,” he said.

He advised the two senators to focus on their legislative work for the welfare of the Filipino people.

“It is a norm of reason that when two people are working in the same department with the same purpose, they should be collaborating for the same intention and not fighting one another,” he said. with Evelyn Macairan

FROM THE INQUIRER

Santiago-Enrile tiff roils Senate By Norman Bordadora Philippine Daily Inquirer
2:25 am | Friday, December 6th, 2013


http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2013/12/enrile-santiago.jpg
Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Miriam Defensor-Santiago INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA - The bitter exchange of accusations at the Senate plenary between Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Miriam Defensor-Santiago has raised serious concerns with their colleagues about the effect of such unparliamentary behavior on the chamber’s supposed image, particularly when future students of politics read the Senate’s journals.

Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said he would move next week to have both privilege speeches expunged from the Senate records because of the unparliamentary language that the two lawmakers used in questioning the other’s integrity.

“We don’t tolerate unparliamentary language. It has nothing to do with the issue that is being debated. You want to keep a dignified Senate,” Osmeña said.

Personal attacks

“Maybe we will just simplify it and move to delete both speeches from the records of the Senate,” he told reporters a day after Santiago stood up to answer what she said were “personal attacks” by Enrile with a speech littered with similar imputations.

Enrile last week denied Santiago’s allegations made outside the Senate that he was the mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly orchestrated by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, that he wanted Napoles dead and that he was the financier of the Zamboanga siege by the Moro National Liberation Front.

But he went on to raise his own accusations, such as Santiago’s allegedly using Senate funds to rent space in her own building for her use as a satellite office; Santiago’s alleged use of a sports car seized by the Bureau of Customs many decades ago; Santiago’s alleged mental health problem; and the senator’s obtaining a supposedly low grade in the bar examinations.

Enrile, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Ramon Revilla, Jr. and two former House members are facing plunder charges in connection with the pork barrel scam involving their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) entitlements.

Santiago’s turn

The three senators have all denied any wrongdoing and have expressed willingness to face the charges.

On Wednesday, Santiago took her turn at the podium, reiterating her allegations that Enrile was the mastermind of the pork barrel scam, and bringing up other old issues like alleged culpability in human rights violations committed during martial law as the then defense minister, involvement in smuggling and gambling, and his alleged womanizing.

She also denied any culpability in the issues of propriety that Enrile had brought up against her.

Osmeña said the Senate should come to a collective decision not to allow similar speeches in the future.

He said he would talk to Senate President Franklin Drilon and the other senators to make a stand against using unparliamentary language even if lawmakers are “normally” given a wide latitude in delivering privilege speeches.

He questioned why Drilon allowed it to happen. “If I were Senate President, I would have said, ‘You’re out of order,’” Osmeña said.

“This was a situation where he should have intervened. Now, I don’t blame him for not intervening also. It might have made matters worse. But I would have banged the gavel…. I will not tolerate that sort of thing,” Osmeña said.

Any senator could have stood up to raise a point of order, he said.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III, who said he has discussed the issue with Osmeña, said he and his staff will study what portions of both speeches could be stricken off the record.

“When the scholars of the future look into the records of the journal, the 16th Congress will not be having such a good reputation,” said Sotto.

Another option would be to refer both speeches to the Senate committee on ethics, which will then find out what to do with them, he said.

“I’m both saddened and I find it unfortunate [that] the two members are throwing accusations against each other and hurling personal attacks against each other in the Senate floor,” said Sen. Francis Escudero, the chair of the Senate finance committee.

Escudero’s sponsorship of the 2014 budget had to wait in line until after the privilege speeches of Enrile and Santiago.

Drilon: No comment

Drilon wouldn’t comment on whether unparliamentary language was used on the Senate floor.

“I will leave that to the body to decide,” he told reporters.

On whether the allegedly unparliamentary remarks should be stricken off the record, Drilon said: “Somebody would have to move that. Somebody would have to move for the deletion of certain portions and that would have to be decided by the Senate as a body.”

“But having said that, what happened yesterday [Wednesday] was rather sad,” Drilon said.

He called for a Christmas truce between Enrile, his fraternity brother, and Santiago, a classmate at the UP College of Law and a fellow Ilonggo.

FROM MANILA STANDARD

Miriam, JPE censured By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Dec. 06, 2013 at 12:01am


Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago makes the sign of the cross with her fingers and points it at Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on Wednesday, the day she demonized him in a privilege speech in retaliation for a similar speech that Enrile delivered last week attacking her. Lino Santos

Three senators move to erase records of ‘shameful bickering’

THREE senators are studying the possibility of purging from the records of the Senate the privilege speeches of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who engaged in “shameful bickering” that was unparliamentary.

Exorcism?

“We are studying and reviewing them and will decide by Monday,” said Senator Vicente Sotto III in a text message to reporters.

“You can craft it (speech) in such a way [that] you can deliver the message you want to say without using unparliamentary words,” Sotto added.

In a radio interview, Sotto said he was not taking the issue personally, but was merely looking after the image of the Senate.

He said scholars in the future will look at the records and journals of the Senate and see those words.

“That’s the problem,” said the opposition senator.

This was also the same view expressed by Senator Francis Escudero, who noted that it would be bad for our people who will read the records of the Senate “10 or 20 years down the road,” and see words like “gago” (stupid) and other gutter language.

“That’s not good,” said Escudero in an interview over Channel 2’s ANC cable news channel.

He supported a move by Senator Sergio Osmena III to review the records of the Senate and find out which words were unparliamentary and should be stricken from the records.

Escudero said the entire speech need not be removed, only the “unparliamentary portions.”

Escudero also said senators can be subjected to disciplinary proceedings before the committee on ethics, but the panel has not yet been organized.

Penalties can range anywhere from a reprimand to suspension to expulsion.

A two-thirds vote or 16 senators must support suspension or expulsion before the sanction can be imposed.

Osmena, who was himself once the target of Santiago’s tirades, said almost all of her speeches were offensive because she used them to attack people on a personal level.

“You are no supposed to attack somebody personally. If she wants, she can do it outside the Senate. The Senate has to deal with matters of national interest, not personal [matters],” he said.

Osmena said he would move for the removal of part or all of Santiago’s speech, as well as Enrile’s address, on Monday.

He also said Santiago’s actions of pointing fingers was offensive.

In an interview over Channel 7’s “News To Go,” Sotto vowed to ask the Senate majority for the immediate formation of the Senate committee on ethics to look into any violation against parliamentary rules in the speeches of Santiago and Enrile.

“What I want to happen here is to refer the speech of Senator Santiago to the committee on ethics. That is also my suggestion for the speech of Senator Enrile. But the problem is, we have not yet organized this committee,” said Sotto.

The Rules of the Senate provide that “acts and languages which offend a senator or any public institution shall be deemed unparliamentary. The rules prohibit senators from using such language against his or her colleague.

The rules also state that a senator using unparliamentary language may be called to order by fellow senators, and may even be the subject of an ethics case.

However, these rules are not clear about the mechanics on how to strike out specific unparliamentary words uttered by a senator on the Senate floor.

Sotto said the word war between Enrile and Santiago could hurt the Senate’s image.

Another minority bloc member, Senator JV Ejercito said the word war would hamper efforts to rebuild the image of the Senate, which is still reeling from the pork barrel scandal.

“We are in the process of rebuilding the image and cleaning the image, so any conflict like this will definitely have a negative effect,” he said.

Senate President Franklin Drilon seemed reluctant to get between Enrile and Santiago, replying “No comment” when asked if he would try to get the two to reconcile.

In an interview on radio dzRH, Drilon said he was saddened by the “shameful bickering” between the two senators, but would not step in right away because the priority was to help victims of the recent super typhoon.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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