We don’t want Enrile out—PalaceBy Norman Bordadora, TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Don’t look at us.
Malacañang on Thursday denied having a hand in the supposed move to oust Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, saying that the latter remained a good ally who pushed most of President Benigno Aquino’s agenda in the Senate and should stay on as its leader.
“We have a good working relationship with the Senate President,” said Secretary Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesperson, in a Malacañang briefing.
Lacierda said the ruling Liberal Party (LP) also denied any part in a supposed plot to oust Enrile and that Enrile himself had cleared the party.
“The Senate President himself mentioned that the LP was not involved,” said Lacierda.
Enrile confirmed having received information about a plot to oust him as early as a month ago. He said a number of senators were unhappy with the way he was running things, including allocating budgets and positions.
But he said the plot against him was “personal” and did not involve Senate power blocs like the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party (NP).
Talk of a Senate coup also cropped up on the heels of Mr. Aquino’s announcement of a coalition of the three major parties—LP, NP and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC)—for the May 2013 elections.
Enrile, Lacierda stressed, remained an effective administration ally, even though he was against the reproductive health (RH) bill and the sin tax bill, both of which were supported by the Aquino administration.
The President’s differences with Enrile on the RH bill and the sin tax bill were not enough cause for the LP to move for his ouster, Lacierda said.
“No, not to my knowledge,” he added.
“We’ve seen a very healthy relationship with the Senate,” he stressed, when asked if Malacañang preferred that Enrile stay on as its leader.
Another Malacañang official, also an LP member but who sought anonymity for lack of authority to speak, said he also was not aware of a plot against Enrile, believing that the Senate President had made his revelation to preempt any ouster moves against him.
“It was meant to preempt any plans, but I’m not aware of any plans,” said the official, who added though that the administration’s allies could muster the votes to oust Enrile if they wanted to.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said Thursday that with Enrile himself talking about it, any plot had been virtually nipped in the bud.
Lacson said Enrile has been supportive of the President’s agenda as shown by the Senate’s passage of the synchronized election bill in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and in the successful removal of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Height of ingratitude
Lacson, an ally of both the President and Enrile, said “it will be the height of ingratitude if [the LP members] went along with the plot to oust the Senate President. And it might create more problems than solutions.”
“If the Senate President goes to the minority [and] becomes its leader, the legislative agenda and the bills the administration are pushing may further be derailed,” he said.
For his part, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano admitted having differences with Enrile but denied taking part in or even knowing of a plot to oust him.
Cayetano agreed Enrile’s revelation could be a ploy to preempt any moves to unseat him amid the heated discussions on certain bills now going on in the upper chamber.
“I am in the minority and the minority would want to become the majority. But [any plot] could not come from us because there are only three of us,” said Cayetano in a phone interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“I have disagreements with the Senate President on some issues but I never questioned his leadership,” added Cayetano, an NP member.
Cayetano is the brother and party mate of RH bill author and sponsor, Senator Pia Cayetano.
Enrile is a member of the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) which in turn has coalesced with Vice President Jejomar Binay’s PDP-Laban in the opposition United Nationalists Coalition (UNA).
Cayetano said the administration coalition has since clarified that it was only set up for next year’s polls and not to seek a change in the Senate leadership.
“There’s no active plot. I don’t see people talking about it,” he said.