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Santiago says relationship with Ninong Enrile turns ‘ice-cold’


Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said her relationship with Senate President Juan Pone-Enrile, her “ninong” or godfather in her wedding,  has turned “ice-cold.”

“We’ll, that’s a status. It does not  indicate  friendship,”  Santiago said  answering  questions from reporters on Wednesday .

Asked to describe her relationship now with Enrile,  Santiago answered, “Ice-cold.”

On Tuesday, a brief  tension ensued between the two when  Enrile, a staunch critic of  the controversial  Reproductive Health bill, proposed to  remove the phrase “safe and satisfying sex life” in the definition of reproductive health in the bill.

When several senators expressed discomfort over the inclusion of the  phrase, Santiago, a co-sponsor of the controversial measure, stood up and expressed her surprise at how her colleagues reacted to it.

“Some of us may find strange the phrase ‘safe and satisfying sex life’ in our legislative vocabulary. That’s because we don’t always deal with international law in this chamber,” she said.

“So it’s  mere unfamiliarity that  make us  hesitate to use this phrase. But if I may, I’d like to volunteer the fact that a safe and satisfying sex life has already  become part of international vocabulary on humans right particularly on women’s right.”

“Why are we so aghast at the use of the terms.  It’s been (there) for 20 years or more,” she said.

Responding to Santiago, Enrile said: “I must confess my ignorance about international law. I made that proposal because I’m a Filipino legislator. I’m  not an international legislator and I’d like to propose the amendments.”

“And if it does not ring well to others who are more brilliant than my knucklehead so be it but I’d like  to be voted out,” said the Senate leader.

“Point of parliamentary privilege. I feel alluded to and I resent it,” Santiago said.

“So be it,” Enrile said.

Talking to reporters a day after, Santiago said she was “elated” by their exchanges although she felt that Enrile was  getting  personal on her.

“He was trying to  be snide and sarcastic and I resented it,” she said.

“You know in a debate, you can say anything as long as you keep within the issue. But if you go to personality,  that is considered a no-no. That’s hitting below the belt. It’s like saying  ‘I don’t like your face because you are ugly’,” she said.

“These are personalities. And to say I’m not as brilliant as others in a very sarcastic way is going to personalities.”

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Tags: Congress , Juan Ponce Enrile , Miriam Defensor-Santiago , reproductive health , RH bill

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