Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday said his being upset with Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago had nothing to do with the reproductive health (RH) bill.
Enrile told reporters that he had nothing against the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Pia Cayetano, whose Christmas gift to him was also returned just like Santiago’s Panaderia de Molo biscuits.
“My receiving clerk made a mistake because when the staff got the gift that I wanted to return to Miriam, the staff thought that it was because of the RH bill,” Enrile said in an interview before the session Monday afternoon.
“I don’t have any problem with Pia,” he added.
It was Santiago who disclosed on Friday that Enrile had returned her Christmas gift and that the latter was expected to lose the Senate presidency either in January or February because of his opposition to the RH bill, which President Aquino had certified as urgent.
Enrile, in a radio interview on Sunday, said he returned Santiago’s biscuits because she earlier told the media that she got him as her godfather because of the prestige of having Enrile, then the secretary of justice when Santiago got married, as a wedding sponsor.
Santiago, a cosponsor of the RH bill, also characterized her relationship with Enrile as “ice cold.”
“I don’t have anything against [Santiago]. She’s the one upset with me. Didn’t she say that?” Enrile said in Monday’s interview at the Senate.
“Now if a person doesn’t consider me a friend or she just got me as a ‘ninong’ (wedding sponsor) for convenience or status at a time when I was secretary of justice—so I call a spade a spade—I do not impose myself upon her,” he added.
Enrile acknowledged that other issues caused him to be upset with Santiago.
The Senate President said that when the chamber’s leadership was being ironed out in 2010, Sen. Manuel Villar, “who’s my friend,” arranged a dinner between him and Santiago, during which she apologized.
“She said, ‘sorry.’ I said, ‘OK.’ That’s why, if you remember, she got the last available committee because I really did not want her to be a member of the majority,” Enrile said.
On whether the RH bill worsened his relationship with Santiago, Enrile said, “No.”
“It’s common that we debate. We take different positions. It’s a matter of conscience. We vote according to conscience, according to our notion of right and what’s good for the country,” he said.
Asked if he planned to talk to Santiago, Enrile said, “What for?”
Told of Santiago’s remark, when she was asked the same question, that she intended to kiss him in public, Enrile said: “I’m not a hypocrite. When I don’t like a person, I don’t like a person.”