MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile retained his seat as head of the chamber after a vote of 11-3 Monday.
Before offering his resignation, Enrile lashed out at the media and Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Antonio Trillanes IV during a privilege speech.
Enrile made the motion in response to the earlier statement of Trillanes that a move to oust him was almost ready and was awaiting only a few more senators to complete the required 13 members.
“The persistent attacks of my adversaries, whether they be my loud and bitter critics or those lurking in the shadows for lack of courage to come out in the open, abated by some elements in the media, have successfully poisoned the minds of the public,” Enrile said in his privilege speech.
“The criticisms are based on outright lies, distorted information, and deliberately misleading phrases such as ‘cash gifts,’ ‘Christmas bonuses,’ and worst of all ‘bribes,'” Enrile said.
He said that his critics have dragged the entire Senate as an institution “under a dark cloud” and has damaged the reputation and integrity of the Senate.
He pointed in particular to one media entity with the slogan “Balanced News, Fearless Views” which he said was “carrying on a crusade to [portray him] as a liar, traitor, thief, and villain.”
Enrile had received heavy criticism after he disbursed to 18 senators P1.6 million pesos as additional maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) December last year. The money was said to have come from savings in the Senate budget.
Four senators however had received only P600,000 as MOOE. They were Senators Santiago, Trillanes and the Cayetano siblings.
Enrile had also given P250,000 to all 22 senators which was said to have come from savings of the office of the Senate President. Santiago had returned the P250,000 she received.
Santiago, who lashed out at Enrile for the cash gifts, was whining because she and the others had not received their P1.6 million MOOE, Enrile said. Senator Pia Cayetano had actually been following up with his office about her MOOE, he added.
“Santiago and her group branded me as immoral, illegal, unconstitutional, unconscionable,” Enrile said.
“Both Alan Cayetano and Trillanes swiftly followed with their own attacks and accusations. Pia Cayetano, who was following up on her won MOOE, was conspicuously silent,” Enrile said.
Enrile said that he has “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 truly, but apparently Senator Santiago thinks that everything and everyone in this Senate has a price tag,” Enrile said.
‘Cowards and hypocrites’
He further lashed out at one senator whom he said was “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 will not be threatened by anyone “least of all by cowards and hypocrites” nor will he “run away like those who make a show of it in plush hotels and run away like a dog with their tails [between their legs]”
Enrile was obviously referring to Senator Trillanes, who as a navy officer in 2007 led a rebellion with almost 30 soldiers and civilians to him at the Manila Peninsula against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. They were all later arrested by the military.
“This wave of systematic demolition is really nothing new to me; I can defend myself on my own,” Enrile said.
“I have fought many battles alone, at times abandoned and betrayed by many,” Enrile said. “I have incurred the bitter resentment and anger of many people along my way, and they are determined to pursue their crusade, and carry their sitting hatred against me to their grave,” he said.
Enrile said that the Senate itself should not “suffer the venom which is aimed solely at me.”