MANILA, Philippines—A senator insists the coup against Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile would take place within the next three weeks before Congress adjourns for the 2013 elections.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes deemed a change of leadership necessary at this point to prevent Enrile from using the monetary resources of the Office of the Senate President (OSP) to benefit the political opposition in the election.
In an ambush interview, Trillanes said “yes” when asked whether he was “definite” Enrile would be ousted within the next three weeks.
Trillanes said it could happen anytime between now and Feb. 6, the day set as the last session day before the adjournment of Congress.
Asked why it was necessary to oust Enrile at this point, Trillanes said: “Because we can. You change it because you can.”
Trillanes was asked whether he suspected Enrile would use the resources of the OSP to manipulate the outcome of the 2013 senatorial elections as his son Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile is running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and the Senate President himself is regarded as one of the stalwarts of the group.
Trillanes said, “We are talking about money….(that) may be used by the Senate president for the elections.”
Asked whether he meant Enrile could use his office’s funds “to benefit the opposition,” Trillanes said, “Definitely.”
Waiting for 4 LP senators
The senator maintained that those who have been planning to oust Enrile have been simply waiting for a decision of the four Liberal Party senators to join their group.
If the LP senators agreed to join the coup against Enrile, Trillanes said the new majority would have “more than enough” to comprise a power bloc to remove Enrile from the rostrum.
Trillanes noted that senators in the new group had axes to grind against Enrile.
Trillanes himself has had a very public quarrel with Enrile in September over the Senate president’s alleged pressure for colleagues to vote in favor of a bill creating a new province out of Camarines Sur.
After Trillanes delivered a privilege speech denouncing Enrile’s move, the Senate president countered that Trillanes was engaged in what Enrile believed were questionable talks with China over Scarborough Shoal.
“I have my own issues but the other senators have their own issues as well,” Trillanes said.
The senator added that the “ball now rests with the (four) LP senators” since apparently the new majority could not be formed without them.
Short of a few
“Let’s just say we have the numbers in our group and we are just waiting for the LP senators. Once we have the LP group, we would definitely have the required number. But without them, we are short of a few,” Trillanes said.
The four LP senators are Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, Francis Pangilinan and Teofisto Guingona III.
Trillanes believes it is imperative that the LP senators join the group since “the Senate presidency of Senator Enrile is not consistent with the Tuwid na Daan philosophy of this administration.”
“If we want to be consistent with the philosophy, then the LP senators have to be on board in this fight,” the senator said.
Trillanes added that while the Senate sitting as impeachment court convicted former Chief Justice Renato Corona for failure to declare his dollar accounts in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), “we have more reason to replace Senator Enrile. Chief Justice Corona’s are small change (barya lang) compared to his offenses.”