MANILA, Philippines – A heated debate between Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile and Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano turned personal Tuesday when Enrile disclosed an unpaid P37 million debt by the minority leader’s late father after Cayetano, in a privilege speech, accused Enrile of allowing an aide to act like a senator.
It was Cayetano who fired the first salvo when he took the floor to reveal how Enrile’s chief of staff, Attorney Gigi Reyes, allegedly acted like a senator, attending and speaking at their caucuses.
“Alam naman natin kung papaano nyo po patakbuhin ang Senado or more accurately, how you and Attorney or Ma’am Gigi runs the Senate,” Cayetano said.
“Di ba ho bawal sa caucus ang mga staff? But out of respect for you, pumayag kami na hindi lang nandun si Ma’am Gigi kung hindi, pwede pa syang magsalita pag may caucus. Pwede syang mag-discuss sa mga senador. Para na rin syang senador.”
“Tinanggap ko po yun.Tinanggap naming lahat. Bakit po? Courtesy and respect. You deserve it, you’ve earned it,” he said.
And to every lie that Enrile would say against him, Cayetano warned that he has 100 “truths to tell about him and his chief of staff”.
“Tempted po talaga akong sumagot. Tempted po ako na magsalita ng ganyan,” he said, referring to Enrile’s accusations that he was a hypocrite and coward.
“Bakit po ako tempted? Bakit po ako natutuksong sumagot? Dahil sa bawat isang kasinungalingan na inilalabas ninyo sa akin,may 100 katotohanan ang alam ako tungkol sa inyo at ni Ma’am Gigi,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano noted how he and his sister, Senator Pia Cayetano, have been quiet when the controversy over the P2.2 million funds given to senators broke out until Enrile himself admitted that he deliberately excluded the Cayetanos from the funds simply because they belonged to the minority group.
From the start, Cayetano said Enrile allegedly blocked his membership to the powerful Commission on Appointments and gave other senators certain committees that were promised to him.
“Bakit ba kayo inis at galit sa akin personally? Dahil dati na kayong galit sa akin sapagkat napakalapit nyong dalawa ni Attorney Gigi sa dating Pangulong GMA at kay First Gentleman,” he said, referring to former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.
The senator also disclosed Reyes’ alleged closeness to the rivals of his wife, Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano.
After the minority leader’s speech, Enrile immediately took the floor and disclosed that Cayetano’s father, the late Senator Renato Cayetano, still owed him P37 million.
“Unang-na, tungkol sa iyong yumaong ama. Ang masasabi ko lang, nandito po hanggang ngayon hindi nababayaran na utang nya na ginastos nya sa opisna namin na itinayo ko para mayroon syang sa pamilya nya . P37M po hanggang ngayon hindi namin sinisingil alang-alang lang sa pagsama -sama namin…” Enrile said.
But Cayetano stopped the Senate leader, saying his father was no longer alive to answer the accusation.
Instead, Cayetano reminded Enrile how his father “practically gave his life” to him during the time of the late President Corazon Aquino.
“You kicked him out of the law office na tinayo nya …but I don’t remember he owes you P37 million because my father worked every single centavo. And it’s unfair for you to bring that. E kung sabihin ko sa iyo ngayon na tatay mo ang may utang sa amin? E paano naman nila mapapaliwanag?”
And when Enrile claimed that he has a record of the late Cayetano’s debt, the minority leader insisted that the Senate leader also has a debt of gratitude to his family.
“Anong utang na loob? Ano ba yung bahay nyo?.. Yung mga kahoy, saan galing?” Enrile asked.