CEBU CITY, Philippines—Administration re-electionist Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has taken his feud with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to the campaign trail, telling reporters that Enrile is now the symbol of what Filipinos rejected when the Arroyo administration bowed out of power a few years back.
In an interview with reporters before the start of Team PNoy’s second day in Cebu, Trillanes said Enrile was one of the allies of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who have found themselves in the United Nationalist Alliance of Arroyo foes like Vice President Jejomar Binay and former President Joseph Estrada.
“They are now allies. As I have been saying, Senator Enrile was a lackey of GMA [Arroyo’s initials]…. We have to remind the people that this was so and, in fact, he was the one who lobbied that GMA be allowed to travel abroad,” Trillanes said.
“So it’s clear that they’re allies. To the President and in his media statements, he was calling for allowing GMA to seek medical treatment abroad. The records will bear that out,” he added.
Told of Enrile campaigning against him in the Senate president’s bailiwick in Cagayan, Trillanes said, “That should be highlighted. This is the new GMA. This is the new face.”
“The people of Cagayan should start to realize that Senator Enrile’s dictatorial tendencies should no longer be allowed because his days [as Senate president] are over,” Trillanes said.
The Senate leadership issue could be one of those that would be greatly affected after the elections.
Senate Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada said in an earlier interview that Enrile is likely to keep his presidency of the chamber if most of the UNA candidates win.
Trillanes, for his part, has not denied that he was working for Enrile’s ouster even before the extended congressional recess in time for the campaign period.
Enrile in January moved that his post be declared vacant but even Liberal Party senators that Trillanes had been counting on to oust Enrile voted against the Senate president’s motion.
Despite Enrile’s leadeship of the UNA as an opposition coalition, the Aquino administration has maintained that it has a good working relationship with the Senate President.