Enrile resigns as Senate president | Inquirer News

Enrile resigns as Senate president

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 03:59 PM June 05, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile pulled a surprise on Wednesday when he announced his irrevocable resignation from his post.

“Let’s us all be  men and women   worthy  of being called ‘honorable senators’ and let the chips fall where they may. And so as a matter of personal honor and dignity, I hereby irrevocably resign as Senate President,” Enrile said in a privilege speech when Senate resumed session at 3 p.m. on Wednesday after a three-month break.


Enrile blasted some colleagues allegedly behind a hate campaign against him that eroded public trust in the chamber and doomed his son Jack’s senatorial bid.


He singled out Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago whom he did not name in his speech as the detractors who succeeded in eroding the image of the Senate in their struggle to malign him.

Enrile described Cayetano as “no less than the son of my former (law) partner, the late Sen. Renato L. Cayetano (who) would dare accuse me of being a thief or a scoundrel” and Santiago as “a non-candidate senator who fashions herself as my nemesis and who evidently delights in doing the job.”

His voice shaking, Enrile dared all senators to individually account to the people how they used their annual budgets.

The challenge apparently stemmed from complaints aired early this year by Santiago and Cayetano about Enrile’s selective distribution of additional maintenance and other operating expenditures (MOOE) totaling P1.8 million and a P250,000 cash bonus to 18 senators only in December.

Excluded from the funds issued by the Office of the Senate President were Santiago, Cayetano, Sen. Pia Cayetano, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Enrile himself.

Santiago and Alan Cayetano were very vocal in their criticism of Enrile’s move that time.


Cayetano and Enrile even had a verbal tussle on the session floor after the younger senator delivered a speech scrutinizing the Senate’s steadily increasing budget from the time Enrile became Senate President in November 2008.

“With the constantly shifting political  ties  to muster the support of the majority of our colleagues and to maintain that support long enough  to achieve something  for the people who elected us into office is quite a feat in itself,” he said.

Enrile  then thanked his colleagues , who  “at the crucial hour,” had “managed to rise above selfish interest and ambition” to help him steer the Senate through rough waters in the last four and a half years that he served as Senate President.

“Thank you my colleagues for your forbearance. May God bless you all. And may God bless the Senate. Above all, may God  bless our country and our people,” he said.

After his speech, Enrile  went down from  his rostrum  and shook hands with   some  colleagues , including Senator Franklin Drilon , who is expected to  succeed  him  when the 16th Congress opens  in  July.

The session was immediately  suspended  after Enrile’s speech  and  a caucus of all senators  was called  at the Senate lounge.

In his speech,  Enrile lamented how  the  numerous  congressional  oversight committee operate and spend  their budgets “autonomously” and how  the senators allegedly now viewed  the chairmanships  of these committees as a form  of “entitlement.”

“Perhaps, in due time, Senator Drilon will finally find a solution that will adequately satisfy the members of this chamber. More importantly, I hope that such a solution will correct a rather unwieldy situation that has earned the criticism and disgust of the people,” he said.

When he made a motion to declare this position vacant a few months ago, Enrile said, he did not wish to endanger the trust that the public has reposed upon the Senate as an institution just because of the “viciousness and self-righteousness” of some people.

“They were only against me, after all. But in their desire to undermine me, they invariably brought the other members of the Senate and the image of the Senate itself to disrepute,” he said.

“After all that howl and rage, I now ask: Must all these issues of propriety, transparency and accountability be forgotten? Have all these issues suddenly become irrelevant? Can we just “move on” as they say, and just bury these issues in the dustbin of the Philippine Senate’s history?”

“My answer is no. No. The Senate neither begins nor ends with Juan Ponce Enrile. This chamber has its own honor to uphold, and its institutional integrity in the end means more to the people than all of us combined,” he added.

Enrile said he did not also  intend to use the “powers, perquisites and trappings” of the Senate presidency just to cling to it or to secure this position for himself when the new Congress opens in July.

“Neither do I intend to use this position to influence or impede in any way the conduct by the COA (Commission on Audit) of a no-holds barred audit of the Senate’s and the Senators’ budgets and expenditures,” he said.
Enrile’s resignation came amid talk of an impending  change in the Senate leadership with  Drilon expected to take his post.

No less  than  Enrile’s staunchest ally, Senate Pro Tempore  Jose “Jinggoy”  Estrada  in an interview with reporters before Enrile’s speech, conceded  that  the majority of the chamber will go to Drilon in the next Congress.

“Right now wala kaming numero. A-anim lang kami (We don’t have the numbers. We’re only six),”  Estrada said.

He identified the six as the four members of the so-called “macho”  bloc  composed of himself, Enrile, Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and re-elected Senator Gringo Honasan plus two neophyte senators Nancy Binay and JV Ejercito.

In his speech, Enrile foresaw an impending change in leadership as only  three members of the  United Nationalist Alliance— re-elected Senator Gringo Honasan,  Nancy Binay and  JV Ejercito—won  the  senatorial race.

Even Budget  Secretary  Florencio Abad, Enrile said, was  quoted as saying that the first order of the day when Congress opens in July was to replace the incumbent Senate leader and re-elect Speaker  Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte.

“That statement did not surprise me at all. I am sure that those who are eager to replace me have been assembling and gathering the numbers, if they haven’t already “sealed the deal,” so to speak. As a politician, that is all par for the course for me,” he said.

“Old age may have physically impaired my vision. But let me assure all of you: I can still see and read clearly the handwriting on the wall. I need not be told by anyone when it is time for me to go,” Enrile added.

Enrile in history

With the closing of the Fifteenth Congress and his resignation, Enrile has just finished serving his second term as Senate President.

Based on Enrile’s biography posted on the website of the Senate of the Philippines, in the 14th Congress he was elected by 13 senators on November 17, 2008 as the 26th President of the Philippine Senate.

In the 15th Congress, he was re-elected by 17 senators on July 26, 2010 as the 27th Senate President.

“Enrile earned his Bachelor of Laws from the University of the Philippines in 1953, where he graduated cum laude and salutatorian. He took his oath as a member of the Philippine Bar in 1954. He ranked No. 11 among the successful bar candidates with a rating of 91.72%, one of the highest in the history of the Bar. He made a perfect score of 100% in Commercial Law. He took post-graduate studies at the Harvard Law School where he obtained his Master of Laws degree in 1955, specializing in taxation and corporate reorganization,” the site said.

“He practiced law for twelve years from 1954 to 1966 as a law partner at the Ponce Enrile, Siguion Reyna, Montecillo, Belo and Ongsiako Law Offices. He also served as a Professor of Law at the Far Eastern University—College of Law from 1956 to 1964,” the site added.

The official biography also said because of his expertise in tax matters, “Enrile was appointed Undersecretary of Finance at the beginning of 1966 and a year later, he was made Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Philippine National Bank.”

Among the government agencies during the Marcos Dictatorship he led or co-headed were the Insurance Commission, Bureau of Customs, Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of the Philippines, Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of National Defense.

In 1986, he defected from the dictatorship to co-lead the historic EDSA People Power Revolution with General and eventually President Fidel V. Ramos, the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, Agapito “Butz” Aquino and millions of Filipinos.

Due to alleged infighting among the key players in the newly-installed administration of President Corazon Aquino, a few months after serving as Aquino’s defense secretary, Enrile was replaced by General Rafael Ileto.

There were also allegations that Enrile was among the masterminds behind several coup d’etats against the first Aquino administration.

Enrile ran for the new Senate and won as the lone minority member from 1987 to 1992.

Instead of running for a second term, he opted to run for a congressional seat in his home province and won as representative of the first district of Cagayan from 1992 to 1995.

In the 1995 senatorial elections, he was asked by President Ramos to join the administration ticket. He won and served as Chairman of the Committees on Ways and Means, and Government Corporations and Public Enterprises.

In 1998, he ran for President and lost to Joseph Estrada.

He served as senator until 2001, in which authored the Comprehensive Tax Reform Law.

In 2004, he won another term in the Senate for the 13th Congress.

The controversial trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012 was considered a shining moment for Enrile, who as Senate President acted as presiding officer.  He was praised for his “brilliant and fair” handling of the case viewed on television.

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With the opening of the 16th Congress in July, Enrile will be finishing the second half of his six-year term in the Senate. With a report from Cathy Yamsuan.



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