Santiago says Enrile financed Zamboanga attack
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Thursday accused her political enemy, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, of allegedly financing the rebellion by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City to divert the public’s attention from the accusations of plunder against him.
“Enrile is so desperate that he is like a crocodile who has left his maritime kingdom and is flapping around on land, still hoping to kill his prey. I am morally convinced of his culpability in trashing the Commission on Audit and its chair, as well as in engulfing Zamboanga City in an expensive rebellion,” Santiago said in a statement.
Santiago first hinted at Enrile’s alleged involvement in the MNLF attack on Zamboanga City in a speech at the 13th annual postgraduate course of the University of the Philippines-Department of Emergency Medicine at Diamond Hotel in Manila.
In her speech, Santiago cited the estimate of the party-list group Magdalo, whose members come from the armed services, that the MNLF faction led by Nur Misuari and ground commander Habier Malik would have spent at least P40 million on the attack on Zamboanga that began on Sept. 9.
Magdalo Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo urged the government on Wednesday to investigate the information that somebody linked to the P10-billion pork barrel scam paid the Misuari faction of the MNLF P40 million to create trouble in Zamboanga.
Speaking at a news forum in San Juan City, Acedillo said the information, received recently by Magdalo, was “very plausible.”
While P40 million was “not enough to sway the scheme of things in one direction or another,” Acedillo said it was “enough to create trouble.”
“Any trouble outside the [pork barrel scam] is, I think, a welcome development [to those involved]. Because, without naming names, it is of interest to them that the government is preoccupied on so many fronts,” Acedillo said.
Welcome to pork abusers
In the portion of her speech where she tackled her suspicions on who the financiers of the Zamboanga attacks were, Santiago referred to “rumors” and did not identify Enrile by name. But later in the day, she issued a stronger statement implicating Enrile.
“The question now is: Who gave the P40 million to the MNLF [faction] led by Misuari? Where did he get it? He doesn’t have P40 million? Maybe [there is an] overseas [financier]? Maybe someone who wants our country to be engulfed in conflict? Or maybe a Filipino who is now being grilled over the pork barrel scam so he wants public attention diverted to Mindanao?” Santiago said in her speech.
“Can you guess who? Imagine, the charge of plunder [involves] a minimum amount of P50 million. If he stole at least P50 million—but even more, if he already stole P500 million—what is P40 million to him, right? Think about it,” she said.
In her statement, Santiago pointed out that according to the whistle-blowers, Enrile reportedly gave some P400 million of his allocation in the Priority Development Assistance Fund to a nongovernment organization set up by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
“Thus, in the buzzing public mind, Enrile could easily afford to spend P40 million on the Zamboanga rebellion as a diversionary tactic. The public should consider his background as defense secretary during martial law, with a proclivity for coddling former police and military officials, and a feckless ambition to rewrite history,” Santiago said.
Enrile is facing plunder charges in the Office of the Ombudsman, along with Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., Napoles and a number of congressmen.
The MNLF faction led by Misuari denied the Magdalo information on Tuesday.
Emmanuel Fontanilla, lawyer and spokesman for Misuari, said the MNLF would “never accept funds from a corrupt source.”—With a report from Kristine Felisse Mangunay