Enrile is playing favorites – Trillanes
MANILA, Philippines – Sen Antonio Trillanes IV is no longer surprised that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile singled him and other critics out in the release of additional Senate funds.
“Siyempre, alam naman nating may mga favorites diyan. (Of course, we know there are favorites.) If you belong to the majority, you get certain perks, especially if you’re very close to the Senate President, you get even more,” Trillanes said in a press conference on Wednesday, January 9.
Reacting to a report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Enrile had confirmed that he excluded Trillanes and Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Pia Cayetano and Alan Peter Cayetano from the list of recipients of the second tranche of MOOE funds last December. The 18 other senators got P1.6 million each.
The 4 senators only got the first tranche of MOOE amounting to P600,000 each in November, and a Christmas cash gift from Enrile worth P250,000 each. Enrile said he exercised his “sole discretion” in the release of the funds.
“It’s not my problem now, obviously. It’s his problem why he played favorites as a Senate president,” Trillanes said.
Trillanes said he cannot conclude whether there was any irregularity in Enrile’s handling of the funds but said it reflected on his leadership.
“I don’t know kung ganoon ang leadership style niya, it’s up to him. Ngayon, ang sa akin lang, if that is allotted for a senator, it should have been even pero kung sinasabi niyang discretionary funds iyan then it’s up to him.” (I don’t know if that is his leadership style. To me, if that is allotted for a senator, it should have been even but if he says it’s discretionary funds then it’s up to him.)
Trillanes added, “At least the public knows now the kind of leader that he is. Sa amin kasi, I came from a military school so iba ang tinuro sa amin.” (We were taught a different lesson.)
Enrile and Trillanes are bitter enemies. Their rift began when Trillanes bolted the Senate majority, accusing Enrile of railroading the division of Camarines Sur upon orders from former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Enrile shot back, accusing Trillanes of siding with the Chinese in back-channel talks on the territorial row over Scarborough Shoal. The Senate President used as basis supposed notes of then Ambassador to China Sonia Brady.
‘I never stopped plotting coup vs Enrile’
Trillanes admitted he received the P250,000 cheque from Enrile’s office. He said he presumed it was part of the regular funds his office receives and spent it on relief operations for victims of Typhoon Pablo.
The senator added that if it were up to him, senators should have just donated any extra money to typhoon victims or to charity.
The Inquirer quoted an anonymous senator as saying that the money from Enrile could be interpreted as a “bribe” amid persistent talk of a plot to unseat him as Senate President. Other senators rejected the speculation in separate interviews with Rappler.
Trillanes denied involvement in the release of the Inquirer report but again openly admitted he has been planning to oust Enrile.
“I never stopped and I will not stop kasi ganoon iyon. Kagaya ng laban namin kay GMA, hanggang dulo iyan.” (That’s how it is. Like in our fight against GMA, we will fight this out until the end.)
Trillanes and Santiago have warned of a Palace-backed coup against Enrile following his opposition to administration measures like the sin tax reform and reproductive health laws. Enrile is also a leader of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Asked if the release of the MOOE to the senators was connected to the reported Senate coup, Trillanes said, “I will leave it up to the political analysts and objective observers to speculate on that.”
Trillanes said he and his partymates in the Nacionalista Party will have to discuss the selective release of the budget but stopped short of saying he will push for an investigation on the issue.
He said it is up to the Commission on Audit (COA) to check the funds.
Other senators though have said that there was nothing irregular with Enrile’s move.
In a text message to Rappler, Sen Francis Pangilinan said the MOOE budget is meant only for official purposes.
“The MOOE budget cannot be considered a Christmas gift because it is spent only for official business of the office to include transportation and official travel, rental of office space, payment of utilities, meetings, and other allowable expenses. We say allowable because all these expenses are audited by the COA.”
‘So ready for Enrile campaign attacks’
Looking ahead, Trillanes said he is prepared for his May re-election bid despite Enrile’s threat to campaign against him.
“They can do their worst and I expect them to do their worst because we’ve been through such enemies before and we’re ready for it. We are so ready for it,” Trillanes said.
“Hindi ko siya problema. Kung ako ang problema niya, hindi ko siya problema. Maraming problema ang bayan natin. He should be the least of my concerns.” (He’s not my problem. If I’m his problem, he’s not my problem. Our country has more problems.)
Trillanes responded to Enrile’s previous statement branding him as “the phantom of the opera in Philippine politics.”
“Kung may ia- iunmask, mas marami akong ia-unmask. Ginawa niya ang kailangang gawin eh. When push comes to shove, I will unmask the real villains of Philippine politics. We’ll cross the bridge when we get there basta ‘di tayo natatakot sa mga ganyan.” (If there is someone to be unmasked, we have many. He did what he needs to do. We are not afraid of those threats.) – Rappler.com