MANILA, Philippines – It was too hot to handle.
Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago’s blood vessel in the eye burst from hypertension after she granted a TV interview on her nemesis, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
In a statement, Santiago’s office said that Dr Rodolfo Chuanico diagnosed her as suffering from hypertension, causing some of the blood vessels in her right eye to burst.
Santiago appeared on “Hot Copy” on Headstart with Karen Davila on ANC, the ABS-CBN News Channel, on Wednesday, January 16. In the interview, she talked about her criticism of Enrile for selectively giving out Senate funds, excluding her and 3 other critics.
“Apparently, Santiago developed hypertension after appearing on the early morning TV show ‘Headstart,’” said Santiago’s office.
“After the TV show, Santiago stayed for photos with the TV staff, her right eye noticeably red, and with red blood clots around the pupil.”
Davila agreed, referring to the interview on her Twitter account as "HOOOOOT COPY!"
As of 4:40 pm, Elsie Gayo, a nurse who works in the senator’s office, said Santiago’s blood pressure was 190/115. The nurse was contacting cardiologist and former Health Secretary Dr Esperanza Cabral, Santiago’s personal physician.
Santiago’s staff told Rappler that the senator is now resting at home. She has been advised to rest her eye and continue with hypertensive medication.
The senator is suffering from hypertension, causing her to be absent several times during the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona last year.
‘Below the belt to attack illness’
Santiago was emotional during the TV interview, at times humorous and at times angry.
Facing the camera, she pointed her finger, glared and responded to Enrile’s statement that she should already leave to start her job as judge in The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).
“Hey, I address this to my political enemy: Since you are a lawyer, read the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. A newly-elected judge is required to wait, until a retired judge has finished all his cases. That is why neither the ICC nor I know when I will be called for duty. This is a non-issue, but it is being used against me because he just wants to get rid of me,” she said.
In her press statement, Santiago took exception to Enrile’s accusations of “frequent illness.”
“It is below the belt to attack me on the basis of my ailments. That is unchristian and beyond the bounds of play.”
It wasn’t just Enrile who Santiago attacked in the interview. She also took a swipe at Sen Panfilo Lacson, calling him an “Enrile defender.”
Lacson in turn struck back, saying Santiago was a “crusading crook” and “hypocrite par excellence.”
The exchange of words is just the latest in a worsening Senate feud sparked by the cash gifts controversy.
Santiago is questioning why Enrile excluded her and 3 other critics from the second tranche of Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) amounting to P1.6 million each in December.
Santiago, and Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano only got the first tranche of P600,000 each in November, and a cash gift of P250,000 each.
Enrile admitted he deliberately excluded Santiago and the minority senators from the release of the second tranche. On Wednesday, Sen Alan Peter Cayetano revealed that Enrile also recalled staff assigned to him and Trillanes.
Santiago and Enrile though have admitted to having a deep-seated rivalry dating from the presidency of Cory Aquino.
Santiago has warned of a Palace-backed plot to unseat Enrile as Senate President because of his opposition to administration measures like the Reproductive Health and sin tax reform laws.
She also said Enrile’s position as a top leader of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is a factor to remove him from his post.
Santiago said if it were up to her, she would prefer Senators Franklin Drilon, Edgardo Angara, and Manny Villar to replace Enrile. Angara quickly said he was not interested.
Of the 3 former Senate Presidents, only Drilon will stay on after the May elections. Angara and Villar's terms will end this year. – Rappler.com