‘Senate coup wishful thinking, moot’ – senators
MANILA, Philippines – "The coup plot is foiled."
Some senators doubted that a plot to remove Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will still prosper after 11 senators voted to reject his motion to quit.
Only two voted with Enrile to declare the Senate Presidency vacant while two others abstained. The voting came after Enrile made a motion in a privilege speech on Monday, January 21.
Fierce Enrile critic Sen Antonio Trillanes IV said his plan to oust Enrile is still on but some of his colleagues believe otherwise.
Sen Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III was not present during the voting but said if Enrile will reiterate his motion, he will vote to retain him as Senate President.
“Parang nagiging wishful thinking na magkakaroon ng coup d’etat eh wala namang lumalapit sa kanila (fellow senators),” Osmeña told reporters on Tuesday, January 22. (It seems like a Senate coup is wishful thinking when no one is approaching my fellow senators.)
He added, “This is not the time to mess the Senate and change leadership. The adjustment process here is two months. I’ll be given a new committee. I’ll look for new staff. We only have 3 weeks left.”
There are only 8 session days left before Congress again goes on break for the campaign period.
Besides, Osmeña, an ally of President Benigno Aquino III, said he is satisfied with Enrile’s leadership.
“Definitely, I think Johnny has been doing a good job by and large. Not everyone will agree but just because they don’t agree doesn’t mean he will be replaced. I respect the opinion of Sen Trillanes and Sen Santiago but for the sake of the institution and the sake of the country, let’s not change courses in the middle of the stream.”
Osmeña explained he was not able to take part in the voting because he was meeting with officials of the Insurance Commission on the Insurance Code.
He pointed out that whoever wants to change the Senate leadership needs a coalition between the various Senate groups.
By his count, Osmeña said there are 7 senators belonging to the so-called Malacañang bloc composed of Liberal Party (LP) members and some independents. The Nacionalista Party has 7 members while there are 5 independents. He said Enrile’s group counts 4 to 5 members.
“I don’t think there’s any desire to rock the boat at the time when we have so many more important things to do. It’s not fair to the Filipino people,” he said.
Trillanes has said that he needs the support of the LP members to oust Enrile but in Monday’s vote, 3 LP members voted in favor of Enrile: Senators Franklin Drilon, Teofisto Guingona III, and Ralph Recto.
The other LP member, Sen Francis Pangilinan, was absent. Pangilinan told Rappler in a text message that he would rather not comment on the issue.
The renewed plot to oust Enrile came on the heels of the controversy surrounding his decision to exclude Trillanes and 3 other critics from receiving additional Senate funds.
Pimentel vote ‘not against Enrile’
Aside from Trillanes, only Sen Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III voted in favor of Enrile’s motion.
Amid criticism, Pimentel explained that his vote did not mean he was against Enrile’s leadership but “to give change a chance.”
“That was my spur of the moment decision to a surprise motion,” said Pimentel, who happens to be the seatmate of Trillanes.
Asked why he wanted change, Pimentel said, “Because of this issue, this controversy, that there is favoritism in the use of Senate funds. I was thinking maybe majority of senators want change so I just gave change a chance but it came out that the 11 did not want change. They have various reasons like time.”
The senator clarified that he has no problems with Enrile's leadership, joking that the two accepted each other's Christmas gift.
Pimentel also pointed out that he and Enrile voted together against the Reproductive Health bill, and on opposing sides in the sin tax reform bill. "He (Enrile) said our collaboration is on a case-to-case basis."
Pimentel said he was impressed by the performance of Sen Franklin Drilon but agreed with Osmeña that leadership change is a closed issue.
“After yesterday, there will be no more change in the Senate leadership,” he said.
‘Critics the ones confused’
Pimentel also responded to criticism of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) Executive Director JV Bautista that his politics is “insensitive and confused.”
Pimentel is president of PDP-Laban, which allied with Enrile’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) to form the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). Yet he is running as an adopted candidate of the LP after a falling out over the inclusion of resigned Sen Juan Miguel Zubiri in the UNA slate.
Bautista, also UNA spokesperson, said Pimentel’s vote in the Senate Presidency issue may weaken the remaining support from his party.
Pimentel said, “Maybe JV went on a long vacation. He does not know that I am an adopted LP candidate.”
“I am confident of the continuing support of my partymates up to the very end. I’m sure of that. Maybe JV Bautista is the one confused because I already filed my certificate of candidacy and I’m aligned with the LP coalition.” – Rappler.com