Cayetano: Issue won’t end until Senate opens books
MANILA, Philippines – “Call me whatever you want but address the issue.”
Despite a word war that dragged the name of his late father, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano still wants Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to address the controversy surrounding the selective release of Senate funds.
In an interview after their explosive exchange on Wednesday, January 23, Cayetano reiterated his call to Enrile to allow a private, independent audit of Senate funds. At the very least, Cayetano said Enrile should release the documents liquidating the P250,000 Christmas cash gift he gave senators.
Enrile drew the ire of the minority leader when the Senate President responded to his privilege speech by saying that the late Sen Renato Cayetano owed him P37 million when they worked together in the Pecabar law firm.
Cayetano said Enrile “went to the gutter” by “bringing up things where a person who’s already dead cannot answer.”
Cayetano later told reporters, “Wala na sa akin ‘tong lahat pero ineexpect ko pa rin ang PR campaign nila kasi ganoon talaga ang style nila sa nakaraang labanan. They won’t answer the issue pero mamemersonal pa rin.” (All of this is not an issue to me anymore but I still expect a PR campaign from them because that is their style in past battles. They won’t answer the issue but they take me personally.)
“Kung ‘di ikatataas ng blood pressure niya, kakamayan ko nga sana but I think I should let things cool off muna but for me, what’s important is the documents are there.” (If his blood pressure will not rise, I wanted to shake his hand but I thought I should let things cool first.)
Cayetano was referring to the rise in Enrile’s blood pressure after their word war. Enrile later apologized for what he described as a “fracas” and broke down the use of the Senate funds.
At the root of the issue is Enrile’s decision to exclude Cayetano, his sister, Pia, and Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Antonio Trillanes IV from receiving P1.6 million each in additional MOOE last December.
The 4 Enrile critics only got the first tranche of MOOE of P600,000 each in November, and the Christmas cash gift from Enrile’s office of P250,000.
In his explanation after the word war, Enrile said the MOOE is for official purposes only. On the cash gift, he said he intentionally issued it through a cheque from his office's official Land Bank of the Philippines account to ensure that the money can be traced and audited.
The minority leader, however, said that Enrile’s explanation was inadequate because he mixed up the cash gift with the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE).
Cayetano insisted that Enrile must release the documents for liquidation.
“It’s important to know how much can be explained by mere certification and how much by receipts.”
The senator said while Enrile said he was open to an audit, he seemed to have taken it back by saying the decision is up to the entire Senate as a collegial body.
“This issue will not end until they open the Senate’s books,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano's sister, Sen Pia, was silent after the word war but tweeted this:
Thank u all for the support. Its sad to see my deceased father draggedinto this when issues raised by Sen Alan are serious.— pia cayetano (@piacayetano) January 23, 2013