MANILA, Philippines - In response to the public apology issued by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's chief of staff lawyer Jessica "Gigi" Reyes, Sen Pia Cayetano on Saturday, January 25, said she is not aware of any "deeply-rooted" reason that may have caused Enrile to harbor "personal hurt" against the Cayetanos.
In her lengthy public apology, Reyes wrote:
But I also understand the depth of the Senate President’s personal hurt involving Senators Alan and Pia Cayetano which the public will never know and understand I guess. It is quite deeply rooted, and by the way, it is not related to the RH bill itself, much less, to local politics in Taguig.
Cayetano's brother, Sen Alan Cayetano and Enrile have been caught in a bitter word war over the exclusion of certain senators from P1.6 million in additional Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) distributed by the Senate President last December.
For Cayetano, her "personal and professional relationship" with the Senate President had always been good.
“With all honesty, I cannot think of any other issue, apart from the RH [Reproductive Health] and Sin Tax laws, that might have caused Senate President Enrile to feel so strongly against me. I know he was not happy with me regarding Sin Tax because he asked for my removal from the bicameral conference committee on Sin Tax. And of course, we all know our views on RH were poles apart," Cayetano said.
Cayetano had said this before. In a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday, January 22, Cayetano gave the same reasons on why she believed she was excluded from the cash gifts.
On the Senate floor, Alan Cayetano hit Reyes' ties to the political rivals of his wife, Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano. He said Reyes is best friends with Retired Justice Dante Tinga, who filed an election protest against his wife for the 2010 mayoral race.
Hitting back, Enrile drew out a document which allegedly showed how much their father, the late Rene Cayetano, owed him before.
Enrile-Cayetano tension goes way back
A former Enrile supporter, lawyer JB Baylon, provided an inside view on why the controversy over Senate funds turned personal.
In his piece, Baylon revealed that former law partners, Enrile and the late Rene Cayetano (Sen Alan and Pia's father), had a falling out when the elder Cayetano accepted the post of Presidential Legal Counsel under former president Fidel Ramos.
Enrile and Ramos became key figures in the EDSA People Power Revolution when they resigned from Marcos' cabinet and joined the peaceful uprising. Enrile was supposed to run for president in 1992 but decided to cancel his bid. Ramos won that year.
Baylon wrote: "I am sure [Rene] Cayetano sought Enrile's approval for this; that approval may have been grudgingly given but I am sure it was given nonetheless. But the move wittingly or unwittingly changed the trajectory of [Rene] Cayetano’s political career -- out of the “magnetic field” of Enrile and into its own path."
Baylon said he also wondered how Enrile felt that it was Ramos, not him, "who became the principal beneficiary of EDSA."
For Cayetano, however, whether or not Enrile held a personal grudge against her is immaterial.
“But assuming that what Atty. Reyes said was true – that Senator Enrile had deeper reasons for resenting my brother and I – is that an acceptable reason for him to act against a colleague? Does it mean that if any of the senators displease him in any way, he can arbitrarily act and treat us differently? ‘Pag di sya happy sa ‘yo, pwede ka nyang api-apihin?’ she said.
Enrile, for his part, has remained unperturbed. Asked in an earlier press conference about a possible reconciliation with his critics, Enrile said: "Wala (none). I can work with them. I have my majority. I don’t need the minority. I can pass laws without them. That is the essence of a majority." - Rappler.com