DAVAO CITY, Philippines – First funds, then people?
Sen Alan Peter Cayetano said on Wednesday, January 16, that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile had ordered the recall of two of his staff in the Senate secretariat. Sen Antonio Trillanes IV’s staff was also recalled, according to Cayetano.
Cayetano told reporters on the sidelines of the 40th Anniversary and National Convention of the Integrated Bar that he received a memo last week saying that his and Trillanes’ staff are being recalled.
He added that there was no explanation behind the recall.
“What is unique with Sen Trillanes and I as senators?” Cayetano said.
Enrile confirmed that he had their staff recalled as early as Dec 6, 2012 because their assignment had already expired.
“It was only proper that these high-salaried personnel should be sent back to and be utilized by their respective mother units,” he said.
Enrile said that Cayetano’s staff who were recalled were from the Blue Ribbon Office while the employees detailed to Trillanes are from the Senate Economic Planning Office and the Office of the Senate Secretary.
Cayetano said the timing of the recall is suspect because it came following reports that Enrile gave P1.6 million each to 18 senators in December 2012. Enrile excluded Cayetano, his sister Pia, Trillanes and Miriam Defensor Santiago – all his critics – from the fund release.
“It’s a martial law-GMA-Enrile kind of tactics,” he added, referring to how then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo witheld pork barrel allocation from members of the opposition.
Cayetano said it is now up to the majority if they will tolerate this. “It’s a problem of the majority. Is this the kind of Senate they want?” he said.
He said Senate funds should also be audited by an independent firm. While he has confidence in the Commission on Audit, Cayetano said it would be best to get an independent auditor to check Senate funds.
Cayetano and Trillanes have criticized Enrile for selectively releasing the Senate funds.
Cayetano has said that the release of the funds was aimed at preventing a Senate coup against Enrile.
“Meaning, I don’t know why Sen Enrile would do that except to send a message that if you cross him even on issues, this is what’s going to happen to you,” Cayetano said in a press conference last week.
Trillanes also said Enrile was playing favorites in his distribution of the Senate savings. – Rappler.com
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