MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago’s word war with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has become so intense it’s now a health risk.
Santiago’s doctors advised her to take it easy, warning that she is risking a second stroke with her worsening feud with Enrile.
In a statement, Santiago’s office quoted her cardiologist, former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, and ophthalmologist Dr Rodolfo Chuanico as saying she should “disengage from politics” and be “insulated from political news.”
“If Sen Santiago reports to the Senate on Monday, she might have a sudden rise in blood pressure and suffer either a stroke or a heart attack. She already had a mild stroke some 10 years ago,” Cabral said.
The doctor is referring to the resumption of session on Monday, January 21. Cabral said that on Wednesday, January 16, the senator’s blood pressure upon waking was 184/100.
Chuanico said Santiago’s blood clot in the eye is a warning that another abrupt rise in blood pressure might cause a stroke.
“Technically, Sen Santiago suffered a mild stroke after her TV interview. Fortunately, the stroke went to her eye instead of her brain. If she continues as usual, a second stroke will be imminent.”
The senator’s word war with Enrile was sparked by the controversy over the Senate President’s selective release of Senate savings.
Enrile admitted that he excluded Santiago and 3 other critics from the second tranche of Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) amounting to P1.6 million each senator last December.
Santiago and Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Pia Cayetano, and Alan Peter Cayetano only got the first tranche of P600,000 each, and a Christmas cash gift of P250,000 each.
‘Political enemies may dance on your grave’
Cabral cautioned Santiago against continuing her public spat with Enrile, saying her two younger brothers died of heart attacks in their sleep.
“With that kind of medical history, Sen Santiago will be placing herself in harm’s way if she continues her battle against her fellow senators. I have told her that political enemies might be dancing on her grave if she continues to fight them singlehandedly.”
Santiago said she will “consider seriously” her doctors’ advice.
“Dr Cabral pulled me out of my first stroke. I was temporarily paralyzed but I got over it. She is one of the most respected cardiologists in our country. I have to follow her instructions,” the senator said.
Santiago added that she will also heed the words of her ophthalmologist.
“He wants me to ignore and forgive my enemies. I tried to smile,” she said.
Silence… for now
Following the doctors’ advice, the public can expect a ceasefire of sorts, at least from Santiago’s side.
Santiago’s spokesperson Tom Tolibas said the senator will no longer grant media interviews until her blood pressure stabilizes.
Chuanico said it will also be best for Santiago “to avoid provocation that might incite her to anger” to be in good health in case she is called to duty in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Santiago was elected as a judge in the ICC last December 2011.
She lambasted Enrile for saying she should already report to the court.
In the Wednesday interview on ANC’s Headstart, Santiago addressed Enrile, pointed her finger at the camera, and glared.
“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.
Lacson has also been dragged into the issue after the senator criticized Santiago for saying that the Senate funds were meant as a bribe for the other senators to keep Enrile in his post.
Santiago has warned of a Palace-backed coup against Enrile for opposing administration measures like the Reproductive Health and sin tax reform laws, and for heading the opposition United Nationalist Alliance.
Santiago said Lacson should not meddle with her feud with Enrile, saying he was not even a lawyer and was a fugitive from justice. This was in reference to the one year Lacson went into hiding after he was implicated as a mastermind in the double murder of publicist Bubby Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in 2000. The Court of Appeals later cleared Lacson.
Lacson shot back, calling Santiago a “crusading crook.”
“A hypocrite par excellence, she doesn’t have a single shred of integrity in her veins and moral ascendancy over any mortal on earth. Ask the people who have fallen victims to her verbal threats and assaults and they will tell you how much they shelled out,” he said.
Lacson added, “She should do some soul-searching and self-reflection. She should also stop blaming God for all her hurt feelings.”
‘I’m quiet but she doesn’t stop’
Enrile said he is saddened by what happened to Santiago and has long kept his silence.
“Ako, nalulungkot sa nangyari sa kanya pero wala akong magagawa dahil hindi na nga ako umiimik para tumigil siya pero ‘di naman siya tumitigil. Ako naman, ‘di nakikipagdebate sa kanya kasi natatakot ako sa utak niya,” Enrile told reporters in a phone interview. (I am saddened by what happened to her but there is nothing I can do because I don’t speak anymore but she does not stop. I am not debating with her because I am afraid of her mind.)
“I am sorry that she has to suffer that kind of pressure. I will pray for her, for her recovery.”
Enrile said there is no need to declare a “ceasefire” because he is no longer talking.
“’Di ko hinihingi na ceasefire. Wala akong kalaban. Basta ako tumatahimik. Ginawa ko ang ginawa ko pero sila ang may gustong magsampa ng kaso, isampa na nila para matapos.” (I don’t ask for a ceasefire. I have no enemy. I am keeping quiet. I did what I did but if they want to file a case, go ahead so the issue will be settled.)
Santiago has said she plans to file a petition before the Supreme Court over the issue but is first waiting for word from the Commission on Audit on her request to conduct a deeper probe.
Asked if the resumption of session on Monday will be awkward, Enrile said, “It doesn’t matter if she will come. She’s a senator. I’m a senator.”
“I’m going to perform my duties as always. Whatever they want to happen, they should do what they want to do.”
Enrile also told the media not to “toy with the Senate.”
“’Wag niyo nang sisirain ang image ng Senado. Please lang.” (Don’t destroy the image of the Senate. Please.) – Rappler.com