MANILA, Philippines – Sen Antonio Trillanes IV insisted Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile must be ousted or he will use the Senate’s discretionary funds to bankroll the opposition’s election campaign.
On Wednesday, January 23, Trillanes told Karen Davila at ANC’s morning show Headstart that Enrile, who holds more than half a billion pesos as Senate President, will likely use that money to help the campaign of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Enrile is an UNA stalwart while Trillanes is running for re-election under the Liberal Party (LP) slate of President Benigno Aquino III.
“If you have such a Senate President with tyrannical tendencies and the country sees how the funds are disbursed, they will see how his resources will be used for the campaign period,” Trillanes said.
To highlight his point, Trillanes said Enrile had not only tried to strip him off his committees, but said that his office has also been given the smallest budget.
He also said that Enrile’s decision not to give additional Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) to his critics and the minority, while legal, “exposed a lot about the man and his leadership style.”
Trillanes urged viewers to listen to Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano’s privilege speech on Wednesday, January 23, which he said would shed light on the distribution of funds and the “staggering amounts” under the control of Enrile.
The controversy was sparked by Enrile’s decision not to give P1.6 million each to Trillanes, Cayetano, and Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Pia Cayetano last December.
The 4 Enrile critics only got the first MOOE tranche of P600,000 each in November, and a Christmas cash gift from Enrile’s office of P250,000 each.
Enrile’s allies defended him, saying the MOOE is for official purposes only, and is subject to liquidation and accounting. The Commission on Audit also said Enrile has the discretion over realigning Senate savings.
Enrile’s camp has argued that Trillanes’ committee, in contrast to his claims, actually received an increase of P5 million but Trillanes said it was Sen Franklin Drilon who pushed for that.
“They lie as natural as breathing. If you have a Senate President like that, you should be afraid,” he said. “The information being given to media by Sen Enrile are half-truths.”
He insisted Enrile needs to be ousted to be consistent with the reforms that the administration is pursuing.
After having arrested former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, replacing former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and impeaching ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona, Trillanes called Enrile “the last tentacle of GMA.”
“People who are aware of the past of Enrile, his presence under the Aquino administration is an anomaly, an aberration,” he said.
Trillanes vowed he would do what he can to remove Enrile, and said he would continue to talk to senators who are open to the idea of a leadership change for the good of the country.
LP change of heart?
On Monday, January 21, Enrile in his privilege speech moved to declare the senate presidency vacant, a motion 11 senators rejected.
Trillanes expressed little worry over the votes of his fellow senators, dismissing Enrile’s resignation as “drama” and a “shallow victory.”
He echoed his previous statements that he would have more than the required number to oust Enrile if LP senators supported his move, but said he was hoping and praying they would follow suit and see the “light at the end of the tunnel.”
“[The LP senators] haven’t assessed yet the political assignments… once they do that and decided it would be in the best interest of the LP and the country, they will make a move,” he said.
Trillanes also denied that he was trying to get President Aquino involved, but admitted that a go-signal from him to the LP senators would be all they needed to remove Enrile,
“This Liberal Party, it’s up to them. The head of the LP is the president so it is but natural to at least consult or inform the President. it’s not asking the President to intervene, but being the head of the party, they need to consult with the President,” he said.
Trillanes has 7 session days left to accomplish what he calls his mission, before the Senate goes on a break in February for the campaign season. – Rappler.com