MANILA, Philippines – “Only an inane and bitterly hostile mind could fabricate such a canard. This is an outright lie and this is just another of those baseless fabrications against me from a depraved mind.”
Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile spared no harsh word for his fierce rival Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, denying her claim that he is the brains behind the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.
In a 30-minute privilege speech on Wednesday, November 27, Enrile blasted Santiago as a “cuckoo, inane and bitter mind,” “the grandmama of all falsehood fabricators,” and a “spiteful and bitterly hostile mind.” Read the full speech here. Watch the video here.
Yet the speech that some expected to be a detailed response to the charges against Enrile turned into a deeply personal and ugly rant against Santiago.
Enrile, 89, refused to expound on his denial that he is the mastermind of the pork barrel scam, saying he will address the allegations against him at the proper forum.
“I am sorry to say that this former judge does not seem to understand the basic meaning of due process. Every law student knows that due process simply means, ‘you hear first the evidence before you condemn.’ Now I know why she nearly flunked her bar examination. A parrot can memorize legal principles but it cannot apply them.”
Enrile was responding to allegations Santiago made during a Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on November 7, when alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles testified. Enrile responded to Santiago’s statements, from the legal to the personal.
“Sinabi ng senadora sa blue ribbon hearing na ako daw ay may asim pa. Ginoong Pangulo, nagpapasalamat ako sa kanya. Ngunit ikinalulungkot kong sabihin, at kahit masakit man banggitin, hindi po ako naaasiman sa kanya!”
(The senator said in the blue ribbon hearing that I still have appeal. Mr President, I thank her, but sadly I want to point out, even if it is difficult to say, I do not find her appealing at all!)
The former Senate President is among 38 individuals facing a plunder and malversation case for allegedly conniving with Napoles to siphon off his pork barrel to her fake non-governmental organizations in exchange for kickbacks.
Enrile also answered Santiago’s claims that Napoles should turn state witness lest Enrile have her killed. Santiago has maintained that Enrile, not Napoles, is the scam mastermind and the most guilty in the case.
The former defense minister during the martial law regime said he is not murderous.
“I never murdered anyone during all of my almost 90 years on this planet. I was in the war during World War II as a freedom fighter. I fired bullets against the foreign invaders of our country as they fired bullets at me. I do not know if I hit any of those I shot at. But for someone to say with impunity that I killed someone, whether here or anywhere else, or that I am planning anyone’s murder, is the ‘Grandmama’ of all falsehood fabricators,” Enrile said.
In an interpellation by his ally Senator Jinggoy Estrada after his speech, Enrile said there is a reason Santiago si so mad at him.
“Palagay ko pa naiinggit dahil mataas ang grado ko sa bar examination. Alam mo ako’y, ang nakuha kong grado almost 91% pero di ako naging topnotcher.” (I think she is just jealous because I got a high grade in the bar exam. I got a grade of almost 91% but I was not a bar topnotcher.)
Enrile and Estrada went as far as asking Senate President Franklin Drilon’s score to compare it with Santiago’s grade of 76%. Drilon said he ranked third in his bar exams.
Enrile quipped, “Tingnan mo, number 3 taga-Iloilo rin pero ang taga-Iloilo rin nasa bottom line.” (Look, he is number 3, also from Iloilo but the other senator from Iloilo is on the bottomline.)
‘Peeping Tom, vile, malicious’
Enrile also found cause to respond to Santiago’s statement that his bodyguard with a long firearm accompanied him to the restroom.
“I never realized until that blue ribbon hearing that we have a peeping Tom in this Senate. I never knew that someone was keeping an eye on me, even when I go to the most private of places here in this building. It was, after all, supposed to be a private area.”
Enrile said he never allowed any of his security personnel to carry long firearms in the Senate. He said he only carried a “small gadget to scratch my back.”
“Only a distorted, degraded, and deranged mind could imagine and invent such a blatant lie.”
On Santiago’s accusation that he funded the Zamboanga siege, Enrile said he did not even know about the conflict because he was in Cagayan at that time.
“Maliwanag po ito at walang kaduda-duda na nagpapatunay na may pagkasinungaling ang senadora na iyan.” (It clearly and without doubt proves that that senator is a liar.)
Enrile said he initially thought of keeping quiet especially after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). “However, I decided to break my silence, lest those who heard the vicious and baseless accusations against me of that vile and malicious mind would believe them to be the truth and nothing but the truth.”
Bar exam flunker, refused to return missing car
Enrile then went into his personal history with Santiago, his wedding goddaughter, in an attempt to explain her “deep-seated animosity” against him.
He said it arose from his opposition to her confirmation as secretary of agrarian reform during the Corazo Aquino administration, and when he refused to include her in the majority bloc when he was Senate President in 2008 and 2010.
Enrile said that during the confirmation hearing, he asked Santiago “if she was ever under the care of a psychiatrist.”
“She admitted that she was. She said that she was treated by a psychiatrist at the Makati Medical Center,” Enrile said.
“In the same Commission on Appointments committee deliberation, I asked her also what grade she got in her bar examination. She replied that she got 76%. That meant that she obtained low grades in all her bar subjects. In fact, I remember that she got a grade of 56% in Ethics, the easiest bar examination subject. Naintindihan ko na bakit ‘di niya sinusunod rules of ethics.” (Now I understand why she does not follow the rules of ethics.)
The former Senate President then said that when Santiago was a judge at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, former Philippine National Bank (PNB) vice president Toots Trinidad asked her to return his missing white Toyota Celica sports car but she refused.
“[Trinidad] shipped it back to the Philippines upon his return from the United States after his surgical operation for a brain tumor at the Stanford University. That sports car disappeared from the compound of the Bureau of Customs when it arrived in the Port of Manila.
Enrile said: “I was told that she claimed that her husband, Narciso Yap Santiago of the Province of Tarlac, who was at that time employed in the Bureau of Customs, gave her that sports car as a birthday gift. Later on, I found out that the car was registered in her name in the Bureau of Land Transportation in the Province of Tarlac.”
Enrile said Santiago’s animosity deepened when he initially refused to give her chairmanships of Senate committees but eventually relented upon the prodding of former Senator now Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in 2008 and former Senator Manny Villar in 2010.
Enrile said that Santiago just wanted the foreign affairs and energy committees for money.
“Obviously, she wanted a large pile of money at her disposal. But I could not satisfy her desire because the two committees had already been assigned to two other equally-capable senators. Finally, she asked for an oversight committee with a separate budget to be specially created for her to support her large staff. I accommodated her request without much ado.”
‘Crusading crook charge left unanswered’
Enrile then reiterated the statement of former Sen Panfilo Lacson that Santiago is a “crusading crook.” Lacson made the statement at the height of the Senate fund scandal when he came to Enrile’s defense in a bitter rivalry with Santiago.
“I have yet to hear from her a bristling rebuttal, a relevant answer, or a lucid explanation – not ad hominem as she is wont to do. Up to now the words of Senator Lacson remained unanswered. They are met with deafening silence from her. I just wonder why!”
Enrile then lamented how despite the “inanities” of Santiago, she still gets attention from the media and the public.
Enrile’s speech comes after he asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate a Philippine Daily Inquirer report saying that its investigators supposedly named him, not Janet Lim Napoles, as the mastermind of the scam.
“Ang masaklap po, Ginoong Pangulo, dinadaan ‘nya sa pagpapatawa, sa kanyang mga popular na pick-up lines, ang kanyang panloloko sa mga inosenteng kababayan natin. At ang mas masaklap pa po dito ay kung anuman ang mga salitang kanyang binitiwan ay kinakagat ng ilang mga peryodista nang ganon-ganon na lamang, sinasakyan ang kanyang mga paratang para lamang tuluyan akong idiin dito sa isyu ng PDAF.”
(What is sad is that she uses humor and popular pick-up lines to fool our innocent countrymen. And what’s more sad is that newspaper writers pick up her lines just like that to further implicate me in the PDAF issue.)
“It seems that the inanities of my bitter and obsessive hater are boundless.”
Santiago, who is ill with chronic fatigue syndrome, said she will “retaliate.”
She has asked Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, another bitter enemy of Enrile, to schedule her privilege speech on Wednesday, December 4. – Rappler.com