Santiago wants probe into Enrile’s ‘crimes’

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

MANILA (Updated) -- Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago turned the tables on Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on Wednesday, reciting for nearly an hour the alleged crimes committed by her nemesis in his decades-old public life.

Santiago called on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to investigate the alleged crimes, mostly during Martial Law when Enrile was Defense secretary to then President Ferdinand Marcos.

She said Enrile should be held accountable for the death and disappearance of some 4,000 people and for being the alleged mastermind of the infamous pork barrel scam.

[Read the full text of Senator Santiago's privilege speech]

Enrile is already facing plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly pocketing P172.8 million in kickbacks for sponsoring ghost projects under the Priority Development Assistance (PDAF), a scheme supposedly ran by his "best friend forever" Janet Napoles.

Santiago also accused Enrile of running smuggling and gambling empire in the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) and illegal logging operations covering 95,770 hectares during the dictatorship.

The feisty senator did not spare Enrile’s personal life, calling him a “hypersexualized serial womanizer,” for which his wife allegedly left him in 1998, and breaking up the marriage of his chief of staff and “concubine,” Gigi Reyes.

“Enrile’s bungled attempt at revisionist history and his blatant disinformation has been widely condemned by all sectors of society. The man is an incorrigible liar and criminal, as brought out by the litany of his crimes against the Filipino people,” she said.

Enrile was seen laughing and playing a game, Bejeweled, on his tablet while Santiago was delivering scathing remarks. Santiago declined to be grilled by her colleagues, saying she is ill with chronic fatigue syndrome.

 Miriam Defensor-Santiago
MANILA. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago delivered a privilege speech on Wednesday in response to Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile's tirades against her last week. (Al Padilla/Sunnex)


In response, the former Senate President said he never oppressed anyone and has no interest in Ceza, except to develop the place to give jobs to the people of Cagayan, his home province.

He also lamented Santiago’s attacks on some people who were not at the session hall, like former senator Panfilo Lacson and Reyes, whom he believed is innocent of charges. Reyes was Enrile’s co-respondent in the plunder charge.

He said Santiago only showed to everyone that there is something wrong with her mental health, hitting his veteran colleague for her propensity to make “unfounded accusations.”

"I would have wanted to reveal more things but I won't share them here because I respect her absence," said Enrile.

Santiago left her sickbed to answer a privilege speech last week by Enrile, which she said were a rehash of campaign criticisms when she ran for president in 1992.

These include questions about her mental health, performance in the Bar examinations and for alleged ownership of a smuggled sports car when she was trial judge in the 1980s.

“After his poisonous personal attacks against me, Enrile expects that I shall be cowed into silence by his usual bluff and bluster. That is not going to happen. He made no mention at all of the sizzling talk of the town that he is the real mastermind of the pork barrel plunder. Enrile should get real,” she said.

She challenged Enrile to a televised debate on the plunder charge against him, including his use of the Senate President’s discretionary fund to distribute nearly P2 million as Christmas bonus to senators last year.

"No matter how devilish his power and no matter how fabulous his ill-gotten wealth, I refuse to be coerced by Enrile! Justice should be done, though the heavens fall. I am fortified by my faith," she said.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago
MANILA. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Wednesday challenged Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile to a televised debate on several issues, including the plunder charge against him. (Al Padilla/Sunnex)

Not good to Senate image

Senators agreed the word war between Enrile and Santiago is not doing the image of the Senate any good.

"The issues being thrown against each other are not work related and some people are dismayed because the Senate is a prestigious institution,” said Senator Jinggoy Estrada.

Estrada said he will try his best to mediate for the sake of the nation as he promised to work silently and convince both senators to consider the Christmas season as a reason to kiss and make up.

He said his father, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, also expressed willingness to sit down with Enrile and Santiago to stop the verbal battle for the sake of the country.

Senator JV Ejercito, for his part, said he is hoping that someone like Senate President Franklin Drilon can mediate and end the bickering.

"I hope that after letting out and venting out all ill feelings against each other, this will end. The honor of the Senate is more important. Both are good friends and they are both intellectuals. Mag ninong yan and nothing is impossible," he said.

Senator Nancy Binay said both are mature enough to handle the matter.

“I hope they will behave in a more gentlemanly and lady-like manner, befitting the dignity of an institution like the Philippine Senate," said Senator Sergio Osmeña III.

Osmeña said it is up to Drilon to take steps to mitigate the situation, but doubts whether the Senate chief will be successful in doing so.

"The Senate President is supposed to keep order and decorum," he said.

Estrada said even former senator Manuel Villar and former senator Manuel Roxas II tried their best to settle the problem between Santiago and Enrile but failed. (With Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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