Santiago files ethics complaint vs Enrile

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Monday, December 9, 2013

MANILA (Updated) -- Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago asked the Senate leadership on Monday to organize the ethics committee after she formally filed a complaint of disorderly behavior against Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, whom she called "mastermind of plunder" in a speech last week.

In her letter to Senate committee on rules chair Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, Santiago said the chamber should look into Enrile's alleged disorderly behavior by attacking the lady senator on a personal level in a privilege speech he delivered last November 27.

Santiago cited Senate Rules 34, which tackles Unparliamentary Acts and Language.

She also cited the following rules: Section 93, which states that acts and language that offend a senator or any public institution shall be deemed unparliamentary; Section 94, which says that no senator, under any circumstances, shall use offensive or improper language against another senator or against any public institution; and Section 97, which states that upon recommendation of the committee on Ethics and Privileges, the Senate may punish any member for disorderly behavior and, with the concurrence of two-thirds of the entire membership suspend or expel a member. A member may be suspended for up to 60 days.

Santiago said that since the Ethics Committee has not yet been organized, she opted to forward the letter to Senate President Franklin Drilon to cause the organization as soon as possible.

"In my own speech on 4 December 2013, which I delivered in self-defense, I was merely exercising my right to reply, as explained by the appellate courts in the following cases: Malice connotes ill will or spite and speaks not in response to duty but merely to injure the reputation of the person defamed, and implies an intention to do ulterior and unjustifiable harm. (United states v. Canete, 38 Phil 253 1918)," Santiago said.

Santiago earlier delivered a retaliatory privilege speech directed at Enrile, whom she called as "my enemy." [See full text of Santiago's speech.]

Enrile, during his privilege speech, repeatedly referred to Santiago as a "bitter and obsessive hater." [READ: Enrile skirts PDAF issue, hits goddaughter Santiago]

Some senators have expressed dismay over the renewed public bickering of the two most senior members of the chamber.

Whether to intercede to the warring senators and prevent the institution from being dragged into their personal and deeply-rooted attacks, Senator Francis Escudero said he would rather have the Senate leadership handle the issue confronting Enrile and Santiago.

"I leave it to the Senate leadership. Both the Senate president, the pro tempore and the majority leader. At the end of the day, each one is accountable, each one is responsible for whatever he will say or not say, do or not do in the plenary and as a member of the chamber,” Escudero was quoted as saying.

For his part, Senator Vicente Sotto III reportedly said he is willing to chair the Senate Ethics Committee in order to know who should be held liable between the two.

Sotto, together with Senator Sergio Osmena III, had proposed that unparliamentary words used by both Enrile and Santiago should be stricken off the Senate record.

According to reports, Sotto will move that both speeches be referred to the Ethics Committee and be heard in a committee hearing to know who started this exchange of unparliamentary comments.

Sotto, who is a close ally of Enrile, said he will not refuse to the Ethics Committee chairmanship if it will be offered to him.

The Ethics Committee is tasked to conduct investigation and discipline erring members of the chamber. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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