Gift or bribe: as Enrile sees it-A A +A
Friday, January 11, 2013
SENATE President Juan Ponce Enrile gave it during Christmas. But isn't P1.6 million for each senator too expensive for an individual gift?
The money was purportedly for their additional maintenance and operation expenses.
What the public doesn't know is the requirement on spending and whether each senator must account for it.
It was a gift, JPE insists, saying that if one calls it a bribe, one has very low opinion of the senators. As if many Pinoys place all legislators in high esteem.
Granting largesse to lawmakers for ignoble purpose is not uncommon. Lobbyists come bearing gifts. Some presidents influence legislation by means fair or foul. One president was exposed as having doled out cash in paper bags.
JPE says he could look anyone in the eye and say that when he got elected twice as Senate president he never spent public money.
Eyeball-to-eyeball tests are not exactly tough for a veteran politician. Besides, maybe he didn't need to spend before but he needs to do so now.
Besides, there's such a thing as a corrupting gift, when even without ill intent of giver or receiver it tends to influence decision-making. Not only must a gift be not a bribe; it must be perceived to be not aimed to secure a favor.
So what if the money came from unspent funds? It hasn't ceased to be public. With the practice of using forced savings to splurge on gifts and bonuses, one wonders if it's just a device to disguise overspending.
And grant of discretion wasn't license to be so generous or to play favorites. It wasn't loose change and it was not his.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 11, 2013.