Trillanes, Enrile clash over politics-A A +A
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
MANILA (2nd Update, 7:33 p.m.) -- Fed up with the Senate leadership’s alleged shabby treatment, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV joined the minority bloc on Wednesday.
On the last session day before Congress goes on a two-week break, Trillanes accused Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile of lobbying for the approval of a bill that would carve a new province in Camarines Sur, which will be called Nueva Camarines under House Bill 4820.
Trillanes opposed the measure along with Senators Joker Arroyo and Manny Villar as the bill has yet to pass the period of interpellation.
Trillanes earlier pointed out that creating a new province out of Camarines Sur will only lessen the Internal Revenue Allotment of the existing provinces, thus hampering the delivery of basic services in their areas.
He added that this might set an ill-advised trend of legislation seeking division of big provinces in the country.
But more than this, Trillanes saw Enrile's push for the bill as an accommodation to three-term Camarines Sur Representative Luis Villafuerte, who may contest for a legislative seat next year if the bill is signed into law and ratified by voters.
"Is the pressure coming from Congressman Villafuerte, who we see often loitering about at the senator's lounge, the Senate President's office, and even personally lobbying to senators while we are in session? As persistent as Congressman Villafuerte is, I doubt it if our Senate President would be pressured by him. Annoyed, probably, but not pressured," he said.
Trillanes also related that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called up Enrile to speed up the measure, sensing that the Senate President has turned into a lackey of the unpopular leader.
Trillanes resigned from the majority bloc and joined Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, Senator Pia Cayetano and Joker Arroyo in the other group.
Pissed with Trillanes' tirades, Enrile touched on the young senator's role as a backroom negotiator for the Philippines' territorial spat with China at the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
Trillanes tried to block Enrile from spilling the beans but the Senate President refused, which prompted the young lawmaker to walk out of the session hall. He only returned two hours later to interpellate Senator Ferdinand Marcos, chairperson of the committee on local government, on the Nueva Camarines bill.
"He's a coward," Enrile said.
Bringing with him notes of Ambassador to China Sonia Brady on her meeting with Trillanes and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on August 17, Enrile suggested that Trillanes was somewhat yielding to Chinese pressure.
Also, Enrile said Trillanes met with representatives from the Chinese Foreign Ministry some 16 times and that he even discredited del Rosario for taking a tough stance against Beijing. Enrile added that Trillanes wanted then Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II to succeed del Rosario.
"This is a senator of the Republic calling our Secretary a treasonous person in a foreign land. He doesn't even know when treason arises," Enrile said, adding Trillanes told the Chinese that Filipinos cannot enforce coastal protection.
The Philippines has been consistent in finding a peaceful solution to the territorial row using the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (Unclos) but China reportedly wanted one-on-one negotiations, a set-up favored by Trillanes.
"He wanted to become the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to superimpose his mind to the judgment of the duly designated and appointed shaper of foreign policy for the country," Enrile said.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a former committee chair on foreign relations, disagreed with the use backchannels, saying it presents a potential case of mistrust that can affect the integrity of the talks.
"If you are the Secretary would you want someone who is acting beyond your authority or even beyond your knowledge? If DFA Secretary Del Rosario resigns it will sound like he is really incompetent, because there are charges that he might be incompetent on this respect. So you have to stay there and fight the good fight," she told reporters.
For her part, Senator Loren Legarda withheld comment on the issue although she has expressed support to del Rosario.
"He is doing a difficult job and his efforts are well appreciated, I am sure, by many Filipinos. At the end of the day, there is only one team that addresses issues of foreign policy and that is Team Philippines headed by the President, with the able support of the DFA," she said.
Malacañang said that Trillanes volunteered his services to help in easing tensions at the resource-rich shoal, which is just 124 nautical miles away from Luzon and part of the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone as guaranteed by the Unclos.
"Maybe he (Trillanes) was requested to interfere because he is a member of the navy and it might turn into a naval dispute," Santiago said. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)