Enrile won’t be ousted, says Aquino ally-A A +A
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
REPLACING Juan Ponce Enrile as Senate President will be counterproductive since this will affect the approval of priority bills before Congress goes on a four-month break for the midterm elections, said an ally of President Benigno Aquino III.
Senator Sergio Osmeña III, who failed to cast his vote on Monday because of a meeting with insurance industry stakeholders, said Tuesday that Enrile is doing a good job in handling the affairs of the chamber.
On Monday, Enrile moved to step down from his post following allegations that he illegally distributed some P2 million to 18 colleagues last month, except for four senators he perceived as political enemies. Enrile’s bid was nipped by 11 senators.
Only Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Aquilino Pimentel III agreed to the motion that the Senate presidency be declared vacant while Senators Joker Arroyo and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. abstained.
"I will vote for the retention of (Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile). No matter how you wish to take sides, this is not the time to mess the Senate and change leadership. Alam niyo, ang adjustment process dito mga two months. Bigyan mo ako ng bagong committee, maghahanap na naman ako ng bagong staff para diyan,” said Osmeña in an ambush interview.
Trillanes was confident that Enrile will still be ousted if the senators belonging to the ruling Liberal Party will join his cause.
Except for Senator Francis Pangilinan who was absent, LP Senators Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon and Teofisto Guingona III voted to keep Enrile.
With this development, Osmeña said any move to replace Enrile before the end of sessions on February 6 will not succeed.
"Nobody has been approached. Kinausap ko ‘yung mga kaibigan ko dito, ‘Ano kinausap ka ba?’ Wala, wala naman. Parang nagiging wishful thinking na magkakaroon na ng coup d’ etat. Eh wala namang lumalapit sa kanila," he said.
In a separate interview, Enrile expressed elation over the Senate’s decision not to remove him from the position he has been holding since November 2008.
"I'm glad they expressed their position, and I'm thankful to them," he said.
He then challenged Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago to file a case with the Supreme Court questioning his authority to realign and hand out additional funds for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) before yearend.
Santiago, in her letter to Commission on Audit Chairperson Grace Tan, said Enrile committed "grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction" for using Senate savings as “Christmas gift” to senators.
Santiago said that “even with the power to realign, in the absence of the power to distribute financial incentives, the Senate President cannot give away year-end bonuses to senators.”
“Savings from an item may be used to augment spending that was not envisioned at the time that the budget was approved. The distribution of the bonuses does not fall under this concept of augmentation,” she said.
Santiago said that although the Senate President, like certain other high officials, has power to realign, that power should be exercised legitimately.
“The issue is not the existence of the power, but the legitimacy of the exercise of that power,” she said.
Tan earlier issued a statement virtually clearing Enrile of any irregularity, saying the Senate President and the Speaker have the power under the Constitution to augment any item in the national budget for their “respective offices from any savings in other items of their respective appropriations.”
Senator Pia Cayetano, another Enrile critic, is planning to donate the P250,000 her office received from the Senate President last December to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Cayetano also questioned why she and brother Alan Peter, Santiago, and Trillanes only received the first tranche of the additional MOOE worth P600,000.
"Am I being penalized for speaking my mind and for pushing legislation that is contrary to the views of the Senate leadership?" said Cayetano, who had differences with Enrile over the reproductive health law. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)