SENATE President Juan Ponce Enrile advised Sen. Manuel Villar not to use his money to buy his way out of the controversy hounding him.

Enrile disclosed Villar’s alleged attempt to bribe him in connection with the Senate investigation of the C-5 road project.

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“I would like to caution Senator Villar about his propensity to use his billions to offer favors to people, including his colleagues, to avoid facing the charges against him,” Enrile said in a statement.

“To use your money to bribe people just because you want to kill the investigation instead of facing the charges against you… is the worst disservice you can do to this nation. The people will see through any attempt to use money to win the presidency. Not everyone can be bought. Bribery will be your downfall,” Enrile said.

Enrile, who chairs the Senate Committee of the Whole, revealed that he met with Villar, a presidential candidate, at the Japanese restaurant Inagiku at the Makati Shangrila Hotel last year to discuss the Senate’s investigation on Villar’s culpability in the C-5 mess.

Villar, the country’s richest senator, supposedly made repeated offers to Enrile for help with anything he needed.

Villar denied Enrile’s claim, saying “No help was asked and none was given.”

The Senate Committee of the Whole said Villar should return the P6.22 billion the government lost because of the alleged anomalies.

The road extension was supposedly realigned from the government’s original plan and made to pass through Villar’s properties to gain road-right-of-way compensation, which the Senate found to be overpriced.

Villar, who has not showed up in the Senate hearings, has repeatedly said the C-5 Road Extension project was not realigned from the government’s original plan, and that he did not benefit from the controversial project.

Gutter

Yesterday, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago walked out of a Senate plenary session after criticizing Enrile and fellow senators who engaged in gutter talk during Monday’s floor debates.

Santiago, in her speech, reminded her fellow senators that the rules of the Senate frown on the use of improper language during debates in the plenary, especially against each other.

“Our language and behavior did not serve the nation...Our parliamentary immunity entitles us to freedom from liability in anything we say or do against anybody except our fellow senator or against any public institution such as the institution of the presidency, Congress or Supreme Court,” she said.

Santiago reserved her harshest criticism for Enrile whom she took to task for implying that she had not brushed up on jurisprudence that showed that a senator could be censured by a vote of the majority.

Santiago said Enrile’s behavior was “unparliamentary,” and urged all her colleagues to resign if they continue to behave in such a way.

She insisted that the Senate Committee of the Whole report recommending Villar’s censure would need two-thirds of the Senate or 16 votes to adopt the committee report.

‘Insertion’

Apart from Santiago and Enrile, Sens. Roxas and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. also had a rift.

But Pimentel has decided to apologize for the “insertion” remark that he made during Monday’s session.

Pimentel made the apology through a prayer that he recited before the opening of the Senate session yesterday.

He, however, did not categorically apologize to TV host Korina Sanchez. After Pimentel’s remark, Sanchez’s husband, Sen. Manuel Roxas II, urged the Senate minority leader to ask an apology from the TV host.

“Dear Lord, we, your senators, are embroiled in a stormy debate over a controversy involving a colleague of ours. In the heat of the discussion, some of us tend to use words that are coarse and vulgar. To those who I might have hurt in this chamber by the use of intemperate language or unseemly expressions, I apologize and beg their forgiveness through you, Lord,” said Pimentel.

At the height of the debate on the case faced by Villar in connection with the “double insertion” of P200 million in the 2008 budget for the C5 road project, Roxas asserted

that he never pushed for any insertions or amendments in proposed national budgets involving his projects.

“I have no insertion on any matter. In fact, I have no insertion period because we were in the minority. Let alone an insertion for a road to pass through any such property,” Roxas said.

Insult

Pimentel replied: “Well, I’m sure that after your marriage you’ve had some insertions.”

Roxas felt insulted by Pimentel’s remark and demanded that “it be removed from the record” because that was “an affront on my wife.”

Yesterday, Roxas, who remained hurt and offended by the remark, said Pimentel did not need to apologize to him, but to Sanchez.

Pimentel said he has no quarrel with and respects Sanchez.

“If I hurt anyone, [I] am ready to apologize but not for imagined political partisan slights,” he said.

Meanwhile, Roxas’ runningmate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino criticized Villar for his refusal to face the hearing on the C5 extension anomaly.

Recent surveys have shown Villar placing second to Aquino in the presidential surveys.

“His problem is not coming from other people. It comes from his actions. He has not answered and yet he is putting the blame on us. We gave him all the opportunity. We did not hinder his right to air his side,” Aquino said. (Sunnex)