Says senators not pocketing MOOE
MANILA - Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III on Friday said he is certain that majority of his colleagues support Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile amid his tiff with a few senators.
Sotto said some senators just prefer to be silent to avoid being involved in the ongoing rift between Enrile and some of their colleagues.
"I guarantee you majority of the senators support Senator Enrile. 'Di lang nagsasalita 'yung iba sapagkat ayaw matalamsikan ng mantika," he told radio dzMM.
Sotto also said that with only six days left before session adjourns for the upcoming mid-term elections, it would be impractical to change the leadership of the Senate.
"Pag nagkapalitan ngayon, para mong sinabi na wag na kaming magpasa ng kahit anong bills in the next 6 days...kasi 'di maaaring hindi mag-reorganize eh, 'di maaaring 'di mag-eleksyon ng bagong committee chairmanship at membership," he said.
The word war between Enrile and Senators Miriam Santiago, Antonio Trillanes, Alan Peter Cayetano and Pia Cayetano stemmed from Enrile's release of about P1.6 million each in additional maintenance and other operating expenditures (MOOE) funds to 18 senators.
The Senate president, however, distributed only P250,000 each to Santiago, Trillanes and the Cayetano siblings.
MOOE funds distribution JPE's prerogative
Sotto, a staunch ally of Enrile, said he sees nothing wrong with Enrile's distribution of cash to his fellow senators, noting that it is his discretion as head of the Senate.
"Karamihan naman sa amin wala naman kaming nakikitang violation na ginawa ng Senate president eh.
'Yung MOOE...walang problema 'yan," he said.
"Prerogative niya 'yun eh," he added.
Sotto said what's important is that the funds are not being pocketed by the senators for their personal use.
"Dapat 'yan i-dedeposit sa bangko ng opisina mo. Pag dineposit mo sa pangalan ng opisina mo, hindi sa pangalan mo, whatever pinagkagastusan mo madaling i-verify 'yan."
During the interview, Sotto also admitted that it has been the practice in the Senate to issue certifications only, and not receipts, for their expenses. But he clarified not all Senate expenses are accounted for this way.
He added that he also sees nothing wrong if the Commission on Audit (COA) decides to impose new auditing rules on the Senate.
"Kung gusto nilang baguhin 'yan eh 'di baguhin nila. Kung sa tingin nila mali, eh 'di gawin nilang mabusisi. Wala namang problema sa karamihan ng mga senador eh," he said.
Gigi Reyes 'too good'
As for the resignation of Enrile's chief of staff Atty. Gigi Reyes, Sotto said he cannot do anything about it since her resignation was irrevocable.
He said he just hopes the Senate president can still find someone as good as Reyes.
Reyes resigned from her post on Wednesday amid the rift of her boss and Cayetano, who also criticized her after she called some senators "hypocrites" for not returning the additional MOOE funds they received from Enrile even after they had raised concerns about the money.
"'Di kami patol diyan sa mag-resign siya eh. Masyadong magaling na administrador si Atty. Gigi para basta na lang ganun," Sotto said.
"Pero wala tayong magagawa pag ganun. Hopefully Senator Enrile will be able to find a good replacement," he added.