Takes swipe at Sen. Tito Sotto for 'copying'
MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago took a swipe at her fellow senators, with apparent references to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, during a lecture at a university in Manila on Friday.
At a Charter change symposium in Centro Escolar University (CEU), Santiago criticized Enrile for supposedly using his savings as "Christmas gifts" to senators.
Santiago told university students and faculty that Enrile's actions were an example of dirty politics.
"Paano nangyari ito sa ating bansa na ang pera ng bayan puwede nang gamitin na personal gift ng pangulo ng opisina?" she said.
Santiago explained that although the Constitution allows the leaders of government branches to utilize their savings to augment other items in the budget, the money should not be used whimsically.
"Ang problema, ang savings namin, kinuha tapos ipinamudmod," she said. "The savings were not spent for the expenses of the Senate as an institution, but spent as Christmas gifts for the senators."
Lack of sex appeal?
Santiago also highlighted the fact that she did not get the P1.6-million "Christmas gift," billed as additional maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE).
She and Senators Alan and Pia Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV, who are seen as critical of Enrile, did not get the money.
She said this violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. She also pointed out that it was irregular to give additional MOOE at the end of the year.
"Ano'ng criteria kaya nila, bakit kami exempted? Dahil hindi kami magaganda? Sex appeal?" Santiago said, eliciting laughter from the audience.
Sotto not spared
Even one of Enrile's allies was not spared. While talking about her achievements as a student, Santiago stressed the importance of hard work and not copying from others.
"Tingnan mo ang mambabatas na nangongopya noong sila'y estudyante. Ngayong senador na, nangongopya pa rin!" she said, apparently referring to Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III.
Sotto was accused of plagiarism for using without attribution parts of certain blogs and a speech of a late American senator in his series of speeches against the reproductive health bill (now a law), which Santiago authored.
"'Yang mga kalaban kong 'yan, punong puno na ako sa kanila. Hinahamon ko sila, magdebate kami dito sa CEU! O kung gusto nila, magboksing na lang kami!" Santiago said.
"Then I challenge my enemy, let us compare legs to see who has the most beautiful legs. Mag-shorts siya at mag-shorts din ako," she said as the hall erupted in laughter.
No complaints before?
During a press briefing after the lecture, Santiago was asked about Enrile's statement that she did not complain about being given additional MOOE in the past.
At first, the senator appeared offended by the question.
"Gusto n'yong mag-press con tayo tungkol sa theory ng Senate President. Press con ko ito, kaya dapat 'yong aking side ang maririnig," she said.
Santiago then explained that she may not have complained before because the amounts were modest.
She also said she would accept any amount "as long as it is given to all senators, not just a few, and as long is liquidation is requested."