MANILA, Philippines - Amid the controversy surrounding Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's distribution of money to other senators last Christmas, one of them will not touch the amount he received--for now.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said on Monday that although he sees nothing irregular about Enrile's move, he will "quarantine" the money amounting to a total of P2.2 million, billed as additional maintenance and other operating expenses.
"I-quarantine ko muna ang halaga. Iiwan muna diyan, huwag muna galawin," he told reporters.
Pimentel said he will keep the money for one to two weeks and decide whether to keep or return it, depending on the people's clamor.
Should he decide to spend it, he said it would go to storm victims in Mindanao.
"Kung malakas ang clamor na isauli, isasauli ko," said Pimentel, a candidate for reelection in this year's elections.
The senator also defended Enrile against claims that he used the money to bribe his fellow senators so he can keep his position as Senate President.
Pimentel said he does not believe it was a bribe because he was not even informed about the money, and only found out about it when the controversy broke out.
"The mere fact na hindi man lang ipinaalam sa amin personally na mayro'n palang ipinadala, that means walang kapalit 'yon. Malayong malayo 'yon sa konsepto ng bribery," he said.