MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson believes Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago was only "sour graping" when she made an issue out of the additional budget given to 18 senators.
In an interview on dzMM Monday, Lacson said he believes Santiago only returned the P250,000 in maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) budget when she realized she was among four senators who did not receive P1.6 million in funds from Enrile.
The MOOE given in November (P600,000) and the one given in December to 18 senators (P1.6 million) put the total value of the additional funds to P2.2 million.
Aside from Santiago, Senators Alan and Pia Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV, who are seen as critical of Enrile, did not get the full amount.
Lacson said he wonders why Santiago did not raise the supposed unconstitutionality of distributing the MOOE when she received its first tranche in November.
"Bakit nung Nobyembre namigay ng additional MOOE na P600,000 hindi niya sinoli at 'di siya kumikibo. Sabi ko yung tama kahapon, hindi pwedeng mali ngayon eh iisa lang naman 'yun," Lacson told dzMM.
Lacson said he decided to finally speak out after he and fellow senators' names have been dragged into the issue.
"Ang sabi niya may conspiracy of silence. Ang tawag niya sa MOOE eh bribe. Ipagtanggol mo rin ang buong senado at mga senador na walang kinalaman. Nag-aaway sila ni senate president pero lahat kami dinamay niya," he said.
Santiago had already addressed the issue on her supposed "double standard" in dealing with the MOOE issue.
In a university speech last week, Santiago said 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."
The Senate President had denied that the cash gifts were intended as bribes to stave off a Senate coup.