MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago admitted Wednesday she did not top the 1969 Bar Exams but resents Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's raising of the issue to deflect attention from the Senate's excess budget.
Speaking to ANC's Headstart, the lawmaker said she was in love when she took the Bar. She also said she was rebelling against her father for not allowing her to go on a scholarship to Russia.
"Sasagutin ko ang tanong mo - I almost flunked the Bar? That's right because I fell in love. I never denied it. I never passed myself off as topping the Bar. What I am saying is I passed the Bar," she said.
A report on the University of the Philippines Vanguards website said Santiago got a 78% average grade in the Bar. Santiago is a sponsor of the UP ROTC Unit.
Santiago said she had wanted to go on a scholarship to Russia right after finishing her law degree at the University of the Philippines Diliman but her father, district trial judge Benjamin A. Defensor, said no.
"That was my form of rebellion to my father. Well, I studied but I also found the questions completely unintelligible. Anong pinagtatanong nito? What is this guy thinking of?" she said.
She also recalled the story of her roommate who said: "Itong si Miriam, Bar exam time nagde-date."
The senator said she resented Enrile's bringing up of the issue amid her call for a Commission on Audit probe on the Senate's savings. This is after Enrile gave out P1.6 million additional maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) funds to 18 senators but not to Santiago and 3 other colleagues.
"That's personal. Ano reklamo niya that I did not top the bar? He's making a personal accusation against me. Ano relasyon niyan dito sa pera?" Santiago asked.
She noted that Enrile was shifting attention away from the Senate funds by resorting to argumentum ad hominem or attacks of a person's character or circumstances.
"What about you? What if I say you have body odor? Wala nang katapusan yan," she said.
"Kung di ba malisyoso yung tao na yun pati yun isasama niya sa debate? Ang debate tungkol sa P2 million na rinegalo niya sa mga senador. Bakit dadalhin niya kung saan saan? I am very familiar with that because I was best debater in the UP College of Law," she added.
Santiago refused to file a case against Enrile because she wanted to exhaust other remedies first, including a COA probe of Senate funds.
She again challenged Enrile to debate on the issue.
"Harap-harapan tayo para marinig ng taumbayan ang rason mo at rason ko at bahala sila kung anong hatol nila. Hindi yung nagsisiraan tayong dalawa. Sino natutuwa dun? Ikaw?"