It's a 'parliamentary maneuver,' says Koko Pimentel
MANILA - Senator Antonio Trillanes IV refused to give up on efforts to have Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile ousted as head of the upper chamber, calling Enrile's surprise motion on Monday to declare his post vacant--which lost--a "calculated move."
Trillanes insisted Enrile's ouster as Senate president is inevitable, even if a majority of 16 senators present during the resumption of session on Monday voted to keep Enrile as Senate president.
"May mga senador na handa na sa pagpalit ng liderato ng
Senado. Ngayon, ang inaantay na lang natin yung mga senador from the Liberal Party para makumpleto ang numero na iyun," he said.
During the voting on Enrile's motion to declare the post of Senate president vacant, only Trillanes and Koko Pimentel agreed with Enrile. Eleven senators, including 3 members of the Liberal Party (Frank Drilon, TG Guingona, Ralph Recto), rejected it. Three abstained.
The 11 senators who voted against declaring the Senate presidency vacant, thereby closing the door to have Enrile removed, are:
Panfilo Lacson, Jinggoy Estrada, Chiz Escudero, Frank Drilon, Tito Sotto, Ralph Recto, Gringo Honasan, Loren Legarda, Bong Revilla, TG Guingona, and Lito Lapid.
Trillanes told ANC the moves to oust Enrile are still on track.
"Medyo juvenile ang speech nya. We have to make our own speech tomorrow, so we can have a response to such a juvenile statement," Trillanes said.
"The non-LP senators are all ready to move. We are waiting for LP senators to join us," he reiterated. "Should LP senators join us, that's when we can exceed the numbers. [The] ball is in court of LP senators."
Among the absentees Monday was Enrile's nemesis Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who is on sick leave due to high blood pressure and chronic bone marrow disorder, and the Cayetano siblings.
Koko Pimentel, in an interview on radio dzMM Monday night, described Enrile's motion to declare his seat vacant as a "parliamentary maneuver."
"Wala pa naman kami doon sa crucial vote on who is to be Senate president. Nandoon pa lang kami sa tanong na gusto ba nating i-reorganize ang Senate leadership," he said.
"Open ako. Ang ibig sabihin lang ng boto ko, open ako magkaroon ng bagong [president] ang Senado," he added.
"Posibleng magkaroon ng pagbabago pero hindi ibig sabihin na magbabago," Pimentel said.
On the question that Enrile's motion and the voting was "moro-moro" or a staged act, Pimentel replied, "Sa tingin ko, it was a parliamentary maneuver."
He, however, said the Senate should focus on more important things.
"By defeating the motion, that's it. Dapat tama na. We should move on to legislation," he said, claiming that no one among his senators are discussing who should replace Enrile.
Cayetano asks Enrile to open books
Meantime, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, one of those moving to remove Enrile, said the Senate president should explain how his office spent around P500 million from the more than P1.5 billion that the Senate gets as its annual operating budget.
Cayetano also wants a private auditing firm to look into public funds the Senate is spending.
In an interview with radio dzMM, Cayetano said from the more P1.5 billion, only P600 million go to the offices of senators, with each lawmaker getting P2 million a month.
Senate committees, meanwhile, get P400 million.
"May matitirang P500 million. Ang tanong ko, paano ba ito? By certification din ba iyan?" Cayetano said, referring to the practice of senators just signing certifications for discretionary funds that do not require official receipts.
"Kaninang umaga, nag-offer na ako ng solusyon. Ang sinabi ko, pati kami titigil na, kumuha tayo ng private accounting firm, i-audit na lahat ng pondo," he added.
"Si Senator Enrile, binabato sa amin, marami din daw kaming pondo, pero hindi sinasabi iyung totoo," he said. "Ang hindi sinabi ni Senator Enrile, P100,000 lang isang buwan ang MOOE (maintenance and operating expenses) ng chairman pag P10 million ang pondo and iyung members, P50,000. Sagot na iyung pa-xerox, sagot na iyung merienda, iyung venue ng hearing and everything else."
He believes that some senators don't want a private audit.
"Ang linya ng Senate president, kasuhan ninyo kami. Eh narinig ko na iyan dati eh, si GMA (former President Arroyo) parating ganyan eh," he said. "Ngayon nabubuko sila eh."
"Ang issue, kung bakit ang senador, pirmahan lang ang liquidation," he said. "Nakakahiya nag-iimbestiga kami ng ibang tao o ibang grupo."
"Iyung mga gumagamit ng tama iyung pondo, hindi kami mago-object na resibuhan lahat iyan. Doon sa binubulsa iyung pera, hindi papayag iyan."
Cayetano compared the situation to the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, particularly the latter's bank accounts.
"Ang issue, kung bakit ang senador, pirmahan lang ang liquidation. At bakit mga senador, bakit puwedeng merong bigyan, meron hindi. Nakakahiya mag-imbestiga kami ng ibang tao o ibang grupo.
"Iyung kay Corona, personal account niya. Itong pinabubuksan ko ngayon, hindi personal account ni senator Enrile - account ng opisina niya at account ng Senado."
He said a credible private auditing firm must look into the Senate's financial books to prevent Enrile from influencing the auditing.
"Iyung mga gumagamit ng tama iyung pondo, hindi kami magoobject na resibuhan lahat iyan. Doon sa binubulsa iyung pera, hindi papayag iyan."
"May drama-drama pa na pa-resign-resign pa pero magkakabotohan din pala nung mga kakampi niya," Cayetano said. "Bakit gusto lang ni JPE, siya lang ang happy?"
P514M under Enrile's office
An exact breakdown of the P1.5 billion annual Senate budget for MOOE shows that of the amount, more than P634 million go to operating expenses of each senator's office.
Around P438 million goes to the operations of committees and P514 million is handled by Enrile.
The amount is separate from the money allotted for salaries of Senate employees.
On ANC, Cayetano showed Enrile's confidential memo dated December 5, 2012 orderING the Senate secretary to give all senators P1.3 million additional MOOE from the P30 million savings of the Senate.
Enrile, however, did not sign Cayetano's disbursement voucher.
Cayetano said Enrile is "bullying" his opponents.
Meantime, Enrile's chief of staff, Atty. Gigi Reyes, asserted that the Senate president has discretion over the funds.
She said additional funds for senators "is not an entitlement."
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption on Monday filed an ethics complaint against Enrile before the Senate.
The group said Enrile's move to distribute cash gifts to senators is "immoral."
It urges all senators to return the additional funds given to them.
Cayetano chairs the committee that will handle the ethics complaint. - with reports from Karen Davila and Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News; ANC