MANILA, Philippines – Senator Alan Peter Cayetano believes the chief of staff of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile acted improperly by calling him and other senators "hypocrites."
Cayetano said Enrile's chief aide, Gigi Reyes, has no right to call the Senate President's critics as such, even if she is a trusted person of the country's third most powerful man.
"Nagtataka ako, kasi sa media nakakagulat iyon [para sabihin mong] 'hypocrite.' Pero sa Senado, basta't nilabanan mo si Senate President at mainit ang ulo, yun ang pirming sinasabi," Cayetano told radio dzMM.
"Parang si Gigi siguro ginagaya lang ang sinabi ng boss niya pero nakalimutan niya na ang mga chiefs of staff ay 'di dapat nagsasalita ng ganyan sa mga senador," he added.
Reyes on Monday called Cayetano a hypocrite for not returning, unlike Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the additional funds of P250,000 he received last year.
"We have to expose these hypocrites. Ilegal ba? Bakit hanggang ngayon, si Senator Miriam Santiago ibinalik niya. Bakit si Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, kinuha niya? Bakit yung last year, kinuha niya, nung 2008 kinuha niya, nung 2009 kinuha niya, nung 2010 kinuha niya, nung 2011 kinuha niya, 'yung 2012 hindi pa niya binabalik?" Reyes told dzMM on Monday.
Reyes issued the statement following the tension-filled privilege speech where her boss moved to vacate his post. Enrile's motion, however, was rejected by 11 of his 16 colleagues present on Monday.
The issue started early this month after it was revealed that Enrile supposedly released some P1.6 million as additional "maintenance and other operating expenditures" (MOOE) to 18 colleagues from "savings" of the chamber in 2012, excluding Alan and Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Antonio Trillanes IV.
Enrile only released P250,000 to the four senators. Prior to this, all senators had received P600,000 in November as the first tranche of the total P2.2 million MOOE.
For his part, Cayetano said he has not yet returned the P250,000 "cash gift" because of its questionable nature. He also clarified that he did not receive such funds in the other years mentioned by Reyes.
"Sa P250,000 ang sinabi ni Senate President galing daw sa sarili niyang savings. Wala pong dokumentong kasama ito. Kung sa savings po niya galing, ilegal po iyon," he said.
"We are always willing na isoli. Pero kung isinoli namin at ipinamigay lang niya (Enrile) at hindi pa namin nakikita kung paano ba ito nili-liquidate? The money is there po…We will embargo, we will hold," he said.
Cayetano also renewed his call for a private audit of the Senate finances. This, after he received information that the auditor from the Commission on Audit (COA) who looks into the books of the Senate was chosen by Enrile himself.
Meanwhile, the minority leader said he was not surprised by Enrile's move yesterday.
"Siguro first time nakita ng ating kababayan na nagre-resign si Senator Enrile sa Senado, pero madalas na niyang gawin sa amin iyan sa mga caucus at kahit noong impeachment na pagka medyo naiiipit siya o napupunta sa corner, eh parang sinasabi 'sige gusto niyo alisin niyo na ako.' Pero on chorus yung kanyang mga supporters binoboto na 'di siya maalis," he said.