MANILA (1st UPDATE) - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's chief of staff resigned from the Office of the Senate President effective today.
|Gigi Gonzales Reyes, Enrile's chief of staff. Photo courtesy from Google+
In a text message sent to ABS-CBN anchor Karen Davila, lawyer Gigi Reyes said: "Karen I have resigned from the office of Sen. Enrile effective today. I'm signing off sorry."
Enrile's office, however, said the Senate president did not accept the resignation.
"Atty. Gigi Reyes submitted her letter of resignation but SPJPE did not accept," Enrile's office told ABS-CBN News in a text message.
Senate Minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano, in a privilege speech on Wednesday afternoon, attacked Reyes for calling some senators in a radio dzMM interview last Monday “hypocrites” for not returning the additional Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) funds they received from Enrile even after they had raised concerns about the money.
“This is the first time that a chief of staff of a senator had the gall to call a senator a hypocrite. Ito na ba ang bagong asal sa Senado under the Enrile Senate presidency?” Cayetano asked.
Cayetano said he had tried to keep silent on the issue, shunning media interviews and even defending the senators’ practice of using certifications to liquidate funds given to their office. He said that as a member of the minority for nearly 4 years, he is used to not getting funds from the Senate leadership.
He said he decided to speak up after Enrile and Reyes started attacking him and his sister, Sen. Pia Cayetano, in media interviews and press statements.
Cayetano also accused Enrile and Reyes of bearing a grudge against him, noting that the root of the enmity is personal.
“Bakit ba kayo galit sa akin personally? Sapagkat napakalapit niyo ni Atty. Gigi kay dating Pangulong GMA at First Gentleman Arroyo. Kasama naman talaga kayo nun di ba sa planning group,” he said.
He also said that Reyes’ best friend is the wife of Associate Justice Dante Tinga, who is the political nemesis of Cayetano’s wife, Lani, in the mayoral race of Taguig.
He said Reyes’ sister-in-law is a councilor of Taguig and is the number one critic of Mayor Cayetano.
Cayetano also pointed out that Reyes is allowed to join the senators’ caucuses, which other chiefs of staff are barred from doing.
“We allow her not just to join but to speak when there is a caucus. She can freely discuss with the senators as if she is also a senator. Tinanggap ko po yun. We all accepted it out of courtesy and respect,” he said.
He said that from the very start, Reyes refused to give him a small office reserved for the Senate minority leader. He said Reyes also refused to talk to his chief of staff.
He said Enrile also would not give him some committees despite an earlier agreement.
Cayetano also said that under the Arroyo presidency, he was refused nearly P1 billion in pork barrel because of his stand against the president. “And now, for a paltry P1.6 million pinapalabas ni Mam Gigi na mukhang pera kami,” he said.
Recall of staff
Cayetano said it was Reyes who signed several memos that did not allow the disbursement of additional MOOE funds to 4 senators.
He also castigated Reyes for recalling two of his technical staff members back to the Senate secretariat. He said the usual practice in the Senate is that assignments are renewed by a simple phone call.
The senator noted that in Reyes’ media interview, the chief of staff said Enrile decided to recall Cayetano’s staff because of a report that they were doing work in Taguig.
Cayetano said the “report” could have been verified by checking the CCTV footage in the Senate.
He admitted though that he has projects in Taguig, which necessitates that he send staff members there. “I also have projects in Cebu and I send staff there. Is that bad?” -- with reports from Karen Davila, Ryan Chua ABS-CBN News; David Dizon, ABS-CBN News