MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday accused Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and his chief of staff, Gigi Reyes, of lying for claiming that the Senate President raised the budget of Trillanes’ committee by P5 million.
Speaking on ANC’s Headstart, Trillanes said Enrile’s chief aide was clearly lying when she said the Senate President had raised the budget of the Senate committee on oversight on government procurements, which Trillanes heads.
“That's a lie. Yun nga ang pinag-awayan nila. It was Senator [Franklin] Drilon who pushed for the increase. Enrile wanted it brought down to zero,” he said.
“They lie as natural as breathing. Nakakatakot yun e. If you have a Senate President like that, you should be very afraid,” he added.
Reyes, however, insisted that it was Enrile who proposed that the P10 million budget for Trillanes' committee be increased. She admitted that her boss had wanted to remove the P5 million but Drilon asked that it be retained.
Trillanes also revealed that Enrile had met with lawyers of Chief Justice Renato Corona during the latter’s impeachment trial in the Senate. Corona was impeached by the Senate last May 2012.
“We were able to get some people who were actually in the meeting, in those meetings of Enrile with the lawyers of Corona, plotting strategies and in fact I can even cite later on some of the instances wherein they played the script during the impeachment,” he said.
“Of course, the public are not aware of these things. They are judging Enrile based on media projections. That is just the surface. A lot of things are happening in the background,” he added.
Trillanes and Enrile have been at odds since last year after the former accused the Senate President of trying to ram through a legislative measure that would split the province of Camarines Sur.
Recently, Enrile has come under fire for giving out additional funds of P1.6 million each to 18 senators, excluding Trillanes, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago and siblings Alan and Pia Cayetano. Enrile has defended the move, saying he has the authority to realign funds.
'Instincts of a tyrant'
Trillanes said the issue about the Senate funds shows that Enrile plays favorites and is prone to abuse of power.
"Enrile, if you give him enough powers, he will be a tyrant. He has the instincts of a tyrant. I am not wondering why the whole Martial Law experience was quite negative for some or for many. I told Senator [Bongbong] Marcos I think one of the biggest blunders of President Marcos was choosing an abusive martial law administrator. Otherwise, baka nakuha niya yung new society vision niya. That is how Senator Enrile is. You give him power, he will abuse it," he said.
He said replacing Enrile should be the next step in the Aquino administration’s reform agenda after the removal of Corona as Chief Justice and Merceditas Gutierrez as the Ombudsman.
“This is the last tentacle of GMA. Remember during the time of GMA, where was Senator Enrile? He was one of the defenders or acting as a lawyer for GMA in Senate investigations. He would divert attention and harass the witnesses if they would hit GMA. Maaalala ng tao si GMA naglagay kay Enrile. We thought he changed pero hindi,” he said.
Asked why Liberal Party senators have not backed moves to replace Enrile, he said: “I think they didn’t have the chance yet to reassess and re-evaluate the political alignments because as you know when they started they were aligned with Senator Enrile.”
“But with the formation of the United Nationalist Alliance late last year and the developments in the pushing for the sin tax and RH and other priority bills of the President would necessitate a reevaluation. I think they have yet to do that and once they do that, they will see it is in the best interest of the LP and the Aquino administration to change the Senate leadership then they will make a move.”
Trillanes denied that he is telegraphing moves to oust Enrile, saying that he had been working for the Senate President's removal since September.
He said filing a case against Enrile is a possibility but only after he is removed from his position.
He also said his plot to oust Enrile should not be likened to the Oakwood Mutiny, which failed to oust President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Trillanes was one of several junior military officers who participated in the mutiny.
"Minsan, the mission is the message itself. Just like in Oakwood, the mission was to get it out and inform the people that you have an evil president and you have to remove the president. The mission (now) is to remove Senator Enrile."