MANILA, Philippines – Will Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile stay as leader of the Upper Chamber as long as key measures are passed?
Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III said LP members are set to meet this week to discuss several pieces of legislation as well as other issues in the Senate including the fate of Enrile. This, amid moves by at least one senator to have Enrile replaced.
Guingona said the Senate has 6 days left to pass 3 key measures including amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Law, the Marcos Compensation Bill and the National Land Use Code.
Asked about the possibility of replacing Enrile, he said: “There's a probability that if you change the status quo, there will be reorganization. There are 2 possibilities. One is if the reorganization goes smoothly, you might still have time. But what if it doesn’t go smoothly? What if it is very acrimonious? Then the probability is - you won’t have time to pass very, very important legislations.”
Guingona refused to say if Enrile still enjoys the LP senators’ trust, saying that it is time to heal the wounds of the Senate. He said: “I do not want to make any statement that will fan the flames right now.”
Asked if he is for replacing Enrile, he said: “I want to pass the AMLA amendments. I want to pass the Marcos compensation bill. Anything that will hinder that in the next few days, I don’t want. Correct? That's what I want.”
He said President Aquino has not given any word about the Senate leadership row. He also said it is very speculative to think that it would be harder to replace Enrile after the May 2013 senatorial election.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV has openly declared he is working for the removal of Enrile as Senate President. He said the votes of the 4 LP senators – Guingona, Francis Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon and Ralph Recto – will be crucial to declare the position as vacant.
Sen. Sergio Osmeña III earlier said it is both impossible and impractical to change the Senate leadership at this time. He also said there are
not enough senators who will back a coup
"I don't think there's any desire to rock the boat at a time when we have so many more important things to do. It's not fair to the Filipino people," he said.
AMLA, Marcos compensation
In the interview, Guingona said it is important to pass the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Law or risk being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force. He said a FATF blacklist could have an effect on overseas Filipino workers who send remittances to the Philippines.
"If there is a blacklist, there is enhanced security of identity to make sure that money being sent is not from criminal proceeds. The purpose of the Anti-Money Laundering Law is to catch dirty money of criminals," he said.
He said the FATF blacklist would mean any transaction going to or out of the Philippines is subject to intense scrutiny.
Guingona also noted that it would be a "tragedy" if the Senate fails to pass the Marcos compensation bill, more than two decades after the 1986 EDSA Revolution.