MANILA, Philippines - Hundreds of Senate employees went out of their building at lunch time on Wednesday to express their support for Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and his resigned chief of staff, Atty. Gigi Reyes.
"Happy kami kay Enrile," "Stay strong Manong Johnny," "Senate President, we love and support you all the way," "Atty. Gigi Reyes, please do not leave us! We love you!" read some of the placards the employees carried during their demonstration, while chanting pro-Enrile slogans.
Enrile recently engaged in a word war with some senators, especially Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, over his use of Senate funds. Reyes, who called Cayetano and other Enrile critics hypocrites, resigned as chief of staff after Cayetano hit back at her in a privilege speech.
Atty. Sergio Garcia, chief of staff of Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, said the demonstration was decided at the last minute and nobody organized it.
Among those present were employees from the Senate secretariat, administration, and the offices of senators Enrile, Estrada, Ralph Recto, Lito Lapid, Ramon Revilla Jr., Gregorio Honasan II, and Panfilo Lacson.
He said Senate employees love Enrile because of his concern for them, and for the benefits they have received during his term.
"Nagpakita rin naman siya ng pagmamahal sa aming mga empleyado. Bilang pagtanaw ng utang na loob, ipinakikita namin, sinusuklian namin 'yong ipinakita niyang pagmamahal lalo na sa maliliit na empleyado," Garcia said.
Cocoy Reyes, an employee in Estrada's office, said Senate employees are happy with Enrile's leadership and does not want him replaced.
Enrile offered to resign last week as some senators from the minority criticized his way of handling the Senate's savings, but a majority voted to keep him in his position.
A number of senators have said that a leadership change will do the Senate more harm than good as it struggles to recover from its tainted image.
The Senate has also agreed to have the state auditing agency review its expenses.