MANILA – Re-electionist Sen. Loren Legarda on Tuesday addressed rumors that she had been romantically involved with several men including Sen. Edgardo Angara, lawyer Adel Tamano and even former East Timor President José Manuel Ramos-Horta.
Speaking to ANC, Legarda said she is “legally, officially single” after her marriage with former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste was annulled.
The senator denied being romantically involved with Angara, saying the rumor is rehashed. “Una, napakaluma naman at antique na isyu yan. Pangalawa, talagang hindi po totoo. Pangatlo, baguhin niyo naman yung chismis,” she said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart.
Legarda denied any romantic involvement with Tamano, who was the former spokesman of the United Opposition and was a senatorial candidate in the 2010 elections.
“Grabe naman yan. Spokesman ng [United Opposition] ng 2007? My god, that's the biggest lie. Pati ba naman yung matandang senador tapos ngayon spokesman…” she said.
On the other hand, Legarda was tightlipped when asked about rumors that the former East Timor President asked her out on a date. She admitted that they had been in touch but only laughed when asked if they went out on a date.
Asked if she would consider going out with President Aquino, Legarda noted that she is older than the President by 11 days. Legarda turned 53 last January 28 while Aquino celebrated his 53rd birthday on February 8.
"Family friend natin si Presidente at nirerespeto natin yan," she said.
Legarda joked with Headstart host Karen Davila by pretending not to hear her question when asked if she would consider getting married again.
She also said she will first study the possible benefits of a divorce law before saying if she backs its passage.
“I am annulled sa simbahan at annulled sa husgado so officially romantically single. Ngayon sa diborsiyo gusto ko munang tignan ang pagpalawak ng annulment dahil may annulment. Gusto ko munang makita ang benepisyo ng babae sa civil annulment at sa diborsiyo,” she said.
Presidency, VP out
Legarda said she will most likely retire from politics in 2016 if she is re-elected this year. The senator has consistently topped the list of likely senatorial winners, according to the latest Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations surveys.
“This is my last term, from 2013 to 2019. Then I will retire in 2019. I will be 59,” she said.
She also reiterated that she has no desire to seek either the presidency or the vice-presidency in the future. Legarda lost the vice-presidential race in both the 2004 and 2010 elections
“VP out, presidency out. Itaga mo sa baso. Hindi ako nagbabago ng isip. Out na yun. Hindi para sa akin. Ito ang secret ng happiness. Alamin niyo ang para sa inyo. Alamin niyo naman ang di para sa inyo. Tanggapin niyo at dun kayo magkakaroon ng peace of mind, contentment and happiness,” she said.
No help for Leviste
Legarda said she was all for the death penalty when she first started out as a senator. She said she especially wanted the death penalty in incestuous rape cases and heinous crimes committed while under the influence of drugs.
However, she also said she wants to see if the death penalty has been a deterrent to heinous crimes. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo abolished the death penalty in 2006.
“Kailangan tignan natin ang statistika at ito ba talaga’y deterrent o makakabawas ng krimen,” she said.
The senator also said she favors calls of the Gunless Society of the Philippines to restrict permits to carry firearms to law enforcers. “Ayoko ng baril,” she said.
She also said she will not ask President Aquino to give a pardon to her ex-husband, the former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste, after he was sentenced for killing his long-time aide Rafael delas Alas.
“Mahirap na tanong pero hindi ako gagawa ng bagay na makikialam sa anumang kaso pati na rin sa aking ex-husband na annulled na ang aming kasal. I will not lift a finger to help anyone who has committed a crime. I will leave it with the presidential prerogative to do that,” she said.
“Let justice take its course,” she added.
Defending Sotto, Enrile
Legarda defended Senators Tito Sotto and Juan Ponce Enrile on several issues hounding the two lawmakers.
With Sotto, Legarda said she distinctly heard Sotto say that some of the sayings in his speech against the reproductive health bill were not his but were forwarded via text. Sotto has come under fire for allegedly plagiarizing portions of his speech.
“Sinabi niya 'Ito'y hindi akin. Ito ay kinuha ko sa ibat ibang mga sayings.’ Maaaring hindi na-reflect yun sa speech but I heard it e. Ito'y hindi sa akin. Ito'y tinext sa akin o binigay sa akin,” she said.
Asked if Sotto is guilty of plagiarism, she replied: “I am not one to judge a person. He would know best or those who helped him.”
Legarda also defended Senate President Enrile after the latter gave additional maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) funds to 18 senators, including Legarda, but not to 4 other senators.
Legarda said the distribution of the Senate’s savings was Enrile’s prerogative as the head of the chamber.
Asked if she agrees with Enrile’s judgment, she said: “He is older and wiser than me. I think everything is better in hindsight. Whether it is better, they are all my friends and colleagues and it pains me that they had to go through that but sometimes you have to go through fire and pain to be better.”