Nemesis Enrile saddened by Santiago's passing

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2016 04:33 PM

Former Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile. File/Composite

Despite their cutthroat confrontations on the Senate floor, former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile is saddened by the passing of former Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.

"Aba, syempre. Kung may mamamatay na kilala mo syempre malulungkot ka rin di ba?," he said in a phone patch interview with reporters Thursday.

Santiago passed away at 8:52 a.m. after a long bout with lung cancer.

Enrile said he has buried the hatchet on whatever had gone between him and Santiago, and that he continues to pray for her and all his foes.

"Hindi ako nagtatanim ng masamang kalooban maski kanino. Pinagdadasal ko yung mga naging katunggali ko sa buhay, [I don't hold grudges against anyone. I also pray for my foes]," he said.

"Yung mga yun, bunga lang ng panahon yung mga ganung pangyayari. Nasa tadhana yun eh [Whatever happened between us was just fate]," he added.

Asked if he believes Santiago has contributed much for the country, Enrile described her as "very articulate" and "very perceptive," but declined to gauge the late public servant's performance.

"Let the historians write about that. Mahirap mong i-assess ang tao during your lifetime. Let the objectivity of historians do the assessments," he said.

Santiago and Enrile have been at odds on several occasions, including a heated debate on the reproductive health bill, now a law, which Santiago authored.

In 2012, Enrile confirmed to ANC that the animosity between him and the lady senator may have started during the late President Cory Aquino's administration.

He recalled, he opposed Santiago's appointment as agrarian reform secretary because she was caught driving a Customs-seized car, noting that her husband was working then at the Customs.

Enrile also accused Santiago and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV of wanting to oust him as Senate President. He said Santiago never wanted to vote for him as Senate President.

"I think she and another senator are intensely interested in me stepping down as Senate President because I have to put my foot down once in a while when things are not proper in my opinion," he said.

"Nung voting na, Miriam never attended any meeting. She didn't vote for me or want to vote for me even in 2008. She never answered my call. I wanted to go and see her she never received me," he said.

Santiago had said their tiff started when Enrile became resentful because she was appointed immigration commissioner.

"Enrile was very jealous of President Cory because he thought that after [President] Marcos, he should take over. Remember, he was administrator of the martial law administration for 20 years. It's very difficult to leave power. When President Cory came in, he was very jealous and envious that an ordinary housewife with no background, with no significant undergraduate degree should take over," she had said.

But in happier days, Enrile, then a justice secretary, stood as sponsor when Santiago wed her law school buddy, Narciso "Jun" Santiago. The late Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. was also a sponsor to their wedding.