Takes dig at admin allies on oust move
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, 89, announced his irrevocable resignation Wednesday, saying he could still see well enough to read the writing on the wall.
“I need not be told by anyone when it is time for me to go,” he said in an emotional speech on the last day of the 15th Congress.
“I do not need nor intend to use the powers, perquisites and trappings of the Senate Presidency just to cling to it or to secure this position for myself when the 16th Congress opens in July,” said Enrile, who was hounded by some of his colleagues over the use of Senate funds.
“Neither do I intend to use this position to influence or impede in any way the conduct by the COA [Commission on Audit] of a no-holds barred audit of the Senate’s and the senators’ budgets and expenditures.”
In his speech, Enrile singled out Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, saying he would not stand idly by when the son of his former partner, the late Senator Renato L. Cayetano, accused him of being “a thief and a scoundrel.”
Reacting to the resignation, Cayetano said the solution was not to resign but to answer the questions raised against him.
“Rather than resign, I think he just needs to face the issue squarely. How was the Senate’s money used and liquidated?” Cayetano said.
He added that he was saddened by the manner of Enrile’s departure.
“I think he deserves to step out of the Senate with a pat on his back despite the issues. But I also believe that as a public servant that all of us have to be accountable and he should produce the documents in question,” he said.
“My question still is -- How much out of the Senate’s budget were liquidated with receipts and how much were disbursed through signatures alone? That’s not difficult to answer and there’s no need to resign just because of that,” Cayetano said.
Earlier, Cayetano and Enrile had engaged in an ugly word war over the release of P2.2 million in funds to 18 senators, excluding Cayetano, his sister Senator Pia Cayetano, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Antonio Trillanes IV.
Trillanes, who won re-election in May, dismissed Enrile’s speech as the rantings of “a bitter man” who accomplished nothing.
“It’s a drama. We’re talking about it now. But if we will look at it, he has not accomplished anything,” said Trillanes.
He added that Enrile’s resignation was a preemptive move after the results of the May 13 elections.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago who has also been at odds with Enrile, was on sick leave.
Before declaring his resignation, Enrile called on his colleagues to let the chips fall where they may.
Enrile also said he refused to be anyone’s scapegoat and everyone’s whipping boy.
He lamented the defeat of his son, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile in the May 13 senatorial elections, and blamed his loss to the bitter criticisms and accusations hurled against him by some of his colleagues in the Senate.
He said the enmity that marked the ending of their session days last January and early February was carried well into the campaign.
“This was helped in no small measure by the virulent personal attacks against me by a non-candidate senator who fashions herself as my nemesis and who evidently delights in doing the job. There were, of course, many others who had their own reasons for ensuring that I was ruined, and that, consequently, my son’s candidacy was ruined,” Enrile said.
“As a father, I endured in silence the pain of seeing my son suffer because of me. He carried on his shoulders the weight of all the mud thrown against me. As I stayed and watched quietly by the side lines, my heart bled for him.”
Despite all the fallout, Enrile recalled how his son described him as “his hero.”
“I was deeply touched by that, and I could not ask for anything more from my son. He has truly made me even more proud to be his Dad,” he said.
Enrile said he was not surprised by the eagerness of the administration to have him replaced.
“I am sure that those who are eager to replace me have been assembling and gathering the numbers, if they haven’t already sealed the deal, so to speak. As a politician, that is all par for the course for me,” Enrile said.
He said Senator Franklin Drilon, tipped as his replacement as Senate President, would have to grapple with “the real headache” of handing out chairmanships of the oversight committees.
He said that old age may have impaired his vision, but he can still see and read clearly the handwriting on the wall.
“I need not be told by anyone when it is time for me to go,” said Enrile, who left immediately after his speech at 4 p.m.
The Palace issued a statement saying: “For 1,661 days, or four years, six months, and 19 days, Juan Ponce Enrile served as President of the Senate, the third-highest position in the Republic. Today, he irrevocably relinquished that position. We respect his decision.
:Throughout his Senate presidency, Senator Enrile on the whole, supported the enactment of the Aquino administration’s priority bills. Conscious of the long and distinguished history of the Senate and the office he held, Senator Enrile approached the constitutional functions of the Senate in our bicameral legislative system with the utmost seriousness. He strove to live up to the Senate’s tradition of independence and oversight.”