Jinggoy rises to the defense of Enrile
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday dared his youngest colleague who openly accused him of being a “bully,” a “fake” and a supposed “lackey” of former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo to oust him from his position.
Enrile even said that he will go down on his knees before Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV if the latter would be able to convince the voting public when he seeks reelection next year and prove his allegations against him.
Enrile and Trillanes traded accusations on Wednesday over a bill seeking to divide Camarines Sur province and the senator’s role as special envoy of the Philippines on the Scarborough Shoal dispute with China. It was Trillanes who first stood up on the floor and announced that he was leaving the majority bloc to join the minority group after he had exposed the alleged caucus called by Enrile in his office in the Senate last July 24.
Trillanes walked out when Enrile started to question him on his role as a backchannel negotiator with the Chinese, and for calling the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario a traitor and of his having committed treason as he spoke with the Chinese officials.
He also blackened Del Rosario’s reputation, telling the Chinese that Del Rosario has lost the trust and confidence of the Filipino people.
The Senate chief emphasized that he will put up a good fight against the former mutineer in the coming campaign period by stripping Trillanes and showing his true character by bringing the issues hurled at him – Enrile’s alleged ramming down the throat of his colleagues the approval of a bill dividing province of Camarines Sur – before the public.
“I’ll meet him in the campaign. I will tell the people who he is,” he said to reporters while leaving the plenary session hall following a heated exchange on the floor with Trillanes.
Trillanes, in announcing his decision to bolt the majority to join the minority bloc, accused Enrile of supposedly manuevering the deliberations of the said bill which is being lobbied strongly by Rep. Luis Villafuerte before the Senate, a measure that he claimed is a clear case of “gerrymandering in its worst kind.”
In a privilege speech, he painted Enrile as someone who had trampled upon those who get into his way such as him, in several instances in the past.
Trillanes claimed that , “being a newcomer and the youngest at that... (he was)being shoved every now and then.”
In venting his disgust on Enrile, Trillanes was prompted to take the floor to lash out at the Senate chief for calling him a “coward” during Monday night’s plenary proceedings.
This stemmed from Trillanes being a no-show in the session that day despite making reservations to interpellate in the said bill.
Enrile, however, did not let the matter pass as he engaged Trillanes, whom he reminded that he had helped get out of three-year detention to be able to fulfill his duties as senator, to a faceoff or a showdown of sort to prove and disprove his allegations.
Tension filled the plenary hall, with their colleagues apparently caught off guard by the turn of events, as Enrile went on to take out the records of their caucuses to point out the incident where he allegedly exerted pressure on Trillanes before steering the verbal tussle to the issue on the latter’s alleged being a spoiler of the government’s talks to resolve the territorial dispute with China.
Eventually, Trillanes walked out on Enrile.
“I did say anything to pressure you to favor one side or the other?” Enrile asked to which Trillanes raised a howl saying “that is not the point.”
Enrile then gave him a lecture on the matter of his concern being registered on the floor instead as matters during caucuses are made by the Senate as a collegial body to expedite their plenary proceedings.
“Your opposition should have been registered here because we are going to vote here anyway. And that was a caucus, we have already agreed on the timeline and if you remember, the gentleman from Camarines Sur was just pleading with us to just set the hearing conducted because they were running on a very very tight schedule and as president of the Senate, it was my duty to hear everbody and that’s why precisely I could not decide the issue because I’m not like that. I have to present it to the members of the Senate in a caucus and whatever is decided by the caucus I abide by it, even during impeachment. Where you not present in this caucuses? Is there any instance where I asked you or anyone of you to vote according to my wishes? I’m asking you a question,” Enrile said.
“That’s irrelevant from this. I can cite several instances...,” Trillanes retorted.
“You know it’s irrelevant because you are telling falsehoods here,” said Enrile.
“I take exception to that statement,” Trillanes replied.
“I am saying you are telling falsehoods here because there are records of our proceedings....alright, isn’t it a fact that you are angry at me because you were asking me for an additional budget for your oversight committee and I did not allow it?” Enrile asked, to which Trillanes cried as another falsehood.
Sources clarified that Trillanes was actually asking for an additional committee assignment but was given instead oversight committee chairmanship and membership in the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).
Enrile was unaware that President Aquino had tasked Trillanes to hold backchannel talks with China, which is currently locked in a territorial dispute with several countries, including the Philippines.
Enrile told media that he had learned of Trillanes’ mission during a Cabinet meeting last July where Trillanes aired some complaints against the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Enrile pointed out that Trillanes had travelled 16 times to Beijing and had never askd permission to leave the country and had not asked for any travel authority from him to leave the country.
Trillanes, however, claimed he does not need a travel authority because he did not use his official passport and that he went to China on days when there was no session in Congress.
Enrile reminded Trillanes that it was he who took him out of the rut when he was detained in Camp Crame. “I never did this before. I went out of my way to talk to people so that you can get back here in the Senate and I guaranteed your presence here. But I am not saying this because I want you to owe any favor to me. I am just putting that on record to show the character of each one of us here.
“Second, I’m sure you resented my statement while we in the Cabinet, when you were presenting your supposed position as against the position of the DFA where President Aquino invited me to attend a Cabinet meeting on the Scarborough problem andIi told you who authorized you to make a backroom negotiation with the Chinese for the Scarborough and you were telling me aboutt treason. Remember?” Enrile commented.
Enrile then proceeded to challenge Trillanes to disprove his allegations regarding supposed backchannel talks on Scarborough Shoal in which the latter later was led to a head-on collision situation now with DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario over policy decisions, by taking out the “notes” provided him by Sonia Brady, Philippine Ambassador to China.
Trillanes tried to stop Enrile from further spilling the beans so to speak as it could jeopardize the country’s foreign relations and national security, by calling the attention of the presiding officer, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, on the latter being out of order.
“Do not teach me about parliamentary proceedings, I’m not answerable to anybody in what I say in this hall,” Enrile said before Trillanes walked out on him.
“He cannot take the heat, he’s a coward,” Enrile was quoted saying on the floor.
The Senate chief refused to be prevailed upon by colleagues in divulging Brady’s information shared to him on supposed instances where Trillanes bungled efforts to engage China to bilateral talks.
But after saying his piece, Enrile opted not to discuss anymore the sordid details where Trillanes made himself appear to be advancing the interests of China, instead of the Philippines.
“It is enough that I read the notes of Ambassador Brady to unmask this ‘phantom of the opera’ in Philippine politics. I have here his white paper on the DFA and I would not bother you about it. If you want to read it, I will give it to you and read it,” he said.
In live television interviews, Enrile dared Trillanes to convince their colleagues on sharing his sentiments that he had already “lost trust, faith and confidence” in the latter’s capability to lead the Senate along the path “consistent with the reform agenda that I espouse.”
In his TV interviews, Enrile was prompted to identify Trillanes as the one whom he alleged to have been quoted by sources to have divulged the coup plot against him.
The day proved to be a double whammy for Trillanes as he exchanged tirades with Del Rosario in the morning for being alleged spoiler in backroom talks seeking to resolve the row with China over territorial claims and later in the day, practically picked up a fight – a verbal tussle with the highest official of the Senate and most senior colleague for calling him a “coward.”
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada yesterday came to the defense of Enrile, saying that this is the first time, after hearing the debate between Trillanes and Enrile, that he was shocked, saying that in the eight years that he has been a senator, what occurred was unprecedented and sad, adding that even as this chamber is called august, some of the senators have not lived up to this word.
He said that he has known the Senate President for a long time, and considers him as his second father.
“In all these years I have known him, I have worked with him, I will not and I will never characterize him as a bully. He never takes an institutional stand without consulting the chamber. He would often call us for a caucus on matters which are serious and contentious. I dare any of my colleagues to refute this. We have seen the Senate President’s style of leadership and only the blind, deaf and dumb in this Senate will say that he bullies us when he wants something from us.
“The Senate President always tries to balance the interests and welfare of all, even the interests of the members of the minority. What Trillanes says repeatedly about (Enrile’s) being a bully, I will also repeat my opposition to this and show up Trillanes as a liar.
“For the record, I have never witnessed the Senate President prevent anybody in this chamber from expressing his views whether in caucus or in plenary session.”
Trillanes said he was called a coward. I believe it would have served him (Trillanes) better by facing up and answering the questions raised by the Senate President on a very sensitive and delicate issue. His walkout in the middle of the questioning can rightly be called cowardice on his part.
“It is really regrettable that it has come to this. But I feel that it is my duty and moral obligation to say what I personally know about the Senate President and to defend him against the unfair, unjust and baseless accusations of Senator Trillanes. Let it not be said that this representation did not stand up to defend the Senate President against these falsehoods. He is not, I repeat, Juan Ponce Enrile is not a lackey of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo or of anyone for that matter – that I am really certain of,” he said.