Is there any politician who is not indebted to Philippine Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile? Okay, let us limit it to the Senate. Is there any senator who is not indebted to him? It seems Enrile has the goods on every Senator and he appears to be in the habit of using personal information against them to try and win public debates and the sympathy of the people. One cannot help but think that Enrile is kinda pathetic for using these tactics. It reminds me of how mafia gangs operate: they do a favor for you but you have to do a favor for them come payback time.
They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. If someone gives you something, they always expect you to give them something or to do something for them in return. Last December, Enrile was accused of giving the equivalent of a free lunch to the senators in the form of monetary “gifts”. Unfortunately for Enrile, his decision to play favorites by not giving the same amount of Christmas bonus to four senators has backfired on him big time. To those who don’t know, the four senators who Enrile thought had been “bad” to him are Senator Miriam Santiago, Senator Antonio Trillanes, Senators Peter and Pia Cayetano.
[Photo courtesy Yahoo! News.]
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Enrile’s action would have probably gone unnoticed had he been gracious enough to politely accept Senator Miriam Santiago’s Christmas biscuits in December. Giving it back to her was a bad move on Enrile’s part, indeed. Apart from it being rude, it made Santiago very angry. She then raised a stink and declared to the media that, “so-called savings of each public office has turned into a national scandal, the grandmama of all scandals” and that “enforced savings are distributed among the highest officials, in the guise of Christmas bonuses”. Santiago immediately requested the Commission on Audit to look into the legitimacy of the disbursement of senate funds because she thinks Enrile’s move is “unconscionable” and “unconstitutional”.
A few weeks later, it was Senator Peter Cayetano’s turn to grill Enrile about the Christmas bonuses. His move came after Enrile just wouldn’t stop badmouthing the Cayetano siblings. Now Cayetano wants a private auditing firm to scrutinize the liquidation and certification of funds in the Senate to put an end to the controversy surrounding the P1.6 million given by Enrile to 18 senators for personal use. Some could say that Peter Cayetano’s motivation for requesting for a private auditor has to do with his simmering beef with Enrile, which was exacerbated by the fact that the elderly senator gave the Cayetanos only P250,000.00 each as “bonuses” last Christmas. But his request is not a bad idea. In fact, the Filipino people should welcome the chance to use an independent auditor to get to the bottom of the allegations.
While it is noted that he is up for reelection, Cayetano’s motivation to shine through this crisis can work well for him and the public. What he said in his speech made sense — unlike his speeches during the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. And besides, somebody else aside from Senator Santiago and Senator Antonio Trillanes has to stand up for the people against the all-powerful-and-mighty in the Senate once and for all.
As it turns out, it might not even be Enrile who is calling the shots behind closed doors. In his privilege speech, Cayetano was implying two things: one, that Enrile has a romantic relationship with his Chief of Staff Jessica “Gigi” Reyes and two, that it is actually Reyes who is the real boss in the Senate. Cayetano revealed that not only is Reyes allowed to join senate caucuses, she also has a say as well, as if she was herself a senator. He also showed documents on screen showing typewritten authorization signed by Enrile, which was superseded by handwritten documents by Reyes also authorizing the release of the “savings” to the senators.
Apparently, some of us have been living under a rock all this time. I am ashamed to admit that I wasn’t aware that Enrile has a mistress. He tries his best to project an image of goodness. Not surprisingly, the “esteemed” gentleman is not so honorable after all. Images of Enrile and Reyes doing a footsie during a caucus have entered some people’s minds. It’s outrageous that the senators have tolerated this relationship and their set-up in the senate for a long time. What the heck where they thinking allowing this impropriety to go on? And to think they were demanding excellent behavior from Renato Corona last year. I recall when some people were trying to dig up dirt on Corona during his trial and even falsely accused him of having an extra-marital affair. Do these senators think they are exempted from setting an exemplary behavior to the public?
Cayetano was clearly implying that Reyes’s alleged romantic liaison with Enrile has gotten into her head. Cayetano even accused her of being the reason for why the Cayetanos are not in Enrile’s list of favorites. It has something to do with Reyes being close to Peter Cayetano’s mayor wife’s rival in Taguig. Whew! I challenge you to try and figure that one out. Politicians in the Philippines are beginning to look a lot like a product of inbreeding indeed.
Things are not looking good for Enrile. It was reported that he fell ill and required an oxygen mask as his blood pressure shot up to 180/100 after the heated argument with Peter Cayetano. It’s a good thing President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino is in Davos right now. Had he been around to witness Enrile being ill, he would have made fun of him too just like he made fun of others who fell ill after being accused of corrupt activities.
Enrile falling ill could work against Cayetano though. In a society where the young are expected to show deference to the elders, some might blame Cayetano if something bad happens to Enrile as a result of their spat. As Cayetano kept stressing in his speech, he has always remained silent out of respect for the elderly senator even when Enrile would often resort to insulting him and his sister. But there’s another reason why the Cayetanos had to keep their cool in the past when it came to Enrile.
As Enrile himself revealed, their father, former Senator Renato Cayetano allegedly owes P37 million to Enrile. Of course Enrile brought this bit of information up out of the blue because he felt compelled to remind Peter that it is payback time for something that his father allegedly owed him. The payment is not necessarily in cash though. Such is life for a politician in the Philippines, if the custom of showing deference to elders doesn’t stop you from speaking up, the padrino system will.
Peter Cayetano might have said a few stupid things in the past especially when he was a senator judge in the impeachment trial of Corona but you have to give him credit for having the balls to stand up against the mighty Enrile unlike most of the senators. Cayetano probably realized that the old man has finally dug his own grave. I don’t know about you but the sight of Enrile waving a document supposedly showing how much the Cayetanos owe him while mumbling like a fool made him look so desperate. The dignified appearance he showed in last year’s impeachment trial is gone replaced by an image of disgruntled old man. He may have finally used up all his aces.
In life, things are not always what they seem.