After months of speculating on a supposed “plot” to oust him, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile has finally resigned as Senate President. We can only hope that the drama in the senate halls will go along with his resignation or at least simmer down a little bit. As Senator Antonio Trillanes correctly pointed out, Senator Enrile “is not beyond theatrics” and proof of this is in his speech outlining why he decided to resign. Here’s an excerpt:
“I refuse to lend my hard-earned name as a convenient refuge to those who cannot face the public and defend their own honor. I refuse to allow anybody, whether in or outside the halls of this Chamber, to just freely trample upon the name that my late father, Alfonso Ponce Enrile, had so kindly allowed me to carry with pride.”
He said he will not allow any senator, specifically a “self-confessed psychological case” and “the son of my former partner, the late Senator Renato L. Cayetano” trample on his name.
“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…Let us all be men and women worthy of being called “Honorable Senators.” And let the chips fall where they may,” he said.
If that is not a classic case of “parinig” (a dig), then I don’t know what is. I mean, what was he thinking when he wrote that resignation speech? If he wanted to gain the public’s sympathy, it didn’t work. If he wanted the public to forget about the reason why he was resigning, which is the controversy regarding the “Christmas gifts” in the amount of P1.6 million he allegedly handed out to some Senators in December 2012, he failed big time. Enrile even blames his son’s loss in the Senate race to the controversy. That’s just pathetic. He only proved that his son was just riding on his popularity. And when this popularity waned, his son’s winnability went down with it.
It’s obvious to a lot of people that Enrile’s reason for resigning is because he wants the controversy to go away. If one reads between the lines of his speech, one will find that Enrile seemingly asserts that as long as he is in the top spot, someone who doesn’t want him to remain there will try to keep the “Christmas gift” controversy alive. And he doesn’t want that. He stressed that he doesn’t want anyone to “trample” upon his name. Well, the thing is, Enrile himself could be his worst enemy. The question does remain: Why did he feel compelled to give the Senators gifts if he “did 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 himself?
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Senator Enrile claims that giving away Christmas bonuses using excess senate funds has been a practice long before he became the Senate President. That seems like a lame excuse, indeed. Continuing an old practice just because it has been done in the past doesn’t make it right. For someone who found former Chief Justice Renato Corona guilty of the charges against him, which included the non-disclosure of his assets and net worth, Enrile was quick to declare himself “innocent” of the allegations of improper use of public funds on the grounds of “I just inherited this practice”.
Well, to be fair to Enrile, the Senators who accepted the gifts should not be off the hook. After the controversy broke, I don’t think there was any news of them returning the cash bonuses. So Enrile is right in saying that each of his colleagues should explain directly to the people on these issues and to account for their own budgets. In other words, if he is going down, he is not going down on his own. And why doesn’t Senator Allan Cayetano give the senators who accepted the cash gifts the same grilling? Maybe that’s why Enrile thinks this is becoming personal. Who knows? These senators seem to be good at hiding their real motives.
If you were an Enrile supporter, you would be sad at how his career is ending. It seems like only yesterday that he was receiving praises for convicting Corona. Some even went as far as hailing him a “hero”. Now the tables have turned. After managing to evade countless bullets and dodge imprisonment for his alleged brushes with the law in the last three decades — which includes but is not limited to a string of coup d’etats — it is ironic that “The Original Teflon Guy of Philippine Politics” was brought down by authorizing a “Christmas bonus”.
In life, things are not always what they seem.