Just my opinion
By Raïssa Robles
I can’t for the life of me recall a more cutting, more vituperative speech being delivered during a Senate session by a senator against another colleague.
Not even at the height of the coup attempts against the late President Corazon Aquino when Senator Juan Ponce Enrile was accused of being the coup mastermind.
Enrile called Senator Miriam Santiago “schizophrenic”, “deranged” and a thief for accusing him as the “mastermind” of the pork barrel scam.
UPDATE: 7:13 PM, Nov 27
Senator Miriam has just released a statement saying she will deliver her own privilege speech a week from now on December 4.
Enrile’s message today to the public was – do not believe her because she is mental, she is crazy,
she had a brain tumor operation at Standford Medical, she has been confined at the basement ward of Makati Medical Center. [Correction: It wasn’t she who had the brain operation.]
In short, Enrile resorted to name-calling.
That Senator Miriam had this coming to her is probably the reaction of Enrile supporters. She had maligned him during a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation on the pork barrel scam.
She openly accused him of funding the recent armed standoff by Moro National Liberation Front members in Zamboanga City.Enrile’s underlying message for mentioning that was – how could he, a former defense minister, fund Muslim rebels?
He could, I thought, if he had the mind to do it. Because I recall that back in 1987, MNLF chairman Nur Misuari personally showed me a pistol of his and proudly said it came as a gift from Enrile, who was then the defense minister of President Cory Aquino.
Still, those who think that Senator Miriam had this coming are also probably right.
You do not cross Enrile.
No one ever crossed Enrile.
Everyone was afraid of this smooth-talking, elegantly-suited bespectacled man who seldom raised his voice and was never heard to shout in public – except during the May 2001 Edsa 2 when he and ironically Senator Miriam were on the same side screaming for the downfall of the newly-installed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
During the bloody Marcos dictatorship, Enrile was the law. His signature on a xerox copy of an arrest warrant was enough to have thousands detained. Many of the victims were tortured and killed.
No one ever crossed Enrile until Senator Miriam, his own godchild at her wedding, came along.
In his speech today, Enrile made a show of trying to recall when he had angered her and why she had turned against him.
Perhaps, he said, it was when he had questioned her appointment as the Secretary of Agrarian Reform way back in 1987 over her refusal to return a car she did not own in the first place.
Perhaps, he said, it was his refusal to give her a Senate committee chairmanship after she had avoided supporting his bid for Senate President in 2008.
Enrile insisted that his almost half-hour diatribe, delivered in his usual steady tone, be placed on the Senate records. It should live on forever, long after both of them were dead.
What is most remarkable about his speech, however, is what it didn’t say.
He said exactly nothing about the allegations that he pocketed most of his pork barrel funds and gave the rest to Janet Lim Napoles and conniving government officials. It was what I had expected him to explain in his speech of “personal
and collective privilege”. How all that tax money – our money – that could have helped us buy C-130 planes to ferry relief goods after Typhoon Haiyan, went to dark unknown places instead.
He didn’t think it was worth telling the Filipino people, I guess.
Personally, I’ve always liked interviewing Enrile as a news source because he has a lot of information stored in his mind. He has a lot of things to say about any subject you throw at him.
Sometimes, he could even say wise words.
This time was not one of those times.
This time, in a moment when the nation desperately needs inspiration, we got this kind of speech from the oldest senator of the land.
As my hubby Alan tweeted afterward – “Geriatric vs Psychiatric – who will survive? WARD WARS.”
* * * *
Here below is the official text of Senator Enrile’s privilege speech. The original copy can be accessed here.
Thanks @Kamison for providing the link to the Youtube video.
PRIVILEGE SPEECH OF SENATOR JUAN PONCE ENRILE
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate:
On Thursday, November 7, 2013, the Blue Ribbon Committee held a hearing which the public had long been waiting for with great anticipation to uncover and bare out the naked truth and nothing but the truth about the alleged PDAF scandal.
However, the Blue Ribbon hearing was turned, surprisingly, into a time and an occasion to attack, malign and assassinate the character of persons, especially me, who refrained from attending that hearing so that the witnesses and the resource persons would be able to talk freely, without any kind of undue restraint. The hearing was dismally converted into a farcical and unjust hearing, instead of being the sober forum publicized boastfully as the arena to bring out the truth and nothing but the truth.
I have been advised by well-meaning friends to ignore what was said against me in that Blue Ribbon hearing. After all, according to them, the abusive words were from an inane and bitterly hostile mind. I pondered over their unsolicited counsel and appreciated their concern for me. However, I decided to break my silence, lest those who heard the vicious and baseless accusations against me of that vile and malicious mind would believe them to be the truth and nothing but the truth.
Today, therefore, I rise on a matter of personal privilege to defend my personal honor, the honor of my family, the honor of my office, and the honor of those millions of my countrymen who trusted and voted me to this Senate.
I will soon retire from politics after two and a half more years of public service, and, I owe it to the current generation to answer the barefaced lies said against me and my office, although deep in my heart I believe that history, in a calmer and kinder social climate, will absolve me.
I would have wanted to deliver this privilege speech earlier. But, I deliberately postponed it until today out of respect and compassion to the hapless victims of super-typhoon Yolanda that wrought unexpected, unimaginable and widespread destruction, havoc, misery and deaths to our suffering countrymen in the Visayan provinces of our Republic, and also out of deference to the time-honored practice in this Chamber that we give utmost priority to the general appropriations bill, when it is being deliberated upon in Plenary.
In that Blue Ribbon hearing, in the press conference that followed it, and, later on, in the media, a member of this Senate, without any iota of concrete proof, brazenly accused me, among other things, of being murderous; of going to the restroom with bodyguard armed with a long firearm; and of being the “mastermind” or “brain” of the alleged PDAF scandal.
Mr. President, I know that I should not dignify with answers these obvious lies flowing as they did from the hallucinated imaginings of a spiteful and bitterly hostile mind. But, I must! I must debunk these unbridled lies from the records of this Senate for the sake of honest truth.
First, that I was murderous. Mr. President, I never murdered anyone during all of my almost 90 years on this planet. I was in the war during World War II as a freedom fighter. I fired bullets against the foreign invaders of our country as they fired bullets at me. I do not know if I hit any of those I shot at. But, for someone to say with impunity that I killed someone, whether here or anywhere else, or that I am planning anyone’s murder, is the “Grandmama” of all falsehood fabricators.
Second, that I go to the restroom of this Senate with bodyguard armed with a long firearm. Mr. President, I never realized until that Blue Ribbon hearing that we have a “peeping Tom” in this Senate. I never knew that someone was keeping an eye on me, even when I go to the most private of places here in this building. It was, after all, supposed to be a “private” area.
I am sure, Mr. President, everyone in this Senate, including the fabricator of that falsehood, knows that what she said was a boldfaced lie. Since 1987, when I first joined this Senate, I never allowed my security men to carry any long firearm in the Senate. Even the members of the Senate internal security force, I know that none of them was ever allowed to carry a long firearm in the Senate.
Mr. President, perhaps my obsessive hater is the only one, in all these years, ever so blessed to see someone carrying a long one in the Senate restroom!
Modesty aside, Mr. President, early in my youth I was trained in the native martial art of arnis. Later on, I earned a black belt in the Korean martial art of taekwando. Hence, I do not need a firearm, long or short, to defend myself in a face to face combat.
Besides, unlike some persons familiar to me, I do not think I suffer from any kind of schizophrenic or psychotic paranoia to be that paranoid to need someone with a firearm to visit a restroom, especially in this Senate. True, one of my men normally goes with me to the restroom. But, he carries no weapon. He only goes with me to assist me because of my impaired vision.
Maybe what my obsessive hater mistook for a long firearm, Mr. President, was a tiny gadget that I bring with me to scratch my back when it itches and to strike down a mischievous langaw when I encounter one along the way.
Mr. President, I have traveled all these years, in daytime and in nighttime, everywhere without fear of being harmed. I know that I had not done any kind of oppressive act, by word or by deed, against anyone to earn that degree of enmity that would provoke a desire to harm me or to take my life. This is another thing that demonstrates the obvious falsity of the claim that even in the Senate I need a bodyguard with a long firearm. Only a distorted, degraded, and deranged mind could imagine and invent such a blatant lie.
Third, that I was the “mastermind” or “brain” of the alleged PDAF scandal. Mr. President, only an inane and bitterly hostile mind could fabricate such a canard. Again, all I can say is that this is an outright lie and this is just another of those baseless fabrications against me from a depraved mind.
I will not belabor this unfounded canard, Mr. President. I am aware that the public has been waiting for me to speak up on this matter, but for now suffice it to say that there will be a time and a more appropriate forum to deal in detail with the alleged PDAF scam, and I will give my fullest cooperation to unearth the truth in that alleged scandal.
Perhaps, my obsessive hater should appear as a special prosecutor against me to demonstrate to her admirers her knowledge of the facts of the alleged PDAF scandal and her legal skill as a trial lawyer. I am sure she will experience something she never experienced before.
Whenever an occasion arises, my bitter and obsessive hater habitually flaunts her being a former judge. With a flare of self-praise, she would normally say, “as a former judge etc. etc.”
Well, I am sorry to say that this former judge does not seem to understand the basic meaning of due process. Every law student knows that due process simply means, “you hear first the evidence before you condemn.” Now I know why she nearly flunked her bar examination. A parrot can memorize legal principles but it cannot apply them.
It seems, Mr. President, that the inanities of my bitter and obsessive hater are boundless.
Ito ay sapagkat noong kasagsagan nang barilan sa Zamboanga City sa paggitan nang mga sundalo natin at nang mga armadong tauhan daw ni Nur Misuari, sinabi nang senadora na ako daw ang nag-udyok sa barilan sa Zamboanga City at nagbigay daw ako kay Nur Misuari nang apat na pung milyong piso upang guluhin niya ang Zamboanga City.
Naku po, sobra naman ang senadorang iyan! Kung hindi ba naman naninira sa kanyang kapwa! Nasa probinsiya po ako nang Cagayan noong nangyari ang gulo sa Zamboanga City. Wala akong kamalay-malay na may barilan pala sa Zamboanga City. Nalaman ko na lamang iyong nangyari na barilan sa Zamboanga City noong bumalik na ako sa Maynila.
Paano ako mapapasama sa isang pangyayari na wala akong kaalam-alam? Maliwanag po ito at walang kaduda-duda na nagpapatunay na may pagkasinungaling ang senadora na iyan.
Ang masaklap po, Ginoong Pangulo, dinadaan nya sa pagpapatawa, sa kanyang mga popular na pick-up lines, ang kanyang panloloko sa mga inosenteng kababayan natin. At ang mas masaklap pa po dito ay kung anuman ang mga salitang kanyang binitiwan ay kinakagat ng ilang mga peryodista nang ganon-ganon na lamang, sinasakyan ang kanyang mga paratang para lamang tuluyan akong idiin dito sa isyu ng PDAF.
But why is this senator so obsessive and bitter against me? Many, especially my friends and followers, have repeatedly asked me this question. Mr. President, I do not know for certain the answer to this nagging question. I, too, am puzzled. I know of no harm that I did to her to arouse her vile anger and hostility against me.
Sinabi nang senadora sa Blue Ribbon hearing na ako daw ay may asim pa. Ginoong Pangulo, nagpapasalamat ako sa kanya. Ngunit ikinalulungkot kong sabihin, at kahit masakit man banggitin, hindi po ako naa-asiman sa kanya!
But levity aside, what I know, Mr. President, is that after her graduation from the UP College of Law and her bar examination, I hired her in 1969 to work for me in the Department of Justice where I was then the Secretary of Justice. When she got married, she asked me and my wife to be her wedding sponsors.
When President Marcos transferred me from the Department of Justice to the Department of National Defense on February 10, 1970, my association with her ended, until we became colleagues again here in the Senate for the first time in 1995, under the Tenth Congress.
I can only surmise, Mr. President, that her deep-seated animosity against me arose from two events: One was when I opposed her confirmation as Secretary of Agrarian Reform during the administration of President Corazon C. Aquino. Another was when I refused to include her in the majority bloc when I was elected Senate President in November 2008 and, again, in July 2010.
During the hearing of the Commission on Appointments on her confirmation as Secretary of Agrarian Reform, testing the suitability and qualifications of the nominee then, I asked her if she was ever under the care of a psychiatrist. She admitted that she was. She said that she was treated by a psychiatrist at the Makati Medical Center.
In the same Commission on Appointments committee deliberation, I asked her also what grade she got in her bar examination. She replied that she got 76%. That meant that she obtained low grades in all her bar subjects. In fact, I remember that she got a grade of 56% in Ethics, the easiest bar examination subject.
In that same Commission on Appointments committee deliberation, I asked about a white Toyota Celica sports car that the nominee then was said to be driving as her personal car when she was a judge in Quezon City. Toots Trinidad, a former PNB Vice President, owned that sports car. He shipped it back to the Philippines upon his return from the United States after his surgical operation for a brain tumor at the Standford University. That sports car disappeared from the compound of the Bureau of Customs when it arrived in the Port of Manila.
Toots Trinidad learned that his sports car was with a judge of Quezon City. Toots Trinidad asked then Judge Miriam Defensor Santiago to give the car back to him. She refused. I was told that she claimed that her husband, Narciso Yap Santiago of the Province of Tarlac, who was at that time employed in the Bureau of Customs, gave her that sports car as a birthday gift. Later on, I found out that the car was registered in her name in the Bureau of Land Transportation in the Province of Tarlac.
As a consequence of my opposition, and among other concerns taken into consideration, the Committee on Agrarian Reform of the Commission on Appointments voted to reject her appointment as Secretary of Agrarian Reform.
When I became Senate President in November 2008, she did not vote for me. I tried to reach her before I was voted as Senate President. She refused to answer my phone calls. She even denied my request for just five minutes to see her at her residence. Initially, she was not part of the new majority then and, consequently, she was not assigned any committee to chair. Eventually, however, I relented and assigned to her two major committees upon the intervention of then Senator Mar Roxas.
After the election in 2010, I was re-elected Senate President. I did not make an effort to reach out to her to get her support, but it was then Senator Manuel Villar who interceded for her. At that point, she was already allied with the Nacionalista Party of Senator Villar.
Senator Manny Villar arranged a dinner in a Japanese restaurant at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. He pleaded with me to join him and the senator with her husband in that dinner. Senator Tito Sotto and Senator Gregorio Honasan were also present in that dinner-meeting.
During the dinner, the senadora and her husband profusely made their amends to me. Because of Manny Villar, Tito Sotto, and Greg Honasan, I accepted her and her husband’s insincere apologies and took her in into the new majority.
As a consequence, I assigned to her the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Laws, the only remaining unassigned committee at that time.
She wanted to retain her former committees: 1) the Committee on Foreign Affairs which has an oversight committee with a separate and large budget; and, 2) the Committee on Energy which also has an oversight committee with an equally separate and large budget. Obviously, she wanted a large pile of money at her disposal. But I could not satisfy her desire because the two committees had already been assigned to two other equally-capable senators.
Finally, she asked for an oversight committee with a separate budget to be specially created for her to support her large staff. I accommodated her request without much ado.
Evidently, all those things that I did for her were not enough to assuage her deep-seated and bitter hostility against me for what happened in the past, especially in her confirmation hearing as Secretary of Agrarian Reform.
Mr. President, what I said in this speech is the naked truth and nothing but the truth. No fabrication and no invention in it. I wish to put these remarks in the official record of this Senate for posterity to read. Some day, perhaps, our people will eventually unmask who was lying and who was telling the truth.
Finally, Mr. President, then Senator Panfilo Lacson called my bitter and obsessive hater “a crusading crook”. I have yet to hear from her a bristling rebuttal, a relevant answer, or a lucid explanation — not ad hominem as she is wont to do. Up to now the words of Senator Lacson remained unanswered. They are met with deafening silence from her. I just wonder why!
Anyway, this is all, Mr. President. Thank you for your patience and forbearance, and for allowing this representation to use a bit of the Senate’s time to say my piece.