By Alejandro Del Rosario
Manila Standard Today
At the risk of being called a mongoloid, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile hinted that Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago should vacate her Senate seat and assume her post as a judge in the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
The sharp-tongue senator from Iloilo earlier called all those who had been urging her to resign as “mongoloids.” She later apologized for the politically incorrect reference to the mentally challenged.
Enrile was quite circumspect in his call for Santiago to resign, careful not to incur the wrath of his feisty colleague. The venerable Senate President pointed out the crucial presence of the 24th member of the Senate, citing one missing vote in the verdict in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
An absent vote was in effect a “No” vote for the chief justice’s removal, Enrile pointed out. The same situation could happen in the event the Senate has to vote for ratification of an important treaty.
“I’m not saying Senator Santiago should resign. But she sought the position and won election. It’s up to her whether to resign her Senate seat or not,” Enrile said.
Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brilliantes also prefers that Santiago decide so the Comelec can start printing the ballots for the 2013 senatorial elections containing all the candidates’ names, to include the slot to be left vacant by the senator.
But Santiago seems bent on staying put until the ICC summons her to report for duty at The Hague, Netherlands. Earlier she said she would only stay on until the conclusion of the Corona impeachment trial.
As they say, it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. In one instance, Miriam had said “ I lied” when confronted with a change of her position on an issue. If there’s anything to be learned in dealing with Miriam, it’s that the lady does not want to be pushed into doing anything. She will do it in her own good time and on her terms. In between the Hague and the Senate, the senator is making the rounds of the student circuit, regaling her audience as a stand-up comedienne.
Meanwhile, Enrile who did an excellent job of steering the Senate impeachment trial of Corona, is going to be “rewarded” with removal from the top Senate post. The knives are out. There is a reported plot to replace Enrile with Senator Franklin Drilon. There are moves, according to Palace and Senate sources, that the Liberal Party is talking to the Nacionalista Party of Senator Manny Villar and the Nationalist People’s Coalition to muster the votes to install Drilon as Senate President.
The LP senators are Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Ralph Recto and Teofisto Guingona III. To topple Enrile, the ruling party has to win over NP Senators Villar, Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV and Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
Enrile belongs to the triumvirate behind the United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay and former President Joseph Estrada. Binay has made it no secret he plans to use the party as a spring board for his 2016 presidential bid.
However, Enrile is puzzled about a story that the LP is including his son, Cagayan Rep Juan “Jack” Enrile in its senatorial lineup.
“I don’t know where that story came from. I haven’t talked to President Aquino about it nor he to me,” Enrile said as he disclaimed son Jack is being pirated away from UNA.
Why indeed, when there’s the report of a possible Enrile ouster and his replacement by Drilon? Still, stranger things have happened in politics before,
Enrile, if the reported plot is true, would be left with the support of Senators Jinggoy Estrada , Vicente Sotto III and Gringo Honasan, known political acolytes of the Cagayan senator. All three have acknowledged Enrile as their mentor whose experience and tutelage benefited them
Enrile has made known that if and when all these come to pass, he would have no rancor, knowing he has served his country well. He is almost finished with his autobiography, temporarily titled “With God and Guts.” It be should an interesting read as Enrile chronicles his life in government as Secretary of Finance, Justice, Defense and Senate President presiding over the historic first impeachment of a sitting chief justice of the Supreme Court.