By Jelly Musico
MANILA, 5June2013 – Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile Wednesday resigned irrevocably as Senate president, a day before the 15th Congress regular session adjourns sine die Thursday.
Enrile announced his resignation in his privilege speech during the resumption of the Senate session amid reports of changes in the Senate leadership in the forthcoming 16th Congress.
”As a matter of a personal honor and integrity, I hereby irrevocably resign as Senate President,” Enrile said.
After his speech, Enrile went down from the podium and approached all the senators present to express gratitude for their support throughout the four and a half year as Senate president.
”I owe a deep debt of gratitude to my colleagues who, at the most crucial hour, managed to rise above selfish interest and ambition to help me steer the Senate through rough waters in the last four and a half years that I served as Senate President,” Enrile said.
With everybody caught by surprise, Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada called for suspension of the session and asked senators to proceed to the Senate lounge for a brief caucus.
When the session resumed, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III moved to accept the resignation with ‘grief in my heart.’
The motion has been accepted and appointed Estrada as acting Senate president based on the prevailing Senate rules.
In his speech, Enrile hit back at his critics from among his colleagues who accused him of misusing the Senate funds when he authorized the release of ‘cash gifts’ to his colleagues except to four -– Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Alan Cayetano, Pia Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV.
”The common analysis of political observers was that my son’s candidacy suffered from the fall-out of the bitter criticisms and accusations hurled against me by some people in this Chamber who I had displeased, just as we were entering the political campaign season,” Enrile said.
Enrile admitted he felt the pain being endured by his son who still gave all the praises to his father despite all the criticisms hurled against the veteran lawmaker.
He said: ”As a father, I endured in silence the pain of seeing my son suffer because of me.
“He carried on his shoulders the weight of all the mud thrown against me. As I stayed and watched quietly by the side lines, my heart bled for him.”
”In spite of all these, I heard Jack say that I am his hero and that he was my hero. I was deeply touched by that, and I could not ask for anything more from my son. He has truly made me even more proud to be his dad,” he added.
Enrile went on to deny all the accusations against him including allegation that he misused the Senate funds and used the powers of the Senate presidency “just to hold on to this position.”
”With the cloud of doubt and suspicion that my adversaries have successfully foisted upon my person, my honor and my leadership, it is not far-fetched for them to make the people believe that I will spend the resources of the Senate,” Enrile said.
”I say ‘successfully’ because no matter how baseless and malicious those accusations are or were, the issues hurled at me and their implications not only on my own, but on the Senate’s integrity, were never resolved with clarity. These were quickly overtaken by the campaign fever,” he added.
Enrile said the truth or falsity the accusations hurled against him “were lost and muddled in the wild frenzy of election rhetoric and propaganda.”
At the height of media reports about the cash gifts, Enrile claimed some of his colleagues kept their distance and silence “as I was publicly pilloried and crucified.”
Enrile said: ”I carried the brunt of four of my colleague’s anger and displeasure over not receiving what they felt they were entitled to as their share of the savings of the Senate.
“No one bothered nor cared that I, too, did not receive the same amount that I had approved for the rest.”
He challenged the next Senate leadership as well as his colleagues to revert to the old system of liquidating and accounting every centavo of public funds entrusted to the Senate.
He said: ”Perhaps, in due time, Senator Drilon will finally find a solution that will adequately satisfy the members of this Chamber.
“More importantly, I hope that such a solution will correct a rather unwieldy situation that has earned the criticism and disgust of the people.”
Drilon is being groomed as the next Senate president in the 16th Congress.
Enrile has declared the Senate presidency vacant a few months ago but majority of his colleagues turned his motion. (PNA)