Senators in Support of Enrile, Reyes Speak Out

25 January 2013

MANILA, Philippines --- A number of senators see no need for Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to step down from his post even after he figured in a verbal clash against Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and other senators critical of his leadership.

These same senators feel the same with regard to lawyer Jessica Lucile "Gigi" Reyes, Enrile's chief of staff who tendered her irrevocable resignation after being among the subjects of a scathing speech by Senate Minority Leader Alan Cayetano earlier this week.

Members of the Upper Chamber also welcomed Cayetano's proposal for an independent private audit of the Senate's financial portfolio.

"We will support it, we will support the Cayetano resolution," Senate President Pro Tempore Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada said.

"I favor the COA audit as the Commission is constitutionally mandated to audit government funds. I am open to it for the sake of transparency. Let's audit everybody beginning with how the MOOE (Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses) was used. Simula 2008 when Manong Johnny became Senate President," Estrada said.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said Enrile has not violated any laws and has the trust and confidence of the majority of the Senate members.

"He must not resign and fall prey to further intrigues and false allegations and accusations. Senate practice and tradition support the acts of Senate President Enrile," Sotto said.

He must not resign and fall prey to malicious accusations hurled by a few. If they really think that laws were violated, then they should be quick to file a case before the proper legal courts," he added.

"The intention of doing a trial by publicity only shows that some officials are just after exposure no matter what it takes," Sotto said.

Senators Francis Escudero, Panfilo Lacson, and Ralph Recto echoed the same call.

"I don't think he should resign unless he no longer enjoys the confidence of a majority of senators. I believe he continues to enjoy such majority support," Escudero said.

"He clearly has the vote of confidence of at least 11 senators so that leaves 12 who could possible vote for a new Senate President which is not enough since 13 is the number needed for the purpose," Lacson said.

"In case he abandons his post by resigning irrevocably, the entire Senate will have to choose the next leader. The most logical choice is Senator (Franklin) Drilon, unless he declines the nomination," added Lacson.

Recto also assured the "Senate President continues to enjoy a majority support of senators."

Estrada said he is appealing for a ceasefire on the verbal tussle and said he hopes Reyes would reconsider her decision to resign as Enrile's chief of staff.

Estrada said he can vouch for Reyes' integrity, saying he has known her to be a workaholic, exceptionally brilliant, trustworthy and intelligent.