She may be unable to attend sessions in the Senate floor due to heart problems, but Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is not free from stress.
In fact, the feisty senator on said she went into “heart attack mode” over what she said was Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s “ignorance of the law.”
“Enrile had never even bothered to do his homework on constitutional law,” Santiago said in a statement released Thursday.
She was reacting to a debate between Enrile and Sen. Antonio Trillanes, over a probe on a 1994 Manila Water and Sewerage System resolution.
The August 6 debate stemmed from Trillanes’ push for Senate to look into the resolution which allegedly allowed water utilities to pass on corporate tax obligations to consumers.
The MWSS recently confirmed that consumers have been paying for some P15 billion of Manila Water Company, Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc.’s taxes.
Enrile, however, bucked Trillanes’ move, citing a constitutional provision which says: “No law impairing the obligation of contract shall be passed.”
Her staff said that when told about the debate, the senator, who is on leave for chronic fatigue with heart problems, registered high frequency and duration of cardiac disturbances.
Enrile's argument, Santiago said, showed that Enrile is “completely clueless” about the limitations of what she said is “an anachronistic provision of the Constitution.”
"The impairment clause is now no longer inviolate; in fact, there are many who now believe it is an anachronism in present-day society,” Santiago said.
The agreements entered into by the MWSS and Metro Manila’s top water concessionaires, she added, “have come within the embrace of the police power.”
Santiago in her statement went on to cite several Supreme Court decisions which showed how police power prevails over clause cited by Enrile.
Police power, she added, is the mandate to “make all laws necessary and proper to preserve the public security, order, health, morality, justice, and general welfare.”
Enrile’s erroneous argument, Santiago noted, turned the debate with non-lawyer Trillanes into mere “bluffing and bullying.”
“The Enrile speech was an egregious example of ignorance of the law, used as a tool to bludgeon the heads of non-lawyers,” the senator said.
“I am very disappointed that none of the lawyers in the majority coalition to which I belong stood up to unmask Enrile's ignorance,” she added.
Santiago further took a swipe at Enrile for boasting that had the argument been in court, he would have defeated Trillanes.
Under Senate rules, Enrile’s statement “constitutes unparliamentary language because it offends Sen. Trillanes and the Senate as a whole,” she said.
“He (Enrile) does not want the Senate to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation, which is one of our duties,” Santiago said.