Juan Ponce Enrile Skips PDAF Issue & Hits Miriam Defensor Santiago

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile chose not to give a detailed denial to accusations linking him to the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds.

Enrile spent time Wednesday blasting top critic Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.

He is aware that the public has been waiting for him to speak up on this matter, but he said, suffice it to say that there will be a time and a more appropriate forum to deal in detail with the alleged PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) scam.

He will give his fullest cooperation to unearth the truth in that alleged scandal, he said in a privilege speech.

Enrile is one of the three senators ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman to answer plunder charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last September.

He allegedly amassed P172.8 million in kickbacks for sponsoring ghost projects under the PDAF, which was recently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Santiago accused Enrile as the mastermind of the scam that ran for some 10 years, including the period when he was Senate President from November 2008 to June 2013.

This irked Enrile, saying it was a fabrication by an inane and bitterly hostile mind.

He never mentioned Santiago’s name during the speech although he described her as his bitter and obsessive hater.

Enrile said Santiago’s deep-seated animosity against him could be a result of his opposition to her confirmation as agrarian reform secretary to then President Corazon Aquino and non-inclusion in the majority bloc when he was Senate President for nearly five years.

At a confirmation hearing, Enrile said Santiago admitted she was treated by a psychiatrist at the Makati Medical Center and that she got a grade of 76 percent in 1969 Bar examinations, where Senate President Franklin Drilon placed third.

The veteran politician also exposed Santiago’s refusal to return a white Toyota Celica sports car to a former official of the Philippine National Bank (PNB) when she was still a Quezon City judge.

That vehicle allegedly disappeared from the compound of the Bureau of Customs when it arrived in the Port of Manila from the United States. Santiago reportedly said the car was a birthday gift from her husband, Narciso, who was a Customs employee at the time.

These revelations led to the rejection of Santiago’s appointment. Aquino removed her from the position in January 1990 after a five-month stint.

Enrile said Santiago was not part of the majority when he took the Senate leadership in 2008 yet she was given two major committees upon the intervention of then Senator Manuel Roxas II.

The lady senator was also given the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws when Enrile was re-elected Senate President in 2010, this time, through the help of then Senator Manny Villar.

But Santiago supposedly wanted to retain her former committees, energy and foreign affairs, which both have separate and large budgets.

Enrile declined her request because these had already been assigned to other senators.

Santiago asked for an oversight committee with a separate budget especially created for her to support her large staff. Enrile agreed “without so much ado.”

Evidently, all those things that he did for her were not enough to assuage her deep-seated and bitter hostility against him for what happened in the past, especially in her confirmation hearing as Secretary of Agrarian Reform, he said.

Santiago will respond to Enrile’s tirades on December 4, also through a privilege speech although her staff said the senator was unable to listen to the speech because of chronic fatigue syndrome.