Miriam explains why JPE remains Senate president

Posted at 01/16/2013 11:22 AM | Updated as of 01/17/2013 4:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago believes Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has not been ousted because a major political faction wants him to stay in his seat until 2016.

Speaking to ANC’s Headstart, Santiago said Enrile should never have been Senate President if not for the backing of “one of his strongest supporters in the political universe.”

“One of the political factions wants him there because by 2016 he will be too old and too superannuated, too lacking in energy to run for President and this faction does not want anyone in the position of Senate President who can be a credible, potential presidential candidate in 2016. That is why he is there,” she told Headstart host Karen Davila.

Santiago noted that Enrile does not belong to any major political party except for the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino of former President Estrada. She denied that Estrada, Vice-President Jejomar Binay or even President Aquino are Enrile’s supporters or political patrons.

“In the Senate, nobody wants to put anybody to become a viable presidential candidate in 2016. So they settled on the oldest ember of the Senate because by 2016, he will knock himself out. He will disqualify himself by his old age,” she said.

In the interview, the lawmaker also denied Enrile’s allegation that she is pushing for his ouster. She said she is not on good terms with Malacañang after she refused to support the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

“I cannot talk to Malacañang because I was against the impeachment of Chief Justice Corona. That put me in the doghouse. I am incommunicado. I have no party except my own People's Reform Party,” she said.

Santiago said she had always run for senator as a guest candidate of other major political parties. In 2010, she ran as a guest candidate of the Nacionalista Party of Sen. Manny Villar.

“How could I possibly make any move? I am not the kind who will go around organizing political strategies. I am much too busy for that. I would rather just stare blankly at open space and contemplate my non-existence, my annihilation after death,” she said.

Why Enrile resents me

In the interview, Santiago confirmed that she and Enrile had a falling-out during the administration of President Corazon Aquino.

She said Enrile became resentful because she was appointed immigration commissioner by President Aquino. She said Enrile, one of the administrators of martial law under President Ferdinand Marcos, was very jealous of Cory when she became president after the 1986 EDSA Revolution.

"Enrile was very jealous of President Cory because he thought that after [President] Marcos, he should take over. Remember, he was administrator of the martial law administration for 20 years. It's very difficult to leave power. When President Cory came in, he was very jealous and envious that an ordinary housewife with no background, with no significant undergraduate degree should take over," she said.

"And then he heard that I had accepted a position under President Cory. My first position was immigration commissioner for which I won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service. That did not stop Enrile telling people that I was corrupt. But I had already been vetted and screened by the members of The Magsaysay Awards Foundation without my knowledge, so that is my main claim to fame."

"Galit siya dahil sa tingin niya, iniwan ko siya. He's very, very possessive."

Santiago admitted that she asked Enrile to become a sponsor at her wedding. She said the then justice secretary was a no-show at her wedding.

She also denied that it was Enrile who hired her in the Department of Justice, saying that it was Undersecretary Efren Plana who asked her to join the DOJ.

Santiago also addressed the issue raised by Enrile that he had opposed her appointment at the Commission on Appointments because she was caught driving a Customs-seized car.

She said the issue was raised not when she was appointed Immigration Commissioner but when she transferred to the Department of Agrarian Reform.

"Maybe he is suffering from old age dementia because you know, 89 years old. I am saying this with a straight face because my mother is 90 years old. My mother was a genius in mathematics but you know sometimes she confuses her timelines," she said.

She added: "You make slips of fact and you invent little fictions to yourself."