MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile confirmed Wednesday he gave out nearly P30 million in cash gifts to fellow senators last Christmas but denied that these were bribes to stave off a Senate coup.
In a statement, Enrile confirmed a Philippine Daily Inquirer story that his office gave an additional P1.6 million in maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) budget to 18 senators.
He also confirmed that 4 other senators – Antonio Trillanes IV, Miriam Defensor Santiago and Alan and Pia Cayetano – received only P250,000 each.
“Any additional MOOE approved by the Senate President for each Senator is not a matter of entitlement. Neither should such be mistaken as taken from the Senate President’s discretionary funds,” he said.
He added: “I stand by the exercise of my sole discretion not to authorize any further releases of additional MOOE last December to the 4 Senators. It is time to call a spade a spade.”
Enrile said the Senate budget office informed him that the chamber had savings of up to P2.218 million in MOOE for each senator. He said all 23 senators had received P600,000 in additional MOOE last November.
The balance was then divided into 2 tranches of P1.3 million and P318,000 and released to the 18 senators before the Christmas break. Enrile said that aside from the 4 senators, he also did not get P1.6 million in additional MOOE.
ANC Dateline Philippines, January 9, 2013