The Miriam-Enrile clash: the aftermath


Controversy over the unequal distribution  of Christmas cash gifts by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to 22 senators has morphed into demands for the exhumation of the truth about his role as martial law administrator of the Marcos dictatorship.

The demand came from Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago in the course of her running battle with Enrile over the distribution of Senate savings. What provoked Santiago was that Enrile played favorites in gifting his colleagues: 18, classified  by him as “nice,” received  P1.6 million each; while four, branded as “naughty,” got only P250,000 each. Santiago was one of the four senators—the others were Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and siblings Pia and Alan Peter Cayetano.

The Commission on Audit (COA), which has oversight of the Senate funds, has declared that Enrile’s use of the funds as Christmas bonus is aboveboard and is allowed under the General Appropriations Act (the national budget). The COA did not touch on the fairness and evenhandedness of the disbursements, leaving this issue to the discretion of the Senate President. What rankled deeply among the four is the fact that Enrile was using the fund as a weapon to punish inconvenient colleagues who dared to tangle with him on a number of legislative issues and as a reward to those he deemed to be more friendly to him.

Enrile has a well-established reputation for being  vindictive on those who have crossed his path.  The other day he confirmed this reputation when he recalled Senate employees detailed to the offices of Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Trillanes. According to Cayetano, the recall was meant to teach him and his fellow reelectionist a lesson about the merits of toeing the line. The four who received smaller amounts of Christmas gifts have repeatedly been reported to be plotting to remove Enrile from the Senate presidency. Of the four, Santiago has been the most outspoken critic of Enrile and she has engaged him in a running debate, matching wits with him in a tit for tat marked by personal insults degrading parliamentary decorum.

In an interview with radio station dzBB on Sunday, Santiago accused Enrile of alleged plunder and challenged him to explain his role in the disappearances of opponents of the Marcos regime. She also accused Enrile of allegedly funding coup attempts against President Corazon Aquino although he was Cory’s defense secretary in her administration. She said Enrile “should now answer for the crime of plunder. Why is he that wealthy? He should answer for the crime of causing what the Spanish call ‘desaparecidos’…. He should be held accountable for that.”

In a radio interview, Enrile said he was investigated by the Corazon Aquino administration, and no plunder charges were brought against him. “I will probably not reply to what she said. We will just let the public decide who is right,” Enrile said, adding that whatever wealth he had was the result of his private law practice before he joined the government, which could not be true of Santiago, whose income was derived from government service. Enrile went on to say that Santiago had some explaining to do. He pointed out that Santiago had worked for Ambassador Kokoy Romualdez, brother of Imelda Marcos, wife of the late president.

In her interview, Santiago accused Enrile of having a personal agenda when he played a role in the overthrow of Marcos. She said Enrile, together with then Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos, revolted against Marcos because he wanted to get rid of Marcos, hoping that he would replace him, “but the public wanted Cory Aquino.” In this acerbic exchange, the shift to Enrile’s martial law record all but covered up Enrile’s cash gifts.

Santiago assailed Enrile’s autobiography titled “Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir.” The book presented Enrile’s revisionist perspective of the martial law years. It presented the point of view of an insider—from the perspective of the ruling cabal.

Santiago hammered at one of the most contentious chapters of the memoir. She referred to Enrile’s claim that the ambush staged on him inside Wack Wack Golf and Country Club on the eve of martial law declaration in September 1972, took place but was not faked. The memoir contradicted a statement made by Enrile, when he defected from the Marcos dictatorship in February 1986, that the ambush was staged to justify the declaration of martial law.

Santiago has in effect given a momentum to the demand for the close scrutiny of the Enrile memoir. It seems to me, it is farthest from the mind of Santiago to set in motion a “counterrevision” of Enrile’s memoir to get into the truth of the events surrounding Edsa I. This is an unintended consequence of the furor over the Enrile Christmas gift episode. The controversy served as a catalyst of a historical question that has a more far-reaching importance to Philippine modern history.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Other Stories:

No related posts found!

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=45069

Tags: amando doronila , column , enrile ambush , Juan Ponce Enrile , martial law , Miriam Defensor Santiago , senate cash gifts

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • 14 killed in car bombing in Homs
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Marketplace