Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s evenhandedness and deft management of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment trial lent great credence to that often-dramatic spectacle—one replete with heated arguments and even wheelchair theatrics. Enrile’s performance even had a redemptive effect on his reputation and made people more tolerant of his revisionist account of martial law.
However, less than a year since the removal of Corona, the chief presiding officer of that trial is now himself embroiled in a controversy involving the misuse of maintenance and other operating expenses savings. After removing a chief justice for not being wholly truthful in declaring his financials—thus implying he unjustly enriched himself while in office—here is the Senate President using public funds to reward favored allies with cash gifts.
One cannot help but feel disappointed and betrayed by this development. Instead of making inroads in our fight against graft and corruption, it seems that our efforts have sputtered or even regressed. How else can we explain such unconscionable use of public funds when we are sorely lacking in basic education, infrastructure and national defense? What must the victims of the latest natural disaster be thinking when the senators are bickering over the unequal division of cash gifts?
If the immorality and corruption of the situation was not apparent before, it certainly is now with the vote of confidence to retain Senator Enrile as Senate President. Coming on the heels of the distribution of disproportionate amounts to allied majority members, it seems that the vote of confidence was bought and paid for by our taxes. If that does not constitute bribery and misuse of public funds, then our country is really doomed.
A ready solution is another very public and dramatic removal from office. After all, we are their bosses.