Erap: JPE a tough act to follow
MANILA, Philippines - Resigned Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will be a tough act to follow, former President Joseph Estrada said Wednesday, June 5.
In a statement, Estrada, Manila's incoming mayor and Enrile's ally in the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said it will be a challenge for any senator to follow in the senator's footsteps.
"He is a man not only of competence but of excellence. I believe there has never been nor is there any senator in the Senate today who can match the level of leadership of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile," he said.
He cited the Enrile's "stellar performance" during the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona as an example of his leadership.
The former President said he would like the next leader of the chamber to be "someone who is not obligated to the President."
"The senators should choose for senate president someone who will ensure the independence of the Senate and also someone who is most determined to make the people regain their trust in the Senate as an institution," he said.
"I believe there is still no other person better for the job than JPE," he added.
Enrile made his surprise resignation on the chamber's penultimate session day for the 15th Congress.
Enrile, who was Senate President for 4 and a half years, delivered a privilege speech lamenting how his critics in the minority used the Senate fund controversy to destroy his name and derail the senatorial candidacy of his son and namesake, outgoing Cagayan Rep Juan Ponce "Jack" Enrile Jr.
The 89-year-old Enrile said he had had enough of having to defend his fellow senators, as his Senate leadership position required him. Individual senators should be made individually accountable for their disbursements, he said.
“Let us all be men and women worthy of being called ‘Honorable Senators.’ And let the chips fall where they may. And so as a matter of personal honor and dignity, I hereby irrevocably resign as Senate President,” Enrile said at the end of a 15-minute speech.
In keeping with Senate rules, Senate Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, a member of the UNA and Estrada's son, has been designated as acting Senate President.
Jinggoy told reporters on Thursday, June 6, that Enrile’s resignation is only good for the 15th Congress as the veteran lawmaker will still vie to be Senate President in the next Congress.
Jinggoy said Enrile wants to become minority leader, a post he will automatically get if he loses the Senate presidency to Drilon. Drilon is expected to clinch the position with the support of the administration coalition.
“We will still put up a good fight on July 22. If we don’t have the numbers, automatically, Sen Enrile becomes the minority leader,” Jinggoy said.
He said he will call for a meeting of the macho bloc – Enrile, Sen Vicente Sotto III, and Sen Gregorio Honasan II – and United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senators-elect Nancy Binay and his brother JV Ejercito after June 30. The meeting is aimed at discussing the plans of the new minority.
Asked if he will invite Sen Bong Revilla, Estrada said, “Sen Bong Revilla belong to Lakas so the minority, we will limit it to UNA and the macho bloc. I don’t know if Sen Revilla will join the majority or the minority. I cannot speak for him.”
Estrada though said he is expecting another Lakas member, Sen Lito Lapid, to join the majority. – With reports from Ayee Macaraig/Rappler.com