(UPDATED) Juan Ponce Enrile tendered his irrevocable resignation as president of the Senate on Wednesday afternoon.
Enrile made the announcement following the privilege speech he delivered during the last session day of the 15th Congress.
“As a matter of a personal honor and integrity, I hereby irrevocably resign as Senate President,” Enrile said.
“Let us all be men and women worthy of being called ‘Honorable Senators.’ Let the chips fall where they may… May God bless our country and our people,” he added.
The octogenarian expressed no regret in being able to muster support from the majority long enough amid “constantly shifting political tides.”
In his speech, Enrile also addressed allegations against him, which he said contributed his son, outgoing Cagayan Rep. Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile, losing in the May 2013 senatorial polls.
“The common analysis of political observers was that my son’s candidacy suffered from the fall-out of the bitter criticisms and accusations hurled against me by some people in this Chamber who I had displeased, just as we were entering the political campaign season,” Enrile said.
“The enmity that marked the ending of our session days last January and early February was carried well into the campaign,” he added. “This was helped in no small measure by the virulent personal attacks against me by a non-candidate Senator who fashions herself as my nemesis and who evidently delights in doing the job.
“Yet Jack forged on, plodded and toiled on his own. He braved the storm and took on all the brickbats and accusations, both old and new,” he added.
Enrile was apparently referring to Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who publicly criticized Enrile for his “unethical ways” of running the Senate since December.
Without specifically naming them, Enrile also took a jab at Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, both of whom had clashed with him in the months leading to the May elections.
“Based on the so-called ‘official results', one Senator who had openly accused me of anomalies and venalities in running the Senate, and another young Senator who said that Juan Ponce Enrile ‘has not done anything good for this country’, have both earned a fresh mandate to serve in this Chamber,” Enrile said. "I respect that mandate as all of us should."
[RELATED: Full text of Enrile's speech]
Meanwhile, senators agreed to appoint Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada as the acting Senate president.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto and Senator Franklin Drilon cited various sections under the Rules of the Senate that support the decision.
“It grieves my heart to take not of the irrevocable resignation of the Senate president. We will place that on record,” Sotto said following a short caucus.
Drilon, who earlier admitted he is seeking the Senate presidency in the 16th Congress, cited Section V, Rule IV under Senate rules supporting Estrada’s appointment.
“Consistent with this rule, we want to place that rule that Senate Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada is now the acting Senate president,” Drilon said.
Outgoing Senator Joker Arroyo eventually took the podium to congratulate Estrada, who said he is willing to hold an election Enrile’s replacement.
This came a week after Drilon said Enrile allowed the Liberal Party (LP) to court senators that are aligned with him in the so-called “Macho Bloc.”
The “Macho Bloc” is a group of senators composed of Enrile, Estrada, Sotto and re-elected Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, who are all associated with the opposition.
Drilon added that Enrile assured him of the United Nationalist Coalition (UNA)’s commitment to be a "constructive" opposition bloc in the Senate.
The Philippines is to upgrade a navy base facing disputed South China Sea waters to serve the extra ships being acquired to protect its territory, the military said Thursday. Navy spokesman Lieutenant-Commander Gregory Fabic said the military would build a 500-million-peso ($11.2 million) port at Ulugan Bay, the Philippine military base nearest to the Spratly Islands. President Benigno Aquino is set to visit the base on May 20 to launch the upgrading, Fabic added. In recent years, the …