For allegedly acting like a dictator, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile should be unseated as head of the Senate, said Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who had her Christmas gift to Enrile returned to her.
In an interview with GMA News' Kara David on 'News To Go" Monday morning, Santiago cited Enrile's strong opposition against the reproductive health (RH) and sin tax bills as examples of his supposed tyrannical rule.
Relate story: Miriam: Senate may use 'strategy' to ensure RH bill's approval on Monday
"Gusto niyang diktahan kami kasi sa tingin niya, dahil Senate President siya, siya ang masusunod," she said.
"Mayroon naman kaming freedom of conscience sa Senado. We must follow the dictate of our conscience."
Asked if there is indeed a brewing Senate coup to unseat Enrile, Santiago said: "I wish."
Santiago said the upcoming May elections may have something to do with Enrile's position on the controversial measures, noting Enrile is a member of the opposition coalition, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
"Binibigay ko lang 'yung mga rason ko sa lohika kasi, partido ni Enrile, UNA. Ang partido ni President Aquino ay Liberal [Party]," said Santiago. "E'di banggaan ito sa halalan sa Mayo."
"Dahil it will be the LP coalition versus the UNA coalition, logically, kung wala man lang mayoriya ang partido ng Senate President, ang partido ng Presidente ang mamimili ng Senate President," she added.
Also read: Aquino certifies RH Bill as 'urgent'
Enrile had earlier said that while he is not a member of Aquino’s Liberal Party, he already gave LP members in the Senate “the most important committees to help the president.”
LP member Sen. Teofisto Guingona III chairs the blue ribbon committee, Sen. Francis Pangilinan the agriculture and food committee, Sen. Franklin Drilon the finance committee and Sen. Ralph Recto the committee on government corporations.
Recto also heads the congressional oversight committees on the proper implementation of the National Internal Revenue Code, and on Official Development Assistance.
“I have always helped the president on matters for the good of the country,” Enrile had said.
Meanwhile, Santiago said Enrile returned the Christmas gift she got for him.
"Oo, hindi lang 'yung akin, pati rin 'yung kay Pia Cayetano. Galit siya sa aming dalawa dahil pro-RH kami," she said.
Enrile had confirmed returning Santiago's Christmas gift, but clarified that this was not because of their opposite positions on the RH bill.
He also said he did not mean to return the gift of Sen. Pia Cayetano, the sponsor of the RH bill in the Senate.
In other news: Pacquiao helps bring relief to 'Pablo' victims
Enrile cited reports quoting Santiago as saying her relations with him were “ice-cold,” and that she took him as a godfather “as a matter of status.”
Because of this, he said that when he received the gift from Santiago’s office, he assumed Santiago’s staff may have mistakenly given him the gift, so he had it returned.
“Kaming mga senador every Christmas ang gifts namin ginagawa ng aming staff 'yan, at least by experience. So sa akin baka nagkamali ang kanyang staff, pinadalhan ako. So I decided ibalik na lang,” he said.
“Narinig ko sabi niya ang kanyang relasyon sa akin parang yelo. Bakit ko ipipilit sarili ko maging kaibigan niya?” he added.
Meanwhile, in Malacañang, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte was insistent that the Palace’s ties with Enrile remain smooth.
“As far as we are concerned, okay naman tayo with the Senate President,” she said on government-run dzRB radio. — Amanda Fernandez/KBK, GMA News
Families of foreign drug convicts set to be hauled before the firing squad in Indonesia issued desperate mercy pleas on Saturday, as France warned of "diplomatic consequences" if one of its nationals is executed. Consular officials and relatives were arriving at a town near Nusakambangan, the high-security prison island where Indonesian executions are carried out, and where all of the death row convicts are now congregated. The foreigners -- two from Australia, one each from Brazil, France …