Press Release
May 22, 2009

Press statement of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Chairman,
Senate Committee of the Whole


        As Senate President and as Chairman of the Committee of the Whole constituted to hear the Ethics complaint filed against Senator Manuel Villar , I am fully prepared to face the Supreme Court to defend the independence and integrity of the Senate as an institution in the face of the move of the Minority Floor Leader, Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. and the five Senators in the minority who joined him in the case for Certitorari and Prohibition which they filed in an attempt to stop the Committee of the Whole from proceeding with the investigation of the charges against Senator Villar.

        While I acknowledge the right of anyone to seek redress for their grievances before the courts of the land, it is unfortunate that these six members of the Chamber have chosen to seek refuge from the Supreme Court, a co-equal branch of the Government, to question the internal proceedings and rules adopted by the Senate. This, they did, after attempting and failing to convince the Committee of the Whole to accede to their proposal to alter the published Rules in the manner that they wanted and despite the fact that the majority acceded to accept some substantial revisions they proposed after finding them reasonable and in keeping with the spirit of due process.

        When the Minority did not get their way in insisting on a continuing review and revision of the Rules, which was obviously designed to delay the proceedings, they staged a "walk-out." They are completely within their rights to do so, as no one can force -2- them to stay on and participate against their will. I have said publicly and personally to the respondent, Senator Villar, that despite the walk-out of his sympathizers and defenders in the Minority, that the door is always open for him to defend himself at any point in the entire proceedings. Every step of the Rules affords the respondent all the opportunity not only to present his defense but to refute and rebut the evidence against him which, at this stage, has yet to be presented in full.

        It is apparent that what the Minority wants to achieve is not so much to ensure the protection of the rights of Senator Villar as a respondent, but to delay, if not altogether prevent, the investigation. In their desperate attempt to achieve their goal, they have chosen to attack the very institution to which they belong and question it before the Supreme Court.

        The Senate and its Committees operate as a deliberative body. After due deliberation, decisions are ultimately made by dividing the house and voting. This is how it is in our democratic system where the majority vote prevails. It is always politically expedient for the losing side in any voting to call this process the "tyranny of numbers". But let it not be said that any member of this Chamber was deprived of the opportunity and latitude, which, as Chair and as Senate President, I have accorded, to argue the merits of their position before the entire body and the entire nation.

        Senator Pimentel sometimes pretends to be friendly and civil in front of me, but takes every opportunity to stab and personally attack me when my back is turned by calling me names and endlessly connecting his gripes against me with my role in the Martial Law regime. I am neither stupid nor a fool to have ever thought that he is, or will ever be, my friend. I will only let history and God judge me..

        Senator Pimentel has taken his personal hatred for me to another level, this time, by characterizing my actions as "the unabashed display of dictatorial tendencies by the Chair of the Senate Committee of the Whole abetted by a majority of its members ..." He has repeatedly called me names before: "authoritarian", "dictator", "Martial Law administrator", etc. and accused me of "Dagdag Bawas" and many more.. This is nothing really new. I owe him nothing and he owes me nothing too. Yet I have endeavored in all sincerity to accord him the civility required of each of us as Senators of the Republic.

        Senator Pimentel is acting more as a lawyer for the respondent instead of acting as an impartial member of the Committee of the Whole. Perhaps, if the Supreme Court denies their Petition for Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order, Senator Villar should consider hiring Senator Pimentel as his legal counsel and I will allow him to enter his appearance as such.

        And so, to Senator Pimentel, I say, "There is no need for you to feel awkward by addressing me as "Manong" or "friend." Next time you see me, you can unburden yourself, be a man, and say whatever you want to say against me to my face and I will respond in equal measure. "

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