Saying it was a matter of personal honor and integrity, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Wednesday announced his irrevocable resignation.
Enrile, whose son and Rep. Jackie Enrile lost in last May’s elections, made the announcement in a privilege speech on the last session day of the 15th Congress.
His resignation ended weeks of rumors that Enrile was willing to turn over the mantle of leadership to Sen. Franklin Drilon.
Drilon had emerged as the most likely successor to Enrile after gaining the support of the newcomers in the Senate and some of Enrile allies.
“The Senate neither begins nor ends with Juan Ponce Enrile. And so I will let the chips fall where they may. As a matter of personal honor and dignity, I irrevocably resign as Senate President,” Enrile said.
Enrile said that his distribution of P1.6 million Senate savings to each senator last December 2012 has been unfairly criticized, considering that it was accounted for by his certification.
Enrile stressed that since the distribution is above board, his colleagues should be the one to account for their budget before the public.
“I refuse to be anyone’s scapegoat and everyone’s whipping boy. I refuse to let any senator drag my name down the gutter. I refuse to stand idly by when no less than the son of my former partner, the late Senator Renato L. Cayetano, would dare accuse me of being a thief or a scoundrel,” Enrile said.
He said he will not let any body “just freely trample upon the name that my late father, Alfonso Ponce Enrile, had so kindly allowed me to carry with pride. I do not need nor intend to use the powers, perquisites and trappings of the Senate Presidency just to cling to it or to secure this position for myself when the 16th Congress opens in July.”
Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 4th said it was Enrile who refused to clear his name by resigning.
“Of course it is sad that he has to go that way, but as a public servant, I cannot allow my emotions to get the better of me. He is yet to answer the questions the issues raised against him on how the Senate funds are spent. Are all expenditures accounted for certification alone, or not? Was it a Christmas gift?,” Cayetano said in an interview.
“If he wanted to clear his name, he should have faced it directly,” Cayetano added.
Trillanes slammed Enrile for using the last session day for theatrics.
”It was only a drama for the media. It is sad, but that is who he is. If not for that, we won’t talk about anything right now. He is bitter about something so let us let him be. It is his moment,” Trillanes said.