JPE vs. Miriam (Or: Why it’s more fun in the Senate)

Efren Danao

Efren Danao

SOME may dismiss the ongoing word war between Senators Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE) and Miriam Defensor Santiago as mere “geriatric outbursts.” Whatever it may be, it definitely makes the Senate of the 16th Congress more colorful and more fun. Boy, I could hardly wait for Wednesday when Senator Miriam will take the floor to answer JPE’s diatribes! If JPE would be present that day and interpellate her, that session would produce the biggest fireworks in post-EDSA Senate since JPE tangled with Sen. Nene Pimentel in May 2009.

A fully aroused JPE could throw civility and parliamentary decorum off the window, as shown in his verbal jousts with Nene. That incident took place after Nene had criticized before the press JPE’s handling of the ethics proceedings against Sen. Manny Villar as “dictatorial and authoritarian, reminiscent of his days as administrator of martial law.” Nene also filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking to stop the Villar case and questioning the “unabashed display of dictatorial tendencies” by the Chair (JPE) of the Committee of the Whole, “abetted by a majority of its members.”

Name-calling par for the course?
“Hipokrito ka! Nagkukunwari ka na kaibigan mo ako ngunit pag wala ka na sa harap ko, sinasaksak mo ako. Hindi ka lalaking makipag-usap. May pagka-traidor ka!” JPE riled at Nene in a speech on personal and collective privilege.

Nene fired back, saying there were already many forums available “unlike the time of Mr. Enrile who, when somebody spoke, could be silenced forever.” To which JPE retorted: “Assuming that in his perception, I am a gunslinger, which I am not, I will not waste a bullet on him. A bullet is too expensive for a coward!”

Of course, the fighting legislator from Cagayan de Oro City wouldn’t allow such tirades to be left unanswered. He said that JPE had ordered his arrest three times during martial law and not once did he run away and never did he kneel before JPE.

“I stood my ground during martial law and I am not one who would run away now
that martial law is no longer here. Hypocrite? The biggest hypocrite is the one who faked his ambush to justify the imposition of martial law,” Nene retorted.

JPE also tangled with Senators Jamby Madrigal, whom he drove to tears, Teofisto Guingona Jr. (remember the “glaring” dare?) and Antonio Trillanes 4th, whom he once called “a coward.” However, his ongoing feud with Senator Miriam could prove to be his most challenging ever.

Venom in her tongue
The venom in Senator Miriam’s tongue is evident in her description of then-Rep. Benigno Aquino 3rd of Tarlac as a “sorry excuse for the scion of a great man” whom she would want to educate “if he is educable.

“Your colleagues in the House snicker behind your back because of your overbearing attitude that is not supported by any significant achievement in lower house legislation,” she said of the man who would later become senator and president.

Her description of a congressman from Laguna as “mongoose-faced” was one of the reasons why he lost in a succeeding election. She once delivered a privileged speech naming then Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson of Ilocos Sur as operator of jueteng, an illegal numbers game. When Singson went to court against her, she cited Singson’s alleged tendency to violence that scares a lot of people.

“I wish I could challenge him to a duel but that is a crime under the Penal Code. So instead, I challenge him to a debate on any of the major TV channels,” she said.
Of course, that debate never took place.

While Senator Miriam was never at a loss of uncomplimentary description of her foes, she hates to be so described. When then-Rep. Etta Rosales of Akbayan accused her of rumor-mongering and calling her a gossiper for claiming that there was an assassination plot against then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, she said:
“Congresswoman Rosales, did you ever take and pass English 101? You should have learned that in public debate, name-calling is prohibited since it is the last refuge of the pathetically uninformed.”

Actually, the word war between JPE and Senator Miriam wouldn’t have taken place had she been true to her word in 2007 to resign from the Senate in protest against overspending by would-be senatorial candidates. She said she wouldn’t want any of those personalities to be her colleagues in the Senate. She never carried out her threat to resign, just like her earlier threats to jump off an airplane or to shoot herself at the session hall.


Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. The senate today is consist of a bunch of children, non-professionals and no sense of dignity. The real issue seems to be getting forgotten, the battle is now about personality.

  2. Fernando Habito on

    Miriam’s venom tongue and temper tantrums truly created a circus scenario…”.Why the International Court of Justice in The Hague,Netherlands do not wanted her to be present in that prestigious High Court.?”…Those who signed the petitions were right that..she can be more useful in the PHL Congress…where the “kangaroo court” still exist. In the positive sides she made a good showmanship in dealing with those corrupt Senators..particularly ” Tanda,Sexy and Pogi” as she normally named in her speech.Being insider in the congress she knows what is going on with the corruptions made by this ugly politicians…Using the Dept. of Tourism” logo “It’s fun to be in the Philippines:…I guess that’s what happen in the PHL Congress.The Filipinos are fun loving people that’s what they get…!

  3. Kasi at that time hindi naka TV ang mga sessions sa senado or sa kongreso ngayon gusto pumapel lahat so dahil naka tv lahat umaarti

  4. alberto de guzman on

    tiyak na hindi lang geriatric outbursts ang magaganap sa wednesday when the tigress of the senate delivers her privileged speech. tiyak na malalaman ng mamamayang pilipino kung sino ang tunay na may “asim” between jpe and miriam. sabi nga ni “tanda’, natuwa siya sa pahayag ni mds na siya ay may asim pa, pero hindi siya “naaasiman kay Sen. Miriam.” abangan ang asim at anghang ng tigress sa miyerkules.

  5. Eugene Villanueva on

    Enrile should have been jailed long time ago together with Marcos, Cojuangco, Ver and all the other cronies. I don’t understand why Enrile still has the guts to talk about everybody else when all he needs to do is look in the mirror and see what a pathetic liar he is looking at !

  6. Those were days when HONORABLE SENATORS, likes of Quintin Paredes, Camilo Osias, Ferdinand Marcos, Claro Recto, Ambrosio Padilla, Arturo Tolentino, Blas Ople, among others, debated on national issues with intellectual prowess. Now, we have ” senators”, who became one because of the names of parents, voted upon because of sympathy, sports, media, movies, etc. I pity my one and only country. I envy the countries within the neighborhood, like Singapore, Hongkong, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, the ASEAN member countries. I believe the Philippines can NOT BE AT PAR , or just below them, during our lifetime. PITY.

  7. noelravalsalaysay on

    Gone are the days when senators were honorable gentlemen debating with reason ,no name-calling and respecting their positions;behaving as educated parliamentarians.The Senate needs the kind and class of Turing Tolentino,Claro Recto,Almendras, et al.