Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s Christmas cash gift of almost P30 million to his fellow senators rubbed Filipino netizens the wrong way, with some critics describing it as “suspicious” and “unethical.”
The report on Enrile’s cash gift, which the Philippine Daily Inquirer broke Wednesday, immediately made the rounds of social networking sites as flustered readers shared it on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.
The story easily became the most read article on INQUIRER.net, the broadsheet’s official website, with hundreds of users swarming to the comments section.
On Facebook, the article had been recommended by users over 6,000 times by Wednesday evening.
“Enrile has no power whatsoever to disburse public money indiscriminately!!! Regardless of the type of funds these are allocated to, these still belong to the government of the Filipinos and therefore cannot be spent arbitrarily,” user Bansot commented on the Inquirer website.
“While the rest of the Filipinos are working hard, these senators are living luxurious lives,” user Jeff Castillo commented on the story.
“What a way to end his political career, being true to form as a self-serving and corrupt politician,” user kulittwit chimed in.
The Inquirer reported that Enrile gave 18 senators P1.6 million each, while four senators got P250,000 each—Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Alan Peter and sister Pia Cayetano who were known to have differences with Enrile.
The cash gift, billed as “additional MOOE” or maintenance and other operating expenses, allegedly came from the funds allotted for the Senate post vacated by President Aquino when he won the presidential election in 2010.
A senator described the gift as “unconscionable and unconstitutional” and that it could be interpreted as a bribe to prevent his ouster as Senate President, an observation shared by many in cyberspace.
In response to these allegations, Enrile took to his official Twitter account, @SPJPE, and tweeted, “Those Senators who think that I am bribing anyone with additional budgets in order to keep my post as Senate President must have a very low opinion about their own colleagues.”
“I was elected as Senate President twice and I can look at anyone straight in the eye in saying that I did not buy this position. Not one single centavo of the people’s money was spent just to enable me to cling to this office,” he continued. He issued the same statement to Senate reporters.
Still, not many were pleased with Enrile’s distribution of the Senate funds as Christmas gift to his colleagues.
“I find Enrile’s generosity suspicious and unethical,” tweeted user @i Jakebustos.
“This is a matter that @noynoyaquino should really look into … it stinks of unethical practices using public funds,” said user @kazekhan.
“The audacity! Can only come from someone who thinks he’s above the law,” user @retromaldita tweeted.
“Imagine if you actually gave that back to the people,” tweeted user @rdacalos.
“Those senators had the conscience to accept those gifts amid the catastrophe in Mindanao?” tweeted user @beareyno.
“What would folks from Davao feel? Common practice, but was it ethical?” asked user @LiberatingJepoy.
This is where taxes go
“Kaya lang galante mga trapong yan kasi d nila pera tinatapon nila (They are generous because it’s not their money),” user @IvesNisceII tweeted.
“KAPAL! This is where our taxes go!,” said user @jed_pv.
“Write to the senators. Tweet them. Ask them if they returned the Enrile bonus. DEMAND ANSWERS. MAKE THEM ACCOUNTABLE. PERA NATIN YUN!” exhorted user @yogon.