MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile on Saturday claimed that Sen. Manuel Villar and his allies are supporting some senators' clamor to retain him as Senate President.
Enrile said that Villar's supposed support for his Senate presidency was personally relayed to him by Senators Vicente "Tito" Sotto III and Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan at his home on Friday night.
"I was visited by Senator Sotto and Senator Honasan in the house. They told me that there was a meeting of the group of Senator Villar [that] they attended, and in that meeting, if my recollection is correct, there was a consensus in the group to support me," the veteran senator told ABS-CBN News.
Reports said the others present in the meeting were Senators Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Ferdinand "Bong Bong" Marcos Jr., Edgardo Angara, Juan Miguel Zubiri and the husband of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.
Hearing the news from Sotto and Honasan, Enrile said that "in principle I am willing to serve as Senate President again if I have the vote and support of my colleagues in the Senate."
However, Enrile clarified that he has not made any definite commitments to the group of Villar because of an existing agreement between him and the Liberal Party.
He said that he had given the Liberal Party and its candidate for the Senate presidency, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, until Saturday afternoon to show him that they have already mustered the 13 votes needed to secure the post.
"I could not at that moment give a definite commitment because I committed to support the candidate of the Liberal Party," he said, adding he was one of the senators who signed a resolution supporting Pangilinan's run for the Senate presidency.
Enrile also confirmed reports that Villar and Cayetano, accompanied by Sotto and Honasan, also met with him on Thursday night, also at his home.
"I was not the one who called for them, they were the ones who asked for a meeting with me," the senator said.
He, however, clarified that nothing political was discussed during the meeting and that the battle for the Senate presidency was not discussed.
He said that Villar wanted to clear the air between the two of them, regarding his ethics case in connection to the C-5 road project controversy.
Enrile clashed with Villar and his allies in the Senate over the Senate Committee of the Whole's report on the ethics complaint filed by former Senator Jamby Madrigal against Villar.
The ethics complaint did not prosper after NP senators and other allies of Villar failed to show up the case the day before the 14th Congress's last regular session.
Enrile said that there were also no exchanges of favors during his meeting with Villar.
"He did not ask me for any favor, but I did not ask him for any favor," he said.
He said that Villar also asked him about possibility of his ethics case being revived in the 15th Congress.
"I told him that as far as I'm concerned that since this ethics case [did not prosper in the last Congress], I think we cannot take that up in the next Congress. Some of the peope who heard it are gone," Enrile said.
Since there may be some senators who are still interested in knowing the facts about the ethics case, Enrile said he suggested "it's better for us to archive it." -- Report from Israel Malasa, ABS-CBN News
source abs cbn