Sep 012014

The opposition in the Senate is feeling the absence of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and his expertise in finance as the chamber examines the P2.6-trillion proposed national budget for 2015.

Enrile is detained at the Philippine National Police General Hospital on charges of plunder and graft in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.  The Senate leadership yesterday implemented the Sandiganbayan’s order suspending him for 90 days in connection with the plunder rap.

“We are trying our best to do it.  Pinipilit naman namin na magampanan pa rin pero talagang medyo may kahirapan dahil dalawa sa amin ang wala and the knowledge of Manong Johnny (Enrile’s nickname) when it comes to the budget e kelangang kelangan para maging  maganda yung pagbasa namin sa mga policy,” Acting Senate Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III.said.

Another member of the Senate minority, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, is also detained on similar plunder and graft charges also in connection with the alleged misuse of allocations under the Priority Development Assistance Fund.  

Estrada is detained at the PNP Custodial Center.  The Senate has yet to receive the order from the Sandiganbayan as regards his own 90-day suspension.

Sotto said the minority bloc was trying to make do with the situation as Enrile and Estrada’s detention has left the group with even less with only for members—Senators Gringo Honasan, Joseph Victor Ejercito, and Nancy Binay.   

He said the bloc was  now devising a strategy on how it could effectively cover all the budget hearings.

“I’m holding the list of the different departments and we’ll probably call a meeting sa aming apat and divide it into four. Hindi naman pwedeng minority leader lang ang gagawa ng trabaho,” Sotto said. —NB, GMA News

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