Enrile chief-of-staff Gigi Reyes offers to resign; Senate President rejects resignation
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines – Atty. Jessica "Gigi" Reyes, the chief of staff of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, resigned late Wednesday night, hours after a speech by Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano attacked her for her alleged over-reach in matters limited to elected senators. The resignation was rejected by Enrile, who defended her work and denied insinuations he had a romantic attachment to her.
The Cayetano speech had triggered an ugly word war on the floor between Cayetano and Enrile, whose blood pressure soared and had to be treated as the presiding officer called for a break.
Sources at the Senate said that Atty. Reyes tendered her resignation after Enrile tangled with Cayetano on the fund releases last December, an issue that has engulfed the chamber for three weeks, sparking a word war between several senators and prompting Enrile himself to declare his position vacant on Monday in order to spare the Senate.
But 11 senators voted to reject his motion, saying any revamp in the last nine session days of the 15th Congress could jeopardize further several crucial measures that need to be rushed.
Enrile defends Reyes record, says he needs her
Later on Thursday morning, Enrile defended Reyes against allegations she had assumed prerogatives reserved only to senators; and also denied insinuations that he had a “special relationship” with her.
In an interview, Enrile, 89, confirmed the resignation of Reyes late Wednesday, hours after an ugly word war with Cayetano on the Senate floor caused his blood pressure to soar to 180/100. In Cayetano’s speech, Reyes was given special mention as a COS with an unwelcome over-reach in matters where only senators should have decision-making powers.
Enrile refused to accept his COS’s resignation, adding he will ask Reyes to reconsider her decision because she is most knowledgeable over administrative affairs in his office.
“I will talk to her. I will convince her to stay because there are so many administrative matters that I can no longer handle and which she is more knowledgeable,” Enrile said in a phone interview.
Cayetano, in his privilege speech, brought up what he described as Reyes’ “unusual clout” in settling the Senate’s financial affairs.
The Cayetano-Enrile word war was an offshoot of their weeks-long clash over the alleged irregular distribution of additional MOOE that Cayetano, along with his sister Pia Cayetano, and Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Miriam Defensor-Santiago are questioning. Enrile’s office had dared the four senators to explain why, in previous years, they were receiving additional MOOEs of various sums and never complained about the supposed illegality or immorality of such.
The Senate minority leader, in his speech, revealed how Reyes acts like a senator and is even allowed to join senators during an all-senators’ caucus despite the fact the meeting is supposed to be off-limits to other staff members of senators.
Cayetano also scored Reyes for signing documents in behalf of the Senate President, and one of the examples cited on Wednesday was a check signed by Reyes. Some Senate insiders noted, though, that other COS of other lawmakers are known to sign checks on behalf of their principals.
Enrile and Reyes, Cayetano noted, were close to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and husband former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.
But Enrile defended Reyes, saying all her actions had his approval.
“I approved all of those. That’s how I am even when I handled the (Bureau of Customs (BOC), Department of Finance (DOF), Insurance Commission, Department of Justice (DOJ), sa Department of National Defense,” Enrile said in a televised interview.
Enrile said that it has always been his practice to put confidence in the people whom he trusts to be his administrative officer, to decide on particular details of that function
“Ako lang ang gumagawa ng desisyon—in-authorize ko lang sa kanila. Dine-delegate ko ang kapangyarihan sa kanila, (I am the one who makes decisions—I just authorize them to execute my decisions. I delegate the authority to them),” he explained.
Enrile said there is no truth to speculations that he and Reyes have an affair, calling this “kalokohan and paninira [nonsense and a smear job].”