Workers hit Aquino for condoning Enrile’s cash gifts

LABOR center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned Pres. Noynoy Aquino for calling on the country’s senators to get back to work and stop feuding, saying the president is in effect condoning Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s distribution of P30 million to senators which lie at the root of the recent dispute in the Senate.

The group said the president, by refusing to comment on Enrile’s cash gifts to fellow senators and by calling on the Senate to pass priority bills, is giving Enrile a new vote of confidence despite the Senate president’s questionable allocation of public funds.

The president’s statement came at the heels of the vote of prominent Liberal Party members in the Senate to maintain Enrile as Senate president and the statement of the Commission on Audit that Enrile’s move is perfectly legal.

“And the president can still claim with a straight face that corruption under his government has been eradicated? He is condoning patronage politics and the distribution of a big amount of the people’s money to senators for their use,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

“Aquino keeps blabbering about slogans like ‘matuwid na daan’ while allowing legalized corruption under his watch. The P30 million can be used for other purposes that are directly beneficial to the workers and people yet Aquino is keeping his silence on the issue,” he said.

“Aquino is setting a bad precedent for politicians who are close to him. He is in effect telling them that they can get away with allocating huge public funds in ways that are self-serving as long as they can justify it legally,” he added.

The labor leader said it appears that Enrile’s stint as Senate president is part of some power-sharing arrangement with Vice-president Jejomar Binay’s camp.

“We cannot help but think that the practice of distributing cash gifts has the implicit or the direct approval of the president. Despite slight policy differences, Enrile has after all been subservient to Malacañang,” Labog said.

“Enrile distributed the cash gifts with gusto thinking that these will help him maintain the Senate presidency amidst threats from the Aquino camp. Now that the move earned criticism from various sectors, some pro-Aquino senators are exploiting the opportunity to replace Enrile with someone even more loyal to Malacañang,” he added.

“Our kababayans who were devastated by typhoon Pablo are already begging for food. Donating the P30 million to them would be a better use of the people’s money,” he added.

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