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Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile denied insinuations of having a romantic relationship with his chief of staff, Atty. Gigi Reyes, a day after Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano questioned Reyes' power over Senate matters.
"If they're implying that she is my girlfriend, well, I'm too old for that. I do not look old at all... from my waist up I am still very well, but from my waist down, well, I do not know about that. Maybe once in a blue moon if ever," Enrile told Unang Hirit news analyst Winnie Monsod on Thursday.
In a privilege speech televised live on Wednesday, Cayetano questioned Reyes' signing on behalf of Enrile and her being allowed inside caucuses where only senators are usually present.
But Enrile said he sought permission from others whenever he required Reyes to be present. "Unfortunately these people come very late in caucuses," said Enrile, who noted that Reyes is not the only outsider who is allowed inside the caucus room, as even security guards and waiters are present.
"Whenever our staff are required, we ask permission. The secretary general is there, the staff of the secretary general would be there. I request my chief of staff because she knows the details of everything that goes on in my office. She is my administrative officer," Enrile said.
Enrile said that while he did not expect Cayetano's privilege speech, he would not engage in mudslinging.
He also accepted Cayetano's challenge to allow private auditing firms to look into the finances of the Senate. "I am willing to be audited by any private auditing firm. They can check. They can select SyCip Gorres Velayo & Co., they can select Andersen, they can select the best one that they have but that has to be approved by the Senate as a whole," he said.
According to Cayetano, the Senate budget for MOOE went up from P750 million to P1.5 billion, of which P428 million is given to oversight panels and P1 million in MOOE to senators.
"Ang matitira po sa senado a little over P600 million. So my question Mr. Senate President, paano po nili-liquidate itong P600 million? I was told a big part of this is being liquidated by certification," Cayetano was quoted in a previous report.
After Cayetano's rebuke, Reyes submitted her letter of resignation as chief of staff. Enrile did not accept the resignation. — Carmela G. Lapeña/RSJ, GMA News