JP Enrile, gigantic figure no more


J.P. Enrile was a gigantic figure in Philippine history. Some thought he could have been a good president

of our country. The bastard son of a Spanish-Filipino member of the gentry, the kind of Filipino many of the first round of leaders of Philippine society and government were made of under US rule (like Manuel L. Quezon), Enrile became an outstanding lawyer. When the properly elected President Marcos formed his first-term Cabinet in 1965, Enrile (who lawyered for the topmost corporations including those of the Ayalas and the Sorianos) was one of the great hopes, along with Marcos himself, to make the Philippines “great again.”

In the final year of the 1st Marcos presidency, he ran for senator under the administration Nacionalista Party—and lost. In the 2nd elected Marcos term, Enrile was again one of the topmost Cabinet members and shared with Marcos (and others including, Imelda, Blas Ople, Jaime Laya, Gerardo Sicat, Vicente Paterno, Roberto Ongpin, etc.) the reins of government as a Cabinet member.

He was one of the architects of Martial Law. It was an effort to both allow the Marcos band of politicians and technocrats to continue ruling our country so that structural reforms could be made and to allow the Marcoses and his cronies to dominate the economy and replace the existing oligarchy (led by the Lopezes).

JP Enrile was one of the “better” martial law Cabinet members. He arranged a good post-Marcos future for himself by becoming the civilian politician-powerholder closest to the police and military outside the formal AFP brass (such as Marcos’ military right-hand man Fabian Ver).

In the fight for deliverance from the martial law regime, JP Enrile–from being a villain as a Marcos man and martial law ministers–became a hero because he sided with the people and initiated the Edsa People Power revolt. He got the military and police’s second formal command head, Fidel V. Ramos, to join him in the military mutiny to end the Marcos regime. Before Enrile and Ramos rebelled, however, the Secretary of Public Information Francisco Tatad had already left the Marcos camp and with a few journalists boldly wrote every other day columns for Business Day. These columns, like those of today’s Tiglao and Makabenta in The Manila Times, exposed the rot in the Marcos administration.

With Marcos removed, JP Enrile was again an admired national leader. He became a sharer in running the government under President Cory Aquino–as defense minister. But he made himself a nuisance and a traitor-figure, by being the spiritual leader of the military Coup D’etat Launchers seeking to remove Cory, who had restored electoral democracy, and to place the Philippines under military rule or a junta with Enrile and Cardinal Jaime Sin in it.

Subsequent events found Enrile and the coup plotters under arrest and tried but they were soon pardoned.

Before long, he was again forgiven by and large by the people–but not the so-called Yellow Army of Cory Aquino loyalists.

His rehabilitation was confirmed by his victory in senatorial elections. Soon he was seen, again, as one of country’s astute politicians and legal experts. He became Senate President, while being one of the leaders of a coalition of parties that was viewed as “the opposition” during the Macapagal-Arroyo presidency and then of the Benigno S. Aquino presidency.

In the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona, JP Enrile as Senate President and therefore presiding judge of the upper chamber constitutionally functioning as an impeachment court was greatly admired for being just and fair to both the pro-conviction and the pro-acquittal sides. Little did the public know what was later revealed by Enrile’s own political ally in a privileged speech, Senator Jinggoy Estrada—that in fact the senator-judges had been bribed by President Aquino to deliver a guilty verdict against Chief Justice Corona.

Then came the revelations of PDAF/pork barrel scam whistle-blowers that JP Enrile was among the largest beneficiaries of the scam. The Ombudsman filed plunder charges against him and Senators Estrada and Bong Revilla with the Sandiganbayan.

He is now under hospital arrest, while Senators Estrada and Revilla are detained in Camp Crame cells.

JP Enrile, and all other indictees, must be presumed innocent until found guilty in a fair trial.

But these recent events have tarnished the image of JP Enrile as a man to be admired. J.P. Enrile has ceased to be a gigantic figure in Philippine history.


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  1. I have read and heard more than enough scathing remarks on what has come upon Sen. JPE these past days. I do respect others’ opinions; sometime I also join in the fray. This time, however, I would like to dedicate this piece I am quoting from what Pope Francis told the prisoners at Molise, a region in southern Italy. He said: “To alk the way of rehabilitation, this is something we all need to do. All. We all make mistakes in life. And all of us must ask forgiveness for these mistakes and make a journey of rehabilitation, to not make any more”. It would be well for all of us, sinners we all are we must humbly admit, that our God is a patient God, “slow to anger and rich and mercy”.

  2. Mike Quebral on

    It was not Juan Ponce Enrile’s agenda to enter public service to serve the country, but had done it exclusively for his own personal interest and ambition.

    A man with such gifted talent, had allowed himself use by Marcos to declare Martial Law in disguise of protecting the country’s security. He was the administrator/executor of Martial Law Marcos had impose to Filipinos and keep us in bondage for 14 years. When the dictator no longer trusted him and pushed him aside out of his inner circle he revolt. He astutely presented himself as anti Marcos and wanted to free the country from Marcos’ yoke. But all of that to grab power for himself and his cohorts. His lust for power was so incense in his system, he masterminded or supported a number coup attempts against President Cory Aquino to grab power.

    To his credit as a senator he is an effective legislator no question about that. He demonstrated that especially during Justice Corona impeachment trial. His role was outstanding.

    With this plunder and corruption cases against him, let justice unmask his nature so the country would know the kind of man he really is.

  3. “Dagdag-bawas” (Vote-shaving scheme) came into the people’s vocabulary after the 1995 elections when Senator Nene Pimentel filed a complaint of being cheated in the elections. Enrile was one of those having benefited from it, the Senate Electoral Tribunal said so. It is quite sad to note that while people can win people’s votes through honest means, they had to resort to dirty tricks. When Enrile held court during the trial of CJ Corona, people agreed he had redeemed himself – only to learn that behind it all, he was doing something in the dark. According to brain research, old habits die hard. Could that be the explanation?

  4. What I am afraid of is after all is said and done, the King PNoy administration will go easy on Enrile even if he is guilty of corruption. Certainly, PNoy owes Enrile a good deal for orchestrating the illegal impeachment of Renato Corono from the SC. Surely PNoy and Enrile had an agreement of sorts that is why in one article of Mr. Tiglao, he showed a list of how much each Senathief received from the DBM and it showed Enrile being rewarded with +- 100 million. This money is not peanuts and the anomaly is it comes from tax money of the people.

  5. Kahit ano pa man ang sabihin nyo, kpag kumandidato iyan, sa utak talangka, pera perang paguugali, ka bobohan ng mga pilipino, mananalo pa iyan.

  6. Greed is insatiable. The weight of greed pulled down Enrile to the world of notoriety. Crime does not pay. No one is above the law. What a legacy Enrile leaves, living his life in the sunset of existence in this world and perhaps dying in the demeaning way … in a prison cell as a plunder of the Philippines treasury without the luxury of his plunders.

  7. Gloria M. Kuizon on

    Yes, Enrile is no longer the hero rehabilitated from the villain that he had been as the administrator of Martial Law with Marcos when he led the military mutiny against his former boss and partner Marcos and Marcos partner Danding Cojuangco.

    Before his current porkbarrel scam-caused fall from grace with the gods of politics, power and moneym he had already lost his credibility when he lied in his thick autobiography about the fake ambush that he and Marcos used to propagandize that the communists were about to take over the government. Right after he had become the rehabilitated hero as a result of the Edsa I revolt, he gave interviews telling the truth about the fake ambush.

    Then, perhaps because he could not help being a congenital liar or attempting to fool the people again, he took back his fake-ambush confession.

    He has also fallen back to his villain image — at least to me — because he has abandoned his most loyal and adoring disciple and assistant, Atty. Gigi Reyes, who is also indicted in the PDAF/pork barrel scam and scandal.

    But you are very right–Enrile and the other indictees must be presumed innocent until found guilty.

    In the drama of Enrile’s life, I pity most his wife Kritina, his daughter Katrina and Gigi Reyes.

  8. A lot of people knows JPE and i am one of them. Some of the knowledge about him was spread by his opponents like the Marcoses, Aquino’s and the group of General Ver. I was in Iloilo staying in one of a hotel back in the late 70’s that JPE visited or have a meeting. He had several escorts which I thought were bodyguards. To my mind, at the time he was powerful figure not because of his position but the way he ruled the military. When he revolted against his boss FM. I thought that he was not a good follower and he’ll never be a good leader. There’s a lot of questions on his character and moral values as Miriam Santigao pointed out in many of hers speeches. JPE definitely pursue his motives (e.g. achievement, sociality) in duplicitous ways.
    Whilst he displays tought leadership he’s style was seen as Machiavili.

  9. Manny F. Reyes on

    We Filipinos need to learn very well from the movie “The Godfather I”. Trust and loyalty can only be violated once. After that, a player is out for good! I have written off Enrile since his Marcos martially days.

  10. Daniel B. Laurente on

    Enrile’s name will remain gigantic in Philippine History. No one should doubt it even if incoming history books are turn upside down to maximize tarnishing his name and even if all the good things he has done to change the recent past Philippines Political Landscape. Like Marcos family, his name will echo and resonate to generations to come like the unending resonance of dirty politics of Philippines History. Ignorant generations of Philippines Historical Political Landscape should go back and reread the long past not only the recent history to get a comparative overview how it was then and today’s recent.
    We must avoid excessive hypocrisy. We must accept the reality that Enrile is one major player of our recent history and a reason why most clamped elites of yesterdays has become more powerful today and enjoying their concrete hold on the Philippines Economy including the Philippines Media’s freedom. Of course let us not forget that his actions in history also contributed in the multiplication of Political Dynasties.

  11. All the people in this country from the time of Ferdinand Marcos up to KIng PNoy’s term have been fooled by Enrile into believing he is a good government official. From the very beginning Enrile positioned himself for survival and riches. He is an epitome of what we call a fraud. He is the best example of a tradpol and political butterfly who always land in the good graces of who is in power. Now, he is the riches Senator and nobody can question where his wealth came from. Corruption and abuse of power is his name.


    Being a beneficiary of the DAP himself, Enrile like the rest should be punished
    up to the extent of the law. The Anti Graft and Corrrupt practices Act provides
    that the giver and the taker are equally liable. Perhaps so that it would be easier
    for him not to get bored, he should be jailed in the same cell with Gigi Reyes
    for after all she is his chief of staff and facilitator.

  13. mikhail hieronymus on

    A wasted life after all !!!! Enrile in, Enrile out. You will indeed die in Jail.

    Sad, but a bad seed will never bear good fruits. In the end or as they say: “At the end of the day,” “You will always reap what you sow.”