Not with a bang but with a scam

Marlen V. Ronquillo

Marlen V. Ronquillo

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile has been a constant in the country’s life from the beginning of the first presidential term of Mr. Marcos in 1965 to the age of Twitter and Bitcoin. The longevity is not a fluke. Mr. Enrile is credited with a survival instinct – and a determination to hurdle all odds and win – that is second to none in the history of contemporary Philippine politics .

While many of the public figures younger than him have memoirs with yellowing pages at the bookstores, or have retired, or have gone to the Great Beyond, Mr. Enrile is still a senator, and just recently, the Senate President , the holder of the country’s third most powerful public office .

Mr. Enrile has accomplished that feat because he can summon what is believed to his preternatural skills to extricate himself out of dangerous places and critical spots. Proof is this simple chronology.

“Malinis ang record”
While in the pre-martial law Marcos cabinet, Mr. Enrile ran for the senate and miserably lost , a loss that could have doomed a lesser mortal. Not even the idol and most influential endorser of those times – Nora Aunor singing , “Malinis ang record ni Enrile” – had saved Enrile from electoral defeat. But instead of getting sidelined by Marcos because of his loss, Marcos placed more trust in him.

Until such time that he was in a select group that planned and implemented the imposition of martial rule in 1972.

In the dying days of the martial law regime, the key martial aide Mr. Marcos made history when he led a coup against his former boss, and for that, Enrile was reappointed defense minister in the revolutionary government of Mrs. Aquino. For a few months after the fall of Mr. Marcos in February 1986, Enrile was treated as a liberating hero, the subject of national affection and adulatio . And to some, the key figure in the ouster of the despot.

Mr. Enrile won a senate seat in the first election after martial law, though rather unconvincingly. He was one of the only two survivors of that pro-Aquino landslide that saw 22 out of 24 senatorial slots at stake go to the allies of the first President Aquino. Mr. Enrile would subsequently run for senator and president and lose, only to find glorious vindication as the Senate President of the 15th Congress.

After successfully presiding over the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, Enrile was lionized as a fair and credible steward of the tough proceedings. A book was written about him, an hagiography really, to complement the slew of long form journalistic accounts on the fairness and sagacity of Juan Ponce Enrile. Just a year ago, Juan Ponce Enrile had the respect, though some of it grudgingly, of most Filipinos . This was capped by a widely viewed teleserye about his life and career on prime-time TV.

The tension between him and the second President Aquino , whose memories of Enrile , were of martial law and the coups against his mother, was gone after the impeachment of Mr. Corona.

Charmed life go in tatters
Everybody thought in 2012 that he would end his senate career in 2016 , I hate using this term, in a blaze of glory and to the chorus of alleluias. The following year, the charmed life of Mr. Enrile went up in tatters after the ghastly revelation that he was a allegedly a principal in a SARO-for-Cash exchange in which Janet Lim Napoles gave him and other prominent national politicians duffel bags of cash in exchange for ghost projects under their congressional funds .

How could he? How could he? First, the stunned citizenry asked this question. How can a man who had reinvented himself into a senate leader of sagacity and erudition – and an immensely wealthy man at that – could make patol to a scam so low and base and callow that a thinking man would readily rebuke and refuse ?

Where was the topnotch lawyer in him, the most clever and methodological mind in local politics ? Had he been deserted by his better angels and legendary mental faculties?

The question asking was brief. The public in general shortly became unforgiving of Enrile and company. It is in this context of an angry, soured and impatient public mood that Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago , a critic of Enrile unleashed fusillades of anti-Enrile rhetoric that shredded whatever remained of Enrile ‘s diminished public esteem.

Shed no tears for Enrile , Miriam was effectively saying . In fact, he was the mastermind of the Napoles scam, not the innocent bystander which Enrile said he was.

Enrile said the truth will set him free. And that evidence would extricate him out of this sordid mess. The words, though, are hardly the convincing words of a compelling man. It is all too clear that a man reputedly vested with the pre-natural powers to bounce back from the toughest of odds has been abandoned by his powers.

Under attack from Senator Santiago ‘s unrelenting ferocity, the man whose life and times have been synonymous with power, survival and tenacity, and whose name has placed fear in the hearts of many, has wilted and shrunk. We are reminded of T.S. Eliot—his lines on how the world ends.

Would Enrile’s world end like this? Not with a bang but with taint of being at the center of a scam.


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  1. JPE is a great con of a man who was able to bring fear into whoever steps on his way but like all infamous men in history he was brought down and yes he patol the lowest scams of ALL because of his macho ego just to prove he is still capable. Yes it’s the lure of the weaker sex (gigi reyes) being one of them. He even gave gg’s hubby the top job at Port Irene just so he keeps quiet. It all comes back to haunt him now.

  2. Its because nobody can touch the senators, even the COA cannot even audit them, its up to the senate to make the ruling , its a big flaw in our constitution that on the first place they don’t make it as a rule..dynasty are even up to the congress to decides it..who’s stupid to make it…
    Those constitutionalist , should be the one to be hang when they write wordings in our constitution, esp. Fr.Bernas interpreting the law.. what a joke!

  3. I first saw enrile as corrupt when, i think it was either the world bank or something like that said the philippines must implement certain banking rules to be allowed to remain a member. He said who are they to tell us filipinos how we should run our banks. The reason these rules were put in was to find ill gotten monies. So therein lies the answer why he didnt want to comply with international standards, & its the exact same reason why a law was introduced to say no dollar account can be looked at by anyone in the philippines without the written permission of the account holder. & that is also why corona had so much hidden stolen money in his dollar accounts, all of the people at the top of society in this country are corrupt. School principals when they raise money for school projects by field trips, shows or whatever they will have all been given a cash in hand back hander from the person selling that service. I know that for a fact.

    • Daniel B. Laurente on

      Why CJ R. Corona’s dollar acount being seen by some as coming from illegal transactions. Where is even a single evidence to support the view?

  4. Juanito can still recover if he will only write a supplement to his fictional memoir the real score or sordid detail of all the Poliical Leaders he has worked with startng from Marcos, Imelda, Gloria, Erap, Tabako, Ver, Business Cronies like Ongpin, Razon, the Lopezes, Danding, the Ayalas, the Cojuangcos/Aquino Clan, Aboitiz, Lucio, Supreme Court Justices, Seators, Congressmen, Generals. He should do the supplement ala Primitivo Mijares book and voila he will be vindicated plus the bonus the best selling book of all time in the Phil.

  5. It will end with tainted Enrile, Estrada (Jingoy) and Revilla (Sexy). Wala na lusot, Napoles will take you guys with her.

  6. Did any whistle-blower testify that they personally gave money to Enrile? Is there a smoking gun? Even the NBI don’t have evidence that these whistle=blowers personally saw and gave money to Enrile.

  7. Nice writing Sir Ronquillo. If I am not mistaken you are the first journalist who is writing about Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile in this manner after the Napoles scam and scandal. I have keen interest in Philippine politics and must say that Juan Ponce Enrile is one master politican, master political butterfly, master survivor and master manipulator since he served during the Marcos martial rule years. Like a catfish, Enrile is very slippery and can easily wiggle out of any damaging situations witch may place him in a bad light. I have personal knowledge of his illegal activities when he was a co-owner of Galleon Shipping in the 70’s and when he was operating an illegal logging activity in the Agusan, Surigao, Davao areas with a Chino as his front up to the Cory Aquino years. Of course this information will be denied but I would not care. The matter is this man JPE is what he wrote in his “memoires” which actually is half fiction.