"He has proven his worth many times."
Somehow, there are political observers who see former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s run for the Senate in next year’s midterm elections as a referendum on the nearly 22-year rule of strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Whether Enrile wins or loses, there are those who think he either rode high on his role in the Marcos regime or became saddled by it. Enrile himself is not daunted by its outcome as he is sanguine by the resurgence of people who have to come to realize the bright side of the Marcos years. This good side of the Marcos years came in the aftermath of the Aquino mother-and-son presidencies with the short-lived term in between of Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Then there are political analysts who believe that the first People Power uprising at Edsa would not have happened if then Defense Secretary Enrile did not rebel against his former boss Marcos. Enrile and his Reform the Armed Forces Movement or RAM boys that included Col. Gringo Honasan holed out at Camp Aguinaldo and then convinced Philippine Constabulary chief Fidel Valdez Ramos to cross over from Camp Crame. The people who saw a unifying force in the Enrile-Ramos tandem who stood up against Marcos and his martial law regime swelled to hundreds of thousands to occupy the long stretch of Edsa from Cubao to Ortigas.
It is to Marcos’ soft side for the people that he rebuffed Presidential Security Group chief General Fabian Ver’s idea to order his soldiers to fire on the people. The rest is history.
Although she was not even at the scene, the housewife and widow of assassinated Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino was catapulted to the presidency.
Enrile could have seized the moment and installed himself as the head of a military junta. But as someone who respects the law and civilian supremacy over the military, Enrile stepped aside for Cory Aquino. Sadly, Cory squandered her political capital by appointing family and friends to key positions in the government. The Cojuangcos and Tanjuatcos ruled the roost that gave us a helter- skelter government.
Dismayed by this turn of events, Enrile and former Vice President Salvador H. Laurel broke away from Cory Aquino. Laurel wrote a stinging resignation letter to Cory that was marked by his disappointment and lament of how she was running government.
Enrile went on to win a senatorial seat even as he ran a campaign against Cory’s chosen candidates. Up to the time he presided over the Senate court which impeached Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, Enrile proved his worth as a lawyer and senior senator.
It is a sad reflection of our times that the present crop of senators and those who are seeking to get into the upper chamber include an actor, a singer and a former police general and other unqualified wannabes.
The Senate as in the olden times of the Roman and Greek assembly of lawmakers was a forum held in high esteem and its members looked up to as wise and honorable men. It was, until a conspiratorial cabal that included Brutus assassinated Julius Ceasar at the Senate steps. Ceasar’s treacherous murder gave rise to the expression of someone being stabbed in the back.
But going back to Enrile’s chances to return to the Senate. He is elated to see people he does not even know come up and ask him to pose for a picture. More than name recall, this is a good indication that there are Filipinos who would vote for the man.
Enrile’s memoirs, a book edited by journalist Nelson Navarro, continues to sell briskly at bookstores. Filipinos overseas also ask people in Manila to buy and send them the book.
There could be a sequel to the book “Memoirs” as Enrile continues to read and write articles on the issues of the day including federalism, charter change and the proposal for a parliamentary form. It would be interesting to see how Enrile would figure under the new form of government. Indeed, these are interesting times.