MANILA, Philippines – It was a no-frills, no-drama surrender. But it appears he got the better part of the bargain.
The 90-year-old Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, architect of martial law, one of the so-called heroes of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, and now an accused plunderer, surrendered to the Philippine National Police on Friday, July 4, after the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan ordered his arrest.
Unlike his two Senate colleagues previously arrested with their sobbing famiies and supporters in tow, Enrile did it in the quietest way possible. He rode in his car, was followed by his children Jackie and Katrina, and waved at reporters as soon as he entered Camp Crame, headquarters of the defunct Philippine Constabulary (PC) that backed his revolt against dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.
The symbolism wasn’t lost on the man. Thus before going to Crame, he asked police general Benjamin Magalong, acting director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), to meet him at the People Power Monument on EDSA where 28 years ago Enrile the defense chief – and his soldiers – met up with Constabulary troops led by then PC chief Fidel Ramos in a dramatic march against Marcos their commander in chief.
Perhaps it was a reminder to himself, before turning himself in, of what he wants the nation to remember him for.
It was when the sun was beginning to set on the last day of the work week that Enrile, in a crisp white polo barong aboard a white SUV, arrived with little fuss in Camp Crame, to voluntarily surrender.
The first time he was brought to Camp Crame as a prisoner was in 2001, when he was arrested – without warrant – following the bloody but failed attempt by Joseph Estrada loyalists to storm Malacañang in May 2001, shortly after Estrada was ousted from power.
He made such noise about it then.
This time around, Enrile tried not to make a big fuss out of his arrest. In its place was – except for the frenzied media – an ironic air of calm surrounding the Enrile camp, cloaking the senator himself.
No warm nights
The experienced lawmaker had plans for the weekend – specifically his regular eye injection on Saturdays. Instead, he found himself leaving his house, at the high-end, exclusive gated community Dasmariñas Village in Makati, en route to somewhere much less luxurious.
But he’s not in jail. Unlike Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr and Jinggoy Estrada who are detained at the PNP Custodial Center, Enrile won’t have to complain about warm nights and days.
Enrile managed to get what he wanted – for the time being: an air-conditioned room in a government hospital at the camp, attended to by nurses and doctors.
It’s a contrast from the real jail he was brought to in a police camp in Quezon City in 1990, when he was charged by the Cory Aquino administration with rebellion for allegedly plotting the December 1989 coup that almost brought it down.
His lawyer, Enrique de la Cruz, said Enrile was prepared for this latest arrest. There have been prayers, and it seemed those prayers were partly answered. He was the last to be arrested of the 3 charged senators, and he was spending his first night in a hospital room instead of a cockroach-infested detention center.
Social media exploded upon his arrest. One tweeted, “Never thought I’d see the day quite honestly.” Another, playing around with Enrile’s campaign slogan, said, “Finally an arrest warrant for Enrile. He made me happy.”
Enrile’s daughter Katrina was with his father at Camp Crame. She left past 7 pm, telling reporters, “We’re okay.”
For some reason, we believe her.
Photos by Joel Leporada; Rappler.com