MANILA, Philippines – To refile his certificate of candidacy (COC) and prove he is physically fit, 94-year-old Juan Ponce Enrile appeared at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday, October 17, the last day of COC filing.
Enrile, who ran as an independent (and who was initially a "businesswoman") in his original COC on Tuesday, October 16, withdrew the original submission filed by his lawyer. He replaced it on Wednesday with a COC indicating that he is running under former president Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).
Enrile said it was Estrada’s son, fellow senatorial bet Jinggoy Estrada, who called him up on Tuesday and asked him to “carry” PMP. His camp had asked the Comelec if his lawyers could refile Enrile’s COC for him, but the Comelec said he had to show up to do this.
After refiling his COC, Enrile faced reporters for the usual press conference with Senate bets. Unlike other candidates, Enrile, who is hard of hearing, asked reporters to come near him onstage whenever they asked their questions.
One of the questions to him was about his recent interview with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, where Enrile made false claims about Martial Law. One of Enrile’s claims during the interview was that it is “not true” that 70,000 people were arrested during the Marcos years.
Enrile said of his interview with Bongbong Marcos: “I have my own story as others have their own story. And I listen to their story. And if they think that my story is wrong, show me, prove it that it's wrong.”
He was also asked on Wednesday about his “secret” to vitality as a 94-year-old Senate bet. Enrile has been a public figure for 4 decades – from being defense minister of dictator Ferdinand Marcos to being senator, including a stint as Senate president, for many years.
“I hope I will reach 110,” Enrile said. “But, you know, in life, you cannot control your number of years on this planet. The control belongs to God. He can make it long, he can make it short.”
He added: “Who knows? I might outlive the others who are in the Senate today. I’m not saying that I’m immortal, but only God knows.”
Standing just a few steps from Enrile because he could not hear her, a female reporter asked him, “Sir, just curious – did your doctor give you clearance to still run?"
“My blood pressure is 120 over 60,” Enrile shot back. “What’s your blood pressure?” – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.