Juan Ponce Enrile

[Bodymind] Juan Ponce Enrile’s hundred years of happiness

Margarita Holmes

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[Bodymind] Juan Ponce Enrile’s hundred years of happiness

Guia Abogado/Rappler

'Happiness is a constant theme in JPE’s life; in fact, this was part of his campaign pitch in the 2019 senatorial election'

Chief Legal Adviser Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE) turned 100 this month, and many publications had an article or two about this. One article had the following headline: “Enrile: Serving 2 Marcoses were my happiest moments,” quoting JPE at a lunch celebrating his 100th year. 

It is all right, of course, to quote a person on his birthday, but one would think that, given what the writers know (or should know) about how the senior President Ferdinand Marcos probably made JPE happy, did it not occur to them to balance his rather sycophantic statement with some facts?

For example, President Marcos repaid JPE’s loyalty by putting him in charge of logging during Martial Law and tasked him to issue certificates to logging companies. Because JPE owned logging companies – Ameco in Bukidnon, Pan Oriental in Cebu and Butuan, to name a few – it is plausible that JPE was happy with this appointment. The rest of the Philippines, not so much. It was also during that time that the forest cover of the Philippines had shrunk until only 8% remained. It beggars belief that JPE did not earn from this or was not happy he did.

President Ferdinand Marcos also showed his trust in JPE by appointing him president of the Philippine Coconut Authority, thus establishing control over the copra industry, together with Danding Cojuangco. The Coco Levy Fund, supposed to be used to improve the country’s copra industry, was used instead by corrupt officials. Again, one would think a man like JPE would have been happy with such a windfall..…at least happier than serving Marcos…although, granted, he would not have earned so much had he not served Marcos as faithfully…at least then.

Happiness is a constant theme in JPE’s life; in fact, this was part of his campaign pitch in the 2019 senatorial election. I wonder, if he had remembered his wish to make us happy, would he still have been one of the first five senators alleged to have participated in the PDAF scam? Might he instead perhaps have diverted some of the approximately P641.65M of his PDAF funds into transportation, so that Filipinos did not have to wait for hours for a ride to and from work, or into education for better classrooms and higher teachers’ salaries?

It may not necessarily have made commuters, students, and teachers caps-over-the-windmills-happy, but it might have alleviated some of the daily grind of life. In the article reporting that JPE received the mandated P100,000 cash gift for centenarians, its writers coyly added: “There was no word yet from Enrile on how he would spend the incentive.” Chump change for a man used to thinking in millions of pesos.

The last part of these articles celebrating JPE’s hundredth year considered highlights of his career: justice secretary, defense minister (appointed twice), representative for the first district of Cagayan, and then a senator re-elected four terms.

For me, however, the pinnacle of JPE’s long service was in 1986, when despite being one of President Marcos’ trusted confidantes, he was one of two men in government who broke away, helping to set off the events that propelled Cory Aquino to her presidency.

Of course, JPE quickly turned against President Aquino also, accusing her government of being tainted by corruption and other nefarious acts, as though his own governance had been innocent of such. 

Rappler’s Feb 19 editorial “Juan Ponce Enrile: 100-year-old chameleon” brilliantly discusses JPE’s propensity to switch sides to save himself (no matter how many Filipinos got hurt in the process).

Others may conveniently forget what he did to President Ferdinand Marcos, not to mention what he might do as the current President Marcos’s legal adviser. After all, if serving the late president was, indeed, JPE’s first “happiest moment,” look what he did despite that supposed gratitude!

This centenarian must look back on many things that have given him happiness: the knowledge that he helped change the trajectory of Philippine independence, that his actions hastened People Power, even that he was able to hoodwink people about his motives and his goals for so long.

Then there is his family. It is very possible that JPE experienced many peak happy experiences that involved his family relationships: his still glamorous and ever supportive wife, his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

That JPE considers serving a dictator and the current president as “the happiest experiences of his life” would thus be mind-boggling, were it not for the fact that virtually his entire life has been one of misdirection. – Rappler.com

1 comment

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  1. ET

    I agree: “… virtually his entire life has been one of misdirection.” His misdirection was about his political loyalties, but despite that – he has one constant direction – personal happiness based on vested interest.

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