After having been in limbo for quite some time, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile suddenly reappeared in public early last week to lend support to President Duterte’s stance on the dispute with China on the West Philippine Sea.
In a pre-recorded “Talk to the People,” Enrile expressed his unequivocal support to the President’s China policy saying that the government must not give China “a reason to attack” the country over the sea dispute.
Enrile accepted Duterte’s invitation to join him in his public address last May 17 to discuss the WPS row and how the Philippines supposedly lost Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal to China in 2012 even if the country had won an arbitral ruling in 2016, which nullified Beijing’s claims over the country’s waters.
The former Senate chief was emphatic in saying that the country will lose more if we antagonize China.” We have no choice except to negotiate with China,” he added.
While we agree that it would be foolhardy for the Philippines to antagonize China and spark a war that we cannot win, we find some interesting angles on how to view Enrile’s sudden support for the President.
One is that Enrile, who at 97 is still sharp, would wish to run again for the Senate in next year’s election and maybe squeeze a slot in the administration ticket possibly with Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio as the standard bearer. And that is why he wants to be in the public consciousness again.
But another reason why he now wants to ingratiate himself with the President is perhaps to use whatever influence Mr. Duterte has in seeing to it that his rumored girlfriend and long-time Senate aide, Ms Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, be freed on bail. Ms. Reyes, along with Enrile and former Senator Jinggoy Estrada, are charged with plunder at the Sandiganbayan but while the two are free on bail, Ms. Reyes has been denied bail.
Of course, the Filipinos are truly grateful to Enrile who, with former President Fidel V. Ramos, launched the 1986 EDSA uprising that brought back our democracy. The only downside is that Enrile himself had admitted that his “ambush” by so-called communist guerrillas in l972 was fake or staged. That “ambush” was used by Marcos to declare martial law.
After his admission of the fake ambush, can we still trust Enrile if he wants to return to the Senate?