Sunday, December 23, 2012

I Case You Missed It - Like Father, like Son? by Yoly Ong

Citizen Y 106      10-16-12      Yoly Villanueva-Ong

Like Father, like Son?

Just when we were about to forgive-and-forget Juan Ponce Enrile’s checkered past, he himself reminded us of what a wily, shifty chameleon he truly and naturally is. His stellar performance at the Corona impeachment leveraged enough glory for his son and namesake to become a strong contender for the Senate. Then he launches his autobiography and bio-documentary that attempt to revise history.It’s almost as if he can’t help but shoot his own foot.

And as history and some unassailable sources avow, this would not be the first time Enrile “shot himself’. In Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir, and bio-documentary “Johnny” that aired in ABS-CBN--- he recants his previous recantation of the assassination attempt on him, which Marcos used as one more reason to justify Martial Law.

“This accusation is ridiculous and preposterous. What would I have faked my ambush for?” By that time martial law was already an “irreversible fact” since documents had been signed and the military operation to implement it had started.

“I honestly did not know why Marcos suddenly decided to cite my ambush in justifying the declaration of martial law when he made his public statement on September 23. There was absolutely no need for it.”
Did he expect national amnesia to afflict Filipinos who know the truth? Are we expected to forget the press conference that he and and then Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos called on Feb 22,1986 in the Ministry of National Defense when they withdrew their support for the dictator Ferdinand Marcos?In that life-and-death instance, he confessed that the attempt on his life was bogus. The following day, the headlines blared: “Enrile, Ramos lead ‘revolt’ against FM.” One of the subheads read: “1972 ambush fake—Enrile.”

This fact is further documented in various books written by foreign journalists who covered those perilous years. Time correspondent Sandra Burton, wrote in her book Impossible Dream(1989), “Seasoned observers believed from the start that the attack had been staged. Years later, as he was in the midst of his own revolt from the Marcos regime, Enrile would confirm those suspicions.”

Raymond Bonner of the New York Times interviewed Enrile twice in 1985. In his book Waltzing with a Dictator(1988) he wrote, “He was emphatic that the attack on him had not been staged, but in February 1986, after he had broken with Marcos and led the revolt that ousted the Philippine president, Enrile admitted that the attack on his car had been faked”.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Ellison also wrote in her 1988 book, Imelda,“(Enrile) revealed that he had narrowly escaped injury in a spectacular ambush of his car—an event he conceded in 1986 had been staged.”

In his attempt to leave an acceptable legacy for posterity and bequeath a Senate seat for junior, the nonagenarian is sanitizing his recollections instead of asking for absolution. Stem cell therapy can deter dementia but it cannot regenerate an innocent man.

And now the gullible electorate is being enticed to continue Enrile’s political dominion through the son, Jack. By his own narrative, Junior was not close to his father in his younger days. He recalled that as a child, he only watched a movie twice with his dad.The name was a burden for him as he was bullied and beaten up in school for being an Enrile. But today he is closer to his father. “Mas nag-uusap na kami ngayong ako’y nasa 50s, and he is in his 80s,” Jack said. His name is no longer a millstone. He is his father’s son after all.

Jack has his own intrigues to expunge. On December 30,1981, actor Alfie Anido, then the boyfriend of his sister Katrina was found dead. The tale turns murky but Jack was seenin the Anidos’ Bel-Air residence inside the room where the body of the matinee idol and a weeping Katrina were found. The official version, which has not been refuted to this day, was that Alfie shot himself.However, the rumor mill tagged Jackie (as he was known then) as responsible for Anido’s death. This conjecture gained traction and remains an urban legend till now. 

In his book, the elder Enrile said there was no doubt that Jack’s supposed role was the handiwork of Fabian Ver. “No doubt, the only purpose of those who spread that false rumor was to besmirch my family and destroy my reputation rather than to solve a crime for there was no crime at all,” Enrile said.

In the documentary, the young Enrile recalled responding to his sister’s call for help. He said he joined his father’s chief security aide, Gringo Honasan in Bel-Air.That’s when he found Anido dead from a gunshot wound to his head. He explained that his alleged connection in the supposed murder of Anido happened because “I was there. Even the family [of Anido] would say I had nothing to do with it.”

Another misdeed associated with father-and-son is the alleged rampant car smuggling in Port Irene. In 1995, the Cagayan Export Zone Authority (CEZA) was established through Republic Act 7922, authored by Cagayan native JPE. Among the vehicles being sold are Hummers, Porsches, Mercedes Benzes and BMWs, aside from the bestselling vans and minivans. CEZA CEO and administrator, Jose Mari Ponce, swears that the used-car trade was “very open and transparent”.

The flourishing buy-and-sell of secondhand cars in Port Irene  prodded the American Chamber of Commerce to submit a letter of concern to then Finance Secretary Margarito Teves. Despite EO156 issued in 2008, which prohibited such importations, smuggling continued. Enrile countered that CEZA is not covered by the prohibition because the importers pay the correct duties and taxes.Ford reportedly pulled out its manufacturing business to protest the nefarious activities in CEZA.

There’s a father-and-son story that comes to mind---
A father overheard his son pray: Dear God, make me the man my Dad is. Later, the father prayed: Dear God, Make me the man my son wants me to be.

We are being wooed to perpetuate the forty-years-running Enrile saga. Every night we should pray: Dear God, Make all who want our vote, be the men we want them to be.