MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 23 May) — The entire life of Juan Ponce Enrile has been a constant struggle for recognition, relevance and power. Events following the snap presidential election in 1986 gave him an excellent opportunity except that the eye of history saw not him and his cabal but a widow who ran against his longtime master that he betrayed when he thought the time had come.
It has been a tumultuous ride since, starting from the failed “God Save the Queen” plot in November 1986, and his landing at the bottom of winners in the 1987 senatorial race. But no thanks to the Filipino’s short memory – or political naiveté – the defense secretary who admitted having faked his ambush to justify martial law and participated in efforts to cheat Cory Aquino of victory managed to remain on the political stage until his imprisonment for plunder charges.
Now nearing his centenary and out on bail for a non-bailable offense, he’s back with a vengeance, courting public attention with his own recollection of how the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue has evolved. Correction, it’s not a recollection, which carries at least a semblance of truth, but a toady’s affirmation of the views of a person he wishes to please.
In this case, Enrile is trying to ingratiate himself with President Duterte whose capitulationism on the WPS question has put his administration on the defensive. And Duterte supporters are praising the former senate president not because his words reflect wisdom but because they echo the stand of the president. Like a dinner guest, he knows he should flatter the host.
Never mind that, as Rock Solid author Marites Danguilan Vitug wrote in her social media page on May 18, Enrile, in a Cabinet meeting called by then president Benigno S. Aquino III in July 2012, weeks after China took control of Scarborough Shoal, said the country should assert its rights and consult its allies first without forging bilateral talks.
“I interviewed Enrile for the book and he was supportive of Aquino’s policy. Today, he’s supportive of Duterte’s pivot to China. During the Marcos years, he backed Marcos’s decision to occupy parts of the Spratlys,” Vitug added.
Vitug’s revelation left Enrile with no choice but to deny that the interview took place.
It could not be the age that triggered the selective amnesia. Enrile had denied too having admitted to the faked ambush and his role in the 1986 abortive coup which transformed into a popular uprising against the Marcos dictatorship.
The only thing consistent about Enrile is his inconsistency. Such is his weapon of survival. What will he gain from it this time around? Maybe a slot in Duterte’s senatorial lineup for next year’s election?
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at [email protected])