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The incident that changed Enrile’s life

/ 11:43 PM October 01, 2012

I still have to read “Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir,” an autobiography of the Senate President, but I hope he included stories about his youth, which changed his life.

I was a Times Journal correspondent covering the defense beat when we were told about a life-changing episode by the then defense minister himself during dinner.

Enrile had wanted to become an engineer.

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But something happened while he was an engineering student that changed his life—and the course of Philippine history.

He was stabbed by fellow students, one of whom was the handsome mestizo’s rival for the love of a girl.

The guys who ganged up on him were scions of influential families in Cagayan province.

They were later acquitted by the court.

The young Enrile decided to take up law because of the injustice done to him.

The rest is history.

*   *   *

I am neither for nor against Enrile.

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My dealings with Defense Minister Enrile were on a professional level: as a journalist who covered him on the days off the regular Times Journal regular defense reporter, Cecilio Arillo.

If another man, say, an ex-military officer, was defense minister instead of Enrile during the martial law period, who knows, there would have been more abuses committed by the military against the citizenry.

As a lawyer and the martial law administrator, Enrile kept the military in check. That’s why he got into conflict with Gen. Fabian Ver, who was close to Marcos.

*   *   *

Speaking of martial law, reports of military excesses during that period were investigated immediately.

Military officers, even generals, who were reported to have committed abuses were reprimanded, relieved and even kicked out.

I should know. Reports of military and police abuses in my column at the Manila Bulletin were acted upon pronto.

(I remember the time Marcos ordered the relief of the entire complement of Station 5 of the Western [Manila] Police District after I reported in my column about the criminal activities in the Ermita-Malate district because of police incompetence.)

Today, the Marine detachments in Barangay (village) Bacungan, Puerto Princesa City, which have been denounced by residents and the city council, are still there.

This, despite the reports I made about the detachments several times in this space.

The detachments were allegedly put up to guard the beachhifront properties of Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban, Western Command (Wescom) chief, and Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela City.

But neither the Department of National Defense nor the Armed Forces of the Philippines has acted on the report in this column.

Now, which would you rather have: a democratic government that doesn’t care about reports of military or police abuses and incompetence, or a totalitarian government that acted upon reports of military or police abuses?

*   *   *

Who is Leah Cruz and why is she reportedly being favored by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to import onions and other vegetables over others?

BPI Director Clarito Barrion has allegedly granted Cruz a permit to import vegetables to the prejudice of other importers.

Republic Act No. 8178 allows the importation of onions and other vegetables, according to the importers.

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TAGS: “Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir”, Books, imports, Juan Ponce Enrile, Leah Cruz, onions, People
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