Enrile Jr.: Chance to clean up bad imageBy Gil C. Cabacungan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
For Juan “Jack” Ponce Enrile Jr., next year’s campaign is a chance to finally purge an “atrocious reputation” as the prototypical bad boy of the ’80s when his father was lording it over as the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law enforcer.
“I was a young, red-blooded male. You get into fights, but you never made the papers. But I did because it was blown out of proportion. It’s an unfortunate thing. I’m very sorry for those whose lives were lost but I never pulled or fired a shot in anger in my entire life. I can look at you with a straight face and say that,” Enrile said in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer at his Urdaneta Village home in January.
Enrile said he then had asked permission from his father, now Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, to leave for the United States.
“I did not think I was going to be given a fair shake here. He felt affected by that and that he knew in his heart that it was true and he could not do anything about it. I sought his blessing but he did not give it and I could see why. It hurt him to see his son was affected by something that he should have not been affected with,” said the younger Enrile.
The 54-year-old Enrile said the first time he realized people were out to get back at his father through him was in grade school at Ateneo de Manila University.
“I was kicked in my lower lip. I was beaten up in Grade 4 by Grade 7 students who were calling me ‘tuta ni Marcos.’ I got 17 stitches and I lied to my parents and told them I got kicked when I was playing football. But I had to fight back. I promised myself that would be the last time anybody laid a hand on me,” Enrile said.
“I left for personal reasons because during that time, Dad was not the flavor of the month. People were trying to hit him and the easiest way to hit him was through me. I developed an atrocious reputation in this country and people started to ride on that. The Alfie Anido suicide was attributed to me, the Liezl (daughter of Amalia Fuentes) and Pops Fernandez (supposed abduction and rape cases) were attributed to me,” he said.
“I never met them (Liezl and Pops) and I don’t think they knew what I looked like then,” said Enrile, who also disclosed that he got into more brawls in the United States than in his Ateneo years.
President Aquino was a year behind him in Ateneo while Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas was a year ahead.
Enrile admitted that his biggest failure was being an ill-equipped and incapable father to his two oldest daughters, who were left behind when he left the country.
He believed that he has more than made up for this shortcoming by being a full-fledged father to his two youngest daughters with his wife.
So, is he a changed man?
“People ask me that all the time. I was always like this, friendly with people, but I have a bad temper. I don’t call it a rebellious streak; I’m just an adventurous guy… I think I had this wanderlust,” he said.
He used to be called “Jackie” after the legendary race car driver but he said he dropped it when he sought a new life in another country.
“Only the Inquirer calls me Jackie now,” said Enrile, an English major, who has turned to the Bible for inspiration.
In explaining his latest quest to seek a higher post, Enrile quoted widely from the Books of Daniel and Micah in the Old Testament.
“The Book of Daniel speaks of sovereignty of God whatever happens in our life. God does not put us in a position of authority or power because we deserve it. The Book of Micah explains that when a person is placed in a position of authority, he is expected to act justly, have mercy and walk humbly with God. That is what is defining me,” he said.
“I have reaped the benefits of being an Enrile and I have borne the scars of being an Enrile. One day, if God and the people decide, I will present my case to them.”