MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s move to declare his position vacant was a “masterstroke’’ that gained him a vote of confidence, but otherwise it was a publicity stunt for his son, analysts said Monday.
“It was a masterstroke. It was very strategic,’’ UP political science professor Clarita Carlos said when reached by phone Monday. “He was staking his political life on that offer to resign. He was given a vote of confidence.’’
Carlos, who did not catch the live telecast of Enrile’s privilege speech in which he manifested his motion, said the move “strengthened him as a matter of fact.’’
The professor said Enrile had been challenging senators critical of him to move for his ouster, that’s why she was not surprised by his move. After all, by staking his post at 88, Enrile had nothing to lose.
Political analyst Ramon Casiple, for his part, offered the theory that Enrile’s move was part of his strategy to buoy the flagging poll ratings of his son, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, a senatorial candidate in May 2013.
It could also be part of the “proxy war’’ between the Liberal Party and the United Nationalist Alliance, of which Enrile is among the three key leaders, in the 2016 presidential elections, Casiple said.
“My theory is that Enrile has to keep himself in the news. His son has been experiencing a drop in the ratings. He’d lose in the elections if you leave him like that,’’ he said by phone. “In a sense, it’s a stunt. It has no impact.’’
Casiple also theorized that the move was designed to preempt any move to oust him by LP senators in view of the mid-term elections and the 2016 presidential elections.
“This could be part of the fighting between LP and UNA. Enrile is a major target because of what they did to Cebu,’’ he said, referring to Malacañang’s suspension order against Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia over charges of usurpation of authority.
At the same time, it was also a “loyalty check’’ by Enrile on who his allies were, Casiple said. “Caveat negates action.’’
“Everything is linked to the elections. You can’t afford to detract attention away from the elections,’’ he added.
A stalwart of the LP, however, maintained that the party wasn’t plotting to oust Enrile, and pointed to the fact that LP senators voted against Enrile’s move to declare his position vacant.
“It’s a show of confidence. Clearly, Enrile continues to enjoy support. The President doesn’t want any trouble. Notwithstanding all this agitation, there was no move on LP’s part,’’ said the stalwart, who asked not to be named.
Months earlier, another party official said the party was only waiting for the President to give the go-signal for Enrile’s ouster, but so far there was no such go-signal.
“We have no comment. It’s an internal matter within the Senate,’’ Aquino’s spokesperson, Secretary Edwin Lacierda, said in a text message to reporters.