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,” said Clarita Carlos, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. “He was staking his political life on that offer to resign. He was given a vote of confidence.”
Carlos 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 said 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 (LP) and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), 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 midterm elections and the 2016 presidential elections.
“This could be part of the fighting between the LP and the 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, Casiple said. “Everything is linked to the elections. You can’t afford to detract attention away from the elections.”
Not LP plot
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 the LP’s part,” said the stalwart, who asked not to be named.