The family of a 19-year-old student who was shot dead on the night of Sept. 25, 1975, during an alleged quarrel with Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile Jr. did not pursue charges against the namesake son of the then defense secretary and chief martial law enforcer, activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes said Thursday.
“It was dangerous to cross paths with Enrile at that time,” Reyes, an uncle of the victim, said in an interview Thursday, referring to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
Jack Enrile, who is running for senator in next month’s elections, has vehemently denied accusations that he killed Ernest Lucas Jr. who, according to Reyes, was shot in the head “between his eyes” during a high school party at San Lorenzo Village in Makati City.
The public prosecutor decided not to charge Jack after his aide, Danilo Cruz, confessed to accidentally shooting Lucas Jr.
“This wasn’t really properly investigated. (Cruz) eventually was just transferred (to another assignment). He was not jailed,” Reyes said.
Even after martial rule, Reyes said many of the victim’s family members had already fled abroad after the killing so no charges could be filed.
His father, retired Navy Capt. Ernesto Lucas, claimed in a court deposition in 2011 that Enrile allegedly even offered him “two blank checks” purportedly in exchange for dropping the case. The father remains in Manila.
Reyes publicly talked about the Lucas case in 2000 in a TV interview with Paolo Bediones, prompting the elder Enrile to sue him for libel. He said the Quezon City Regional Trial Court in 2011 “provisionally dismissed” the libel case.
“That means it will be dismissed if Enrile doesn’t object within two years. That was in 2011. I have to check if that has really been dismissed,” Reyes said.
To help Reyes with his libel case, the elder Lucas executed the aforesaid deposition in 2011.
The issue resurfaced after WikiLeaks, an international nonprofit organization that publishes confidential information, divulged secret diplomatic cables from then US Ambassador to the Philippines William H. Sullivan showing that American sources in the National Bureau of Investigation said that Jack shot Lucas Jr.
“NBI sources have completed their investigation and have indicated to us that both the Enrile boy and his bodyguard are liable to prosecution,” Sullivan said in an Oct. 1, 1975, cable to Washington, D.C.
“We are not informed as to specific charges NBI would prefer although some NBI sources have told us unequivocally, and contrary to Secretary Enrile’s assurance to ambassador, that Enrile’s son did the shooting,” he added.
No show in hearings
In another cable sent on Oct. 5—after the prosecutor decided not to pursue charges against Jack—Sullivan noted that the young Enrile did not even attend the hearings on the case.
“Jackie did not even appear in person at hearings since he was ‘attending classes.’ While taking sworn statement accords with recognized Philippine procedure, in cases of this importance, witnesses are normally interrogated in person by investigating fiscal. Government relied on his deposition,” Sullivan said.
In another cable, the ambassador said Lucas Jr. was killed after he escorted his sister to the party at San Lorenzo Village on the night of Sept. 20, which Jack Enrile also attended. Reyes said it was a soiree for high school students from St. Paul and Ateneo de Manila.
“Lucas reportedly asked to be admitted as well but was told (the) party (was) private. Lucas and three companions returned later to pick up Lucas’ sister. During unexplained altercation, Lucas was shot in the head by Enrile Jr.’s security guard. He died five hours later,” Sullivan said.
Reyes said that during the days immediately after the shooting, witnesses told the victim’s family that it was Jack who quarreled and shot Lucas Jr. He said among their sources of information were Lucas’ two companions that night.
However, these companions later disappeared and kept quiet while Jack’s security guard admitted to the shooting, Reyes said.
Reyes also noted that during the night of the shooting, Captain Lucas and then Secretary Enrile were in the same hotel in Cebu.
“When my cousin’s wife informed him that their son was killed, he went to Enrile and told him: ‘Your son killed my son,’” he said.