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Enrile refuses to talk politics: I am no longer a politician

 Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile arrives at the Senate on Monday, August 24, 2015 to attend the session after his release sometime last week.  INQUIRER PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE


Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile arrives at the Senate on Monday, August 24, 2015 to attend the session after his release sometime last week.
INQUIRER PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

“I am no longer a politician.”

So said Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile upon his return to the Senate on Monday, as he refused to talk about politics, the 2016 presidential race, or even his plunder case.

He stated firmly that he was only back in the chamber to perform his duty as a senator.

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Enrile, dapper in a gray suit, arrived at the Senate with his daughter Katrina and grandchild Christine more than an hour before the 3 p.m. session.

Banners welcoming Enrile’s return decked his sixth-floor office. “Welcome Home Sir. We missed you a lot,” said one streamer.

Five days after he walked out from over a year of hospital detention, courtesy of the Supreme Court, which released him on a P1.4-million bail while his plunder case is being tried, Enrile was welcomed by Senate staff members who flocked to see him, bringing flowers and baskets of fruits and snapping camera phones.

“You know, I will perform my duty for as long as I have an ounce of energy,” he told reporters before entering the closed-door Senate lounge where colleagues led by Senate President Franklin Drilon welcomed him.

Asked if he missed Senate work, he said that he had been studying “all things in the world.”

Enrile said his time was not wasted but the nation was the ultimate loser because he said he was unable to do the job people paid him to do.

Asked whether he would be active in the Senate being its minority leader, he said, “Just watch.”

On whether he would take part in the ongoing Senate deliberations on the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, he said he would have to look into it.

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The Senate minority leader refused to talk about his bail petition, including Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s comment that his release had set back the justice system to that of the “banana republic,” or criticism on the high court ruling that favored him as being a “political accommodation.”

When asked if he would support a presidential candidate next year, he said in Filipino: “I am no longer a politician.”

Told that Vice President Jejomar Binay would expect Enrile’s support for his presidential bid since both of them belong to the opposition, he said he had not talked to Binay or any other politician.

He said he could not remember when asked if there were politicians who visited him while he was under detention.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III said it was a “happy” meeting among senators who welcomed Enrile at the Senate lounge just before the session started. He said the 91-year-old Enrile looked “fresh.”

Sotto told reporters they could expect the Senate minority to be “more active” and have a “better participation” now that the “most intelligent” member was back.

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TAGS: bail, Juan Ponce Enrile, plunder case, Politics, pork barrel scam, return to Senate
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