Enrile, political scions join senatorial derby
The nation thought that at 94, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has had enough of politics.
Enrile pulled a surprise on Tuesday when he announced that he would run for senator, joining scions of premartial law senators like former Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno and former Quezon Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III in filing their certificates of candidacy (COCs) for senator.
Also filing their COCs for senator were Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Pia Cayetano, former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and reelectionist Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV.
Mar Roxas is the son of the late former Sen. Gerardo Roxas, while Chel Diokno is the son of the late human rights lawyer and former Sen. Jose Diokno. Erin Tañada is the grandson of the late former Sen. Lorenzo Tañada and the son of former Sen. Wigberto Tañada.
Bam Aquino is a nephew of former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., whose assassination on the tarmac of then Manila International Airport in 1983 sparked widespread protests that culminated in the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos three years later.
The elder Roxas, Diokno, Tañadas and Aquino had fought the Marcos dictatorship.
Imee Marcos is the eldest daughter of the dictator, while Pia Cayetano is the daughter of the late former Sen. Rene Cayetano. Jinggoy Estrada is a son of former President Joseph Estrada, who is also a former senator.
Join the fun
“I want to join the fun,” Enrile told Inquirer.net over the phone on Tuesday.
When his fourth term as senator ended in 2016, Enrile told his colleagues that his service to the nation also ended.
His fourth term in the Senate was tainted with allegations of corruption as he was accused of being involved in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. This led to his hospital arrest at the Philippine National Police General Hospital.
In August 2015, the Supreme Court, citing his age and health, allowed Enrile to post bail for the nonbailable offense of plunder.
Through his lawyer, Joseph Sagandoy, Enrile filed his COC at the main office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Manila.
Enrile said his age was not a hindrance.
“I’m 95 (years old), but you know, you don’t need a wrestler in the Senate. You need somebody who understands the problems and the solutions (of the country),” he said.
Actually, he’s only 94, having been born on Feb. 14, 1924.
While Enrile acknowledged having problems with blood pressure, weak hearing and poor vision because of his age, he said, “I think my brain is still up to it.”
Roxas filed his COC at the Comelec headquarters as a candidate of the Liberal Party (LP), along with Aquino, Diokno and Tañada.
Marcos, a candidate of the Nacionalista Party, said she wanted to be the “alternative voice” of the people in the Senate.
She said she was not concerned with the antimartial law sentiment that many Filipinos still harbor to this day.
“Our country is already ready for a different perspective and to listen to our side of the story,” she said.
No to admitting wrongdoing
Marcos noted that while the Marcoses had apologized to those “who were hurt due to unforeseen events” during his father’s iron-fist rule, she and her family would never admit to any wrongdoing.
“Why would we admit something we never did?” she asked.
Diokno noted that no matter what the governor said, the country “knows the truth.”
“The facts are there. It is fully documented not only by our agencies but even in other countries,” he said.
According to Tañada, the narrative that the Marcoses were trying to propagate that the martial law era was only a fight between Marcos and Aquino was not accurate as it could be said that it was, in fact, “the people against Marcos.”
In February 1986, Marcos and his family were forced to live in exile in the United States after they were booted out of power by Filipinos in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.
Mindful of the vitriol against him and his party, especially from administration supporters, Roxas said the LP campaign was not just a repeat of 2016.
“This campaign is about today, about our future. How an ordinary Filipino could be able to fit his P500. That is what we should provide solutions to,” said Roxas, the LP standard-bearer in the 2016 presidential election.
Despite the widespread use of social media, Aquino said the LP would employ “old-school” strategies to win back the Senate.
“We would go around communities, talk to various sectors and engage the public. We have to go back to the people and ask them what they want from the government,” he said.
Not a token advocate
Amid criticisms of her being a token women’s rights advocate, Cayetano urged her critics to look at her record.
Cayetano, who has repeatedly been called out for her soft stance on President Duterte’s statements against women, said these were matters best left to the President’s spokesperson.
Citing “unfinished business” as his motivation, Estrada expressed confidence that his pending cases would not adversely affect his comeback bid for the Senate.
Estrada, out on bail for his alleged involvement in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, said he would be able to win one of the 12 Senate seats up for grabs in May given his “track record” and the public’s “sympathy” toward him.
His confidence stems from the fact that he won in the 2004 Senate race despite being charged with plunder.
As of Tuesday, the Comelec had received 104 COCs for senator and 115 applications for party-list representatives.
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