The Yellowidiots were laughing at Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE) last night during the airing of the President’s Talk to the Nation, where he was asked to attend, to clarify what really happened during the 2012 Scarborough stand-off. At 97, JPE is still lucid and interspersed his answers to the President with historical context. Most people of his age are either bedridden or six feet below the ground. The Yellowidiots wish of the latter.
During the impeachment trial of the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona, he treated the public to a bravura performance as the presiding judge. He put younger lawyers to shame with the depth and breadth of his knowledge. I didn’t think that the Senate would convict Corona. But an acquittal would’ve been a slap on the face of then President Noynoy Aquino. He wouldn’t stand for that either. I thought JPE would vote to acquit but he did not. Maybe he thought he was duty-bound given he was the Senate President. Or maybe he was just being pragmatic knowing the fix was in after Aquino met with the Senators likely to acquit Corona. As ordinary citizens we can be idealistic in our views of government and its officials but we are not privy to what goes on behind the scenes.
JPE’s rise to power was not through patronage but because of his keen intellect. We are all familiar with his life story. After handing over power to Cory Aquino in 1986, he chose to go against her than be loyal. His involvement in the 1987 and 1989 coup attempts detailed his political career post-Marcos. His feud with Danding Cojuangco prevented the unity of Marcos loyalists. I believe that the Philippines would’ve been better off with an Enrile and Cojuangco Presidency, on a consecutive basis, post-Marcos.
These days it’s hard to find men like Enrile who know how to wield power and has the gravitas to go along with it. President Rodrigo Duterte is also such a man. Those who deride Duterte refuse to admit that despite his not being well-educated, he is actually widely-read and erudite. If he wasn’t, he would’ve crumbled engaging Enrile in an open discussion about the South China Sea dispute sans talking points or even a script.
This is the conundrum we face after 2022. Duterte and Enrile are the last of their generation. Trillanes, Lacson, Domagoso, Marcos, and all those who are thinking of running in 2022 don’t even come close to the experience and leadership that both of them posses. Singapore has seen the wisdom of elderly counsel which is why the post of Senior Minister was created. Lee Kuan Yew was the first and now Go Chok Tong occupies the post. Unfortunately we won’t see the likes of them rise from the ranks of the present crop of politicians we have. The talent pool is very shallow at this point, which is our loss.