A plunge into the darkened mind of Juan Ponce Enrile

enrile senate.gov.ph

[Photo source: senate.gov.ph]

I’m not a psychiatrist, just an observer. From time to time, I write fiction. This article can be taken as but another figment of JoeAm’s wayward literary license. It can also be taken as a bit of a rebuttal to Senator Enrile’s autobiography, which is said to deploy some imaginative literary license itself.

If the esteemed Senator need not be bound by truth, or to promise, I don’t understand why I must be bound by such shackles. If he can be sly and self dealing, I see no reason to refrain from such endeavors. If he can act with little regard for the people harmed by his choices and deeds, I see no reason to concern myself with his well-being.

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile lives within a mind that is very self contained. It’s like a prison cell, dark and dank, only it morphs dreamlike – or hallucinatory – into a glorious mansion that allows him refuge among well-lit bedrooms and girlfriends, cohorts and family members and a whole lot of memories.

But that is illusion, a fake display, for his mind is walled off, and he is walled in. He is on a mental treadmill, recalling over and over again his wild shenanigans, of generals and shootouts and leading the mobs, of chairing impeachment courts in a dignified red robe.

We both see apparitions. He sees grand moments of glory and pain. We see a ghost of the real Enrile. We see a shell. He is more delusional than we are for he gets to choose his fictions. We only see what we see.

His walls are for defense, for justification of who he is and what he has done. Sometimes they are made of silence, sometimes legalistic arguments, sometimes bombast, sometimes outrage. The walls are not made of truth or candor or facts or accountability or for sure not much compassion for others. They may be made of honor, but the honor is not for the Philippines, nor for the people, but for the man, Enrile himself. For he thinks quite highly of himself.

As well he should.

He has been executioner and kingmaker, coup-master and minister of defense, dignified lawmaker and stalwart womanizer. He’s a very smart guy. Put succinctly, he’s been around.

He is actually like many powerful people in the Philippines. Just more so.

Self-contained, confident, stubborn, slippery with words. Able to promote his macho self by saying he will go to jail, no big deal, and then the following week filing every legalistic claim imaginable to try to stay out of jail.

I think judges are afraid of him. That’s why he was the last of the three accused plunderers to be charged.

If the court raffle had dealt Enrile’s panel that over-inflated showman Revilla instead, no problem. They’d ignore Revilla’s antics, for he is always acting. He creepily appears to believe the role he has cast for himself, popular anti-hero, fighting for his devotion to his loving family and fans. Riding into scene with light saber agleam. He enters stage left, stage right, stage center . . . and never seems to leave.

If the court raffle had dealt Enrile’s panel the stalwart, puffed up son-of-a-plunderer Estrada, no problem. He is always posturing and playing for the crowd, quite a quotable guy, a bit of a political buffoon, rather like his father. An excellent Vice Presidential candidate, for sure, all hat, no cowboy. He’s no problem at all for the court.

But the panel got Enrile instead and they reacted as if they had been handed a deadly Philippine cobra, the most poisonous snake on the planet. Perhaps it was just the great man’s reputation speaking, but the cobra rose, head up, neck flattened, and hissed the warnings and threats that only Enrile can hiss. Just by being Enrile.

I think Filipino men aspire to that kind of being, frankly. Tough, intelligent, intimidating. Guys who carve their own way amongst the surrounding weaklings. It is the attitude of the cock fight, or the jeepney driver, or the guy who shows his stuff on the basketball court and laughs at opponents sprawled across the court.

Enrile, I think, laughs at many fools. I imagine the laugh to be something short of a cackle, perhaps a chortle, or a snort.

Alas, many of those he takes for fools are just poor people recovering from a storm. The great man stole the money that would have made their lives just a little better. Allegedly, of course. Fictionally, even. But it’s odd, neither the great man, nor the actor, nor the buffoon, have had the decency, the earnestness of SOLUTION to explain exactly WHERE the money landed.

They only blame and deny.

Trust me, Enrile knows exactly where the money has gone.

But compassion is not exactly in his portfolio of skills.

Nor truth.

And patriotism for him is a plaything, a tool to wield for the goal of winning battles, propping up his reputation or garnering wealth.

His reputation went south in 2013 when he played favorites with senatorial Christmas bonuses, and the public read him as a vindictive man. That episode likely cost his son a seat in the Senate.

The pork scandal?

Oh, don’t worry about that.

He’ll be fine.

In his mind.

In his memories.

In the rectitude of his rationalizations.

He’s in control there, in that dark and lonely place.



29 Responses to “A plunge into the darkened mind of Juan Ponce Enrile”
  1. josephivo says:

    And don’t forget all the information he collected over the years. From everybody with any importance he knows how much money they have and how they got it. From every man and every women of any importance he knows who has done it with whom. He knows the price of every judge, every bishop, every general, every politician, every civil servant… Plus he survives.

    • josephivo says:

      Correction, the above should have been written in the past tense. For the newer generation he might miss some information and that might be what weakens him.

      • Joe America says:

        Yes, his library is in the basement next to the armory, and in that dark and hidden place, there are tomes of records, leather-bound, jotted in a hand only he can understand.

        • macspeed says:

          What a way to reach the end of the tunnel or the appointed time set by Almighty God for each one of us…I don’t want to die leaving a bad name such as ROBBERS OF PEOPLES MONEY, or worst tag name…I rather die exerted all my mighty will to survive and help my kids learned how to deal with life in fair and honest actions.

          • Joe America says:

            That’s true, isn’t it? His handling of the Corona trial should have been the peak for him. But his negligence or theft in 2007-2009 makes that episode stand as a huge fake acting job.

  2. Adrian says:

    1. I am still puzzled of why Enrile would steal a few hundred million pesos. Being the right hand man of Marcos, I’m assuming he’s got billions. In this cases, Enrile is more of a “sawa” (python) than a Philippine cobra. Having swallowed an elephant, he then swallowed Joe’s neighbor’s cow (or was it 3 cows? hehe). He could easily deny the elephant (ie. there are no elephants in PH..) and enjoy it for the rest of his too long life not needing to eat anymore. But the cow, we need it real bad and everybody knows it exists.

    2. It’s interesting how Enrile project himself as macho. I’ve read a book where he is described to be “visibly afraid” (knees shaking..) during the EDSA revolution. Also, the only reason he was not installed by the CIA to be Marcos’ successor is, guess what.. “he has no backbone”.

    • Joe America says:

      Three cows, ahahahahahahaha, you remember that, eh? “Sawa” it is. And a quaky kneed one at that.

    • Bert says:

      During the last years of the Marcos regime when everybody who has no spine was jumping off Marcos ship, Enrile stood by his boss, defending him, up to the last minutes when he was about to be arrested by the Marcos military under Fabian Ver. I can’t see that as “he has no backbone.”

  3. J says:

    Very eloquent, Joe!

  4. lellet says:

    In terms of conscience, he has no backbone. In terms of feeling guilty on all the people whom he starved of food, damaged, ruined and killed / murdered, he has no backbone. The words compassion and mercy ( for the poor people whom he stole the money for their living) are not in his vocabulary. So utterly and utmost ruthless and rotten to the core for all the money he stole regardless of who ever suffers, hell is waiting for him when he dies, though, with all honesty, I pray for his soul being him a sinner.

  5. Micha says:

    Now Joe, you’re giving F. Sionil Jose a run for his money.

    • Joe America says:

      Ahhh, well, perhaps we are related, eh? I grabbed this from Mr. Jose’s Wiki column:

      “In his regular column, Hindsight, in The Philippine Star, dated September 12, 2011, he wrote ‘Why we are shallow,’ blaming the decline of Filipino intellectual and cultural standards on a variety of modern amenities, including media, the education system—particularly the loss of emphasis on classic literature and the study of Greek and Latin–, and the abundance and immediacy of information on the internet.”

      I constantly observe that Filipinos rarely carry, or read, books. On the airplane to the U.S., they watch movies or play games.

      • Janice says:

        Books are actually expensive in the Philippines, even for a middle class to purchase second hand books — both local and foreign.

        However, there are quite bookworms among the middle class. I’m not sure though how it is for the rest of the Philippines as I’ve only lived in the north. But books — those cheesy romantic Tagalog pocketbooks or foreign books are quite popular in the north that there are even book rentals as small business. When I was in grade school, it was “cool” to read a book(Sweet Valley, Nancy Drew) because it was cool to fill out our library card…it was kind of like a “badge of honor”. Haha

        Even when converted to US dollars, books are expensive in the Philippines 150 pesos for second had books. That’d be only 50 cents in the US and most city/public libraries only contain materials for research and you can’t bring them home.

  6. chit navarro says:

    Juanito Furugganan aka Juan Ponce Enrile, the bastard son of a laundrywoman in an almost forsaken town in the hinterlands of Cagayan province, rose from the pits of poverty through his academic achievements to get the attention of his father and the privelege to carry the family name of Ponce Enrile. Then he became the fair-haired boy of Marcos until the Edsa Revolution. It has been said that JPE is the one person who has always lusted for the Presidency but will never become one. So he made sure that his name is always in the consciousness of the Filipino people, be it of fear or awe or just plain curiosity. When he presided at the Corona Impeachment trial and voted to impeach the CJ, I said then that this should be the penultimate of his political life and go softly towards the sunset…. Then, he came out with his biography and lo and behold, the son he was grooming to succeed him in the Senate did not make it. And the plunder tales broke into the consciousness of the Filipino people.

    It must be so hard to be so powerful and SO rich and so “loved” and then in the twilight of your years you watch someone you have loved so much suffer behind bars and you can do nothing, NOTHING. NADA… I am looking into his mind right now as deciding to come clean with everything, make a sequel to his biography and provide an honorable ending to his very colorful life – make restitution, create a bottomless well to fund poor but deserving students and be the knight in shining armour for the one who loves him so much…. 🙂 then he can have the real peace and the real glory to meet His creator.

    • Joe America says:

      That would be refreshing, if he has the capacity to be honest about things. I’m not sure he does, but it does seem to be the only way to resurrect his “great man” stature. Anything else would just add to the scorn.

      He has had quite a life, though. I’m sure he finds satisfaction in that.

      He did it “his way”. Can he sing like Sinatra, I’m wondering?

  7. andrewlim8 says:

    As Micha noted, this style of writing rocks, Joe. You did a fine piece.

    May I add a bit of amateur psychoanalysis of the man. Speculative, but I invite those with psych backgrounds to comment on it. It’s one way of explaining why he does what he does.

    Enrile was the product of a laundrywoman in Cagayan and a philandering hotshot lawyer – everyone knows that. Until his teens, which he lived in hardship, he didn’t know who his father was. Later, his father’s other family accepted him, and gave him all the great opportunities to advance.

    He did well – so well, he built a business empire and accumulated political power as well.

    Now throughout this time, who provided him the moral compass? No one. The closest to it was the law, but he saw early on that it can be manipulated, tilted, re-packaged to suit the smart ones. I never heard of stories of him developing a bond with his mother. Maybe he is ashamed of her? Did he get any moral guidance from his father? Doubtful.

    In addition, I don’t think Enrile got over the fact that he was a bastard, and no matter how rich or powerful or successful he becomes he will never be able to change that.

    This, plus the lack of a moral guiding force may have doomed him to a life of fucking the system, bucking the odds, violating the law. It may have given him the satisfaction of gettting things done, to compensate for his powerlessness in changing his illegitimate start in life.

    I reiterate this is speculative

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks, Andrew, I enjoy breaking out from the mundane now and then.

      I very much like your explanation of the possible “whys” he is so self contained and self-reliant. He belongs nowhere, so he carves out his place wherever he wants. He is is own moral compass, and deals with a bad outcome as just another hardship, like all the others he has had to overcome. I actually respect the guy for his strength. I wish he could have figured out a way to use it more to the benefit of others, but when he figures others do little but try to screw him over, then you do it like Enrile. Whatever works . . .

      • andrewlim8 says:

        With this perspective, the tragedy of Enrile’s life is why he chose this path, when he could have done like so many others who started in life disadvantaged, but still chose to do good.

        When he meets his maker, the big question to him would be: Why? When you were no longer poor and suffering, you still chose to do this?

        But there’s the rub: he feels he is still poor and suffering, given what happened to him in his youth.

  8. Gerardo Vergara says:

    We could not expect anything from anybody who was in bad company from the start. Boundless greed for power and money was the overpowering factor he talked with associates from the likes of Marcos to Estrada whose only aim in life was to accumulate as much, or more than they could ever dream of when they still poor and wishing for only a little.
    He did not know the meaning of the word enough because he could have given way to others in the political arena, because he knew how much more he was going to earn, or amass, while the people voted for him.
    His darkened mind is deprived of a simple understanding when to stop.

    • Joe America says:

      Boundless greed and not knowing when to stop. And a lot of propaganda in between. I am reminded of a photograph of Enrile, Estrada (Senior) and Binay praying with Governor Garcia of Cebu, who was under suspension because of a strange land transaction. I wonder what they ask the Lord for? More loot, or not being found out? When is Binay going to summon up enough love for this country to step away from that power and favor business, the foundation of corruption?

  9. manuel buencamino says:

    Enrile is the prime example of the bottomless pit of a cynical mind in a utilitarian society, where the brilliance of a lawyer is measured by his ability to frustrate justice with his knowledge of the law.

  10. Janice says:

    I wish this guy would really retire. It makes me wonder that despite the lack of achievement in his long “tenure”, he hardly seemed to have really had anything going.

    At least Miriam Santiago, is best known for being very entertaining and hit or miss when it comes to public policies. Haha

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  1. […] about as well-meaningly naïve (or maybe no other choice?) as Cory including Enrile (also an aswang?) in her first cabinets. She does overhear the Prince of Aswang, still on the […]

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