A life in the day of Juan Ponce Enrile
By Bibeth Orteza, Philippine Daily Inquirer
26 February 2012
(Editor’s Note: The author set out to observe a day in the life of her husband’s uncle, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, as he presides over what is one of the most important trials in the country’s history—the impeachment of the Supreme Court Chief Justice. Graciously welcomed by her subject into his home and allowed to tag along to the trial, she came away with much more than just the details of a daily routine. The star of the moment obliged her with a sometimes tearful recollection of his life, enough material perhaps for a scriptwriter like the author and a director like her husband Carlitos Siguion-Reyna to turn into a riveting movie.) 8:15 a. m.
THE MAN of the house is still in his bedroom. Sally Moneda, his cook and personal assistant of 26 years, reminds his close-in aide, Julius Gumban, not to take away the newspaper as “he has not read Bernas [constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, who writes an opinion column in the Inquirer–Ed].” The books under the stairs include the New King James Version of the Holy Bible (quick reference edition); “Spiritual Politics” by Gordon McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson; “His Excellency, George Washington” by Joseph J. Ellis; “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” by Patricia Schultz; and “The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World” by Joel Krieger. Also “Presidential Plunder, the Quest for the Marcos Hidden Wealth” and “Struggle and Hope,” both by Jovito R. Salonga, right next to five books written by Ferdinand E. Marcos during his martial law years. On the flyleaf of “The Marcos Years,” the former president had handwritten a dedication to the man who would remain his secretary of national defense until 1986 when a People’s Power revolt, aided and abetted by the latter, toppled his dictatorship. “Sept. 10, 1972, on the eve of my birthday
To Johnny, who has contributed to the achievements of the Marcos years in a large way.” 8:25 a.m.
Bing Rosales, sent to study reflexology for two years after showing aptitude for the therapy, leads her boss down the stairs. “He’s good to us, so we pray that nothing bad happens to him,” she says. “Good morning, good morning!” exclaims Juan Ponce Enrile. First, his blood pressure is checked. It is normal at 126/60, from a high of 190/90 the previous afternoon. It shoots up every now and then so he has to take maintenance medication. He really should sleep early but just the other day, he didn’t hit the sack until 4 a.m., he says. His bedtime varies, depending on the amount of reading he feels he has to do because, he says, he has to study and weigh things as well as he can. “You see, I am not the court. The Senate is the court,” he says. “I sign the subpoenas, but I need the permission of the court. There is equal weight among the rights of the respondents, the policy of government, the impact of the decision on the public, on the business sector, on everybody. (If we) block disclosures on the basis of loyalties, the public will think we are covering up. People don’t really know the law as much as they do their doubts and their suspicions. 8:30 a.m.
Breakfast is a sausage with a dab of mustard. Sometimes it’s a bowl of oatmeal, eaten with inihaw na pusit (dried squid), or rice with scrambled eggs and tuyo (dried fish). Some mornings it is pan de sal (roll) with cheese. Enrile is told this paper has referred to him and defense counsel Serafin Cuevas as the “superstars” of the ongoing trial. He shrugs, “I don’t know what that infers.”
He likes to pore over his cases alone, he says, and tests the validity of the opinions of others against his own study of all the issues involved. “I make my own trial brief,” he adds.
In the years when he was practicing law, he says, he would first check a case for any violations against the Constitution, and then study...
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