The Comelec desk for COC filing on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. (Photo by RICHARD A. REYES / Philippine Daily Inquirer)
At 94 years old, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile is not yet ready to retire from public life.
On Tuesday, Oct. 16, after a three-year break from politics, he filed his certificate of candidacy for senator, through lawyer Joseph Sagondoy, at the Commission on Elections main office in Intramuros, Manila.
As of 2010, when the 15th Congress convened, Enrile, then 87 years old, held the distinction of being the oldest senator, a tag that now belongs to Sen. Richard Gordon, who turned 73 last August.
More than just his age, Enrile can also brag of having racked up more years in government than his former boss, President Ferdinand Marcos, under whose administration he began public service in 1965, as undersecretary at the Department of Finance.
In September 1972, as defense secretary, he was the administrator of martial law declared by Marcos. In February 1986, it was also him — along with then Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos — who sparked events that led to the People Power Revolt on Edsa that would oust Marcos and send him and his family into exile in Hawaii.
Enrile stayed on in government as defense chief and then as senator through the administration of five other presidents — Corazon Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno Aquino III.
In September 2013, he was implicated, along with Sens. Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., in the pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
He was detained on plunder charges in July 2014 and suspended from the Senate. In 2015, the Supreme Court allowed his release on bail due to his old age and poor health.
Having gone through all that why would he want to get back in government?
“Just to join the fun,” Enrile, who is running as an independent, said.
That statement evokes his 2010 slogan when he ran for a fourth term in the Senate: “Gusto ko happy ka [I want you to be happy].”
At any rate, “fun” has so far been an apt adjective for filing of COCs since it started last Thursday, Oct. 11.
In contrast to the low-key filing of Enrile’s COC, other candidates – bearing equally familiar surnames – submitted their COCs with much fanfare provided by their supporters outside the Palacio del Gobernador, which houses the Comelec main office.
Another returning politician
On Day 4 of the COC filing, the first candidate to arrive at the Comelec was former Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, who also served in the Cabinet of President Benigno Aquino III, first as secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and then secretary of what was then the Department of Transportation and Communication (which now drops the last two words).
Like Enrile, Roxas has been out of the political scene for some time – specificially, since he lost the 2016 presidential race to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Significantly, Roxas filed his COC for senator, under the Liberal Party co-founded by his grandfather, President Manuel Roxas, on the day that the opposition finally complete its eight-member senatorial slate — with the inclusion of Florin Hilbay, solicitor general under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, and veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, who happens to be the lead counsel of Vice President Leni Robredo in the electoral protest against her by filed by former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
In fact, the opposition slate was the result of deliberation and consultation with the Office of the Vice President.
Also on Day 4, three other members of the opposition senatorial slate filed their COCs:
- Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, who is running for reelection
- human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, son of late former Sen. Jose “Pepe” Diokno,
- Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, son of former Sen. Wigberto Tañada
All three of them are running under the Liberal Party.
Two other opposition senatorial candidates had already filed their COCs — Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc on Thursday and Makabayan Rep. Gary Alejano on Monda.
Hilbay and Macalintal are expected to file their COCs on Wednesday, the last day.
A ’70s throwback?
As it happened, opposition candidates Aquino, Diokno, and Tañada filed their COCs on the same day that Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, accompanied by her brother, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., filed their COCs.
The three opposition bets bear the surnames of politicians who were among the most presistent critics of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Governor Marcos is running under the Nacionalista Party, under which her father won his first term as president in 1965 and which has been the traditional archrival of the Liberal Party.
Also running under the Nacionalista Party, House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano pedaled her bike from the Rizal Monument to the Comelec main office to file her COC for her comeback bid as senator.
On the other hand, her brother, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano — a senator when he ran in 2016 for vice president, and lost — will run for a House seat representing Taguig, according to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Estrada brothers in the Senate?
Another candidate who would want to reclaim a seat in the Senate is Jinggoy Estrada, who filed his COC under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), the party founded by his father, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
The former President was with him at the Comelec office, along with his mother, former Sen. Loi Ejercito, and wife Precy.
Like Enrile, Jinggoy faces plunder charges arising from the pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by Napoles. But the Sandiganbayan allowed him to post bail.
Jinggoy’s half brother, Sen. JV Ejercito, filed his COC for his reelection bid, the day before.
Though admitting that being candidates at the same time with JV could merely split their votes, Jinggoy said he was hoping they both could win.
For more senatorial candidates who had already filed their COCs, click on the link below:
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