By David Dizon
MANILA – Cagayan 1st District Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile Jr., son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, on Monday denied any involvement in the deaths of Ernest Lucas, Jr., son of a former Philippine Navy chief; businessman Robert Manalad Jr., and celebrity Alfie Anido.
Speaking to ANC, Enrile said he has been trying to set the record straight for years due to rumors that he had ordered his bodyguards to kill several people while his father was the martial law administrator under Ferdinand Marcos. This, as he prepares to run for senator in the May 2013 elections.
Enrile told ANC Headstart host Karen Davila that Lucas’ death was accidental after his bodyguard, Danilo Cruz, accidentally shot the Navy chief’s son during a party.
In the Lucas shooting, Enrile said he was attending a soiree of Ateneo High School and St. Paul’s College students when Lucas tried to enter the party with some friends. He said he told Lucas, who was a La Sallite, that he could come in because his sister also came from St. Paul’s, but not Lucas’ friends.
He said Lucas left but came back with the friends and started a ruckus by racing around with their cars outside the party venue. He said the noise made him and another friend, Sonny, go out to confront Lucas, not knowing that Enrile’s bodyguard has also followed them.
“We proceeded to approach Ernest. It was nice. At that point, he was drunk. I did not know that my bodyguard was following me. He was eating inside. He followed me and I did not know.’
“I was talking to Ernest. There was no heated argument but when he jumped on the hood of the car, Danny put himself between me and him. There were four of them and it was Sonny and I. Danny put himself in front of me and something just popped. And then all of a sudden Danny stepped back and I saw blood on myself,” he said.
Enrile said he believes the shooting was accidental since firearms practices were “kind of primitive at that time.” He said he also underwent paraffin tests that cleared him in the shooting.
On the other hand, Cruz was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for the September 1975 incident. The bodyguard later died of cancer.
In his memoir, Senate President Enrile recalled that Lucas’ father, Commander Ernesto Lucas of the Philippine Navy, approached him at a hotel in Cebu and said: “Mr. Secretary, your son killed my son.”
Enrile recalled: “There was no sign of anger or hostility from the man. However, I noticed that the man was looking very sad, as though he was about to shed tears.”
He later learned the man talking to him was a subordinate, Commander Ernesto Lucas of the Philippine Navy.
“I took off immediately for Manila in my military plane. En route to Manila, I thought about the problem of my son. I decided to quit my job as Secretary of National Defense and defend my son,” Enrile remembered.
The younger Enrile, however, was cleared in the crime.
Manalad, Santillan shootings
Meanwhile, Enrile also denied that his bodyguard killed businessman Ricardo Manalad, Jr. after the latter allegedly stepped on Enrile’s foot at the Stargazer Disco in Silahis Hotel in June 1981.
In the interview, Enrile said he was in the bathroom with his friend, Ricky Razon, when they heard shooting outside.
“There were some gunshots and Ricky actually pulled me inside the stall and said they’re shooting. I was in the bathroom. I was not outside,” he said.
Enrile said that until now, he does not know why his bodyguard shot Manalad.
“I don’t know why he shot him. He was drunk at that time. My bodyguard was drunk. I fired him. He went to jail and was convicted,” he said.
Enrile denied any knowledge of the shooting of a certain Santillan in 1980, who was killed allegedly because he refused to move his jeep that was blocking Enrile’s car.
He also denied any knowledge of rumors that his bodyguards killed two Philippine Navy men at a car park in September 1982.
“These stories start to feed on themselves. All of these urban stories started to swirl all over and you know, one thing led to another. Things started getting exaggerated and stories were told. You know basically the reputation evolved,” he said.
He also said he does not know how to respond when people say that his arrogance caused those shootings.
“I don’t know how to answer that. My father had always taught us to be humble and friendly and obviously when you are under the limelight and microscope, anything you do can be considered arrogant. I would get comments that just the way I walk by somebody without acknowledging them, I could be thinking of something else, I was considered arrogant.”
What happened to Alfie Anido?
Enrile also set the record straight on the suicide of Alfie Anido in 1982. This is amid rumors that the younger Enrile had shot the actor after seeing the latter beat up his sister, Katrina.
In the interview, Enrile said he was having dinner with then Col. Gregorio Honasan who was then a security aide for the entire Enriles. He said Honasan got a call that Anido’s car was moving at a fast pace from Antipolo to Bel-Air, Makati.
He said Honasan later excused himself after learning that something had happened in Anido’s house. “Of course out of concern and curiosity, I said sama ako,” he said.
He said the gate at Anido’s house was already open when they arrived. Enrile said that when he entered the threshold, Anido’s sister was already there when they both heard Katrina screaming and crying.
“When I entered the threshold, I saw Babita, the sister. I asked: ‘Where’s Katrina?’ At that point, immediately after I asked her that, I heard Katrina screaming and crying. When I looked at her, she said: ‘Si Alfie, si Alfie.’ already swollen and there was a bullet hole already in his head.’
“So I looked inside the room where Alfie was supposed to have been and I saw a gun. So I recoiled. I moved back. It was on the floor. It looked like a .45. I looked again inside and when I peered through, I saw Alfie’s face was already swollen and there was a bullet hole already in his head.’
“Alfie was my friend. Even before he knew Katrina, he was my friend. He was a year I think below me in Ateneo. We were friends since grade school. It was an unfortunate thing. I don’t know the reason or what motivated him to do what he did. I was told that Katrina was trying to break it off with him that day. It was unfortunate that Alfie took his own life.”
Enrile denied that he caught Anido beating up Katrina, saying his sister never told him that her former boyfriend was harming her.
He also admitted that his account differs from his father’s. The Senate President had earlier said his son was not in Anido’s house during the suicide.
The younger Enrile said his father was 79 when he started writing his memoir. ““He was 79 so that was 20 years back so his memory tends not to be fresh. For me, these things actually happened to me.”
He also said Anido’s shooting was a painful experience especially since he is always being accused of killing the actor.
“I have been trying to answer an allegation that was not true for over 30 years. It’s not been easy. It is actually very difficult. And you know, when you think you’re already way past it, then people bring this up and embellish it and it takes a life of its own. No matter what you do, they say ‘Oh, how come you’ve been quiet all this time?’ I’ve tried to tell people that I had nothing to do with it but it’s physically impossible for someone like me to go to each and every person to explain what happened.”
In the interview, Enrile said he had a lifechanging experience when he got “born again” in 1984.
Asked how he was changed, he said: “I believe in the God of the bible. I choose to believe in the God of the bible and it has worked for my life. How have I changed? I am now a better person, a better father, a better husband, a better son and a better friend to those who know me. That is the extent basically of my exposure…I try to live a life of a man of faith. I leave it up to God. Whatever happens to me from that point until the day that God takes me, He is in total control.”
He also said he is thankful for staying in the Senate “Magic 12” in the pre-election surveys. Enrile was tied with Cynthia Villar in 8th-9th places in the last Social Weather Stations survey in January.
Enrile admits that his father’s popularity has helped in his campaign. He, however, pointed out that he was already in the “Magic 12” even before his father presided over the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona.
He also said he does not know if the ongoing controversy with the Senate cash gifts will affect his ratings.
The younger Enrile also addressed concerns about his frequent absenteeism after landing in the top 10 congressmen with the most number of absences in the 15th Congress. Enrile only attended 30 of a total of 59 session days.
“I don’t think that a congressman’s only job is to wear a nice suit go to Congress and be a port of the roll call. Part of the work of legislation is consultation. That is my style of doing business. I am more effective when I meet the people first-hand, go see conditions on the ground and get the inputs from the people,” he said.
He said he has actually been on a roadshow for his food security bill.
Burying the hatchet with JPE
In the interview, Enrile said there are some qualities in his father that he admires.
Asked what he admires in his father, he said: “His doggedness. His determination.”
On the other hand, he said he dislikes his father’s “emotionality.” He said he makes up for it by making time for his children.
He also said that he and his father were not on speaking terms for a long time. This changed in the late 1990s.
“For a long time, he and I were not talking. We made peace after quite a big blow in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It was age. He said sorry. We both cried. He was crying for an hour and a half…I think (it was) the acceptance of how he treated me in the past and how I behaved as a son in the past. We buried the hatchet and it created the opportunity for us to go down this path that we are on now.”
“We are really father and son. He is not just a father by name and I came from him biologically but I am his son and he is my father.”