Inquirer.net : Enrile serving 2nd Marcos as chief legal counsel

18 June 2022

By Ana Roa, Nestor Corrales | Inquirer.net

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will serve as chief presidential legal counsel in the administration of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the late dictator whom he helped topple 36 years ago.

Incoming press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles on Friday announced that Marcos had appointed the 98-year-old Enrile to the position.

Enrile was the longtime defense minister of Marcos’ father, serving in that post from January 1972 until February 1986 when he led a group of military officers who withdrew support for the dictator following the fraud-marred snap presidential election.

The breakaway triggered the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution that drove the Marcoses out of Malacañang.

Angeles said in a statement that Enrile “reaffirmed his commitment to serve the country and ensure the success of the incoming Marcos administration.”

“I will devote my time and knowledge for the republic and for BBM because I want him to succeed,” she quoted him as saying. BBM is short for Bongbong Marcos, the President-elect’s nickname.

Enrile had long reconciled with the Marcoses and supported Marcos’ candidacy in the May 9 elections.

He has been largely out of the public eye over the past six years, but on Wednesday, he made a jolting Facebook post, warning of alleged threats against the second Marcos administration even before it takes over the reins of government.

The ex-martial law administrator made what he called “a humble unsolicited advice” to security officials.

“Instead of making soft and pacific statements seemingly intended to quiet and to gain the cooperation, trust, and confidence of the habitual trouble makers in this country, I suggest that they should sharpen their intelligence information,” he said.

Enrile said he had recently obtained “what I consider to be credible information” that groups in the United States and in the country were “planning and preparing to cause serious embarrassment and trouble for our newly elected President.”

He said he would give details of the information to the proper official of the “new regime in due time.”

“Caution is the name of the game,” he warned Marcos. “You are just starting [your] travel in troubled waters. Your adversaries have not stopped. To borrow a phrase from someone, right now ‘they are hiding their brightness and biding their time.’”

Based on the current duties and responsibilities of the chief presidential legal counsel, Enrile’s new role would include advising and providing legal assistance on a broad range of matters requiring presidential action, including those related to legislation.

He would be reviewing and drafting the president’s executive, administrative and memorandum orders, proclamations, and other legal documents.

Enrile would do this also for decisions on the investigations of members of the Cabinet, agency heads or presidential appointees conducted by the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission.

However, because of his long stint as head of the defense department, Enrile also would likely be consulted on security and defense matters, including the Philippines’ maritime dispute with China and the country’s alliance with the United States.

Under FM Sr.
The former senator, who studied law at the University of the Philippines and Harvard Law School, served the first Marcos government as undersecretary, acting secretary and concurrently acting insurance commissioner and customs chief from 1966 to 1968. After that, he served as justice secretary until 1970.

Enrile was appointed defense chief in early 1970 but his service was interrupted when he ran for senator in August 1971. He came back in early 1972 after he lost the race.

The dictator cited the alleged “ambush” of Enrile by communist rebels as a justification for the declaration of martial law in September 1972.

Enrile later publicly admitted that the ambush was staged but in his 2012 book, “Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir,” he reversed himself, saying that it really happened.

In the same book, he said that in December 1969, Marcos Sr. directed him to study the powers of the president as commander in chief under the 1935 Constitution.

The following month he submitted to Marcos Sr. a compendium he put together with two members of the legal staff of the justice department. A week later, Marcos Sr. instructed him to prepare documents to install martial law in the country.

Right after the Plaza Miranda bombing in August 1971, Marcos Sr. suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, which allows authorities to make arrests without warrants. The opposition and administration critics then said that it was the prelude to martial law.

‘God Save the Queen’
As legislator and politician, Enrile served as member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa, the rubber stamp parliament, from 1978 to 1984, and in the regular Batasang Pambansa from 1984 to 1986.

Enrile continued to hold the defense post under President Corazon Aquino until a falling out between him and the country’s new leader. He was fired in November 1986 for his alleged links to a coup plot dubbed “God Save the Queen.”

He served four terms as senator (1987-1992, 1995-2001, 2004-2010, 2010-2016) and one term as Cagayan representative from 1992 to 1995.

In February 1990, Enrile was charged with rebellion and murder for alleged participation in a coup attempt in December 1989. He was arrested and detained at Camp Karingal in Quezon City, but was allowed to post bail by the Supreme Court a week later. The Supreme Court invalidated the rebellion charges against him in June 1990.

‘Edsa Tres’
Enrile lost his presidential bid in 1998. Three years later, he was again arrested on charges of rebellion in connection to an alleged coup plot against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He allegedly masterminded the siege of Malacañang on May 1, 2001, by supporters of President Joseph Estrada who was ousted in January that year. The high court ruled that the evidence against him was hearsay.

He was Senate President from November 2008 until he resigned in June 2013. As the Senate leader, Enrile presided over the impeachment court that found Chief Justice Renato Corona guilty in 2012 of dishonesty in declaring his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Pork barrel scam
Government prosecutors linked Enrile to the P10-billion pork barrel scam and was charged with plunder and graft in 2014.

In July that year, Enrile turned himself in to the Philippine National Police and was detained at PNP General Hospital in Camp Crame after the Sandiganbayan ordered his arrest.

He is currently out on bail after the Supreme Court voted 8-4 in August 2015 to give him “humanitarian considerations.”

New job for Guevarra
Aside from Enrile, Angeles said Marcos also appointed Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra as solicitor general and former Armed Forces chief Jose Faustino as defense secretary.

Faustino would serve as senior undersecretary and officer in charge of the defense department until the one-year ban on Cabinet appointments for retired military officers lapses in November, she said.

According to Angeles, Guevarra accepted his nomination during his meeting with Marcos in Mandaluyong City on Thursday. Guevarra, who placed second in the 1985 bar exams, will replace outgoing Solicitor General Jose Calida, a fellow Ateneo de Manila University Law School alumnus.

Guevarra also has a master’s degree in economics degree from the University of the Philippines and worked at the National Economic and Development Authority from 1977 to 1983, and became member of the Ateneo law faculty in 1990.

He previously served as deputy executive secretary for legal affairs under the Office of the President during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III.

He was senior deputy executive secretary under President Duterte’s administration before he was appointed as justice secretary in 2018. —WITH REPORTS FROM JEROME ANING AND INQUIRER RESEARCH